Courtship allows trust to grow despite old wounds. Given how many years we’ve all spent building our defenses, this healing doesn’t happen quickly. In fact, the first phase of healing brings up old wounds to be felt afresh.
Only when you begin to feel safe does your psyche permit you to look at fears that were too intense to confront before. It is common for either partner to relive, in contemporary form, the traumas and survival threats of childhood.
It isn’t surprising, then, that a man and woman may not permit themselves to be in a healing relationship at first. They need the courage to see that the doubt and fear that surface at odd moments is coming up to be examined and released, not blindly acted on.
The most destructive effect of feeling threatened is to cut off the flow of love. If you were not taught about love from childhood, being able to be undefended with another person is much more difficult. Loving parents must teach their children that reality isn’t simply harsh.
All of us were imprinted one of two ways: either the world is dangerous with moments of safety, or the world is safe with moments of danger.
No matter how hostile the world appears, a loving family remains secure as a place of nurturing and protection. Children don’t need to trust everyone, only someone who will never let them down – thus the original balance between love and need is established. A strong positive imprint from infancy can last a lifetime.
Even though only two parents taught a child to love, it is as if the whole world loved that child, and the belief “I am loved” endures as part of his or her reality. When you have a rock-bottom belief that you are loved, your needs won’t be so desperate; there will be room to allow another person into your inner space.
Adapted from The Path to Love, by Deepak Chopra (Three Rivers Press, 1997).