We’ve all been glued to our tv’s, watching with horror the unfolding tragedy in Japan in the aftermath of their most powerful earthquake ever. As I write this, I dread finding out about the death toll, the human suffering, and the likelihood of a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima power plant. Some of the aftershocks of the earthquake have also been huge with as yet an unknown toll on life and the Japanese landscape, and infrastructure.
I’ve been thinking about the dread and anxiety related to aftershocks, as a kind of re-traumatization. It’s reminded me about “aftershocks” in marriage and partnerships, and how an initial traumatizing event tends to reverberate in a way which can be entirely overwhelming, as I imagine the aftershocks are for the Japanese now. (I’m aware that a life or death catastrophic event is, in many ways incomparable in the degree of suffering to an event which is emotionally traumatic). The concept of “aftershock”, however, is familiar to anyone who’s spouse has had an affair, leaving a residual breach of trust, and “reverberations” in the way of new information about the marital history, which contradict history as it has been known. My work with couples who are wrestling with some emotionally devastating event, often centers on these “aftershocks” and how they jar the landscape of a marriage.
For anyone who is trying to repair the damage caused by some emotional or trust breach, my hope is that you appreciate the devastating impact of these “aftershocks”, and that you don’t rush to closure for your own purposes.
With much sadness,