“Wherever there is erotic energy, there is also the potential for transformation.” These are wise words said by a therapist I once knew. And she was right: What better crucible for personal growth than intimacy? There’s nothing like a relationship to get things cooking in your psyche’s kitchen. But where does the alchemical power of sexual attraction come from? It all starts in a very innocent place: childhood. The first people we “fall in love” with are our parents. Our relationship to them programs us for future intimacies. The people we choose to be our lovers often come with the same qualities—helpful and unhelpful—that our parents brought to us. Enter the concept of relational homeopathy, a term introduced to me by the same insightful woman mentioned above. In medicinal homeopathy, an extremely small amount of what causes an illness is administered to heal it. For instance, there is a homeopathic remedy made from onions (Allium cepa) that treats hay fever’s watery eyes and nose. (It’s not a complete analogy because onions don’t cause hay fever, but you get the picture.) Relational homeopathy happens when you find yourself engaged with someone who reminds you a little of Mom or Dad. Sometimes when you are relating to her or him you feel just like the hurt and powerless child you once were.
However, this person’s behavior is not severe enough to cause more wounding or recreate an abusive environment. It’s just really irritating. One way to know that the stage is set for this kind of “homeopathic” healing is when you have a big reaction to a relatively small event. The magic happens when you shine your adult consciousness on the young part of you who feels so sad and angry. Here is an example: You feel intensely rejected—like a hurt little girl—when your partner doesn’t say hello to you when he comes home. I’m willing to bet that the part of you that is feeling so dismissed is stuck in childhood. Maybe your Dad wasn’t very emotionally attuned to you, and one of the manifestations of his lack of presence was that he ignored you when he came home. But unlike your father, your partner is usually pretty emotionally responsive.
However, when he’s stressed out, he does have a habit of not acknowledging you when he first steps in the door. It’s not a terribly harmful behavior, but nonetheless does trigger strong feelings related to an experience from the past. This is the optimal situation for “homeopathic” healing to occur. And what would that healing look like? Well, it may mean that instead of lashing out at your partner, you have a kind word with your inner five-year-old. This young part of you probably thinks that your significant other’s current aloofness and your dad’s past unavailability is/was indicative of your lack of worth as a person. Now is the time to sit your sweet self down and tell yourself that that idea is a flat out lie! Remind yourself that: 1) your parents’ inattention had nothing to do with you 2) your partners’ inattention has nothing to do with you 3) you are and always have been inherently worthwhile Once you’ve eased your inner kid’s sense of rejection, you can respond to the situation at hand from the position of an adult, not a child. It’s relational homeopathy. Your partner’s temporary inattention, approached with an eye towards self-awareness, functions like Allium cepa: It has the ingredients to make you weep, but it also carries the potential to help you access and resolve the true source of your tears—the childhood experience of feeling unworthy of affection. By using the feeling of rejection to love yourself more—not less—you take another step towards wholeness. Apply this “remedy” to all of the difficult situations in your life, and nothing can stop you from growing.
Photo by Sara Darcaj