In over twenty years of seeing patients — couples, families and individuals of all ages — many common threads have emerged. Jung called these patterns archetypes. Most of them are within us at birth, awaiting their gradual integration. But the one I want to talk about does not have a name…perhaps because it is so invisible and is often killed off by divorce, denial or blame. I am beginning to call it The Ghost Child or Ghost Chibi. It is an unseen, disowned orphan no one listens to — an inner child that is comprised of both partners in a relationship.
When we first love someone, it feels so lovely. We feel all the things that we have been taught “love” consists of: passion, intimacy, sharing, protectiveness, safety, trust. Then, somewhere along the line, things begin to change. Intimacy awakens the heart and then this darker, shadow aspect begins to emerge. We may feel irritated or angry, mistrustful, passionless, selfish, unsafe. Things get darker: we begin to judge more harshly; the characteristics we thought were adorable are morphing into annoyances. Our gloves have come off in layers as our unconscious has been giving birth to an invisible child who lives within and between us. This little ghost is comprised of the very best and playful of the two partners and is also the vessel for the broken pieces, the slivers of shame, the shards of unresolved childhood pain.
If we try together to look compassionately at this phenomenon, then we may safely examine this broken child, rather than blaming each other for the fractures and misunderstandings that arise in the relationship. We may begin to accept that disappointment is part of love, not an indication that love has died. In seizing this opportunity to know ourselves and our loved ones more intimately, we may embrace this child and observe it with compassion until the broken pieces have a chance at healing. Thus we need not run away, judge, hate or merely fuss at our loved one, no matter how annoying we perceive them to be. Instead, we can pause and embrace the pieces of ourselves that were likely rejected by those around us when you were growing up. Then intimacy “problems” become our chance to grow toward wholeness. So, when you feel yourself judging or criticizing someone you thought you loved, be still, stay mindful, curious, and be kind. Finding a solution in softening around one another and parenting ourselves together, allows for change.
Thus, just like in my artwork there is a place where Jizo, the Buddhist protector, may hold the Ghost Chibi, until a true union is achieved — comprised of both partners.