6 Oct 2014: I work with many couples and thus many “hot spots”. I have observed how couple systems seem to have perfected into an art the process of rooting out areas that leave each other breathless with vulnerability.
From personal experience in my own long term relationship, I know how paralysing these moments can be, where each person seems frozen in the wounds of their respective pasts. The cyclical nature of the moment seems to doom the couple system to never resolving whichever particular issue they are stuck in.
Here’s how I used an ORSC approach using the metaphor of “lands” with one particular couple who would constantly present the same underlying power struggle in every couple session we had. The process took them beyond their triggers and hot spots to a new understanding and intimacy.
Choosing a day when they were not triggered by each other particularly severely (though it would often take very little to get them there) we began to explore the respective inner landscapes, rules and beliefs in each person’s interior being. Very quickly the differences were starkly revealed and a hot spot began to simmer under the surface. Fortunately I am well versed in their particular dynamics and could contain the simmer to just under the surface!
When we explored what it might be for them to inhabit a shared land, the process began to spiral with an energy that I recognise as magical and healing.
Very deep vulnerability and fears surfaced in each partner, explaining explosive reactions that would usually cover over the vulnerability and woundedness, serving to allow the person to stay on the surface and triggering similar reactions in the other.
The end result was a deeper understanding of each other’s wounds and insight into how the reactions simply create a (false) sense of safety; an armouring that covers rawness. Moving forward we worked on how to weave these insights into daily contact in a way that deepened the sense of connection that emerged from the session.
True intimacy, and learning to love another without the fears of the past walling off this deep state of openness, is a process of learning step by step about who the other in your life really is, and most importantly, learning to contain how their fears trigger your own.
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