Rupture And Repair

I so appreciated this poster from Lindsay Braman – Therapist & Psychoeducator

Not only are ruptures, disagreements, and misunderstandings normal in therapy, they’re normal in ALL relationships!

As a White woman, socialised into people-pleasing and avoiding conflict, I feel like I was slow in coming around to the realisation that ruptures, disagreements, and misunderstandings are okay. That they can even be portals to healing. And that they are probably even a necessity for relationships to be able to progress into deeper friendships and love.

How else will we get to know each other’s real thoughts and feelings? How else will us White folks unlearn our racism and become more whole? How else will we learn and do differently?

Relationships that prioritise learning, growth, and healing

How can we make relationships safe for ruptures, disagreements, and misunderstandings to happen, so that we can use them to grow in understanding? For example, transracial relationships are inherently unsafe for Black people. Disagreements with health professionals are unsafe for patients. Conflicts with their parents are unsafe and incredibly painful for adoptees. When it’s not safe enough to voice discontent and disagreement, those discontents and disagreements continue to cause pain, yet we don’t have the knowledge of the full picture to be able to resolve the situation.

It’s up to all of us to make our relationships safe enough for transformational ruptures to happen. Especially if we’re the person in the relationship who has more experiences of power and privilege.

Who do I need to be?

I’ve been reflecting on who and how I need to be, to play my part in making my relationships safe for healing disagreements and misunderstandings to lead to growth, understanding, and deeper connections …

I need to know how to regulate my own nervous system, to pull myself out of the fog of threat, shame, and fear (and the aggressive and defensive White supremacist ideology in me that these feelings can trigger!). Shame is such a painful feeling. It can make me want to pull away from the relationship, throw my hands up in despair, give up, defend myself, or attack the other person. Anything to avoid the shame of opening my eyes to see pain and harm that I’ve caused. Even unintentional harm. I gotta get more comfortable with shame, more able to spot it early, breathe, regulate, and go back to listening and loving. Reflect back, offer myself empathy and grace, take the learnings, make things right, and leave the shame behind.

I need to understand and keep practicing what it means to listen with the purpose of hearing another person’s experience, rather than listening for the purpose of preparing a rebuttal.Or even an apology. Just listen, without interrupting the conversation with my own head-shit.

I feel like curiosity is so central, as is humility. There’s so much I don’t know. What questions can I ask to open up my own understanding, rather than forming statements of my experiences, interpretations, and opinions?

Apologies. Repair. Restitution. When I’ve been able to deal with my own shit that got stirred up, stay clam, and listen well, what can my response look like? And what doors to healing and closer connection can open then?

Rupture can be so painful, but if we are committed to attending and repairing, ruptures can be stepping stones to greater levels of healing and closer connections for all involved.