SL: I realized that as a partner I need someone who will be able to express and talk about feelings and I will be able to do the same while holding a safe space for both of us. That would be important to me in my next relationship. Hallmark of unhealthy relationships and family dynamics – don’t talk. don’t trust, don’t feel. Healthy conflict negotiation and creating a safe space for feelings and thoughts to be expressed over time  is the hallmark of all healthy dynamics and relationships.

C: What does holding space look like to you?

CB:

C: I have thought this to be true for years now, but have yet been able to manifest it. I think it requires both parties to be adamant about their individual growth as well as the growth of the other person and the relationship.

SL: yes!! It is crucial to practice individual and collective self care in order for the plant 🌱 that the relationship is to grow. Most don’t take care of themselves individually –

– the book that describes it so well is “Embracing The Beloved” by Levine. He also wrote “A Gradual Awakening” which is to date the best book I read on meditation and had a special meaning to me.

My therapist said that certain wounds can only be healed in a relationship.

C: I want to be present during difficulty, but it is difficult when both people have a host of escape mechanisms and avoidant behaviors that trigger one another. If two people, even in their spoken dedication to one another, have defects that trigger the other person’s defects, what can be done? When two people are triggered into running around in circles with their hair on fire, how do you come back to center?

SL: Ok more thoughts – there is a lot here! I am still digesting…

I want to be present during difficulty, but it is difficult when both people have a host of escape mechanisms and avoidant behaviors that trigger one another. If two people, even in their spoken dedication to one another, have defects that trigger the other person’s defects, what can be done?

I think the key is when both people are triggered into their wounded child / critical parent for one person to remain as an adult and loving parent. If that can happen then it is possible for success of conflict resolution. Otherwise you just have two wounded children fighting and that doesn’t lead to anything constructive

Specific tools ⚒️ I think 🤔

C: Maybe there would be a safe word of sorts. When someone gets triggered and the emotions get too intense, and they don’t want to say or do something hurtful, they can throw their hands up in the air and scream “banana planet” and walk away. The other person then has to honor “banana planet” and give the other person space for them to collect themselves, at which point they can re-engage. 

If one person gets triggered and the other doesn’t, and one says the safe word, but the other person doesn’t give a shit and keeps pushing what then? I tend to walk away from conflicts when there is intense emotion involved because I don’t want to say or do something regretful. I need quiet time to collect.

SL: Each person learns these 4 core skills (which are never taught in dysfunctional households)

  1. Assertive communication (not aggressive you statements)
    Not passive aggressive not passive but assertive mean what you say say what you mean but don’t say it mean.
  2. Listen with empathy (true listening)
  3. Creative problem solving (once both sides are presented and heard)
  4. Responsible follow through on the agreed

Then trust and intimacy grow stronger. If one element is missing a wall of bricks 🧱 will form preventing emotional closeness and leading to the destruction of trust and thus the relationship

C: Practice is a good place to start I think. A daily practice. A daily meditation practice!  What if there were daily blocks of time set aside for meditating together. That time of meditation and prayer would serve as a haven to air out differences and emotional triggers as they come up, day by day, instead of letting them fester and become toxic. Is there a safer space than communion with G-d? Ten minutes of heartfelt, mindful prayer, followed by twenty minutes of meditation, followed by thirty minutes of talking, dinner, reading, art, who knows. In the same way that doing pushups and crunches everyday builds a strong core and upper body, the daily “10th and 11th step” would create a strong core of resilience and trust for the relationship to fall back on when things get dicey. 

What do you think?