If we take an honest look within, we may notice a certain guardedness around our heart. For some people, this is a thick, impenetrable barricade For others, it is a thinner, subtler protective shield or contraction that only emerges under threatening conditions. And nothing triggers this sense of threat so strongly as the suspicion discussed earlier: that we are not truly loved or acceptable as we are. Numbing or shutting down the heart is an attempt to deflect the pain of that.We all live with some variation of this wound, and for each of us this wound is held by a vulnerable child within us.
Not knowing that we can be loved for who we are prevents us from trusting in love itself, and this in turn causes us to turn away from life and doubt its benevolence. We may tell ourselves that love is not really available. But the deeper truth is that we don't entirely trust it, and therefore have a hard time fully opening to it or letting it all the way into us. This disconnects us from our own heart, exacerbating our sense of love's scarcity.<< - >>
This whole pattern -- not knowing we're loved as we are, then numbing our heart to ward off this pain, thereby shutting down the pathways through which love can flow into and through us -- is the wound of the heart. Although this love-wound grows out of childhood conditioning, it becomes in time a much larger spiritual problem -- a disconnection from the loving openness that is our very nature.
This universal human wound shows up in the body as emptiness, anxiety, trauma, or depression, and in relationships as the mood of unlove, with its attendant insecurity, guardedness, mistrust, and resentment. And all relationship problems follow from there.
~ John Welwood, Perfect love, Imperfect Relationships
I have no idea yet where Welwood is going with this in his book, but I do know that we can take the intiative to give that inner child the love and acceptance it needs. How we do that will vary with each of us, based on our experiences and needs. We must do it for ourselves. Even though a loving and accepting partner can do a lot to help us in the right direction, only we can fully access that child's pain and vulnerability.
Part of healing ourselves means going into that pain, but to do so with another allows that frightened child to see that it is safe to be vulnerable and open, to love and be loved. There is no greater gift we can give ourselves.
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