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Thrive vs. Survive: The Transformative Power of Conscious Partnership

Updated on April 16, 2012

Survival Mode as a Way of Life

People who grew up in environments of chaos or abuse may find themselves as adults reviewing their past and realizing that life has been one crisis after another. This has been the pattern of my own life and one day when asking myself “Why? Why? Why can’t my life be what I want, why again am I contemplating letting go of the fragments of dreams that I barely remember and surrendering to the pain that overtakes me and whispers in my ear ‘face it, you’ve failed at life’. Then came a crystal clear realization: because my childhood years had been a matter of survival, all the events in my life played out in the same way: a struggle to survive, for that was the only way I knew how to exist, and exist is the best word to describe that state.

Conscious Relationship: Key to be Set Free

I was given a glimpse of hope when I remembered a book I read in my 20s by Harville Hendrix. Somewhere out there is a partner who can break this cycle and lead me to a life where I’m thriving rather than surviving. This is part of Harville Hendrix’s theory: that we are all walking wounded in some way or another, and that through relationship/partnership with another all the traumas and dramas could be worked out and both could emerge on the other side with a fulfilling life together.

If the experience described sounds familiar, recall the dating process: are or were you attracted to the same kind of person over and over again, each time reaching a point in the relationship when you just could not take it anymore, that this person was making life a living hell? What was really happening was that this person was hitting vulnerable areas or ‘buttons’ which have two ways of playing out once activated: either pain and contraction as the original feeling of injury is relived, or allowing an opening to the emotion and with your partner/spouse confronting the falseness of it. Whatever happened at age (fill in the blank) is not actually happening right now; your partner is not your enemy rather your ally and by loving him or her they have been given claws and the power to scratch open scars that otherwise lie dormant....but your tormentor (partner) can be the one to deliver you from your inner hell by providing and reinforcing a different outcome to the one that left the scar.

Decision Time

Next time I reach that point in a relationship if I listen to the voices of the fear that say ‘run like hell’ I’ll end up in exactly the place where I was before. Alone and barely comfortable; only surviving. This time I want love to prevail over fear. I don’t want to live in the shadow of my past anymore. I want to commit to what may be a crazy ride for a period of time and then emerge a better person, one that may still have scars but like how the body heals stronger after a wound so will my psyche. A few words or an innocent deed by my beloved won’t send me off into the land of terror. Our worst enemies are ourselves and when life has been a battleground: comfort and/or the familiar wins over change. I want change. The power of commitment combined with courage and a dose of vulnerability give the strength and resolve to confront and overcome the shadows cast by trauma. The transition time in a relationship when it’s the end of the honeymoon can be compared to starting a marathon running race. The difference in a (conscious) relationship is that the finish line is the same place as the starting line: the love that brought the two together.


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