When we marry, there are three hopes and three fears.
The hopes are that:
- everything good you have ever had, you will keep
- everything that you have ever wanted but didn’t have, you will find, and
- everything bad that ever happened to you will not happen with this person whom you trust, you love, and you feel loved by.
The fears follow right on the heels of the hopes. If you remember when we talked about the creature part of the self, that part is not fine tuned, that part is like radar that is scanning the horizon looking to see if there is anything dangerous. It is not fine tuned, and so anything that is similar to what troubled you in the past, it will alert you as though the danger is the same.
These fears are that:
- everything good you ever had you are losing,
- everything good you ever wanted, you will not find, and
- everything bad that ever happened to you is about to happen again (one hint or similarity can cause you to react as though it is a reality),
So right behind the hope–the positive part–is the scared part. All of us started out as children, and all of us started out as helpless children. Whenever anything happened that was upsetting, we really could not control it; we were helpless and vulnerable, and we were dependent on who was there to respond in the way we needed. If it didn’t happen, there wasn’t very much we could do about it. The fear, in a relationship, is that all those things that ever went wrong might happen again. If my partner acts in any way, for example, like someone I once cared about or was dependent on who hurt me, that one thing can trigger an emotional reaction because the part of me that is not fine tuned, that is reactive, isn’t able to think through what is similar and what is different.
The negative part of this expectation gives rise to what we call an Emotional Allergy. An Emotional Allergy is a reactivity to a situation that is similar to an event that is painful out of our history or conditioning, but that is not the same in the present. However, the level of our intense reactivity results in a transfer of the ledger (or bill) from out of our past to the present trigger of the allergy who is often our partner or someone else significant in our lives. In effect, strong emotions out of the past are transferred and projected onto the partner, which we call the Revolving Ledger.
The Revolving Ledger is a metaphor for transference and projection–for feelings from the past that affect behavior in the present by attaching to whoever is there. If these feelings are negative (pain, fear, or anger) it is as if someone ran up a debit balance in our lives and we now hand the bill to whoever is here now. We either expect them to make it up to us for what was missing in the past or to continue to treat us badly. “I’m going to punish you or get even with you for what has gone wrong in my life,” is our typical unconscious response. If our feelings from the past are positive (love and pleasure), we carry a credit balance into our relationships in the present as well.
This phenomena gives rise to unlimited misunderstanding, hurt feelings and misery in the current relationship.
~ Lori Heyman Gordon