Open relating is a foundation in a plethora of alternative relationship styles outside of monogamy. There is a silent and sometimes not so quiet revolution going on around the old paradigm of monogamy. Some people are in quiet revolt through covert affairs. Others are more up front and out of the proverbial closet huddling in unified fronts scrambling for identity that challenges the status quo. The function that is paramount in this revolution is the distinction between healthy transparency/secrecy and unhealthy transparency/secrecy!
What is the distinction between healthy and unhealthy secrecy?
Unhealthy secrecy is a locked up expression held in longer then the maturation state needed for self inquiry and understanding in healthy secrecy. Some things grow in the dark. Our secrecy is our way of pausing into integrating and understanding ourselves so that we can express in the most authentic matter what represents our relationship to ourselves.
In unhealthy secrecy, a "lockdown" occurs either because a.) We are caught in a trauma lock that perpetually deems it unsafe to ever express what we perceive or/and b.) The environment is actually not safe to express what needs to be expressed.
If one of my clients reveal that they are having an affair, this is what we work with. It is about understanding their relationship to secrecy. Often it has to do with establishing dignified no’s (saying "no" when you actually mean "no" instead of a "yes"). Often relationships with people saying "yes" when they mean "no" end up in private affairs of some kind that their partner has no clue about. It could be with food, people, or some other excursion to have a private moment to find themselves. If you are having an affair or interludes of some kind in private that your partner doesn’t know about, I would get a greater understanding of trauma locks you might be holding in your body. As well as practice authentic no’s in your intimate relationships
What is a trauma lock?
Our traumas are found in our bodies. They are constantly trying to find a way of expressing what has been locked in our cells and nerves of our bodies to be in a place of comfort and deep resonate of the environment we are in.
Trauma is a natural expression of our body to overwhelm of some kind. For example if you were in healthy function of trauma you would have full expression to an overwhelming event. Imagine a deer being pounced by a predator (terrifyingly overwhelming). The deer would have a sudden impulse to run for its life (Flight). If it managed to run away it would go into a full body shiver and shake off the terror it just went through (Disassociation). The predator, when hearing a noise in the woods, would get very still identifying if their life was in danger or food was around the corner (Freeze) and when noticing the deer would have a sudden grip on survival like his life depended on it (Fight).
The challenge is our humanity and conditioned responses of culture create a delayed response. Imagine little Johnny crossing the street and a car running out of control is coming right at him. Johnny freezes like a deer in headlights. Mom notices Johnny and yanks him hard away from the approaching car. Johnny falls, skins his knee and starts shaking and crying uncontrollably. Mom, typically from years of suppressed trauma responses herself, lifts Johnny up brushing him off, “You're OK. Stop crying, brave boys don’t cry. Everything is fine honey, mommy is late we need to get going!” Years later when the dots line up and he approaches busy intersections they make Johnny shake uncontrollably, people around him wonder what is wrong with him, and the trauma keeps getting buried deep into his nerves and cells. This is how trauma locks occur, they reveal a frozen moment in time of a traumatic event waiting to be released!
What is the distinction between healthy transparency and unhealthy transparency?
Healthy transparency is where people see us from the inside out. It is how we came into this world exposed, innocent, and fully expressed in our multitude of needs! It is often our most courageous act because it exposes us to potential bias and ridicule of our most tender and vulnerable parts that we typically keep safe so that others can’t do us harm.
As children this is a function that most of us knew well. In fact most adults squirm and wince at the display of transparency from children. Imagine little Johnny asking in a voice that is loud enough for people to hear, “Why is that lady fat?” or “That man was so mean to you mommy. Why did you kiss him?” There are these moments of sincerity and truth as we see them as kids before we learn how to censor.
If we had healthy modeling, we would be acknowledged for what we shared (maintaining our relationship to our authentic voice that represents us to the world). We would have been modeled how to have bridges of empathy and compassion for others. However, because our parents and mentorship around our upbringing want to keep us safe and acclimated to our environment, they indoctrinate us in the ways of secrecy, setting up all sorts of contracts within us about what is appropriate and what is not.
Often the secrecy that is passed down to us makes it challenging to be transparent to ourselves. As we start to lack confidence in our own transparency, a unhealthy kind of transparency is born! We lose natural timing with it. Our sharing comes out green from coming out to soon or spoiled from being locked up for so long. If it comes out too soon we tend to not have the authorship of it, yet we get seduced by the praise or ridicule of others.
In listening to a transparent share of something green you support it like you would a preemie. You can create a kind of incubation outside the womb for the sharing and model healthy privacy about the matter by keeping it to yourself and encouraging the sharer to do the same. If the transparency comes out spoiled, a byproduct of unhealthy secrecy, a treasure-trove of backed up emotions (emotions = energy in motion) can be vented.
To be able to support the sharer, the listener must have a capacity to ground the shares that have a lot of backed up energy, much like a lightening rod grounding a strong electrical current. The sharer, sharing something that has been held in too long, has many bursts of emotional tsunamis and storms ready to burst forth at a moment’s notice. (I often recommend professional support around uncovering long held back expressions that have been locked for decades.)
It is important to know your capacity and limits for the support and empathetic ear you give! Yet the support of encouragement by being a safe person to have the sharer open up something that has been locked up for a long time is invaluable.
How do I harness the understanding of healthy transparency in an open relationship?
If you are in non-monogamous relating it is important to understand your relationship to transparency because typically this is more emphasized and leads to many misunderstandings. Often this has to do with saying more authentic yes's. Many of the challenges that people run into in alternative relating is saying "yes" when they really mean "no." As your yes's get more authentic, your transparency will become more natural and well-timed rather than premature, leaving you more vulnerable in a way that often has you feel you need to catch up to yourself.
No matter what style of relating you choose, it is healthy to question assumptions regarding how we “have” to or “ought” to relate. The less assumptions we have the more room we have to create the model of relating that works for us with someone we deeply care about. The more open in our relating we will be, creating greater depths and intimacy.
Tahil has a passion for bringing love, connection,and health into people’s lives. With over 15 solid years of coaching experience, he is committed to bringing forth the radiance in each human being. As the director of the Intimacy Forum, Tahil Gesyuk is dedicated to teaching you the language of creating extraordinary relationships that impact the world in a loving and effective way.
The Intimacy Forum produces events and trainings around affection and connection, bringing a unique synthesis of full sensory and full body learning around *Heart-intimacy*, connection and affection.
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