“Your relationship looks so perfect – at least on social media” is what people often say to us.
And, yes, while Jaymin and I have done a lot of work and use a lot of tools, our relationship still can get messy. We are human and wired the same as everyone else – and, like every other relationship, we serve as mirrors to surface the unhealed wounds in each other.
As a coach in this field I think it is really important to share the real struggles that I face in my own relationship.
In fact, these struggles are what get me excited to jump onto calls with clients with new things I figured out first hand by living it, that I can then teach them.
So, here we go…here’s some of my “dirty laundry”…
Earlier this year, I got into a massive fight with Jaymin. It was one of our 3 big fights of our entire 7+ year relationship.
Just like every fight it was two good people being in a state of disconnection.
Can you relate?
What was behind escalating the simple disagreement to the actual “fight” was trauma.
We all have it…even us relationship coaches who have been practicing for these moments and using all the tools so that we don’t have to resort to that sort of thing.
But we all have trauma.
This is the thing I find
Sometime before the age of 7 something happened to you, too.
It might have been something as innocent as a moment when your mom turned her back to you and walked away for a quick second in your moment of need.
Or maybe something less innocent happened to you. Whatever it was, it was painful and caused trauma in your life. From that point onward, you began developing your survival mechanisms…tools to prevent you from ever getting hurt again.
Sadly, most of us learned short-term tools, and not ones that would serve us well in the long-term into adulthood.
That day I resorted to my old survival tools, because my wounded inner child got so deeply triggered (unintentionally) that I pretty much left my adult self behind and went straight into my fight/flight/freeze/fawn response at next-to-full-volume.
It was the perfect storm of a situation where I felt not loved and not good enough (my core wounds), and where Jaymin was not feeling seen, heard, or considered (his core wounds), for us to erupt. Mind you, at that point, neither of us had clarity on what was going on internally for the other person.
A deeper trigger was pushed on that I haven’t felt in a long time, and I started yelling. I could feel myself losing touch with the present moment…like something was sucking me back into an old nightmare.
Thank goodness we actually do have (and practice) tools for being with trauma responses. Somehow I managed to signal that I was in a triggered state. I began shouting “alarm bells” and making our agreed upon hand gesture that meant “time-out-something is not okay!”
That was about all I could muster before I was in full-on flee-mode and began retreating up the stairs.
Jaymin was incredible. He heard me shout “alarm bells” and he did all he could to muster a change in himself to stop the fight. He lowered his voice and made it as compassionate as he was able. He opened his arms in case I wanted a hug. He said gently, “OK, I hear you. What do you need?”
Now, all that sounds nice, but remember that this has only happened to this extent 3 times in our relationship, and we were not so self-aware with the right tools the previous 2 times, so we still didn’t really have the next step yet.
Although he was being sweet and compassionate, all I was able to feel was him talking to me and it felt like he wanted to come near me (remember the open arms for the hug).
Words and energy directed AT me. When I was just trying to get away.
It still felt like an attack. So I shouted “STOP TALKING! GIVE ME SPACE! ALARM BELLS!” and ran into my room.
So dramatic, right? That’s what indicated it was actually trauma-related.
Once the door was shut, I went straight into my emotional release practices and slowly, slowly, slowly, I moved the frenetic energy in my body and returned to the present moment in my present self.
I was no longer the helpless young girl who was scared of violence. I was my adult self again…and feeling so hurt.
A little while later there was a knock at my door…
So there I was, a slobbery mess of tears on the floor. There was a knock at the door, and Jaymin asked to come in and have a check-in with me.
I sat down in front of him, legs crossed, closer to the door.
I couldn’t look at him. I was so hurt.
He gently used phrases that have become our heart band-aids over the years. We have consciously found the things that our inner-child really yearns to hear to feel safe and seen. He said those to me, and used bits from the amazing Ho’oponopono prayer of forgiveness. Then he asked me about my experience and created space for me to answer.
My heart melted and I began gushing out all of my feelings, taking ownership of my own experience instead of pointing fingers. He listened and used a specific communication tool (that I teach my clients!) to make sure he heard me. When I finished, I let him know I was feeling complete. He empathized with me and thanked me for sharing. When I felt heard and acknowledged, I broke into sobs in his arms.
When I was feeling done with my release, I sat up and thanked him. My nervous system was calm, and I had the spaciousness and capacity to be curious about his experience.
I asked what had happened for him in that situation. This is where I had the opportunity to hear about his big plans and desires not happening…about how he had felt so unseen and unheard by other people earlier in the day…about how upset he was by not getting to surprise me with his idea…about how confused he was by my shouting and not knowing what else to do when I called “Alarm Bells”…about how much he loves me and did not intend to hurt me…
There was so much there…so much happening inside for both of us…so much pain that the other could not see or understand on the surface. So much love and great intentions turned sideways unintentionally.
I held space for him as he spoke, and then reflected back to him what I heard. I could really empathize with his feelings. I could see how there was actually no villain here.
We asked if there was anything each of us needed. Then we held each other and breathed.
When we were ready, we walked downstairs together and called the kids and our nanny in. It’s one thing to fight in private…it’s another to fight in front of your family, and they had witnessed it all.
Jaymin and I share a value of demonstrating healthy disagreements and conflict navigation in front of our kids, but this was not at all what it usually looks or sounds like. This was louder, and messier. So we all sat down together and called out the elephant in the room – the fight.
Then Jaymin mentioned how he felt as a kid when he heard his parents fight. He asked them how they were each feeling, and we listened. Our 6 year old could recall the 1 other big fight we had had about 3 years (and 2 houses) ago! They talked about their surprise, sadness, and fear. We listened, repeated back, and empathized.
Then we asked them if they had any questions, and we shared with them the high-level of what happened…of how each of us were feeling, of how we talked about it, of how we both said we are sorry. We owned our break of agreements with them (not to use our loud voices without warning). We apologized for the incident. We let them know that we love each other and them very much, and that we can talk about this any time they have more questions or feelings come up.
It was beautiful and vulnerable. Nothing felt hidden or unresolved. Trust was restored.
Sometimes we can’t be at our best, and that’s okay. But the truth is that the tools we have learned and consciously chosen to practice saved us hours, days, years of unresolved pain and hurt. It created connection and healing instead of deeper wounds. It modeled a healthy form of repair for our kids to learn. I am so grateful for these tools and for an amazing husband who commits to using them with me.
This is our real-life-behind-the-scenes mess. I know we all get triggered. If you want to have the tools to navigate your messes with your partner (and family!), then I invite you to click here and a member of my team will help you explore the possibility of private coaching together.
Sometimes you can’t be at our best, and that’s okay. AND I know you are capable of learning tools that will lessen trauma and lead to repair and connection quickly.
You and your love are so deserving of this!