[5 minute read]
You cannot erase the injustice you committed. You know that. You desperately wish you could, and so that desperation cultivates a subtle delusion that forgiveness does undo your infraction. But the impossibility is a raw exposition of your imperfection (even forgiveness does NOT undo it). And you have built essential survival habits to defend your psyche, to separate what you can consciously behold from what you know deeply inside…
You hurt others. Repeatedly. When you let that knowledge rise fully into your consciousness, it is overwhelming. If you think it isn’t, then why do you think you have developed your defenses?
Have you apologized every time you have wronged someone?
Or have you felt justified in some retaliatory cases because of how badly you were wronged yourself?
And if you know that, you have to face the rawness of how you fail at (and may slowly kill) authentic loving.
The people with whom you interact most frequently are likely your loved ones. They are your loved ones because you have special relationships with them. They likely make you feel good about yourself much more often than not (or they once did). That is a context for you to act freely, which is to say, less consciously. Likely with less vigilance. Which means it is the context in which your offenses do most damage. Which is to say, the means by which repeated failings pile up into mountains which your psychic defenses battle to suppress.
As these unconscious mountains swell, our defenses get thicker and more rigid. A callous heart is developing. NOT because our loved ones are incapable of forgiving us, but because we have denied the magnitude of our imperfections. We have been radically dishonest with ourselves, and therefore, others. Some of our unjust or bad actions or thoughts or feelings are unknown to anyone but us, and our psychic survival defenses against those must be the strongest of all. Or we will crumble. Some sources call this the “shame spiral.”
Can you ask for forgiveness of the mountains of secret infractions that you have stockpiled? Because you have been cyclically deceptive for too long, your psyche screams, “No way!” How do you continue to carry that fear of exposure? You suppress it, avoid it, ignore it, run from it. Your psychic habits suppress it into your unconscious so you don’t have to think about it and be overwhelmed by its magnitude.
You distance your unconscious shame from your consciousness. The tragic consequence is that you are becoming an expert at distancing. And loved ones can unconsciously — but solidly — sense distance in intimate relationships. You are growing apart from them because you are growing apart from your own true self. How can it be otherwise? You actually know this unconsciously, deep down inside, behind mountainous defenses. That is shame. By trying to hide your imperfections you have tragically become more imperfect.
“Something has to break our primary addiction, which is to our own power and unworkable programs for happiness and security… those who support and contribute to others’ disease are ‘enablers’, sometimes sicker than the addict, they do not know what to do when the addict enters recovery… The Twelve Steps refuses to reward any moral worthiness game, or to punish weakness and failure.” (Richard Rohr)
What can possibly elicit ill thoughts and feelings as powerfully as being hurt by an intimate loved one?
The seeds of these defensive mountains were likely offenses against you. Psychology affirms this with certainty, favoring childhood traumas. You have hurtful thoughts and feelings toward others because you have been hurt. You return an eye for an eye. Though not physically. You pay back by subtle and expert manipulation of relationships in which you are an expert.
You keep secrets. Many unconsciously. This may be what lies behind the exhortation to “speak your truth,” which gets largely distorted into making positive declarations of who you are, to the exclusion of confesssions that you are radically imperfect.
You know your loved ones are keeping secrets from you because you are very familiar with secret-keeping yourself. That is how you secretly — and largely unconsciously — retaliate. Doesn’t it easily let you blame anyone who hurt you? You are being hurtful because you are being hurt! You are projecting blame for your unloving, onto someone else who hurts you.
They deserve blame for hurting you, but they do NOT deserve blame for causing you to hurt them back. Hypocrisy is another imperfection, not an excuse.
The title of this article is, “Who hurts more: Your partner or you?” Our universe is a tango dance hall with enough space for every relationship. Hurt happens in no vacuum: Not a one of us is a stranger to hurt—-experienced, nor caused.
Next: “The misTery of Twelve Step truth requires true love (HONESTY part 3 of 5)” Preview:
Jesus said, “The truth will set you free,” (John 8:32) and I always feel compelled to add, “But first it will make you miserable.”
Index this 5-part series