In the counseling part of my practice I am often finding that folks know that they need help with a particular subject matter, but often want to skirt around the issue so as to avoid it for as long as possible. They try to insert other issues into their time with me so that we work on those instead of the actual issue underneath it all. Now, understand that I am well aware of the fact that many people do indeed have multiple issues. I am also well aware of the fact that the BIG issue is often at the root of all others and intertwined into all the others. And I am also aware that often it is a timing thing. When one is ready to work on it, the BIG issue will be addressed. Sometimes it is a matter of baby steps along the way towards the BIG issue. I also know that most of my clients already know that I know what is happening. They are just too afraid to bring up the BIG issue. I am not going to insert my agenda into the session, because that can actually do more harm than good when helping people sort out their stuff. I ask questions. I watch their energy system’s response to the questions and whether or not it is congruent with the verbal answers that they give. I am sort of like an energetic lie detector. Or at least an avoidance detector. But I also respect each and every person with whom I am working, so I will not push them into addressing anything before they are good and ready. I invite them. Sometimes multiple times. When they are ready, they will take the invitation and accept it and dive in.
Sometimes, however, there are really toxic patterns that people have when trying to avoid the BIG issue. For example, I have noticed a pattern that exists in some married couples. That pattern will be that the person with the biggest, most painful issue, in trying to avoid it, will throw their partner under the bus. They will criticize them, complain about them, make it look like everything that is wrong in their marriage is because of “him” or “her,” thus avoiding the fact that they are really screwed up within. I am not one who appreciates this tactic. So I will call them out on it. Often this turns it around. Sometimes, however, the one with the BIG issue will cease the therapy sessions because their fear has been triggered, and they are not emotionally mature enough to recognize that their anger with me is masking their fear about whatever the BIG issue really is. Here is the thing…
Even though they cease the sessions, most often the partner will continue on with the sessions themselves because they see that, FINALLY, someone else saw what they have been seeing all along. So they continue to work with me because it helps them to maintain their own sanity. Sometimes those sessions turn into “how to cope” sessions, and often they lead to “how to move through this while maintaining your own personal integrity and authenticity” sessions. Either one and both are perfectly acceptable. Healing is healing. It doesn’t matter what end of the ball of string you pick up first, the knots will eventually all sort out.
What the partner who is masking their BIG issue does not realize is that, in throwing their partner under the bus, they are actually shooting themselves in the foot. They are so afraid of dealing with whatever the BIG issue is, that they will actually sabotage their entire marriage/relationship in order to continue avoiding it. And when everything falls apart on them, they will then point fingers at me, or whatever other therapist they have who also saw through their smoke screen, and blame us for their marriage falling apart. This is just as self-destructive as the avoidance patterns have been throughout the rest of their lives. And until they face their fears, this pattern will absolutely destroy any future relationships that they allow themselves to poison.
It is so important for people to learn how to deal with their fears. Fears bring out the most vulnerable aspects of our personalities. They make us feel broken, fragile, angry, rageful, twisted and so on. But they are there as a signal that something needs some healing work, and that something has NOTHING to do with your partner, your parent, your child or anyone else. It has to do with YOU. And when you face your fears and start to actually address them, you become a true warrior. You conquer your insecurities and denials and allow yourself to be the bravest person you know. Before you know it, with a lot of hard work involved, yes, you are on the other side of that fear an you are able to take on the world in a way that is so much different than the way the cowering, fearful part of you once did. All it takes is a willingness to take on the first step. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself in thinking that it has to all be fixed all at one time. That is completely unreasonable for anyone and anything. Baby steps. Even with the BIG issues it is about taking baby steps. Acknowledging what the issue is. Sharing what the issue is. Finding ways of working with this issue that are healing and not damaging. Putting into action a plan for how to deal with this issue on a day-to-day basis. All of these are baby steps that, once implemented together over time, create the healing process. But first it is important to allow yourself to face the fear. That is what I am here for. To help you with THAT. And I am not the only person there for you when you dive in. Your partner will also be there for you. Your other therapists will also be there for you. You will have an entire team there for you. That team will be your army. We will fight for you. We will not let you down. But first, you have to face the fear.
Are you ready?