The Lethal Nature of Unconscious Toxicity
If we permit unconscious toxicity to remain entrenched in our system, however, it will recreate the dysfunctional patterns of our original wounding experience. The wounds of the past will become the wounds of the present. The way we once bled will be the way we bleed again. Subconscious determinism will override the will of the conscious mind, severely limiting our ability to experience real inner freedom or find fulfillment.
When the subconscious contains hidden toxicity the people and situations we draw to us may seem to be very different from those that were toxic to us in the past, but the underlying patterns we experience in our encounters with them will be the same. They will still carry the same toxic charge for us as the people who originally shamed us, and they will infect us with that same toxicity all over again.
The Lawyer and the Judge
I once had a client, a female attorney, who was divorcing her husband, who happened to be a judge. She constantly complained that her husband was dry, distant, cold, and critical. While he may have had the perfect personality for a judge, he had the wrong one for a marriage. He constantly put her down and made her feel inadequate. Her self-esteem was virtually non-existent. When she first came to see me, her system was full of rage toward all men. In our first few sessions, we were able to clear some of her rage. That clearing created enough reflective space in her system for me to ask her about her childhood and her parents. When I asked her about her father, she answered that he had been warm, outgoing, engaging, and funny, nothing at all like her husband.
“Was your childhood a happy one?” I asked.
“Not really,” she admitted in a low voice.
“Why?” I asked.
“Well,” she started hesitantly, “My father was warm and funny, but he picked on me and made fun of me! He made me feel really inadequate and ashamed of myself, although I’m sure he didn’t mean to.”
With that confession, she burst into tears. I let her cry, making no attempt to console her. Consolation, like sympathy, validates the inner victim and interferes with the clearing process. Consoling her would have kept her rage intact, stopped her progress, and deprived her of the opportunity to discharge an important piece of her childhood shame. When she finished crying and became more peaceful, I pointed out the connection between her father and her husband.
“So,” I began, “while your husband and father are nothing alike, at least in terms of their personality, they are very much alike with regard to the quality that wounded and shamed you. Both of them were critical of you. Both of them made fun of you. Both of them put you down. Both of them made you feel inadequate and worthless. Your father caused your original shame. Your husband reopened that wound. Chronologically, the wounding events of your childhood are many years behind you, but the toxic emotion from those experiences is still very present in your system. Those emotions haven’t been banished. Instead, they have traveled with you into the present. Although hidden, they control your life.”
“Shame is a very powerful ongoing emotional event. It is not over just because the time it happened in is past. Time doesn’t separate you from your toxic emotions, as it separates you from the historical events of the past. If your toxicity remains unconscious, it will continue to terrorize you until you clear your childhood shame. If you don’t clear your shame, you will pull someone else into your life that will do the same thing to you. If your childhood dynamics had been more positive, you never would have married your husband in the first place. The source of your problem lies in your relationship to your father. Your husband is the result of that originating pattern.”
Getting Over Daddy
“Great!” she said, feeling frustrated by the task ahead of her. She had come to me to get over her husband. Now she had to deal with something even more difficult and overwhelming, her father.
“It only seems impossible now,” I told her. “The reality is that it should be fairly simple to clear the childhood shame from your system. The worst is over. You have faced the truth. When you know the truth you know what to do. The truth about your toxicity is a map that reveals your path to wholeness. Right now, your path goes through your relationship to your father. Every time you reveal and redeem another layer of your toxicity, you will discover more of your path and stand in more of your light. We make our way to our truth, step by step. Every step we take brings us more freedom. Much of life is about overcoming the negative. Since we all have had a different life experience, we each have a unique path to discover who we really are. This is your path.”
“Is this about the worst thing you’ve ever had to deal with?” she asked in the wounded voice of a child.
“No,” I replied. “It’s actually one of the easier dilemmas I have faced. This should be routine. The good news is that we now know where we’re going. The next step of your path is clearly defined. Your material is fairly mobile and should be easy to move. We should get through it quickly.”
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