Places That Hurt

How you do relationships is unique to you.

Not everybody needs what you need. Not everybody wants what you want. Not everybody loves what you love. Each of us has favorite flavors when it comes to life’s banquet of possibilities.

How often you reach out to your partner is distinct to you. Your actions and words have your style notes all over them. The pace of your relationships, what comforts you, grabs your funny bone, or sets your heart on fire, all of these things have your imprint and vibe.

Many of these distinctive aspects of our relationships with each other shine bright.

But what about the places that don’t?

When people consult with me about intimate partnerships, they ask for help with the places that hurt. Why did my partner say this or do that? Or not say this or not do that?

They tell me how they feel judged, dismissed, or misunderstood and how it hurts. They want to know how to make the pain go away.

He Said—She Said

Recently, a man I’ve known over the course of forty years wrote to me and said something that sent me reeling. Against my better judgment, I typed my email response in haste and unfortunately pushed send.

In truth he sent me a conversational email, a right decent communication meant to reconnect with me and have a friendly chat. But one of his comments fed into what I would call a universal female frustration and I got stuck on it. Ignoring the many good things he said, on behalf of all my sisters I picked up a heavy bushel of words and threw it at him about that one thing that hit me all wrong.

I’m not sure what came over me.

Normally, when I feel reactive I write a rough draft email and offer it a seat while my wise self shows up. It’s important to me to give a thoughtful response. It’s what I do my best to do. It’s what I teach. It’s wisdom.

Except this time I didn’t do that. That’s my confession.

Simply speaking, I dumped my hurt on him (without explanation or context, permission, or warning) and it brought out the worst in him.

In response to my protest, my friend of forty years did not summon his Divine Masculine. He did not hear the hurt beneath my words. He did not look beyond my upset and find reasons to be kind. He did not tune into feminine consciousness and offer compassion.

Instead, he defended himself. He gathered up his own bushel of tough words and threw it right back.

One could say his response was appropriate. After all, criticism begets criticism. Lack of self-awareness invites more of the same. A shortage of kindness beckons continued shortage.

For a moment there, the two of us might as well have been back in Elizabethan times and the days of ducking stools and scold’s bridles where women were punished and shamed publicly for being oppositional. In my experience our exchange had a raw, primitive feel.

Not until I received his return email did I consciously realize I was hoping for compassion from him. An ear. Some understanding. Open arms. Basically, I wanted him to say, “I can see you’re hurting about this thing I said. Is there anything I can do? Maybe we can talk on the phone?”

Here’s the thing: I was looking for compassion from him because I hadn’t first taken the time to give it to myself—about my own consciousness or the consciousness of the sisters I was standing for.

This is what we sometimes do—we expect others to do for us what we haven’t done for ourselves.

Getting Reckless on Purpose

In my relationship with my husband Eric (who passed away in 2017) we did this little brilliant thing that helped with hurt places.

If I had a hurt place I’d tell Eric, “I need to get reckless enough to figure something out. Are you up for that?”

He’d look inside himself and check his reserves. Did he have the capacity to hear whatever I might throw his way? He knew that if he said “yes, I’m up for that” it meant he was ready to be the lighthouse in my storm, to shine steady no matter the rough squalls and high waves.

He knew that he would need to “hold me” while I got reckless, which meant hold space for me to loosen up around an old wound.

And no, it’s not a pretty process. Getting reckless on purpose means pent up words come to the surface. Judgments, biases, and fears roll out of us because they’re invited to do so.

We confess unbecoming attitudes so that we can see them, examine them, and find the truth about them. We unveil who we’re not, for the purpose of letting not-us go.

Eric and I had a saying “better out than in.” It’s the idea that releasing toxins helps our body heal. Similarly, to heal mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, any small-mindedness or fear hiding in the corners needs to come out, too. It needs to be recognized, seen for its value, thanked, and invited to take on a new position.

Whatever I had to say, Eric’s promise was to be a container for my words so I could look at them, turn them over, and view their underbellies. This is a sacred and honorable task that a partner can do upon request. Our partner can be the rock formation that holds our waterfall of words and emotions.

Eric agreed to hear me and hold me—but not believe a word I said.

He promised to let go of everything that came out of me. He promised not to taste any of the sour crumbs later. He promised not use my blurt against himself or me in the future. He promised to remember that my words were expressions of fear or limitation and they needed to be released.

That was our agreement with each other. He was really good at keeping that agreement.

This is what the Divine Masculine in each of us is built to do—to be the sides of a container for whatever needs to pour out. Then we can find the truth of us.

The Divine Masculine in you and me is a brilliant little built-in thing. We only need to remember to take advantage of its presence and purpose by learning to use it.

The Five

Recognize: “I’m angry.” (Name the emotion or attitude.)

Request: assistance from your partner. “Will you hold me while I get reckless on purpose?”

Relinquish: what’s not you. Say it all. Get it out. Let it go. None of it is true.

Remember: who you are—your true self. Give yourself time for this step. You may need a few days to explore and inquire. “Who are you now?” Or “What does the release make possible?” Play with your a-Ha’s and realizations. Maybe give this aspect of your true self a name. Tuck your new awareness into a safe place and take it everywhere you go.

Relax: we’re a work in progress, always. Mistakes are our friends. Goof-ups are revealing and helpful, and they encourage daily evolution. They lead us to our wisdom.

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”

Maya Angelou.

love, love, love,

To schedule a 20 minute free Meet and Greet with Terri on Zoom, go here. You can ask questions and see if working with Terri is a good fit for you.

ON SALE: To get your signed copy of 100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom (poetry and photography) go here. You can send copies directly to friends for the Holidays, including a hand-written gift card.

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100 Words: Small Servings of Whimsy and Wisdom to Calm the Mind and Nourish the Heart., How to Save Your Fourth Marriage, In Care of Relationships, intimate relationships, Terri Crosby

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