The Raw Spots

This weekend we were spending time as a family with our good friends up at Bear Lake. My son and daughter were playing outside when my son came in and asked for a paper towel. I looked down to see that he had skinned his knee and was bleeding in one spot and had road rash down his leg.

Concerned, I asked what had happened. He didn’t want to say. After helping him clean the wound and get a bandaid, he sheepishly admitted: “It was instant karma mom. I was teasing my sister and tried to take a ball from her when I slipped and skinned my knee.”

While I don’t necessarily believe in “instant karma,” I do know what was left from the encounter was an open raw spot. We had to cover it while we went on the side by side so it wouldn’t get dirt in it and become infected.  He’s been asked multiple times already what happened, and the story remains the same: “instant karma”.

In Dr. Sue Johnson’s work, she talks about how each of us have “emotional raw spots” that come from an experience where we felt hurt, betrayed, let down, lonely, scared, abandoned, criticized, etc. And just like my son’s wound, our emotional raw spots each come with their own story. And just like my son, many of us don’t want to talk about that story, so we bury it deep inside of us and try really hard not to talk about it.

However, the truth is, that it is really important to find, identify, and clean out these old wounds and raw spots. Because until we do, they will continue to bother us whenever anyone gets close to them. In order to identify “raw spots”, there are a couple things that we need to know.

First, raw spots can be old or new. They can come from any previous relationship, or be from a specific experience in your current relationship. Interestingly enough, it doesn’t matter where the raw spot came from, it still has to be healed and worked through as it shows up in your present relationship.

Next, you can often spot a raw spot because the mood shifts suddenly and dramatically. Have you ever been have a great time laughing and playing around with your partner and then you make what to you seems like a funny comment and suddenly your partner closes up, shuts down, lashes out, or some version of the above? This gives you a clue that you’ve hit a raw spot.

What now? When we find these raw spots, it is important to be gentle with our own raw spots and those of our partners. We need to commit to never using each other’s raw spots as weapons, and rather look at them as opportunities to “put down our weapons”, and allow ourselves to grow closer and create a safe way to talk about what’s going on.

These conversations are often difficult at first, but with help and guidance, you can learn to look for, and work through the raw spots of your own and those that effect your relationship. If you’d like help learning to do this, contact one of our relationship experts, we’d love to help.

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