Client: "I have a pattern of ending relationships and burning bridges."
Gio: "ok...so is this romantic relationships only? Or any and all relationships?"
Client: "Any Gio, I'm worried. You talk so much against isolating ourselves and I feel I just don't have relationships in my life I can count on to stay. I"ve never figured this out, I've gone to therapy for years and nothing works. Why do I keep doing this?
Gio: "Out of curiosity what have you been told?"
Client: " No-one has really figured it out. The words serial monogamist and anxious attachment have been thrown around, but I still don't know what the core of it is."
Gio: "So you jump into friendships and relationships, they are very intense and then they burn out, correct?"
Gio: "Alright... well what is it that you are afraid of when in the relationships?"
Client is silent. You can immediately see fear when trying to answer the question.
Gio: "It's ok....take your time, you are safe here."
Client: "I don't know (tears)......I'm afraid...."
Gio: "Let me guess....they will get to know the real you, and or you will let the real you out, and the real you can be explosive, or needy?"
Client: "yes, yes!!! All of that!"
Gio: "ok, how does it feel to be afraid of that? Can you describe how it lands on your body? How it impacts it?
Client: "ugh, I feel this lump on my chest, I feel numb (swallows hard).....I feel a hole inside.....I don't trust anyone. I feel like none's love and loyalty is really real. I feel like everyone is going to leave...."
Client starts to really cry.
Gio: "When you were small, could you say "no"? What would happen when you would say "no"? As I ask this question what is the first image that comes to your mind."
Client: "wow yeah...ummm....no, I couldn't say no.No, I could never say no. The first image that comes to mind was asking my mother not to do something and when I did...." she hesitates....
Gio: "You were punished.....right?"
Client starts breathing heavily, more tears.
Gio: "Like really punished....... right? Was this your mother or father or both?"
Client: Thinking, hesitant. Feels guilty. "Yes...it was my mother."
Gio: "What feelings come up now?"
Client: "Anger, lots of anger, I can feel my stomach turning. I feel like screaming."
Gio: "Was your father more passive? Like she had everyone controlled?"
Gio: "right, that's going to then ripple into your romantic relationships, what do you feel about your dad being more passive around this?"
Client: "Ugh so much anger Gio, almost like rage."
Gio: "right, so let me summarize this.... you grew up in an environment where you were not allowed to have boundaries and a primary parent violated them frequently. When you would speak up, you were punished. The primary masculine (your father) was passive so you didn't learn healthy assertiveness. You couldn't escape, you felt trapped, controlled and not allowed to be who you really were. You couldn't be loved for who you are because we don't have boundaries, we ARE our boundaries, if they aren't seen and loved, we don't feel loved. So you had to find a way to fight back. Dependence on a relationship, needing someone here would feel very threatening.
Did you ever finally set a boundary with your mother as an adult or were you more passive? It seems to me like you did."
Client: "yes.......I....finally had enough one day and lost it...." Pauses, ashamed to admit the next piece.
Gio: "And when you lost it, did you keep losing it afterwards in other relationships?"
Client: "Yes, all of the time."
Gio: "Right because in your subconscious experience, the moment you set a boundary, show the "real you" the relationship is already over. You anticipate you won't be accepted, you anticipate the other person will be aggressive or passive aggressive, dishonest or manipulative. So you anticipate the rejection and possible negative outcome by leaving first. Since you are aggressive in the way you do it, the other person probably gets defensive and goes into their coping/shadow mechanisms and you feel it is a self-fulfilled prohpecy. See you cutting off the friendship or relationship would have been the only time you felt really powerful again. You see this pattern is all about the way you created to get your power back....it is your NO."
The pattern is your NO.
After growing up in a relationship with a primary parent that took your power away..... and isn't that what you do in your relationships........you seek out the closeness and intimacy you feel desperate to have, to be known as you.......that you didn't have with your parents.....and then if they step over the line in any way you........"
The silence is deafening as it begins to fall into place.
Gio: "You cut off.........and leave. It's your way of subconsciously saying, "You aren't going to do this to me." This being anything abusive, controlling, dishonest, etc. The problem is humans are imperfect and while you want to be in relationship and friendship with healthy ones, at one point or another something will come up. That's how you are setting boundaries and this is why the patterns keeps coming up, that is how you are being assertive, that is how you are raging at your mother. There is more to it than this, other pieces, but for today, let's work on this one."
Client: "That....that's it! OMG Gio! That's it! I feel it in my core. I feel so much relief."
Gio: "So how about we work on setting boundaries a different way?"