Relationship Residue by Cinse Bonino
Contents | Chapter 1
Love Not War
Chapter 1 Leftovers:
When you step in dog poop, it gets stuck on the sole of your shoe. This is a fact of life. You can wipe your shoes in the grass; you can scrape them over the edge of a step or a curb; you can even use a stick, but some of that steamy little doggie pile will undoubtedly and stubbornly adhere to the bottom of your shoe. Crappy experiences that happen in relationships can leave us with this same type of sticky ick.
When something profound happens to us ina relationship, especially when it is something negative we don’t completely understand, it can continue to bother us long after the relationship is over. Often what sticks with us most are the negative emotions – fear, distrust, guilt, blame, hopelessness, or resentment – that arise from our unanswered questions: Why did they do that? Don’t they love me? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with them? Is this going to happen again? Is this always going to happen? How do I change this? Oh God, what if I can’t do anything about this?
These negative, lingering, leftover feelings invite us to do two things:
To believe all our relationships will be, or at the very least, have the potential to be, just like the one in which these negative things happened
To focus the majority of our energy on scrutinizing our relationship in order to avoid anything that would encourage these negative things to happen to us again
These all-consuming posttraumatic concerns repeatedly remind us of the awful things that have happened to us. They also invite us to become hyper-vigilant about protecting ourselves. We
may start to automatically mistrust the actions and intentions of those who say they love us. With our energy and focus wrapped up in these behaviors, we may end up putting very little effort into creating the kind of relationship we actually do want to have.
It doesn’t matter what kind of relationship we were in – familial, romantic, friendly, work-related, traditional, or nontraditional. It doesn’t matter who wounded us – those responsible for us when we were children, siblings, other relatives, our children, friends, romantic partners, colleagues, or bosses. It doesn’t matter what age we were or are. It doesn’t matter what our gender, sex, or sexual preference is. It doesn’t matter what shape, color, or size of body we have. All that matters, is that we are a human being who has suffered some kind of substantial-to- us pain – real or imagined, intended or accidental, physical or emotional, large or small – at the hands of another human being with whom we were in a
And much like the dog poop clinging to the bottom of our shoe, the residue that clings to us from bad relationship experiences can come along for the ride without our conscious knowledge. We may not notice it until we notice we have unintentionally carried it
into our current relationship, just as when we are surprised to discover we have tracked dog poop onto our kitchen floor, even though we cleaned off our shoe after stepping in it.
Most of the examples used in this book are from romantic relationships; however, the issues and behaviors described can be present in any typeof relationship. These descriptions are designed to help you notice not only what is happening in your relationship, but also why it may be happening. The behavioral approaches suggested are offered as opportunities for you to bravely increase your ability to make the kinds of choices that will help you to learn more about yourself. This self-knowledge will enable you to fine-tune your bullshit detector, whether you are pointing it at yourself or at others.
Remember: It’s what you choose to do with your leftovers that matters.