Partner as Healer
Rescue marriage is the antidote to falling into the well of grief.
Linda: Judith Wallerstein, author of The Good Marriage, taught me the phrase “rescue marriage.” I immediately grasped that she meant that in a marriage, there is a vast potential for helping in the process of rescuing us from the pain of our past. So many people grow up in dysfunctional families of all kinds. There are families scarred by the ravages of addiction to alcohol, drugs, or sex. There are families that are cold distant and non-communicative, devoid of affectionate words and touch. And there are those who use physical and/or verbal violence to manipulate and control. The children emerging from these families are wounded.
A good marriage nurses our wounds to the point where we become healthy and whole once again. I was one of those wounded children. When I met Charlie at age twenty-two, I was still painfully shy, quiet, and fearful. When he would shout at me or ignore me, I would be traumatized and deteriorate into a small girl of four years old. Such regression happened hundreds times in the early years of our marriage. In the vast majority of those times, Charlie never knew it was happening. I was withdrawn into myself, feeling alone and despairing. I came to refer to these episodes as “falling into the well of grief.”
As the trust and commitment in our relationship grew, I was able to speak to him about what I was experiencing: “I am a small, thin, delicate girl. I’ve fallen into a deep dark well. I’m terrified. I am so despairing that I don’t even bother to shout for help. I don’t believe that anyone will come to rescue me from the well. I believe that I will die there.”
Charlie made me promise that I would call out to him for help when I found myself in the bottom of the well. The ratio between the times I suffered in silence and the times when I called for assistance began to change. As I felt a bit stronger and more deserving of being rescued, I called out in a bratty voice, “Why doesn’t anybody come to help me!” This way of asking for help had problems of it’s own, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Over time, with thousands of repetitions, I was able to ask for help in a responsible way. I came to learn to trust that I was not alone.
I still occasionally fall into the well of grief. I have learned how to find my own strength to climb up the rock wall to get myself out. I know how to self soothe and be a good parent to my own inner child. I can allow others to love me, stroke me, and soothe me. I have even found some redeeming value in my past suffering that has allowed me to become capable of helping others because I know the territory so well.
I will have the deepest debt of gratitude all my life, to my dear husband, who lowered down the rope, gave me a hand up, and loved me so thoroughly and comprehensively that he rescued me from my limiting beliefs about my worth. He has been a powerful healer of my past wounds. I don’t believe that I could have done it without his help.
And I give myself credit too, for doing the necessary work to heal from the negative self-image that plagued me for so many years. My life today hardly resembles the one of years ago. It is because of my growth, and many years of watching others transform, that I have such a strong conviction about recovery being a real possibility for all of us.
The process starts with believing that it is within reach. Once we have conviction that our healing is in the realm of possibility, we can create agreements that will prompt us to adopt different patterns that free us from the old ones that kept us from thriving. Having a pure love from another moves us along the path in a way that no other remedy can rival. And once we feel more whole, we have so much more to give others.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate
Tags: Archive, relationship-skills