How do we find healing for past relationships? This Star Trek Continues episode shows an approach that can be an important piece of the puzzle, and one I personally have found very helpful.
Captain Kirk is plagued by unresolved past relationships, and he finds resolution through revisiting the places and people (in the holodeck and in his mind) and a sincere and intimate dialog.
We may not have a holodeck to play out past relationships and situations, but we do have our mind and imagination. That’s where the past lives anyway. What I have found most helpful is to imagine and have a dialog with a healthy and awake version of the person. (Otherwise, I may just communicate with conditioning.)
For instance, I did this with some kids from my elementary and middle school. I revisited my uncomfortable experiences from that time. Imagined the most healthy and awake versions of those kids. Shared with them how I felt when they treated me as they sometimes did, how I wish they had treated me, and what I would like from them now. And they responded from a healthy and awake place, sharing their own pain, why they had behaved as they did, and their sincere well-wishing for me. I found it helpful to do this a few times, each time looking at different sides of the situation.
As a side note, I’ll mention that I just discovered Star Trek Continues (a fan-made follow-up to the original series), and find it as good and enjoyable as the original series. (And, of course, equally quirky, camp, and cheesy, and that’s part of the fun.)
And I’ll add some details to the example above:
I go back to the setting from my childhood, and the kids I have an unresolved relationship with. I see them as healed and awake. I share with them how I felt and experienced the situation. I felt very hurt by how you treat me. I felt scared and hurt when you gave me “the look” when I answer the teacher’s questions. I felt hurt when you ignored my suggestions for what we do, and then were enthusiastic when someone else later suggested the same. I felt hurt and confused when you were good friends one day, and shunned me the next just because you were with another group of friends. I felt hurt when I felt I was not fully accepted, allowed to be as I am, loved as I am, and that you were not more consistently good friends. I see them listening and taking it in. One of them says: I am sorry. I know I sometimes acted in ways that were hurtful to you. It’s because I hurt. I had difficulties with my parents. I didn’t feel safe, loved, and content with who I was. I am sorry I took it out on you. I wish I could have behaved differently. I wish I had treated you with more kindness, respect, and as a good friend.
Hearing this, it’s possible for me to take the next step. I know I was a little geeky and socially awkward. I understand why you picked me, and some other kids, as targets. I know it could have been much worse, although it felt pretty bad to me. I know you did it because you hurt and tried to deal with your own pain. And the other: Yes, you were a good target. You didn’t retaliate or speak up about it. And again, I am sorry I took my pain out on you in this way. I know it must have been difficult for you. I wish I had another way to deal with my own pain, but I didn’t at the time. I was hurt, confused, and scared too.
Me: Yes, we were all hurt, confused, and scared. I am sorry too. And I know I wasn’t always kind to you.
I know it’s not easy being a kid in our society, with parents who don’t always know how to consciously deal with their own pain, and with a lot of kids the same age brought together in a very artificial setting (school). We were all in the same boat in this sense.
When I do this process, one important aspect is taking time to feel it and let it sink in and work on me and reorganize me, often just by noticing and in silence.
This may seem a little simplistic because it is simple. And to the extent that what I share and what they share is real to me and feels authentic, and comes from a more kind and wise place in me, it’s deeply healing. It’s one important piece of the healing.
I know that what the others share may well be different in real life, partly because they may still be caught in traumas, beliefs, and identifications. And yet, I also know something about how we are when we are more healed and awake, and how they would be if they were more healed and awake. And that’s the version of them I communicate with because that’s where the deeper healing is to be found.
I’ll also add that psychological healing is often a healing of the images in our own mind. It’s about parts work in that I and they are all sub-personalities within me. And it’s about projections, although this work works even if I am not consciously aware of all of this.