Hard Things Happened Long Ago

From a talk by Tim Jackins* at the New York City Regions’ Workshopin New York City, New York, USA, June 2016

Almost always, the things that were the hardest on us happened a long time ago. It isn’t that big things don’t sometimes happen later. It’s that the early hurts are the ones that really nail us to the ground, so we can’t move very far. And everything accumulates around them, taking advantage of our inability to think there. They’re the place where all the oppressions take root.

If we had been connected with someone as children, and hadn’t been hurt or could’ve kept discharging, we wouldn’t have believed any of the oppressions that were pushed at us. It’s when we can’t think, when we are alone, when there is no reference point that we are vulnerable to all sorts of distresses.

We gave up trying to discharge them. And because we weren’t able to work on them in the past, we now try to work on the most recent restimulation of them. We’ve mistaken the symptom for the cause.

We can be upset now by tiny things, especially when they’re done by the people we are counting on spending the rest of our lives with. Because we couldn’t discharge the hurt back then, and there is some hope we can discharge it now, we tend to grab the latest restimulation of it and shake it in each other’s face. “Yeah, see what you did?” (Laughter) Well, you know how well that works.

We feel entirely justified. Maybe we are. But we feel entirely justified because all of the old feelings from when we were justified are attached to it. It has the full head of steam [full force].

You make some odd little comment, and your sweet, dear love turns and growls at you and shows fangs. What did you say; what did you do? Well, not much. But it hit the spot where he or she never had a chance to discharge and resolve something. It may absorb both of your attentions, but you can’t stay there and work on the restimulations very long without being confused. It makes you think it is real and not restimulation. It makes you think something really bad just happened, and it didn’t. Almost always, the harshest thing that happened is that you both got restimulated and lost in old distresses that you hadn’t had a chance to discharge and get rid of. That kind of thing confuses us and takes us off course, and it can take weeks to get back together enough to peer through a little opening at each other.

It’s fine to bring up a restimulation as a place to start a Co-Counseling session. It’s a flag that tells us where we are vulnerable. But to stay there very long has us working on something that will happen over and over again until we work on what caused the vulnerability: the early undischarged hurt.

As we work on the early things, we are less and less likely to be restimulated. The image I use is of trying to take down a tree that needs to be removed. We can go at it by clipping off leaf after leaf after leaf, but the leaves regrow, just like our restimulations. There will be another one tomorrow. If we really want to make a difference, we have to cut deeper, go down earlier and earlier. As we do that work, something can change.

It feels confusing, but with present-day restimulations, especially in relationships, we always have to decide that something’s not right with ourselves. Otherwise we end up in the helpless position of saying that because the other person restimulated us, it’s their fault. They may well have distress, but the fact that we are restimulated means that we have distress too. We didn’t cause it, we didn’t deserve it, but it is ours now. That feels unfair, but it doesn’t matter. We have a vulnerability there, and only we can change that. That’s the early work we have to do, so we don’t waste our time in confusion about each other in the present.

All of us here are the best allies we know how to be. We care as deeply about you as we know how to care, and it will get better as we do this work. There is nothing wrong with any of us. There is only work we need to do on the past, so that we can function more clearly with each other in the present.

(Present Time 185, October 2016)

* Tim Jackins is the International Reference Person for the Re-evaluation Counseling Communities.

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00