I’ve been working with some intense battles in my system lately. I have a tendency to focus on my defenders when I am feeling blocked and I often discuss them in my writing. To be fair, the defender fears of recovery and change are not the only inner obstacles we face as we bring our lives to the next level. Our freedom fighters are usually fans of recovery. But there are times when their years of seeking freedom fuel an intense futility stopping us in our tracks. One of the primary freedom fighters is the isolator. In many instances, they are the first freedom fighter we meet. Their goal is authenticity through isolation.
The problem is that the isolator is not short on evidence to support their perspective. When we have suffered through complex trauma, we likley experienced betrayals and manipulation from the majority of people in our childhood. And that would have continued into adulthood with patterns stemming from our unhealed relational trauma. All relationships would have been questioned and all behaviors would have been searched for signs of control. And if someone was too nice, truthful or authentic, they would have been rejected as “not real”. The isolator can keep us distant, inconsistent and aloof in relationships. And as you might imagine, this doesn’t help us form the kinds of relationships that are healing.
The isolator’s tactics are not all bad. They are good at countering the distractions created by the controller and love seeker during recovery. They will put barriers up against the people who keep us triggered and spinning and distracted from our inner world. I often refer to the isolator as the “path clearer” because of this tendency. And they will push you to cut ties with toxic people despite the resistance from the controller, love seeker and karma kid. All these actions will facilitate recovery. And that is a good thing.
But lately, I have been noticing that my isolator is holding me back a bit. They have done a great job of removing the people who needed removing. And they have kept my loneliness at bay during some of my hardest moments in recovery. But they have some detrimental beliefs that will keep me from finding the next level of my purposeful work and the social life I would like to have. So I am going to break down a few beliefs that can stop us in our tracks when the isolator steps forward.
I will lose myself in that person. This is one of the biggest fears of the isolator. It is one of their primary motivators into action. They wholeheartedly believe that we cannot keep the love seeker at bay in relationship. To be honest, they may be right. Until we begin to shift our love addicted parts who will erase self in relationship, the isolator will always be on standby. And that may be best. The love-addicted parts will overlook red flags of abusive behaviors which look similar to childhood relationships. They will potentially put us in danger in the process. The isolator can come in and protect us from abuse. But they can also act when the relationship is not abusive, leaving us isolated from everyone.
That person only wants to control me. I need to avoid them. The isolator truly believes that control is at the foundation of most relationships. Who can blame them? It is most of what they have witnessed. They will look for hints that another person is controlling us. Sometimes they are right. Sometimes they are over-reacting to a statement that might be triggering. Either way, when they believe someone is not good for us, it is difficult to convince them of anything else. This belief can be problematic in therapeutic or boss relationships where suggestions are common and there is an unavoidable power dynamic. So we have to watch and ground when we feel controlled and are moving toward cutting someone off.
Nobody can be trusted. Let’s face it. The overall perspective of the isolator is that nobody can be trusted. They start every relationship already believing that something will go wrong. Unfortunately, this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy because the desperate love seeker loses self while trying to prove the isolator wrong. And this ultimately makes the isolator necessary. As you can imagine, this further entrenches the isolator in their beliefs and makes the next relational experience even more likely to fail. Eventually, we isolate in extreme ways to avoid any more damage.
It is possible to come out of these patterns by recognizing these parts at work and expressing from them. As the unconscious thoughts of these parts are moved to the conscious mind, we can start looking for evidence that our patterns aren’t always true. I call this the “trust re-wire”. As we find small bits of evidence that go against our isolator’s impression of the world, we can allow ourselves to set boundaries instead of putting up walls. As we consider other possibilities, we can allow more relationships which will decrease our desperation and our need for self-erasure. As we prove to our isolator that we will no longer lose our power in relationships, we will see the wall start to come down and life will change for the better. There is no shortcut to a more grounded isolator, but if you put in the work, you will find peace in the most challenging area of post-traumatic life: relationships.