When Love Attacks

Good looking male thinking.

The attack. It comes from the depths of inner pain. When we are hurting so much, we have tunnel vision. The only thing we can focus on is the searing pain that wells up within. And, given the opportunity, we could unleash that pain on the one we love.

In the heat of an argument we may launch into a tirade. It could be innocently triggered by a comment like, “glad to see you’re working on your attitude”. Suddenly, you have time-warped back to your childhood, when you heard something similar from a strict parent or teacher. Let the attack begin.

People often call and tell me, “I just can’t believe the anger he unleashed on me”. The hard part is to assure the caller that it was not their fault. They were merely a conduit for someone else to release their demons.

If this behavior is consistent and ongoing, it’s verbal abuse and you should make plans to leave the relationship before it escalates into a life-threatening situation. If you are dealing with occasional outbursts, ask yourself if you’re willing to love your partner through the pain and sometimes be the person who takes the brunt of it, with no end in sight.

If you can remove yourself from the equation and understand that you aren’t the cause of the anger, then good for you! Most people cannot absorb the intensity of a verbal attack without taking it personally. The natural human reaction is to launch a counter-attack, leading to screaming volleys until one of you collapses in tears.

After some time apart, the two of you reconcile. Time has cleared the fog and cobwebs, and you both can see that you love each other. And thus begins another cycle in your relationship.

Do the cycles ever stop? How long does it take to purge that inner pain? It really depends on the cause and how long it’s been festering. Many times our pain lies dormant until it is aroused. A good example of this is when we lose a loved one. We may grieve for awhile but never fully heal and, without realizing it, we transfer our remnant pain to other, more present issues. Your partner, or even a casual acquaintance, can innocently say something to you that strikes at your core and you will go ballistic.

The bottom line is to understand how and why you are triggered. The same goes for your partner. It is a practice of awareness and noticing the things we need to release. A sense of humor helps too. The more that you are able to anticipate a hot button being pressed, the more you are able to stay centered when attacked. Unfortunately, most humans react without pausing to think it through. And, we certainly don’t stop long enough to ask, “What do you mean by all this?”

I challenge you to stop and ask yourself, “Why have I reacted this way to an innocent question or action?” Explore your emotions and find the source of your pain. If you are able to locate it, then you will understand yourself better. In doing so, you are already on a path to healing that pain. Yes, sometimes the innocent comment that inflames you is the thing that sets you on a healing journey.

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