In everyday life, intimate relationships or just friendships can trigger the shadow in each other. When issues arise in a relationship as they always do at a certain point and the shadow comes out in each, projecting it on the other and hurting each other unconsciously, there is a chance to heal deep-rooted childhood wounds that are coming to surface again, each partner playing out the parent (or both) we were wounded by (as we all have been in various degrees because no parents are perfect), because of their own wounds. If we can recognize this and take our projections back, understanding that there is no one to blame, neither the partner nor the parents, but only lessons, the relationship can be transformed to a higher level.
But this requires sincere work of both partners with humility, compassion and empathy, especially since the projections won’t stop overnight and we keep getting triggered and slip back into unconscious behaviours. Sometimes a third person, a mediator or therapist is needed. It’s about addressing, processing and resolving, making amends and help each other in the process. This is not easy work by far because those old wounds can hurt a lot and we all tend to avoid pain and buffer it up with a band-aid, projecting it on the other person instead of healing it. It’s the fire where lead is transformed into gold.
If this is not possible and we don’t stay aware of the triggers and projections and keep taking things personally and blaming, the relationship will disintegrate, either because both don’t own their projections or one person is so repressed and wounded (trauma/addiction), not engaging in sincere self-work, that the projections intensify, masked up with unconscious anger and resentment, constantly finding fault in the other to justify these feelings, making him/her walk around on eggshells. Then the only way is to separate otherwise we will follow a downward spiral. We need to take care of ourselves first and foremost and can’t “do” anything for the other in this instance. This is not being selfish but mature. “Peaceful resolution” where both people own their projections and make amends is not always possible.
“Many continue to be seduced by the hope that their partner will change for the better, getting so used to being relationally undernourished that when a few crumbs of a desired outcome show up (often just after a serious fuss has been made about needing a closer relationship), those crumbs get framed as a feast, a reason to hang in there, to keep waiting and waiting and waiting… And while we’re waiting thus, we are doing little more than postponing our life, impaling ourselves on our hope (our nostalgia for the future), as if this is all we deserve.”
~Robert Augustus Masters