From the moment I said ‘yes’, there appeared an invisible line in the sand that I could no longer cross. A line it took me 18 years to become aware of … but one so powerful I never, ever, ever crossed it.
I still marvel at this phenomenon. What I understand now was that line was part of the unconscious emotional ‘agreement’ I had with my husband. It went something like this … through your silence, anger, criticism, I have learnt there are things I should not do, places I should not go, things I should never, ever say or I get to experience more silence, anger, criticism. Over time, this pattern imprints on my psyche until before I know it, there is an invisible line I would never cross. I am held captive on one side of that line by my own fear – often a fear that I haven’t questioned, investigated or understood. Big, important things could happen … bad things could happen. But if dealing with them, if preventing them, meant I had to cross that line, the power of that line would always hold me back. I wouldn’t speak. I wouldn’t probe – ask important questions. I wouldn’t act. I would feel powerless, resentful sometimes even angry with myself and others. I would never say words that questioned my husband or held him accountable. Because that would mean I would have to cross the line.
In a complete paradox, the me that everyone else saw appeared confident, gregarious, able to run a successful business, organise and manage staff, deal with people and speak publicly. But the me in my relationship was like a little girl, holding back, doing everything to be good, be loved, not disappoint. Looking back all this seems so clear. Back then I never noticed – I just felt it’s impact.
Years later, someone gave a name to the experience I had agreed to when I said ‘Yes’. Psychological abuse is when patterns occuring on a repetitive basis, ‘condition’ you to behave in a certain way. In my case, it was possible for this to occur because I hadn’t been taught to care for my own emotional needs. I held him responsible for the way I felt – if he was kind and loving I felt safe, appreciated, worthy. If he wasn’t, if he was silent, I was walking on eggshells and I no longer felt safe, loved, cared for … the little girl in me would do anything to get back that love she thought she needed from him. This wounded child in me would become desperate to fix the situation, to resolve, to feel loved again. This need burned whenever there was friction, and never went away. Nothing unfolded differently. It was the same every time. I had never been taught how to address the patterns, be emotionally responsible or to use my authentic voice – in fact I couldn’t access my authentic voice, because the role I was playing wasn’t authentic. I had created a version of me who people pleased, didn’t speak up or question, didn’t say what she felt, or spoke words she really didn’t feel. I behaved in way guaranteed to keep me safe, loved and cared for – or so I thought. (In reality this is not true, the dynamics that were created by my behaviours never kept me feeling safe).
I was being someone I was not. My husband was in relationship with a puppet version of me that wasn’t real. It had no substance. It had no depth .. because it was simply a warped reflection of the real me. I was the movie playing on a screen to entertain the viewer and keep them happy. Is it any wonder, I felt disconnected and alone in the relationship? is it any wonder after time there was nothing there – no common interests, no heart. And is it any wonder, I had lost myself? I hadn’t yet realised I had replaced me with a paper cut out, that was held in shape by the invisible lines of her own creation.
Back to this invisible line. Fear. Sometime after the relationship ended, I reflected on this invisible line. Strangely, I asked myself the questions I should have asked while I was in the relationship. What would really happen if I crossed the line? Was the line real? What was the FEELING that seemed to be activated in those moments? With a huge thud it landed on me that nothing would have happened if I crossed that line. My husband was never physically violent to me, my fear seemed to be incongruent with the ensuing outcome … sure, he may not have been happy, but so what?
Now, because l live more authentically and have discovered the way to speak from my true self, there is a power I feel when I use my voice. It holds me centered, grounded and strong. It is fearless … even thought there is potential for a reaction in the other person. It leans in … knowing herein lies an opportunity to heal and become closer, more loving towards each other. To grow. I may feel a little apprehensive, but I don’t stop asking questions, exploring the situation we are in, being present to the opportunity happening right here, right now. I could never have done this before, because I was using my wounded child’s voice each time I tried to resolve my adult issues. I had never been taught the difference.
The invisible line is accompanied by walking on eggshells, the silent treatment and people pleasing. They are all strategies I developed as a child to get my emotional needs met … ie to make sure I was loved and survived. I needed them back them. Now they are no longer healthy. The good news is, they are not who I am – they are behaviours, habits, which means they can be changed with guidance and practice. In hindsight, I find it hard to comprehend the amount of energy it took to keep those patterns in place and the unnecessary pain they created. I also see the amount of joy, confidence and happiness I missed out on experiencing. I could have been living life naturally as me. That would have been easy. If I’d only known how!
I facilitate regular programs that support people to apply new codes of communication so they can access their authentic voice. There are 4 codes. One for emotion – to remove the emotional charge that gets in your way. Another for motive – helping you get clear on the unconscious drivers that are influencing your capacity to speak with inner power. The third for intention – which influences the way my words are felt by others and can either foster a fixed outcome, or deepen connection and the love you feel. Lastly a code for delivery – new words, sentences and approaches that create long term resolutions. Theres more info at www.lisajayne.me. In the meantime, sending you love,
Lisa Jayne is a Communication and Relationship Specialist. As well as working with clients in her private practice, Lisa is an engaging speaker and educator. She is currently writing her new book, focussed on education for the heart and is the founder of the Hearthub, community spaces for people to come together, connect, feel inspired and learn a fresh approach to relationships and communicating.