Over the past few months, I’ve found myself increasingly referring to a situation or person as having ‘activated’ certain issues. It’s meeting someone or experiencing something that makes an up until that point unknown (or dormant or lingering) issue active. I’ve come across so many people who had certain values, thoughts and behaviour and then met someone, and they all promptly went out the window. For a time, it’s as if they were under the influence of overwhelming ‘chemistry’, feelings and thoughts that dictated their every move.
Life keeps serving us the same lessons in various sizes until we heed them. They might start out as hints and bitesize lessons. The less we listen and learn, though, the bigger the lesson gets each time.
When I see how personal experiences can force us to address what we may have believed to be ‘old’ or unrelated issues, it becomes clear that some of what we go through as adults is about helping us to unlearn unproductive thinking and behaviour while adopting healthier habits. It’s also about putting issues that inform our identity and have far too much influence when they really don’t need to rest.
Adulthood is definitely another phase of growing up. It helps us transcend who we thought we were based on what may be a childhood perspective so that we can grow into being our true selves.
We have to find our feet and work out our values and live them, not parrot the past and other people’s agendas.
The 18-month affair that pretty much broke me activated and brought to the fore issues that I was either unaware of or too scared to face.
Affairs, in particular, are like exorcisms; they will bring out every ugly thought and feeling you’ve ever had. For me, the affair resurrected and exploded my internal torment that had bubbled away under a veneer of pseudo-happiness and a series of hurts and losses. Combined with the circumstances at the time and where my head was at, it made for the perfect storm.
It took me a while to recognise that my being in an affair was just like being a little girl. It mimicked the cycle of waiting, hoping, willing, being excited, left, disappointed, self-blame, and lather, rinse, repeat.
Relationships are, in their own way, stepping stones to one another.
What we take away from each one influences where we’re going to step to next.
For me, different relationships activated different issues while, at the same time, teaching me lessons along the way. Unfortunately, due to much of my lesson summary being, ‘I’m not good enough’ instead of, ‘Natalie, you’ve been going out with your feckin parents again! What the chuff is that all about?’ I had to step from unhealthy relationship to unhealthy relationship to finally ‘get it’.
In the end, I’d activated so much stuff that I emotionally and physically shut down and hit rock bottom.
When you experience activation, ‘old issues’ become present. They might have been unknown, but they become exposed. You get ‘triggered’, and it sets the wheels in motion for big things to go down.
Activation might make you reprise a childhood role.
You might be on a laser-focused mission to right the wrongs of the past because the present-day situation activates a need to be needed. It might activate a need to relive the past and have a go at your own episode of Quantum Leap.
Activation can spark this overwhelming urge to ‘love’, ‘give’ and seek validation. It’s likely because you regard the person as being the One To Fill You Up. They have something you want.
Activation reopens an old wound and effectively unplugs unaddressed, ungrieved grief.
Activation also has a habit of triggering uncharacteristic behaviour that you’ll later come to wonder if you were on drugs or something. You may feel like you’re under a person’s spell. If you slot into a child role where you give the other party all of the power, you will recognise this feeling. The situation and/or person destabilises you.
Feelings, thoughts and familiarity that you may not even recognise for what they are can feel overwhelming. This sense of a ‘powerful connection’ or ‘chemistry’ is often used to explain what is happening. What can become apparent, however, is that the connection, especially when it’s based on an old issue, is actually toxic. Or a lot of the connection is about what’s going on within you. This person’s almost a prop… or a catalyst.
The ‘connection’ is really the energy stemming from the activation.
However long an event lasts or that you’re involved with someone, these can be catalysts for growth, change and healing.
Life has a trial-and-error quality to it that’s a pain in the arse at times. Still, when you stop making what happens about ‘worthiness’, you move further away from repeating the things that have previously dragged you down.
Familiarity, especially if it’s linked to something or someone unhealthy, is a code red alert.
It’s a sign that you’re trying to put the past on repeat and likely trying to ‘fix’ stuff that’s outside of your job spec. Familiarity is also a sign that there’s something that you need to do a little (or a lot) of growing up on. If what you’re doing inadvertently causes you to revert to being a child, acknowledge who or what the situation or person reminds you of.
When you experience ‘activation’, you may feel angry about realising that an old issue is rearing its head or after the fallout. It would be nice if we could leave the past behind without any reminders, but that’s not real life. To rekindle embers, there has to be something there to burn in the first place. We have to be careful what we carry around with us. Toxic emotional baggage needs releasing. Hard as it can be, try to acknowledge what this activating situation is guiding you to confront.
I remember my osteopath telling me that there’s only so much stuff we can jam inside our mental cupboards.
If the present activates old issues, it’s a valuable opportunity to clear out, tidy and refold everything in a way that gives you some breathing space, even if you need some outside help with the unpacking and reorganising.
Ultimately if you’re aware of your vulnerabilities, rather than ignoring them, facing them will actually give you strength. You also won’t allow your life to be directed by unhealthy thoughts, feelings and habits.
In the end, experiencing this activation can activate an enduring need and habit to love and take care of you. Through pain can come some blessings in disguise.