I’m super excited to share a blog post by my wife Meg with you today. In case you missed it, I introduced here a few weeks ago and you can read that blog here… Enjoy! – Garrett
We all probably have at least a few memories of getting skinned knees as a kid: playing in the street with neighborhood friends, falling off of the monkey bars, climbing trees, or flipping over the handlebars (yikes)…anyone with me? But we also most likely have some deeper, sometimes hidden wounds from our childhood. These ones don’t leave visible scars but they continue to bleed into our adult lives from time to time.
Do you find that you and your partner have the same fight over and over again? When you’re honest, do you ever overreact to something that the other says because you are just positive that they meant to devastate you by it? Or could it be that there are older pains, scars from childhood or adolescence, that squeeze their way into our fights and our relationships? The truth is, we all have some raw spots stemming from past wounds. The masks we sometimes wear around others or post on social media may make everyone believe otherwise, but we really do hurt each other.
A foundational “hot topic” in the psych world is John Bowlby’s Theory of Attachment. I am a strong believer that each of us is intimately acquainted with attachment whether we know it or not. I will have a few posts following this one that get into it a little bit more and what you can do to HEAL your attachment wounds, but the gist of it is that our early childhood experiences, especially with our primary caregivers (often mom and dad), significantly shape our “attachment style,” and our personal attachment style significantly informs how we operate in just about all of our future close relationships.
For example, I have some big wounds from when I was a little girl, memories starting around age 4 or 5. And attachment theory would say that we can even have wounds from experiences that we do not explicitly remember. My “raw spots” often center around abandonment and unworthiness because I have been mostly estranged from my father and have pretty traumatic memories from childhood. He had affair after affair and struggled with substance abuse which eventually caused our relationship to deteriorate. I’ve always felt that he chose other people or things over me. So now, I have learned that I get triggered when I perceive that Garrett is not choosing me over others, or when I feel insecure I pin it on him and fear or even expect him to leave me because he must obviously know my secret, which is that I am really not worth him sticking around for…
I also get triggered when I do not feel pretty…or do not feel pretty enough to “keep” Garrett. The fascinating and very ironic part is that I chose to marry a wedding photographer, meaning Garrett takes pictures of beautiful and amazing people looking their BEST alllll the time! And do not get me wrong, I love Garrett’s job and that he loves it and is incredibly gifted at it. But, it is also true that there have been seasons where my heart freaks out and seemingly cannot handle it. It wasn’t until Garrett and I were in our own therapy that our therapist pointed out that Garrett and his job could be the perfect remedy to HEAL my wounding and to help me move through those insecurities. She said, “Megan, if Garrett can be around beautiful people so often and he can still choose you over and over and over and over again, what does that tell you about his commitment to stay and about your own worthiness and value?” Boom. Flood gates open, tears streaming, healing happening.
We all have some version of wounding or past baggage if you prefer that language. Even our partners can cause us some attachment wounds. However, the beautiful hope is that similar to our skinned knees from childhood, these wounds can also be healed through healthy and attentive relationships. We can be healers and the primary empowerers for each other. When we are available, responsive, and engaged with each other, we become the safest space and the safest people. Those raw spots from our past get exposed, but then can start to mend, even when it is still painful or slow. It is worth it and it matters.