“I am a rock/ I am an island…
and a rock feels no pain/ and and island never cries”
Her family of origin is made up of a super critical parent, poverty and bullying. Her first marriage was co-dependent with her fixing him until he got tired of the fixing and left. He comes from a well defended place, he becomes a rock. However, over time he has learned that being a rock prevents him from experiencing the rainbow of human emotion, including joy and peace. So he practices being more authentic, vulnerable and real. Never forget though, that his go to position is that of a rock.
Now put them together, he says things off the cuff that don’t mean anything to him (Because he’s a rock), and certainly aren’t meant to be malicious or hurtful. She gets her feelings hurt but instead of telling him, she copes by putting up the same invisible shield she has put up her whole life.
As a result he goes around carelessly hurting her and she goes around getting slain at every other turn. (Sometimes the shield works.) They grow farther and farther apart. He senses her wall and copes by turning to stone. There is no authenticity, no vulnerability and no healing.
(All the little tormentors say “YEAH! WE WIN!”)
What if it were different? What if she told him when her feelings were hurt? What if she didn’t throw up her Ivisi-shield? Would he retreat into being an island or would he try some compassion? I’m betting he would probably try to be more aware of his words and actions as to avoid hurting her. She may experience love without criticism. He may have longer and longer periods of time where he stays open and available. She may start to feel more and more safe. They both begin to heal.
When she uses her Invisi-shield she is coping. When he becomes a rock, he is coping. Coping works to protect you in the moment but over time, vulnerability and authenticity heal those parts that want to be protected.
I say this like it’s super easy, “Just practice vulnerability and authenticity.” It’s not super easy and it’s a process.
First we have to become aware that we are using coping mechanisms.
Next we have to notice that they aren’t serving our highest good.
Then we have to practice NOT using them when every fiber in our being screams, “SHIELDS UP!”
We have to learn what we need we have to be brave enough to ask for it. Now there are some people in our lives who are incapable of giving us what we need. So don’t ask them. That’s like going to the barber and asking for a socket wrench. Dumb.
We all know the difference between a request and a demand. Vulnerability requests. When we make a request for what we need, it will be met with kindness and a sincere attempt to try.
Just for today
When I’m feeling my old coping techniques rise up, I’ll take a step back and ask myself what is really going on. What is it that I really need? Then I will go to my trusted friend and make my request. And it’s ok if my request is denied, simply by practicing the vulnerability, I will become more comfortable with it. Plus, I can always ask someone else.
God, help me to recognize when my coping tools aren’t working anymore. Show me that I can trust YOU to keep me safe, that I don’t need those tools anymore. Even if I get hurt by people in this world, that you will shelter me and give me hope and healing.