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EARLY EXPERIENCES AND ADULT RELATIONSHIPS

Updated on February 14, 2013

I AM ALL GROWED UP AND CAN'T GET INTO TROUBLE ANYMORE

Our earliest experiences of relationship with our parents or caretakers become the template for our future relationships including even our relationship with God. Wow, that’s interesting.

If these early relationships are characterized by what some call a secure attachment, then we grow up with a sense of wholeness and maybe even a sense of holiness or, as I like to say, wholeyness. With that wholeyness comes an innate sense of preciousness, so we treat ourselves and others as precious. We do not tolerate ANYone treating us any less than preciously.

Secure attachments come about by our parents’ ability to read our needs and then respond to our needs during our first nine months of life. So if I cry because I am wet, it is important for the parent to recognize the words I am yet unable to speak that lie beneath the cry, to recognize it is an “I’m wet” cry.

The reality is we do not live in a perfect world, and probably none of us experienced completely a secure attachment. We get wounded as the great mythological stories tell us. This is not about parent bashing or crying over spilled milk. It is just a fact of life. We get wounded.

Unfortunately, most of us have no clue we are wounded, and we go into marriage with no clue. We have no clue that conflict in our relationship triggers these old wounds. We just automatically assume that the other person is attacking us and hurting us, and sometimes we assume they are doing it on purpose, and you know what? Since our beloved is also wounded from the past, they probably do attack back on purpose. It’s about the confusion and the subsequent drive to survive.

Here is the confusion. I think you are attacking me. It feels like you are attacking me because old emotions that we have no conscious access to, emotions that are stored forever in our amygdala, get triggered and fired off as if the old hurt is occurring at the moment you are snarling at me! So, of course, for the sake of my survival, I must defend myself some way or another and one way is to intentionally hurt you.

As we grow into a toddler and a preschooler, many of these initial wounds become intertwined with feelings of guilt when we are told we have done something naughty. And often times, we have done something naughty. Perhaps whatever it is just doesn’t call for the death penalty. But that’s what is administered when we get the evil eye, or we are shunned, or worse physically hit or verbally attacked and shamed. Or even worse, when our parents tell us, “I am disappointed in you.” That perhaps is the worse. See if you can figure out why, from your own experience and your own use of those same deadly words with your own children.

We are basically telling a child he or she is not a good enough mirror to reflect just how wonderful we are as parents. But that is never a child’s job, not even an adult child’s job. As parents, we have to create our own internal mirrors for that validation. We literally destroy our children’s soul when we try to shape them into being that mirror for us.

So we enter marriage or a relationship, loaded for bear. We either have vowed never to allow another attack on our soul, or we are so used to being attack that we invite one after another. Our connection to each other is not characterized by a sense of preciousness, that feeling that hopefully most of us feel when we hold an infant. Instead, our relationship becomes a game. We are desperate to keep score. We must always keep the score even. No one can win, but both of us continue to lose day after day.

Our relationship becomes an exercise in making sure we attack first or avoiding attacks all together by closing our hearts, withdrawing, and eventually withholding.

In From The Frying Pan To The Jacuzzi, Chapter five invites us to get it that we are all "growed up" and can’t get into trouble anymore. It is not about becoming perfect or impervious to making mistakes. It is simply acknowledging that, as adults, we can no longer get into trouble the way we did as kids.

One of the benefits of realizing that we are all "growed up" and can’t get into trouble is it short-circuits this survival behavior described above. We begin to recognize ourselves as grown-up and if for no other reason than this simple recognition, begin then to treat each other as grown-up rather than as a naughty child.

Treating each other as grown-up, as equals, gives us our best chance at loving each other.

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    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hi Silvia

      Thanks for reading and commenting and I am thrilled the hub nudges places in your heart! Excited you are purchasing the book. If you wish to, write a review on Amazon. I would appreciate it.

      Relationships are what? The spice of life, the challenge of or soul? Wonder filled so often and then not so at other times. Every day I learn something "more" perhaps not new, but more about relationships, about myself, and interestingly enough, the more I stay open to relationships, the more I learn about my relationship with God.

      I have to work at not selling off the yearning in my soul. Who would buy it, anywho? Seems that not yearning would be a place of peace, but it is simply a place of infinite yearning. No peace. The more I allow myself to yearn, the more love comes into my life at the most unsuspecting moments. Anywho, I could go on and on here. Take care. Thanks again for reading and commenting. And remember, You are all growed up!

      Vern

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 

      7 years ago

      I Have read this a couple of times, Vern. Excellent. I will pick up a copy of your book as soon as i get home.

      I think I may finally be past the keeping score stage, but I realize just how often this came into play in my last relationship.

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hi FGual

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Thanks for the best wishes on my book. In my scheme of things it is already a best seller and has already been very helpful to many couples.

      Vern

    • FGual profile image

      FGual 

      7 years ago from USA

      Great analysis, I can relate so much to lousy early experiences that set you up to fail. Hope your book becomes a best-seller.

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Ah! So good to hear from you, Amigo. I really appreciate your comments. You are always so real, so yourself. I too am learning to live with Vern and in a sense to be sure that I am a best friend to Vern and vice versa, not to mention my relationship with God. I have experienced some absolutely mawvelous relationships with friends who really care about me, take care of me in many ways, love me even, and yet I realize even those friends may not always be there when I want them to and that is perfectly okay. I am all grown up and I really can be a whole person all by myself, well, perhaps the wholeness ultimately comes when I realize the "number one" relationship is with God.

      Well, thanks for stopping by and yes, this is a little shorter than usual and I want to write at least one blog a week focused on my book.

      Always so good to see and read a comment from you. Take care. Love you.

      Vern

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Vern, wow a direct message that I thought, I'll save this for later, then naw I'll jess read it now. Short [odd for you] full of pointers [typical of you] I mean that in a loving way, really. I don't and never argue, I smile. Why? Cuz people arguing by themselves look funny. When they get tired they replay in their head I said, then he said? kinda thing. Busted my first and was on the way to busting my second but a car wreck saved me giving her a house, but she took my favorite car with her, bitch![joke, poor taste I know] I've avoided relationships now on 32 years and I like me and feel this was my road. My father was non-confrontational as well, he didn't argue, or raise his voice in anger, seemed he like me found all the confrontation he could stand in the Marine Corps. I understand what your saying here and believe it's true, I've seen it outside looking in more times than I can count. My hat's off to those who endure. My father taught me how to go, it took a while but as told in the Bible, I did return to my teachings and am a much better person for it. I hold only one expectation and if I'm wrong it won't matter 'cuz I'll be dead. Good to see you Amigo, Dusty

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hi Capric222

      Thanks for stopping by and reading and commenting. If you like what you read here, check out the book. It is easy to read, humorous, and very helpful. Much more economical than even one session of therapy!

      Vern

    • Capric222 profile image

      Capric222 

      7 years ago

      I was very impressed with this hub! I think you are totally right in the fact that we try to score one up on each other and we need to realize that we are grown ups. Thank you very much for your insight and well written hub! I am looking forward to reading you in the future.

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