Navigating Trauma and Feeling Worthy & Respected in Relationships

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Everything bothers me.
Dramatic. Correction: Most things bother me.
I have an oversensitive nature that gets consistently agitated and a spirit that feels burnt out. Maybe you can relate? Aside from my closest friend relating, I’ve always felt a bit alone in this experience. When I have my own space I don’t feel it so much, but when others are around, things become accentuated.
 
A few years ago I was in therapy and a big part of my story that I was working through was “People treat me badly and the universe gives me just enough to get by.” So my work since then has been setting up healthy boundaries. People only treat you as badly as you let them, and some don’t even realize that they’re doing it, perhaps to give you the experience of speaking up for yourself. We need to take care of ourselves. As Aretha Franklin puts it, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me!”
 
When feeling disrespected by another may be unintended and therefore is subjective and open to interpretation, why am I so sensitive to feeling it? Why do I care? Why do I attach a meaning to something that makes me feel anything less than awesome? I am secure in myself; I know better than to take things personally; And to be honest, I feel sorry for someone that isn’t able to treat others respectfully. So then it must be that there is another part of me that’s running the show. An issue in a relationship is not the problem; it is a symptom of a deeper issue. We need to get to the root. 
 
When I travel into the murky waters of my subconscious, there’s a little girl that’s been convinced that she is not worthy of being treated any better. As children, we’re these radiant, confident beings, but when we consistently suffer any form of abuse or violation, we begin to question our own radiance. We start to believe the things that people say about us, the voices of our parents become our own, and we define ourselves by the way people treat us. We let others determine our worthiness and our lovability, and then we spend our entire lives playing out this story- believing all of it, and taking it on as our own. We take on illnesses, financial issues, unhealthy relationships all because of the way people led us to believe about ourselves.  
 
But she is worthy. YOU ARE WORTHY. As children, we are victims to our circumstances deemed powerless to change them. Spiritually, it can be seen as a benefit of working through the karmas of past lifetimes to gain the raw materials we’ll need to grow in this one. But when we don’t recognize the ability we have to regain our power once we reach maturity, then we carry our stories as victims with us. We unconsciously use them as excuses to explain why we’re not the radiant beings we started off as, and why we’re not worthy and deserving of everything we desire. Some people spend their entire lives doing this. 
 
To gain the self awareness to finally recognize how we’re sabotaging ourselves is one of the first signs of waking up. Waking up is the unlearning of all the programs from the past. It’s waking up from the lies. Adyashanti says, “[Enlightenment is] the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.” To return to the old programming, the old stories, is to go back to sleep. 
 
I know that trauma is being activated when my reaction is a bit dramatic and isn’t logically warranted. Someone could say something without any ill intention at all, but I’ll still feel sad, hurt, want to cry or I’ll completely lose my shit. I will lose control over my emotions. I may feel it in my body as well, like getting punched in the gut, or I’ll get dizzy as I disassociate. I’ll create drama from my trauma. If I am in conflict with someone when this happens, I may be projecting a whole lot of unconscious emotions onto them. In these moments, I am NOT being respectful. 
 
Respect is a two way street– yes this is a bit cheese and we’ve all heard it a million times, but really absorb it. Two way street, the cars are going both ways- respect goes both ways. Whoops, was I doing this? I was so deeply involved in my own shit that I didn’t even have the awareness to realize how my actions were affecting others. Typical child completely obsessed with herself, right? 
 
What matters most is what I do differently now that I know. Know better, do better. The truth is we’re all on the same side. We all want the same things- love, peace, happiness. There is no need for us to go to war with each other because the irony is that in war there are no winners. You can’t fight someone for love or peace. If someone is intentionally out to get you, leave immediately. But when we love each other and we’re having a difference of opinion, it’s because we don’t understand where the other person is coming from. There can be love without respect because respect is subjective. We can only do our best to nurture each other’s boundaries, and then we need to keep the conversation open. 
 
Especially in an intimate relationship, your responsibility is to study your partner. Pay attention to what they like, love, want more of and want less of. When we first fall in love, we see the bright light of a soul that we can’t help but indulge ourselves into. And then we get to know them a little better and we see all of the areas of their ego that are still in development. We may become critical or worse use them as reasons not to be with the person. But how vicious to condemn a masterpiece before it’s completed. Could you imagine how La Pietà looked like before Michelangelo completed it? A big ‘ol hunk of rock that’s what. 
 
Remember the soul that you are in love with and treat each other like your church. Worship them. Study to understand them and then play the role that they need you to be. Forgive their blindspots and be patient. If this person is still the one you want to journey through this life with, not because of attachment but because you genuinely enrich each other’s lives, commitment is what will get you through the trauma drama and periods of healing and growing into healthier ways of being.
 
“Commitment is like a womb in which a new life can grow. It is hermetically sealed so that nothing extraneous can enter into the process. No projections can be made upon it, no introduced doubt or criticism can reach it during its critical formative stages. But it’s also sealed for our own good, so that we don’t have an easy out. This is what’s meant by ‘holding the tension.’ So in times of exhaustion and suffering, fear and frustration, we remain committed long enough for the process to complete itself…
 
So when we place limitations and boundaries around something we care about, it isn’t meant to be a prison which keeps us stuck or stagnant, but rather to create a paradoxical freedom which allows us, through restraint, to fully explore the relationship, the craft, or the experience in all its subtle dimensions. Commitment in these terms is not an obligation but a deep devotion to that which you love. In your devotion to it, the very thing you are committed to is set free.” (Toko-pa: Commitment: The of Creativity) 
 
When we are free to be ourselves and we get triggered by an unintended moment of disrespect, we don’t want to throw that disrespect back at our partners, but we also can’t suppress or dismiss our emotions. So what do we do? 
 
We need to emotionally take care of ourselves. We need to tend to the upset child. We need to give her what she needs. You can do this alone with yourself, or with your partner. 
 
When your partner does this with you, they need to be able to hold space for you and be able to shelve any ego reactions that come up for them. It’s not their time. They’ll get their turn once you feel heard, understood, and nourished. This becomes much more complicated when they’re also going into their own trauma. A therapist or a healer is helpful for navigating this. Or, you can do it for yourself and share your experience and insights with your partner once you’re done.
 
How do you emotionally care for yourself when you’re hurt by something someone’s done? Ask your inner child, “what do you need to feel worthy?” Listen to what she responds with. It will be something that an innocent child would say like, “I need a hug.” Give yourself a hug! Or let your partner hug you! Maybe you’ll feel into what she’s craving like a sense of love, belonging, being wanted. Talk to her like you would talk to any child. Use your voice to give it power. 
 
Say out loud three times, “you are worthy.” 
 
Keep talking and say everything that she needs to hear. You’ll feel it when something lands; Something inside of you will shift and the release will cause you to emote- cry, scream, or laugh. 
 
This was my list when I did it, but make your own. You may want to experiment with using “you” and using “I” to see which resonates best.
 
You are lovable.
You are deserving.
You are worthy of respect.
You are to be honoured.
You are to be worshipped.
You are Divine.
You are needed.
You belong here.
You are wanted here.
Mommy loves you. (This made me weep!)
Daddy loves you.
The whole planet loves you.
The entire universe loves you.
You are beautiful.
You’re special.
You’re unique.
You’re so cute.
I am so thankful to have you here.
How others treat you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. Don’t take anything personally.
 
 
When you’re done you’ll know. You’ll feel a sense of peace wash over you; Your body will take a nice, deep breath and relax; And you’ll feel happier, calm, back to your regular self. You’ve filled up your cup and now you need to maintain this state by continually filling it up. You are responsible for your self care, your partner isn’t going to do it for you. Your knight isn’t coming. He got stuck at the border trying to smuggle over some shrooms for you both. As Mama Gena puts it, keep yourself “Turned on.” What your partner does is a bonus on top of all that you already do for you. Stop running on empty. Don’t wait for the car to break down. Nurture yourself so you can give from your overspill. Spa. Nails. Oranges. Whatever you need to feel spoiled. Ask your Inner Child what she wants as well- ice cream perhaps? Lactose intolerant? Get cashew ice cream- find a compromise. You absolutely deserve it ♥.  
 
When you’re taken care of/turned on/in your flow/radiating, those silly little things people do tend to fall away. They don’t stick. You’re flying high and whatever sticks and stones they throw can’t even reach you. From this state, honouring and respecting both yourself and your partner effortlessly becomes a part of your nature; You become partners in every sense of the word- joining forces on the same team; And You’re acting from your heart in a state of unconditional love. 

Fulfillment as a Path to Enlightenment

I deeply love everyone. I might miss a snake in the grass or whether you chopped your fringe, but I can see right through someone straight into their souls. I see their hearts, their beauty and what they’re capable of. My god, you are beautiful. But this often gets me into trouble, because people are not always operating from this place. And it kind of breaks my heart because I think, what a loss. Discernment is key. This world is a place of duality, good and bad, light and dark. You can’t see how beautiful the stars are in the daytime, you need the darkness of the night’s sky.

 

We need this contrast of duality to fully understand and experience love. This is why I believe we are here. Just like air on our planet, on the other side of the veil, love is everywhere. And so we can’t really experience it because it just is, so we come here to experience it in it’s expression- loving an animal, family or best friend, through how we move in dance, the delicious flavours in something that we eat, the passion of sex, aka “making love” and the creation of art. Our entire life can be a result of how our heart and soul chooses to experience love. If we let it, if we take the responsibility to make it so.

 

There’s been a shift in consciousness and the space has opened up now for us to do this. I feel it in myself and I see it in others. Where the past would often feel like one step forward two steps back, it was actually a time of mulling, conceptualizing, theorizing and philosophizing. If we stayed awake during this time using every experience as an opportunity to learn, grow and act consciously, then we’ve obtained an incredible amount of learning and experience to move forward as integrated, resilient, powerful beings. We are the ones who will help the next wave of people as they get tested and shaped.

 

What’s happening is we’re moving towards enlightenment, also known as being a spiritually mature adult. The maturity of our society has been stuck in adolescence. We fight wars to handle conflict. We’re poisoning our land and eating toxic foods. We watch movies with explosions and drama- constant stimulants for our short attention spans. The adolescent is stuck in victim mode, “What’s wrong with me?” “Why’s life so hard?” The adolescent doesn’t think of the future, or considers their impact. They’re either selfish or martyrs. But now we’re becoming the adults we need to take responsibility for this planet and humanity. And it starts with first taking responsibility for ourselves, for our happiness and fulfillment.

 

The external world is a reflection of what’s happening internally. I’ve wasted a lot of time looking backwards, which only leaves me feeling stuck because my energy is focussed on creating more of the same, rather than on being the creator of what I want my life to be. If we’re going to be challenged, we might as well be challenged moving towards what we want rather than swimming around in a cesspool of what we don’t want. This is what the adult does. They recognize that nobody is coming to save them and if anything is going to change, they’re the ones that are going to have to do it.

 

I’m not entirely sure what this adult stage looks like because it’s the first time we’ve ever done it on this planet. But I do believe it starts with being fulfilled in every aspect of our lives, so that we can then serve others from our overspill. Your fulfillment is personal and how you get there is unique. Being fulfilled in every aspect is as close as we can come to enlightenment right now in this level of consciousness. When our health is optimum and our bodies free of toxins, the oceans and earth will reflect this. When our careers make us so happy that we don’t feel like we’re working, there will be a balance restored in humanity. When we’re having so much fun with the people around us that we never want to leave this world, that is when we graduate and never actually need to come back, and the only time we will really want to.