Sorting out a tangled mess

When two people become a pair with matching luggage, most of what's happening occurs below the surface. What obviously gets said and done can be very misleading. What gets talked about is usually talking about something else entirely. The only way to stay on track without getting derailed is to wonder about the underlying significance of what is immediately obvious.

When half of a pair accuses the other of bringing emotional baggage into the relationship, s/he will say things like "get over it", "let it go" or "stop taking things so personally". Meanwhile, that person will use the relationship as a dumping ground for acting out negative emotions, internalized abuse or personal insecurities. The other will be getting upset, getting his/her hot buttons pushed and getting provoked by reenactments of personally painful past episodes. There is a constant barrage of experiences in the relationship to get over, let go of and stop taking personally. There's no relief in sight because both are hardwired to what's happening on the outside.

When one blames the other for "making him/her feel a certain way", no responsibility is being taken for how one feels. Blaming merely announces a toxic dependency on the other to feel good about oneself. Left to one's own devices, the blamer feels inadequate, inferior, defective or dangerous to oneself and others. Rather than point out his/her personal flaws, blaming another provides a useful cover. Choosing how to feel is kept off the table. It remains legitimate to say things like "you upset me" or "you depress me".

When half of pair tells the other s/he has a problem, it takes one to see one. The person pointing fingers has the same problem. The problem is getting pointed out to have more in common, to get understood or to stick together when fears are driving each other apart. There's no opportunity to support each other's successes, growth or expanding self awareness. "Misery loves company" becomes the only companionship option. Making the other miserable enough to commiserate takes control of the relationship. Eviscerating the other's self confidence and independence insures more clinging and hanging together out of neediness.

When we can discern these underlying dynamics, relief is in sight. We can recognize the pattern in what happens. We can read the subtext in what gets said. We can break the cycles that ensnare us in constant reactions. We can choose how we feel regardless of what's happening. We free ourselves from what our own baggage dictated, necessitated and perpetuated.

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