Humans make mistakes in relationships, but being human it is not always easy to identify exactly what the mistake was — or how to repair a rupture that we accidentally caused.
Rupture and repair is a fundamental element of attachments in relationships. In fact, in essence it can be said that all our attachment patterns are about repairing ruptures between self and others and self and the environment. (Please see post links below)
I have accidentally hurt a very dear friend of mine. Against all odds and against all of other people’s feelings and ideas about my relationship with this person, about this person, about what I did that caused a serious rupture in my very meaningful (though often difficult) friendship-relationship with this person — I KNOW myself, and after 12 years I know my friend.
About four years ago I gave two things of high value to my family away to this person. I didn’t mean to. I brought these items of great beauty that I had made nearly a quarter of a century ago over to show them to my friend. His eyes lit up like Las Vegas on a moonless night. He obviously thought I was gifting them to him. I did not have the heart to tell him otherwise and these items passed from my life into the life of my friend.
I told my daughter the day this happened. She immediately asked me to get the items back. I did not have the heart to. I did not have the guts to, either, as I knew there would be a most intense solar flareup once I took this action.
I waited these four years, but with the soon-to-happen birth of my second grandson coming, I knew that these two items which DO belong to my family and DO belong especially to my grandsons, needed to be retrieved.
So NOT an easy thing to do, and yes, the disastrous rupture in the heart of my friend and in our relationship happened. Lots of fanfare, I might add. When my ‘dominant male’ friend is challenged by anyone any time over anything — well……
Over a week later I am walking my own pathway concerning what I wish to do to repair this rupture. The two original items are in the hands of my daughter. I am going to make my friend one of ‘these’ of his very own – not an easy task.
His big tough feathers will not be soothed with my statement of intent, either. His big tough feathers will return to a cute harmless twinkling-eyed state only when I complete and place in his hand an ‘item’ of equal beauty to the ones I very awkwardly gave and took back.
Meanwhile, Mr. Man’s essential self is going to remain in a huffy huff – and I accept that. I did not mean to make a mess of this transaction. One could suspect, even suggest, that a grown man might have taken this entire situation a great deal more gently – with grace – yet his dignity absolutely requires that there be an unforgettable price paid for this rupture – until it has been repaired.
If you take a look at the links I post below there are statements of attachment theory fact regarding interactions and transactions between infants and toddlers and their earliest caregivers. When a caregiver causes a rupture – which is ALWAYS the case prior to an infant’s age of one year old, the caregiver must initiate the repair. (note: after age one is the stage, also, that the nervous system of an infant has developed enough to experience the physiological shame reaction in response to a caregiver-toddler relationship rupture – that is meant in healthy normal ways to safely socialize new humans – see last three links below)
Once the increased independence of the infant after age one begins to create ruptures – (i.e., touching forbidden things, etc.) – it is again still the caregiver’s job to SHOW the little one how repairs are accomplished.
Some of us who were neglected and maltreated/abused when little received none of this adequate training – NEVER!
But we can learn. Personally, this entire issue is about TRUST. Infant brains begin to have patterns of trust (or lack of trust) built into them by age two months. This fundamental brain circuitry is directly tied into all of our lifelong attachment patterns.
My friend did not have an easy beginning. Neither did I. Yet as I work my way through my current relationship mishap I realize I am gaining practice in how to recognize what is often at the core of discontent in relationships: Breach of trust.
I value trust. I value this relationship. I value my friend’s right to react to my mistake in his own way. I have some very real work to accomplish to make this new item for him. At least now on my side of the rupture I have some smiles of my own. I am working toward seeing another one on the face of my friend.
More related research notes:
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