He Who Wants A Rose Must Respect The Thorn.” Persian Proverb
Written By: Mark Smith
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One of my favorite and most colorful clients dropped another Blog worthy phrase this week. In discussing the power he unconsciously accords his critical former spouse he starts his session with “I went from Man Warrior to fetal position little boy in 2.1 seconds.” My man’s Achilles heel is a childhood core set of feelings centered around shame, not being good enough, feeling as if he failed and the sheer terror of humiliation that might come his way if he were ever seen to have dropped the ball. In the bottom of the 9th when all looked lost in the game of planning a huge event for his daughter, it turned out that the ball was not dropped and my man regained his rightful position as righteous Man Warrior.
However, there was psychological blow back for him the rest of the weekend. Even though disaster was avoided he still felt shaken to his core with fear, insecurity, sadness and little boy dread.
Since our meeting was Monday morning he brought fresh weekend pain from the weekend. After explaining what happened, his question to me was basically “WTF”? “Why did this situation that was completely out of my control cause me to freak out so much and leave me awash in such deep, primal shame, fear, insecurity, humiliation and then ultimately relief and joy?”
I love it when I get served a nice, big, juicy fastball right across the plate to start my Monday morning work week. My therapist head had been disconnected all weekend and many times it is difficult to get it screwed back on effectively. But not today! I explained to the big fella that his reaction was pretty normal. Almost all of us have Achilles heels when it comes to shame rooted in our childhood. When a perfect storm of circumstances gather together to collectively push that button, it opens up a core of radioactive shame that can return a manly 50 year old man to a fatal position toddler instantly.
And once that core of shame is open you feel like a dark, depressive cloud of debilitating negativity and sadness is following you around for as long as a week. I know that many of you out there know exactly what I am talking about.
What is your childhood based Achilles heel? Do you remember the Michael J. Fox movie ‘Back to the Future’? His Achilles heel was that if anyone called him a coward or “yeller” or made chicken squawking noises then he had no choice, he was going to participate in whatever irrational and self-destructive his challenger baited him into.
The old therapist/writer/Harley rider has quite a few Achilles heels himself. If you do something that pushes my humiliation button in front of my kids, poof, I am done with you for all time. That isn’t really fair, but at this point it is something that I am aware of and working on.
If you have zero ability to hear what I am saying due to your arrogance, black and white thinking, projections, aggression, distrust and general craziness and if you catch me on a really bad and undifferentiated day I very well might match your level of craziness with an embarrassing little boy fit of my own. We all come equipped with ‘crazy buttons’ from our childhood. Do not act like you don’t know what I am talking about!
Of course the overwhelmingly #1 crazy button of all time is ABANDONMENT. This would be when you get a Facebook message from an old high school girlfriend that is innocent and sweet but when your wife sees it she loses her ever loving mind, tosses your laptop into the yard, hits you in the head with the TV remote and then emails all of your friends and family exposing your ‘emotional affair’.
Or if your husband notices you innocently talking to another guy at an office party and then he spends the next three years calling that guy your ‘boyfriend’ and following you if you grab a beer with workmates after work. Or your spouse pouts and throws a massive fit if you just aren’t up to make love due to being really tired. Or ugly, hellish fights break out over the slightest of perceived slights like chit chatting with a buddy at a bar while not giving sufficient attention to your girl.
If you or your honey has some of these buttons or some like them I would suggest that you get your butts down to the button repair shop ASAP. While most of these buttons can’t be fixed completely, our repair staff can teach you to manage the button pushing with wisdom, sensitivity, healthy boundaries, kindness, grace, awareness, insight, humor and objectivity. We can help you understand why the pushing of certain buttons leaves you in a fetal position hot mess of infantile shame and pain. Embracing that pain is a good, healthy and courageous thing. It is a sign of strength, not weakness.
The title of the Blog today is “He who wants a rose must respect the thorn.” And it is an ancient Persian Proverb. It offers sage wisdom about modern day relationships. We all offer both roses and thorns. We all have harmful Achilles heel injuries that make us dangerous at times. If you are going to have your heart in a relationship you are going to get hurt. With the roses of relationship bliss, romance, sexual connection and love there most certainly are the thorns of conflict, reactivity, dysfunction, addictions, emotional cutoff, pain, ugliness, and deep wounding. There is a price to pay for love. Obviously, most of us think that it is ultimately worth it.
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