The Inside Relationship (continued)
Children, however, don't have the problem of hiding their negative reaction to what's different. A child will go up to an adult and say, "You're so tall, but your head is so small" or "Your hat looks silly." They'll name what's different. Or, they will stare at someone in a wheelchair, for instance.
Whereas an adult has learned to inhibit their negative reaction to what's different from them. But, that becomes a terrible problem that builds up in the unconscious. It's almost better to name it up front and then move on from there. (This view is a controversial point.)
I remember, when I was a resident, I was assigned to a partner for a year. All day, every day and every third night we worked together. Prior to first meeting him in person, I heard that his name was Dr. White. Then, I met him; and he was black. I said, "Dr. White, you're black!" He said, "Dr. Slattery, your white!" So, the elephant in the room was kind of acknowledged. And, that felt pretty helpful.
To be classified as "toxic," a relationship must be extremely bad. When they are, they interfere in the development of people, especially children. I have "grabbed" onto the term "toxic" as a way of underscoring the gravity of how harmful certain relationships are to people who are stuck in them.
One thing about relationships that happens over and over again is that patterns of relationships from early life tend to be recreated in adult life. I have often asked myself why that happens.
Rather than answer that it's pathology, that if you had a judgmental parent you will have a judgmental spouse, my hope is that if a person's psyche chooses a partner that recreates the past, that it's in hopes of the person finding a different footing this time around — that they can find a different attitude toward the problem than they had as a kid.
As an adult they may have more psychic strength and be able to set boundaries. And, ultimately, if they have to, leave the relationship, if it's toxic.
Go Back - Relationship Issues (Page 1)
If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves. — Carl G. Jung
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