Pre-reading to explain some of the terms used, see blog, The Game of Life
Client Case Study of Unrequited Love – Part 4 of 4; Vulnerabilities, Repeating Patterns, Frozen Trauma, Activating Event, Core Beliefs and Dysfunctional Assumptions
My client recognised the ‘cat and mouse’ nature of the repeating behavioural patterns in a relationship he had with “someone who loves me as a friend and no more”. He would attempt to remain mindful and stay courteously detached when in his partner’s company. He would laugh and joke with her but would not allow himself to get carried away and be overtly affectionate with her – which is what he wanted to do as a natural course of events. She would often hold his hand or touch his neck and shoulder. He would return that affection but only briefly. He feared he would lose his mindfulness and expose any vulnerabilities he held about himself.
After say an hour or so of this ‘cat and mouse’ game, his partner would catch him off guard. For example, she would sit next to him, place her hands between and squeeze his legs half way between his knees and genitalia and then direct his hand to the same position between her legs. She always held his hands firmly so she could direct them to parts of her body where she felt comfortable being touched. My client respected this but in that moment of physical tenderness, he lost his state of mindfulness and yearned that she would allow the touching to continue and become more intimate. But she would never allow that.
As soon as he allowed this state of yearning to arise, his partner would kiss him and hug him several times and leave quickly. He would then feel saddened by her departure. Sometimes that sadness would turn to anger, not towards his partner, but towards himself – for allowing himself to get “sucked into the situation of unrequited yearning” again.
Because of these continuing setbacks, he would question his own motives and whether he was conning himself or not that he really was practising mindfulness. He would question whether mindfulness itself was valid or just a psychologist/spiritualist fad that people have cottoned on to – like The Law of Attraction; of which he would think to himself, “Everybody’s buying books about it and doing it but I don’t see many people attracting the things they really want!”
My client knew his intentions were good and wanted only the best for both he and his partner. He kept going. He remembered to practise patience with and compassion for himself. He waited consciously for the wisdom of what was incomplete in him to arrive. And when it came, he realised that it could only arrive under duress. He would have to attract it wantonly and no-one could help him in this matter.
One night, his partner announced that she was fed up with her life and was going away to France for a week with a view to emigrating there as soon as she could. My client got very upset in the moment but kept his cool. After his partner had left, my client realised that he was still attached to the successful outcomes, he’d defined for the relationship, and that he had to let go of this attachment. He had to stop succumbing to his desires whilst still loving his partner and releasing the anger (the sign of an incompletion) that kept welling up in him. He realised that he’d lost touch with his purpose (the journey to completeness or love) for the relationship and become attached to its outcome instead.
As he ‘gazed’ at the repeating behavioural patterns, he saw the same fear of rejection in his partner that he saw in himself – and the many relationships before her that all had the same ‘cat and mouse’ pattern to them. He realised how he had attracted a series of relationships throughout his life that were all destined to end traumatically in rejection after a short while. It was as if he was seeking this trauma subliminally because of a subconscious programme running within him. (This type of repeating pattern is sometimes referred to as a frozen trauma; frozen in time; frozen in the past tense.)
My client sought the source of his repeating traumas. Under therapy, he went back to his childhood and kept going back in time until he reached the very beginning.
He was two months in the womb. His subconscious mind became alert to his mother not wanting a child. His mother was rejecting him before he had even been born. This was the source of his frozen trauma in time and he had been living out a reaction to this rejection all his life.
Inspired by druidic wisdom…
Life requires wholeness. The subconscious mind prompts the attraction of events and people who mirror what is incomplete within us. Some of us try to escape from this ‘requirement’ by…
1. Lapsing into a state of depression so that we won’t even want to get out bed in the morning to face life.
2. Building a psychological shield to protect ourselves from repeating a trauma, in this case ‘rejection’, i.e. we deny ourselves the facility to love and be loved wholly for fear of rejection.
3. Distracting ourselves from thinking about the incompleteness in our lives through drink, drugs, gambling, sex, mindless TV and the like.
The only alternative is to journey the road to wholeness, completeness, love. All other roads lead back this road eventually. In this, we have no choice.
My client could now see more clearly how his partner was acting out on his behalf the frozen trauma he first had with his mother. A trauma (incompleteness) that he still hadn’t resolved within himself. In seeing (becoming a seer) he had already taken a major step and readied himself to take the next one.
Together we sought the activating event by which my client started the relationship patterns that would reflect his frozen trauma in time. He was 13 years old and earned pocket money gardening. He attracted the attention of a 32 year old spinster with whom he entered into a sexual relationship that lasted for three years. He fulfilled his nascent adolescent desire for sex but, he also felt very guilty after every recreational encounter with the woman. He felt he “had sinned before God”.
Yet it was only now that he saw the subliminal reason for participating in underage sex. He felt that he could control the woman. He could say how, when and where they came together. And if she were to reject him, he held the threat of reporting her actions to the authorities.
My client saw how, following this activating event, he (even with what he thought was good intention) would use generosity to woo, or coldness to threaten, women to get what he wanted from their relationship and avoid rejection. And he had used both strategies on his existing partner to no avail. She refused him intimacy because she had her own holding patterns running. And yet my client and his partner both talked of the special connection between them and their love for one another.
My client had now taken a further step, under therapy, to unearth the wisdom of the incompleteness he was hiding from himself. As he sat in silence, I got my client to focus on where and how the prospect of releasing himself from his frozen trauma affected his physical body. He described the feeling of locked or trapped energy, as he pointed to the centre of his chest, half way up his sternum.
I got my client to shine light into the area and asked him what core beliefs (about self) did he see or hear that blocked the flow of energy (chi) through his body. He spoke of four things: two core beliefs and two dysfunctional assumptions (about others) with which he allowed to hold himself back…
1. All relationships and agreements break eventually (dysfunctional assumption).
2. I am unworthy of a lasting relationship (core belief).
3. Women are out to hurt me (dysfunctional assumption).
4. I must have the power to be able to hurt them first. With this power I can threaten or control them (core belief).
I reminded my client that…
A belief is merely a thought that we hold true for a long time. It is no more true or false than any other thought. A thought is not a fact and, as Eckhart Toll reminds us, “You are not your thoughts”.
My client now had all the information he needed at his disposal to avoid him getting “sucked in” to the same old behavioural patterns he’d been subjecting himself to. Was this ‘game over?’ No. He still had to do the work mindfully to avoid reacting to his partner’s ‘cat and mouse’ behaviours. Instead he determined to show her love, enthusiasm, compassion, patience and continue to work on his own completeness.
His partner still had her own holding patterns to work on but it was not within his power or right to change her. It was within his power to change himself only, i.e. change the relationship to the relationship he had with his partner. And by replacing ‘reaction’ with ‘action’, he was prepared to trust himself, the process of mindfulness and his journey to love, regardless of whether that love was requited or not.