Dear Ex Lover...
Updated: Jul 27, 2019
I want to thank you. Because it is through the joy of our union and the subsequent pain of it’s demise, that I was plunged into a space of self enquiry so deep and dark, that I have finally stumbled across the long lost keys to my own complete healing and self actualisation. I have been on a decades long search for these keys…and miraculously, the journey of our relationship led me to a place I have never been before. Perhaps, without you, I would never have found them.
I have already told you that this break up has been the hardest I have participated in…and indeed, there have been many break ups in my life thus far, so to hold that honour is no small feat! There are numerous reasons for this parting being my most difficult. As much as I know you don’t believe me, I truly do love you and enjoy your character. But even more importantly, this time, through a combination of circumstance and conscious choice, I have not numbed myself. Not through work, not through friendships, not through children or diving into another relationship. I have instead been willing to stay a while, in the darkness of the repressed parts of my own psyche.
Actually, I have felt compelled to look at why I have gotten to this stage of my life and am still repeating the same patterns, over and over. That required me to take a long hard look at myself and a long, hard look at you. And it dawned on me that although we have a lot of common interests and understandings of the world, that was not what drew us together as an intimate couple. No, there are many, many people in the world who’s interests align. And the fact is, that despite our compatible interests, we are in essence, very different people from very different backgrounds with very different life experiences.
The realisation has dawned that what drew us together with a magnetism which almost defied logic, was that we share the same core wounding…there is a vibrational resonance which says at an unconscious level, that we are a perfect match for each other. This shared core wounding manifests in opposite behaviours within us…and those behaviours fit together like a hand within a bespoke glove. I will call you the hand and myself the glove, because the hand calls the shots and the glove tailor makes itself within each moment, to fit whatever the hand demands of it. And the seeds of these roles were planted when we were just children.
The most damaging thing our childhoods share in common is that we both grew up with parents who did not know how to meet our emotional needs. Entirely through our parents not having the inner self soothing tools, we both suffered neglect of our need for love and validation. We both received the message loud and clear, that we were unworthy. This was the similarity…and the differences were that you also suffered within a chaotic and violent household, yet received in other moments, loving messages and affectionate gestures, along with the negative ones. My household was physically reasonably consistent and safe, but on the other hand, I never received any verbal messages of love or affirmation, only the negative ones. They just didn't know how to do that.
So we have the same core wounding, but different secondary wounding surrounding it. The way these differences have manifested in our behaviour in relationships, is what drew us together. Your childhood was far more 'obviously' traumatic than mine and it means your wounding is more intense and your wounded child persona is more hurt and chaotic. On the other hand, the positive messages and affection you received, also gave you as a side effect, a 'happy child' persona. So essentially, you have two competing components of yourself.
Naturally your inclination is to want to live within the happy child persona and deny that the wounded one exists - who wouldn’t? You have avoided acknowledging his existence at all costs. But nevertheless, the wounded little boy still lives there, fearfully in the shadows of your psyche, ready to be activated at any sign of stress or possible harm. In fact, the very act of denying he exists, means he controls your life in ways you could not imagine. Without your constant vigilance on mindfulness, the wounded child persona is constantly sending you messages of negativity and fear, especially when things are feeling peaceful. He tells you that feeling peaceful means something bad is bound to happen soon and that you cannot trust anyone, because love means pain. You grew up with people intermittently being affectionate and telling you they loved you, yet simultaneously very seriously neglecting and hurting you. Your wounded child only wants to keep you safe. He has the best of intentions, but doesn’t realise that love does not always equal pain. He has never experienced unconditional love for who he is.
And my wounded child…well, there is only one version, one persona. Because the messages I received were consistent. Consistently negative, yes…my wounded little girl never experienced unconditional love for who she was, either. But because she also never received loving messages growing up, she decided that it was actually finding someone to love her, that could fix everything for her. She could trust people, because in her experience they were consistent. The fact they didn’t show love to her…well that must be her own deficiency. So, she was willing to do anything for ‘love’, to feel worthy of being loved. She would trust people even when they hadn’t earned her trust, just because they sometimes used words of love, even if the actions didn’t match their words. She was so very desperate for validation and attention, she would hold on to any crumbs of affection she received and treat them like precious gems.
This wounded little girl was controlling my life in ways I could not imagine. Telling me to stay in situations which were damaging and hurtful, because she felt unworthy of being treated with true love and respect. She was terrified of abandonment, because she grew up feeling unworthy and unloved, so it must be a miracle to find someone who could love her. And so she would hang on for dear life, no matter what. Your wounded little boy was terrified of attachment, because he grew up feeling people who love you, hurt you…and so he could not trust anyone, nor any love which was shown to him. Besides, he denied his own existence and so he just lived in the shadows, orchestrating his ‘protection’ of you, unseen and unheard. Meanwhile, you in your ‘happy’ persona, wondered why there was a such an empty feeling inside, why you could not sustain feelings of contentment for very long and why you always felt a certain level of anxiety existing just below the surface.
In order to keep your wounded child at bay and unhealed, you must blame others for your problems. Your family of origin must collude in this…and they do. And in order to keep my wounded child unhealed, my family of origin must collude with the idea that I must be blamed for everything…and they do. Otherwise our families of origin would have to face our wounded children and look at how they were originally created. The whole family dynamic would have to change. Easier to pretend you are a golden child and all problems in your life are caused by your partners, never you. They are the crazy ones, the women who are ‘unmedicated or undiagnosed’, as you claim all women are. Easier for my family to make me the scapegoat for any issues which arise…to decide I must always be the problem, even if I am abused within a relationship, I must have 'done something to make them act like that'.
So, do you see how your wounded hand fits so perfectly into my wounded glove? Due to our childhood core wounding remaining unhealed, neither of us has been able to create a healthy love relationship. Due to our differing secondary wounding, this plays out in such a way that you are quick to blame others for feelings or behaviour which you are entirely in control of and responsible for. Meanwhile, I am quick to receive blame for others’ behaviour and take it on as my own problem and responsibility. You have displayed some abusive behaviour and I have not only tolerated it, but enabled it. Your blame hand fits perfectly into my guilt glove.
The glorious thing about all of this, is that our relationship brought such joy to me at times, that the pain which arose at its end, required a very deep analysis of my veiled lack of self worth and self love. How it had been created and how it could be healed. I have lived half my life now, with some version of this wounding and I am so grateful that I have been forced to bring it into the light through our union. I know how to take responsibility, I now know how to heal myself and I am taking steps to do so. I believe the manifestations of trauma within you, can also be healed. I recognise that because there is the split in your woundedness, your wounds are harder to access…they have gone underground to a place where you can deny their existence. But they can be found, if you decide to rise. If one day, you tire of the chaos of your life and choose to take responsibility for your healing.
And dear ex lover, I sincerely hope that you do. Because just like me, what you experienced was not your fault. We both deserved consistent loving kindness, when we were growing up and forming our identities. Just like every child does. To one degree or another, most people in the world have probably been the recipients of deficient parenting. Most people have some kind of wounding. Yet, there comes a time when we need to stop attributing blame for that and instead take personal responsibility for our own healing. Sometimes we must break apart before we can rebuild ourselves as the people we were always meant to be. We must surrender completely to the dark night of the soul and allow ourselves to feel all of the pain, to crack right open and shine light into our wounded places, so that we may emerge cleansed and rebuilt, with unshakeable foundations of self worth. Are you ready?
- Ishara Love