As a child, I felt abandoned by my parents. In my former marriage, I decided that my partner had abandoned me because she was not responding to me the way that I made up that she should have. She was, in fact, doing nothing wrong. She was simply being herself. But that triggered my childhood wounding and I felt abandoned. Initially, I simply tried harder to get her to not abandon me. I did this by investing more energy into hoping she would get the message. Yet, in my mind, it was not working because her behavior had not changed. At the time, I had no idea of what was going on, so I withdrew bit by bit because that is what I did when I felt abandoned. If I felt unwanted, I would simply leave emotionally to protect myself from my feelings of abandonment becoming more intense as further hurt shows up, which is what happens in our own minds as we travel further down that road.
Life has a funny way of reminding us of the pain we have chosen not to heal by bringing more triggers into our lives. Not long ago, I was triggered in the same area by a friend. The scenario was similar except that this was a friendship and not a romantic relationship. And the friend had done nothing wrong. But the wounded child in me did not know the difference and once again I found myself in an all too familiar place. But this time I became aware of what was happening and was able to see my friend as the trigger and not the cause. And as my life would have it, I have been working with a therapist to find and deal with more of my unresolved childhood emotional traumas. So, this time I was able to begin work on my issue without having to completely withdraw to protect myself or make up more stories about my friend or myself.
As human beings we often experience growth through what we often believe, at the time, are negative experiences. And most of those experiences take place within relationships with other people. These relationships can be as friends, coworkers, relatives or romantic partners.
As children we have a variety of life experiences. Some are traumatic in and of themselves. And some are not traumatic, but we perceive them to be and react accordingly. These painful memories and perceived painful memories then move into our subconscious minds where they wreak havoc, completely apart from our conscious awareness. And if we do not resolve these traumas they stay with us into adulthood and beyond, waiting for us to resolve them by fully experiencing the emotions we, for whatever reason, were unable to experience fully as children.
When we enter into relationships of any kind, these unresolved negative emotions can be stirred within us without the other party even knowing what happened or if they truly had any part in it happening. But if we, as the triggered person, approach the situation without conscious awareness we will believe with all that we are that the triggering person has hurt or harmed us in some way. And we react as if that were the case. Yet, in the vast majority of cases, the other person is not the cause of our resurfacing pain. Rather, they are the trigger for it. In being a trigger, they are performing a valuable service for us. Of course, until we are aware of what is happening, we will see them as the cause of our pain, not the reminder of pain that was buried deep within us long before they showed up in our lives.
As I pondered my own experience more deeply, I began to understand that because I did not feel loved as a child (this does not mean that no one loved me), I made up an invisible checklist of things people who love me should do. That way, so I thought, I could have a surefire way of knowing whether someone truly loved me and cared about me. As I have become aware of that checklist I have also realized that it is really a list of expectations. Expectations can be very tricky because on one hand we get to have standards for how people treat us and on the other hand we unfairly place expectations on others rather than allowing them to love us in the way that they have learned how to communicate love and caring. I am still working through this area and do not profess to have all the answers or maybe even any answers. What I can say is that I am becoming much more aware of how I have made up stories about other people.
We all have some level of emotional trauma from our childhoods. But it does not have to destroy our relationships. I invite you to see the people who serve as triggers for you in a new light and see them for who they really are: messengers of love and light sent to help you become aware of your own unresolved childhood emotional traumas. Only when we become aware of our traumas can we take steps to resolve them and experience a new level of personal freedom.
Please note: The author is not a licensed medical or psychological professional and is not responsible for how the reader responds or reacts to the content presented. The reader assumes all responsibility for his or her use of the content.