By: Glyndora Condon MS MFT LPC CTMH CCTP CEMDRA CIMHP ACS and Brainspotting, also a Hypnosis practitioner
What an odd name for an article; one might think. I was listening to a Christian broadcast and heard a clinician who is a marriage counselor-explain this analogy very well and it influenced me to use the same as I use a more general context that includes family, friends, as well as; marriage.
As a mother, I recall when my children were small and their angst when they saw a random spider. I must admit that I dislike being too close to one myself but I realize they have a good function of ridding us of insects that are also irritating-and that I am much larger than one. With a smack of a fly swat or my hand, or one stomp of a foot; then it can easily be eradicated therefore, spiders do not cause me the same anxiety as it did my children.
Although I knew of their value and that they were really no threat, I took charge and quickly acted on my children's behalf. After all, the spiders were a threat to them. When you love someone then you will do what you can to take their fear away.
Taking this small analogy then let's consider others and what their spiders may be:
To a person who has been physically abused, then someone yelling at them could trigger their trauma response. Even if that person who is yelling would not be as affected if others were yelling at them-it is obvious that this behavior is causing harm to the person who was abused when one yells at them.
A person who has suffered rape or sexual molestation may cringe if a similar act or threat flashed upon the television. Or if their mate is forceful, domineering, crude, or attempts to rush them during a time that is of high risk for them. This person who sometimes connect sex with love and feel utterly rejected when their partner refuses their sexual advances. This person may be leery of others touching them or invading their personal space. Therefore, to expose them to whatever their triggers are would cause them to be thrown back into that moment of abuse.
A person who felt abandoned and rejected as a child may need more affirmation from those who love them than others who did not suffer this neglect. To tell them to get over it, and to refuse to tell them that you love them and that you are there for them- then this would trigger their trauma response.
A person who suffered from their mate who chose to look at porn or chose to have an affair (emotionally, physically) with another person would be very afraid that this would occur again. They would need affirmation, to feel desired, and to feel safe in their relationship. They would be aware of any possible threat that might tempt their mate (even if this mate is a different person and if that person states that they are not tempted while they look at others). To engage in flirting, lude comments, porn, meeting with others for lunch or other occasions who could be attracted to the mate, viewing seductive others on television, comparing the loved one with others who are better built or sexy, and/or a simple rejection would spiral them back into that moment of fear.
A person who once abused alcohol or drugs but is now sober may struggle if their loved one consumed such when in their presence.
A person who received more condemnation, negative judgment, wrongful accusations and punishments, mockery, insults, teasing, and like from their family or origin or a special someone-may be extra sensitive to the same from their present loved one, even if this was not intended to harm the loved one, was a joke, or intended as anything to be taken seriously. To this person it was serious and it wounded them once again.
Someone who has a disability with focus, with something physical, with memory, with intellectual abilities would be more aware of when others appear to be limiting them, not accepting their limits or struggles as real, or mocking them.
A person who believes themselves to be a burden, not good enough, not lovable would be triggered with someone who seeks their own pleasure with screens or others and who is not present with them. If others discount their feelings and tell them that they are overreacting and just silly- then this only re-reinforces their poor self-image. If you agree with them that no one could ever love them enough because they are too needy and clingy, then understand that this harms the.
It is important to learn what “the spiders” are within your loved ones. Ask them what do you do that hurts them and how can you help them? Then, quickly eradicate those threats for your loved ones.
It is very possible that you and they could seek a good counselor who is versed in CBT and Solution Focused but also with EMDR, Brainspotting, Emotional Freedom Techniques, and like Mind and Body modalities that can help your loved one to heal from their past traumas, while continuing to be mindful of their triggers to not be a source that triggers them. With the right counselor with the right tools, that loved one will find more peace while you learn how to communicate and to love them by their love language, and they learn how to love you by your love language. Nothing is worth wounding them. While wounded, that person's defense mechanisms will keep them from fully trusting in your love especially if you keep doing things that continue to keep them in a state of fear.
There are dangerous spiders that truly do damage and destroy relationships. Porn, Adultery, Lies, and Addictions (screens, porn, substances, alcohol) and these truly need to be avoided and stomped out-regardless of our own personal perception. We need to understand that these are harmful for even the more healthy relationships, based upon much data of statistics.
I pray that the above article will help each of you to be willing to kill the spiders regardless of how their issues may seem to you. The spiders are not worth what this is doing to your loved ones.