I Got Issues... You Got 'em Too

Obsessed. This is one of those songs that came on the radio and the first time I heard it I got excited and turned the volume up. As a counselor I resonated with the emotional tone right away, and it brought up rich imagery of how it feels to be in relationship when you struggle with "issues."

Knowing the reality of codependent relationships and the reality of domestic violence, clearly the lyrics in this song could be taken to be pretty effed up. I haven't done a search online yet, but I'm assuming that there are plenty of blog posts about how twisted and unhealthy the lyrics are. I choose to believe that Julia is singing about a healthy relationship where she and her partner are working on their issues together in a conscious manner to reach a deeper unified state.

You don't judge me, 'cause you see it from the same point of view

I got issues, you got 'em too

So give them all to me and I'll give mine to you

Bask in the glory of all our problems

'Cause we got the kind of love it takes to solve 'em

A codependent woman singing about her delusional fantasy relationship? Sometimes that's the case. It's just as easy to believe in a real love as Julia Michaels sings, and I find myself rooting for the couple in her lyrics. I picture them as a conscious couple choosing to do the deep work together, seeking both individual and couple therapy in the process. I find the love they share to be incredibly beautiful because it's possible to experience very deep healing in relationship.

The theory goes that when we meet and fall in love, the person we choose has more or less the same level of personal development. Therefore whatever issues you have to work on, your partner will have about the same amount of past pain or trauma to process. After the honeymoon phase the underlying problems rise to the surface and you begin to see yourself displayed in your partner as a mirror. 

The line about not judging your partner is key. If you judge your partner for their "issues" then you are going to go into defensive or attacking mode, which is an unconscious expression of your fight or flight response. The prefrontal cortex is not online and you are not making compassionate or wise choices. The blood leaves the parts of your brain that know how to safely connect. This is what happens when we lose control and have cyclical fights and arguments. Nonjudgement is essential to a healthy relationship. 

Staying conscious in relationship takes work. It's a slow process to re-wire your brain and have the capacity to consciously engage the parasympathetic nervous system to stay relaxed and engage in connection. Over time it becomes easier, and you're closer to superhuman status. In the meantime, repair is paramount. When you "lose it," when your issues come to the surface or you react to your partner, step away to calm down and then come back to reconnect. Apologize. Own your mistake. Ask what you can do to make it better.

My favorite line is repeated in the chorus "We got the kind of love it takes to solve 'em" - this faith in their shared love to survive the pain and get through to the other side is a profound testament to her resilience and commitment to healing through relationship. Faith, trust and hope are necessary ingredients to a fulfilling and wholehearted life. Again, I'm choosing to believe her partner is in this with her and it is a conscious relationship working towards mutual growth and understanding. If he's not on board then yes, it's sadly a codependent illusion and there is no real connection. I maintain that healthy skeptic inside of me, but for the most part I indulge in the joy of believing people and seeing evidence of goodness in the world.

Let me know if any of this strikes a chord with you ~

Patricia Borgess