Those who have relational injuries are not alone. Many feel unsafe in relationships and often try to hide who they are. Sometimes, we even convince ourselves we are someone else until we can’t take it anymore.

What happens? For some of us, our first relationships were not entirely safe; for others, it came with the breakdown of an essential relationship.

There may have been missing caregivers or some family members, teachers, or other traumas who made us feel unsafe.

 

Children need others to live and feel safe; attachment and belonging are more important than feeling a sense of truth in who they are. Therefore, a child will always prefer hiding who they are to losing those in authority.

Our resilience and our sense of survival will often lead us to accept and even love rather than rebel or criticize openly. If we express anger, we often do it internally, pushing things down, believing our inner critics, feeling shamed, and learning to hide it.

 

We may meet others who challenge our beliefs. Sometimes, those challenges will come with love, affection, and support, allowing us to peel those layers of inner truth like onions. Often enough, it will come with pain. For someone with relational wounding, it’s rare to believe in being lovable the way we are. We might push away, or cling, or try both. We might not see that a relationship is hurtful because our first ones were just as hurtful, and those who hurt us said they loved us.

 

We may find ourselves lost in a forest of relationship shadows. We feel incredibly alone, not knowing how to connect and what a safe connection feels like. That’s when therapy can help.

Therapy can be a valuable place to bring emotions such as lack of self-worth, shame, or trauma memories.

Healing may come in a dedicated space, where “the other” is listening, caring, explaining, comforting, and willing to repair if something feels wrong.

We cannot prevent pain, but we can work on changing our expectations around that pain.

Janina Fisher, Ph.D., says that our emotions can change with a caring presence that supports us. As therapists, we may awaken a pain from the past, but we are no one from the past.

We know that everyone deserves to be welcome, feel safe, and be loved without condition. In that, we offer our unconditional presence, listening skills, and expertise to guide places of hurt to trust again, even for just a little bit, right now, in this therapy room and support it to grow from there.