>Comfort in the crazy…

As a child, who held you when you cried? Did it feel safe, comforting? Or was there something missing?

I believe that most parents are doing the best they can, with the resources they have. That said, it’s fairly common for folks to report that as kids, they weren’t held in a way that felt safe, or comforting; or even held at all… So where would you have learned how to give your partner comfort? Where would you have learned to hear your partner’s pain and sadness, and respond effectively? You were never shown that, so when you hear your partner’s pain, you get irritated, even angry – you may hear echoes of your parent’s voice as you tell your partner to ‘buck up’ or ‘get over it’; which we all know is the worst.

What happens in the split second before you feel irritated, you subconsciously realize that you have absolutely no idea how to comfort your partner – you feel inadequate, like you’ll make it worse. So you pick the lesser of the evils, and go with irritation. You are not aware of any of this, by the way… This happens in a milisecond, like a subliminal commercial – “I don’t know why, but I suddenly want a Pepsi…”

Same thing happens here – “I don’t know why, but my partner is in tears and all I want to do is criticize, or give them a pep talk…”

Like a pep talk has ever made YOU feel better when you are really despairing? As. If. When it’s me in tears, I usually want to tell my well-intentioned loved one where they can stick their pep talk! (And sometimes I do… it does not go over well, let me tell you…)

The truth is, that when you’re feeling completely crushed, you can’t handle thinking about the plan to crawl out of the hole, or hear about the light at the end of the tunnel. All you want to know is that you are not abandoned.* 

That’s it! This is great news! We don’t need to come up with the perfect words, we don’t need to know how to fix it! Yesssssss!

What we need to do is quiet down our own anxiety, and be there to assure our partner that they are not alone; that they are loved no matter how vulnerable and broken they may feel. Armed with the awareness that we don’t need to say the ‘right thing’, or ‘fix it’, we can quiet our own anxiety to be more present with our partner, while they are feeling the pain.

If it’s tougher than you thought, or your partner can’t take it in, when you offer comfort, therapy may be helpful to clearing the blocks to your closeness. I’m here to help.

*Modified words of Pastor Marvin Henk


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