If you experienced attachment wounds in your early childhood, chances are you may be playing them out in your present relationships. What happened to you when you were young is not your fault. But, if you want to get out of self-sabotaging patterns, it’s important that you become aware of how early attachment wounds can influence your relationship dynamics.
The Attachment Theory has become the center of modern therapy modalities.
Here are the 4 attachment styles:
- Secure Attachment
- Avoidant Attachment
- Anxious Attachment
- Disorganized Attachment
In this episode, we share some personal examples to illustrate this theory and help you better relate to this concept.
Our free handout is available for download here as you listen in: https://relationshipalkemy.com/free-downloads/
Hi. Welcome back to our podcast RelationshipAlkemy. I’m Jordan Bessaignet.
I’m Olivier Bessaignet.
And today we have a lovely, beautiful topic that is really defining to how you relate to others.
And it is attachment wounds or styles in intimate relationships. And so it’s the fundamental principle of a lot of therapy modalities these days. A lot of therapists mostly focus on that. And we don’t give a lot of focus on this one, but it is very impactful. And so I think we need to talk about it. There’s a lot of articles and content around the web because therapists tend to focus mainly on this. But I thought we needed to also address it as a continuation of all the topics that we address. Yes. So I’m reading this book Fully Secure, which I think is very interesting because it’s a great juncture between the attachment styles that we’re going to talk about today and polyamory. So today we’re not going to talk about polyamory, but it’s going to be another one day.
We’re going to talk about polyamory. Not today, but one day.
But as a Foundation, I think it’s very crucial to understand the attachment styles and attachment ones.
So to take it away, we’re just going to dive right in.
So we have a handouts, as usual, you can go to Relationshipalkemy.com I should have prepared this advance and go to the Free Stuff tab while it’s taking a little bit too long.
Attachments wounds and styles, basically, we have such a personal experience with it without child seeder.
Yeah. It’s really interesting. I’ve heard about attachment wounds. This is like one of the first things that I learned about when I started diving deeper into conscious relating. And I learned that I at this point in time had an avoidant attachment style. And that was really interesting. And I felt like once I learned that, I was like, oh, my God, my whole life makes sense, right? Oh, my God. I thought it was just a personality trait, but turns out it’s actually something you can track through psychology or whatever.
That’s very interesting that you would say that because we tend to identify with our trauma and think the trauma is me, that’s who I am. But trauma is something that happens to us and define certain personality traits that are very common to everybody who went to a similar trauma thought it was personality. So our personality is different from trauma. So you can track your trauma, realize this is trauma, heal it, and therefore be able to flourish more into your own personality instead of being another trauma victim.
But it’s really interesting. Well, I guess we’ll talk about it more when we get to that type of attachment style. But once again, we have the handout on the Relationship Alchemy website, go to free downloads, and it’ll be right there. We can just download worksheets. We have all of our handouts on there.
And so it’s the same where she had for the previous, like, the power struggle stuff. Just page seven, just download it again. And we keep adding stuff.
So with attachment wounds and intimate relationships, what’s really interesting about this is a lot of people seem to forget that we are actual animals.
I know we’re, like, very different from the birds and the bees out there, quotation marks around that because we’re actually not that different. But, yeah, as social animals were packed, animals were mammals were made to carry our baby, to have our children close with us, to sleep huddled together at night. Yeah, this is the way of the mammal, at least.
So the evolution is really interesting in the sense that so many animals, they are born and they’re self sufficient. They can already walk around and eat. But as we developed it and we have so much as a baby, we need so much care then to be safe and not being abandoned by the tribe. I’m just walking away or forget the child. Right. The bonding is what creates the safety and security for survival.
And so it’s really interesting coming from a birth working perspective. I just love to nerd out on the science behind this, actually. The different types of mammals, their functionality at birth determines which type of animal or mammal they are.
So you see, like, the wildebeest who can run after five minutes of being born. And it’s because they’re like grazing animals. And so humans were meant to be carried by our caretakers. And that’s why we’re born so vulnerable. And a lot of that also has to do with your brain not being fully developed. It’s all about the brain. And therefore, it’s really interesting. When a woman gives birth and, like, undisturbed birth, where she’s not taking any sort of Pharmaceuticals, they can track your hormones. And when you give birth, the oxytocin in your body is the highest that it will ever be. And it’s because you’re meant to bond with your child. And so it creates this, like, as someone who’s gone through it, this, like, you’re literally high off of oxytocin. And so when you look at your child, you feel this deep, deep, significant bond with them. And I mean, we can spiral into that topic, but we’re not going to do that today.
This is the part where it does relate very strongly because the first hour, the first month, and the first years are so determining how we’re going to evolve into a partner in relationshipalkemy and how we’re going to behave in relationships.
Yeah. They call it the formative years because it literally forms so much once again in your brain, your neural pathways about how life is. So we apply that idea to your upbringing, and then this is where we get attachment styles. What’s really important here is to know that when you’re born, when you’re a newborn, you literally cannot regulate your own nervous system. I think this is like a really key point in parenting for me was learning this, that a newborn baby cannot regulate their own nervous system. That’s why you’re always supposed to either put like warm clothes on your baby or have your baby skin to skin because their nervous system doesn’t know how to be a human nervous system yet.
Yeah. When babies are born, people like hurry and put them into clothes, but then the baby doesn’t get skin to skin time and that’s already a filter for regulation, especially in America. It’s like, oh, the baby needs to be by themselves. They put them in the crib right away and therefore the baby does not get the chance to co regulate with the parents. And that already creates an attachment wound.
Yeah, it’s already creating separation within the baby. And it’s really interesting that when a safe presence is not available, a child can either deactivate or hyperactivate their attachment system. So this goes into more like the attachment style.
Yeah. So the child cannot regulate themselves. So when they’re not regulated either emotionally, so they hurt themselves, they in fear all of a sudden it’s like, where are my parents? They have fear. If there’s not a presence to regulate with them and help regulate, then they go into either deactivate after a while. Deactivate, which is actually a survival mechanism. Both of them.
Yeah, both of them are survival.
The activating is like, okay, nobody’s here to meet my needs, so I’m going to shut down. Okay. Basically it’s turned off.
Yeah. And this actually, it’s really interesting. This has this function in our nervous system did have an importance back when we were roaming the land. And they’re dangerous creatures because if you had been left behind accidentally or maybe your family was killed or something, your chances for survival. If you’re crying in a forest, you’re going to attract all the predators and so your nervous system will go into deactivation so that you become a part of the landscape.
Yeah. Help me, help me. Grab me. And there’s nobody. So turn on.
Yeah. And it’s terrible, but they’ve actually done studies on the average length of time that it will take babies to activate and it’s usually within five minutes. Really interesting. If no one’s coming, they go like completely.
I know that. Yeah, very cool. The other one is hyperactivate, which is I’m crying, but there’s no effect. But I see the caretaker in the other room or they’re around, but they’re not present. They’re not responding to my needs. And so I peractivation is ramping it up, crying louder and louder, more and more, being upset all the time. So we’re talking about babies, but if you have challenges in relationships and you’re thinking like, what’s wrong with me? Well, probably something like that happened to you and trauma is never your fault. Trauma happens to us. It’s not our fault, but it is our responsibility to understand it, understand it and heal it so that we can have satisfying relationships.
Yeah. So some things that might have happened to cause deactivation would be neglect or abuse, being emotionally cold or rejecting the child, giving the child hostile, angry or threatening responses, discouraging the child’s expression of vulnerability, or encouraging the child to be more self reliant and independent.
That’s very common. I was shocked about what you said, like one of your birthing clients.
And she said, I don’t want to hold the baby all the time because I don’t want the baby to get used to me being to have to hold the baby all the time.
Yeah. And take on a bad habit of needing the parents all the time. Wow.
Which is really interesting because I don’t know if that person necessarily believed that themselves, but it’s this idea of parenting that’s been passed on from generation to generation, like, pretty recently, within the past 200 years, I would say. And again, this is like more of a colonial mindset of like, okay, your child needs to be independent.
The baby needs to sleep in the crib for 12 hours in a separate room away from me. I don’t know. It blows my mind right there.
Few weeks, few months old. Trauma attachment wounds and trauma is already present. And probably that person, like you said, maybe they heard that they should do that, but most probably they suffered from that. They were neglected. And so it’s been normalized. And so they just pass on the hot potato.
Yeah. I mean, it’s definitely normalized in American culture specifically. There’s this whole idea of, like, okay, we need to have the baby nursery ready so that way we can bring the baby home from the hospital and put the baby in their crib at night. And it’s like, I just really disagree with that.
So it’s funny that when you’re pregnant, we had both stories going on because being friends. Yes. A French one. And she was telling me another story than the normalized American story.
Yeah. It was really interesting because Olivier wanted to get some tips on parenting before the baby came. And so he found this woman who did consulting on basically, like, newborn childcare. And what did she tell you?
She was like, another room. What are you talking about? The baby is going to be with you for at least a couple of years, maybe three. It doesn’t make any sense to prepare a separate room for your baby. It’s just about to be born. What?
Yeah. It was definitely Super American philosophy of like, oh, we have to get the baby their own crib and spend like $2,000 and spend all this money for the baby to have their own room, only for the baby not to actually use the room or the toys.
I mean, the baby is happy with our Cookingware more than his own toys because we touch it. So he wants that rather than his own choice anyway. So that would be for the deactivated.
And so for a hyperactive would be being unreliable. The parents would be unreliable, unpredictable, or intrusive, punishing or criticizing the child for their independence or curiosity, conveying messages that the child is not enough, incapable, stupid, or failing. Or my personal favorite, helicopter parenting, which is excessive praise, but also excessive control, protectiveness or perfectionism. And it’s so funny because it’s not funny, but I’m just, like, coping with my trauma right now. I feel like I experience literally every single one of these.
Yeah, definitely. My dad, specifically, his parenting style was all of these, both. Both of them.
Right. And so we’re going to learn that that’s the fourth attachment wound or style, which is disorganized. And so it’s back and forth like there’s no safety anywhere. Let’s talk about our personal experience with our child in terms of those patterns, because a few things. So when we go to the playground, the American parents.
Yeah. This is really interesting. I’ve only ever read one book on parenting, and I can’t remember the title right now, but it was by an American woman who had moved to Paris and was living in Paris and raising her children. And she wrote this whole book on how French parenting is so different from American parenting. And one of the points that she brought up was she would go to the park. And we’ve experienced this with going to the park recently. And at the park, she would be the only mom playing with her children in France. And she was like, why are all the other moms, they go to the park and they’re just sitting on the bench and they just look so fabulous in their outfits. And I’m in my sweatpants and chasing after my children, and they just look like they’re having a great time together. Why can’t I do that?
The parents hang out together.
The parents are hanging out together. The kids are playing together. But I feel, like, excluded because I can’t, like, I don’t know, there’s just something different about me. And so we noticed we’ve been going to the park because the weather here is gorgeous right now. And at the park, none of the children play together. The parents are all playing with the children.
So I was very surprised because I’m not used to that. But the parents stay with the child and run around behind the child and give the child a ball or talk to the child constantly. I was like, what are they doing? Because I’m just hanging out with my wife and the kid is running off whatever he wants to do. And he’s exploring and he’s pretty far away from us. But I know he’s safe because I’ve seen him catch himself all the time. So he’s good. He learned how to take care of himself, attached to us, but secure with himself. And so it’s going out and trying to connect with the other kids. He’s, like, curious. He’s looking at this little girl. And it’s like, okay, can I go? But the little girl is busy with her parents.
She was busy playing with her parents. And so Cedar was trying to offer, like, come on, initiate playing with her, and she just totally ignored him because she was like, I’m having more fun with mom and dad.
And probably the other parents are judging us for being neglectful.
Yeah, it’s funny because I honestly just do not have the bandwidth to chase after him.
We do that already all day.
Yeah, we do that all day. No, I want to take him to the park. There’s a fence in closing the park. He can go do what he needs to do. I can sit and watch him and also talk with you and we can have space for connection. It’s interesting.
Another instance is a friend visited with their child. I mean, a couple of friends. And we were at a restaurant, and the restaurant, the area was pretty empty in this little stage where they usually have, like, stand up comedy and music and stuff. And our child is going off, like 20ft away, and he’s going up and down the stage all the time. He’s practicing his skills for motor skills and discovering he’s out discovering the world. Right. And the other mom is starting to run after him. He’s like, are you okay coming down the stairs? Are you okay going up the stairs? Like, hey, that’s okay. You can relax. Is good. And she was kind of surprised and came and sat with us while her child was sleeping. And then when he woke up, then she started following him around. I was like, wow, this is interesting.
Yeah, it’s really interesting. Like witnessing people’s hazaway that other people parent. And again, there’s like, no right or wrong way.
Of course I’m biased. Yeah. Okay. So that determines the neuro pathways that the child develops. Another very personal experience that we have is that he was sick when he was born. So he had the first golden hour of, like, two days of read time with us connecting skin to skin. And then he was sick. And then he had to be on the hospital beds, laying slats under heavy sedation sedation tubes everywhere. And so I was really concerned that he didn’t have this bonding with us for about two months. And thanks God for plasticity, like, brain plasticity. After about two months, when he came back from the hospital, he was very chaotic and very distressed. But as we give him secure attachment all the time, then it has fully reframed his experience. And now he’s like, amazingly, you wouldn’t think he’s traumatized.
I know, it’s so funny. Like, telling people who are new to our lives or something. Like, oh, yeah, we had a babysitter actually. She asked she’s like, oh, she saw his scar going across his tummy. And she asked like, oh, what had happened? And we shared with her like, oh, yeah, the colostomy bag. And he’s been through four surgeries. And she’s like, I would never guess. Yeah.
Thank God, because he’s so secure himself.
Yeah. He’s so secure with himself. We’ve also done we put a lot of work into getting him to that stage.
Yeah. I mean, from that experience, it could be two types of belief that he would have anchored in his body. The first one would be life can take me down and kill me at any moment or I can survive anything. And that’s really what we are anchoring with him is this safety. Every time he’s upset, we give him safety. And then he goes off and explore for himself and he cries again. We give him safety. He goes off and run for himself again.
Yeah. Don’t get me wrong, it is a lot of work.
It’s very demanding and being there every second for your child. But the benefit that I’ve seen from being so close with him is he is 15 months old, and he’s incredibly independent. Not in an avoidant way, but in a secure way. He’s like super social. Go up to anyone.
Talk to them. He feels safe. He’s inquisitive. He’s curious. And he’s also not as reliant. Now. He doesn’t need to be picked up. And when something happens, he’s like, oh, like a lot of comforting. And then now it’s just like, I can go over and place my hand on him and he’ll look at me and you’re like, okay. And then he’ll go on about his life.
Yeah. It’s anchoring that safety more and more in his body. So now that story has Preframe. Let’s go over first. The secure attachments, which is what we described. The caregivers are available, accessible and responsive to the needs of the children. Enough of the time. And we just explained that he spent two months in the hospital, but now he had enough of the time, not all the time, but enough of the time to calm his nervous system.
So this teaches the child to allow themselves to feel their needs and regulate their own positive and negative emotional arousal. And feeling emotions and asking for what they want is okay. And it leads to better self esteem, feeling valued, more resilient to trauma.
That’s exactly what we just explained.
Stronger social skills, better concentration, and they come out with a sense of they matter and they are worthy of love.
Okay. So it translates as an adult into healthy sense of selfesteem, self esteem, confidence in the world, comfortable with asking for what they need, what they want. And so better at empathy, respect and forgiveness. And they get emotional and sexual intimacy that brings satisfaction because the other ones will see that emotional intimacy and sexual intimacy do not bring satisfaction. So let’s go over example of what you might think if you have secure attachment.
So, yeah, this is the gold here. And you can see if you identify with any of these sections. But with secure attachment, you tend to think that I find it easy to make emotional connections with others. I enjoy being close with others. I am comfortable depending on others and having others depend on me. I don’t often worry about being abandoned or about someone getting too close to me. If I’m in distress, I can easily turn to my attachment figure for comfort and support. I’m aware and accepting of my partner’s strengths and shortcomings, and I treat them with love and respect. During conflict or disagreement, I am able to take responsibility for my part, apologize when needed, clear up misunderstandings, apply problem solving strategies, and forgive when needed. And I do well with the transition of going from being by myself to then being with a partner. And I also do well with the transition of going from being together to then being alone again.
Okay, all sounds very good. And everybody might think, well, DA, that’s what it’s supposed to be.
But let’s get into the juicy trauma here.
So the title is Attachment Wounds, Instant Relationships. So the first pattern is the avoidance. So it’s commonly referred as the avoidant attachment style. And technically it says it’s called avoiding for a child and dismissive for an adult.
So as a child, this will show up as showing little or no interest upon separation or reunion. Less likely to explore, prefer playing by themselves appear fine on the outside, but elevated heart rate and physiological stress.
So that’s very interesting. So the child looks fine, but his heart is up inside is very stressed out.
The parents are unavailable, neglectful or absent. Parents are cold, distant, critical, or highly focused on achievement or appearances.
That’s a good one, huh?
My dad too little touch or affection. Expressive dissonance, laughing when angry.
So, yeah, an expressive dissonance would be like, the parent is angry but laughing at the same time.
It confuses the child.
And that’s something we also talked about with Carla McLaren spoke on the arts of empathy. It’s very important for the child to be mirrored his emotions. Oh, this is anger. Oh, this is sadness. This is fear. So that they can understand their own emotions.
And avoidance tend to feel better when they’re by themselves.
Yeah. So they learned that they’re better off by themselves.
So this can translate to as an adult being keeping people at arms length, priding yourself for not needing anyone, which is self reliant or hyper independent. Seeing others as weak, needy, or too dependent. And inflated sense of self, low sexual satisfaction, the emphasis on the value and importance of relationships, and difficult to be vulnerable, disconnected from own feelings and needs, highly linear and logical. And relationships are just fine. Yeah, no problem.
Yeah, everything is fine. I had the ideal childhood. I have the ideal relationshipalkemy. So there’s nothing to investigate there. It’s because of the turn off of the regulation mechanism. So it’s hard for those people to have access to their feelings and needs.
So this is the juicy part. If you might be avoidant if you tend to think my autonomy, independence, and self sufficiency are very important to me. I am generally comfortable with close relationships and do well on my own without close relationshipalkemy. Oh, without sorry. Keyword there. I want to be in relationships and have some closeness with people, but I can only tolerate closeness to a limit and then I need space. I prefer not to share my feelings or show a partner how I feel deep down. I frequently don’t know what I’m feeling or needing and or I can miscues from others about what they are feeling and needing. I feel uncomfortable relying on partners and having partners depend or rely on me. I either struggle with making relationship commitments or if I do commit, I may secretly have 1ft out the door or at least have the back door unlocked. I’m very sensitive to any signs that my partner is trying to control me or interfere with my freedom in any way. I see myself or others as weak for having needs or wanting comfort, help, or reassurance during disagreements or in conflict. I tend to withdraw, shut down or shut out or Stonewall.
And I do well with the transition from being together with people to then being alone again. But once I’ve been alone for a while, I can be slow to warm up to others or struggle with the transition from being alone to entering back into connection with someone.
So I hope this makes sense that the child cooking mechanism as my parents are not present for me when I have needs or when I’m distressed, then it translates into relationships as I’m good by myself, I can take care of myself and then it becomes a shadow and seeing the others who want emotional intimacy as needy or weak or two dependents. Okay, so somebody might be really secure with themselves and, oh, my partner is two dependents. Maybe they have an anxious attachment style which we’re going to talk about in a minute. Or maybe you’re shut down and this person is actually wanting balance intimacy.
It’s really interesting because I just went through a friend breakup.
And I feel like this person is so avoidant. Like reading all of these out loud. I was like, oh, it wasn’t me. It was this person. Just avoidant.
So what’s interesting is that I tend to be avoidance, but I’ve been with partners that were more avoidant than me, and then I turned into anxious.
True. It’s really interesting. Yeah. Just how attachment wounds play out in relationships, because I would typically label myself as avoidant. But now that I’m reading this, I think I’m going to red diagnose myself. Yeah. We’ll get back to this. We’ll see what I am.
So I hope that first attachment style makes sense. The second one is the anxious attachment style. So technically, anxious is for the child and then preoccupied would be for the adults. So as a child.
So what this could look like is over involving the child in parents state of mind.
Right. So if the parents have like depression or fear or anxiety, then they try to regulate themselves with the child and involving the child in their drama.
Yeah. We’re going to go over this because I have a really good example. The child is responsible for their parents needs or child is constantly monitoring or being concerned with parents state of wellbeing over stimulation, over attention. The parents interject themselves or they push physical boundaries when not wanted. And parents discourage autonomy and suggest that the child is incapable or less than or not enough in some way.
So basically, the parent is not stable emotionally, but the hyper present. Yes, the other one, they might be stable, not stable, but they are not present.
And how does this translate into as an adult, which is once again called preoccupied? Attachment is constant tracking of relationship, misattainment, controlling behavior, neediness, hyper, focus on the other, loss of self, not aware of one’s needs and boundaries.
Yeah. When the person lose themselves into a relationship over functioning.
Very emotional, lack of trust, sense of safety and selfworth self criticism, self doubting loops, have a hard time taking on the love they so desperately want. And if you are anxious, this might come up in your mind that you tend to think, I’m comfortable with connection and usually crave more than my partners do. I’m very attuned to others and can detect subtle shifts in their emotional or mental States. I often worry about being abandoned, rejected, or not valued enough. I tend to over focus on my partners and under focus on myself. When I’m going through something, I tend to reach out and turn towards others to make sense of what I’m experiencing or to make myself feel better. I need a lot of reassurance that I am loved or desired by a partner. However, when my partners give me reassurance or show their desire for me, it either doesn’t register for me or I’m having trouble receiving and believing it. I tend to commit to relationships and get attached very quickly, maybe too quickly. I get frustrated or hurt. If a partner is not available when I need them, I get resentful or take it personally.
When a partner spends time away from me. I do well with the transition from being alone to being together with partners, but I struggle when going from being together to being alone again. I tend to hold on to resentments and have trouble letting go of old wounds.
All right. So does that resonate my previous relationship? She tends to be that pattern of attachment so anxious. And as we were breaking up, it was like not working anymore. And I remember I found a place. It was 45 minutes away, and she would call me and say, I’m distressed. Will you spend some time with me. And so I would come at five or 06:00 p.m. Until 07:00 p.m.. And I would say, I need to go back. And the next day she would say, you never pay attention to me. So it’s like this black hole, this bottomless pits that whatever attention or love ReScience never works, it’s never enough. And so the partner, I was feeling really depleted. Like I never got a healthy feedback as, oh, I’m full. I was distressed, now I’m full, now I can give you back and we can co regulate together because it’s asymmetrical with the child, with the child, the parents is there to take care of the child. Right. And not the opposite. So anxious is usually when the parents want the child to take care of them. Right. But as adults in a relationship, it’s supposed to be equal and balanced that we are the emotional rate.
I mean we self regulates and we co regulate together equally.
Really interesting. But I have to share a little tidbit. Someone I’m very close to has an anxious attachment style and it’s been so phenomenal to just witness her journey from being super needy to filling her own cup and engaging in a healthy relationship for the first time ever. And I just have to say, I think anxious attachment people who are anxiously attached are probably one of my favorite because they always let me know what’s going on.
Oh yeah, that’s true.
I never have to guess or chase them to chase them to know what’s going on. I find them to be very forthcoming of like, this is what I’m going through, this is what I might need from you. It was really interesting with those friends that we’re hanging out with when we told her, oh, you don’t need to follow him around. Like he’s good, he has it. And she was like, oh, I’m just an anxious attachment. It’s like, wow, look at you for just like having self awareness and knowing, oh, this is how I play out my childhood trauma through relating with others. So I just have to say I love anxious attached people.
Yeah. Also this weekend, so we are teaching this eight week tour workshop right now. And this weekend was a little special because we had specific exercise on reparanting, which means you’re not screwed up forever.
There are techniques and things that you can do to heal your attachment wounds. And relationships can be a great healer in the attachment wounds. But one of the prompt is what do you need to not need the other anymore? To feel secure with yourself? Because it’s not your partner’s job to give you the secure attachment you never had. It’s not their job to give you the secure attachment you never had. But we can also heal together. And like you were saying, with our friend, now she’s starting to get like a constant secure feed of love and your worth. I value you, you’re great. I’m attached to you. Okay. She’s trying to sell down and see that it’s possible to receive that. And so that partnership gives her healing. If she can take it as a healing. In my little story, before, she could not take it as a healing, and therefore it was about every time. But if someone is capable and self reflexive to okay, this is my healing. I’m going to take it and use it as my healing. Then it might work.
Yeah, it’s really interesting. Like anxious attachment, which I feel like I also align with.
So you said you had both now.
Yeah, it’s just really interesting. I guess the beauty of friendship and intimacy, when people are willing to receive it as a healing or as a gift. My friend, I have no problem telling her the things that she needs to hear and being able to co regulate with her, that’s literally no extra. I don’t see that as like, oh, my God, I have to do this for you.
It’s interesting because with this friend, you feel the reciprocity, whereas with the other friend, you do not feel the reciprocity, and then you end up saying, what I’ve been used without used.
Well, dig into that a little bit. I think the key word is reciprocity of like, okay, well, my friend felt safe to reveal her attachment. And like, yeah, this is who I really am right now at this moment. This is what I’m going through. This is my trauma that I’m working with. And then I felt safe to say, oh, hey, this is like my trauma. I have severe abandonment wounds. This is what I got going on. And it’s like, wow, I love you, I love you. And now we can create this beautiful co regulation together and just we have the freedom of like, yeah, this is what I need in this moment. Or like, I’m sorry, I can’t offer that to you right now. So there is this freedom, which would be called secure attachment. And then but with this other friend that we just recently went through, like, a friend breakup, there wasn’t the reciprocity. I felt like I was showing myself to this person, like, yeah, this is me. This is me. And then it overstimulated that person.
Oh, this is too much. Too much. I can’t do this.
So that’s interesting because I thought she would be more of an anxious attachment, actually, and it’s kind of because knowing a little bit about her past and her mum, who’s also overbearing you showing some emotion, became overbearing, although it was not overbearing, but for her nervous system. And then she fully shut down fully. But I think she tends to be anxious. And then on the stretch end of that, she totally closed down.
Yeah, makes sense. Yeah, it’s really interesting. Like, once again, relating back to you, like, how we started off. I really believe these are all, like, personality traits and it’s like, no, honey, this is just your trauma.
And now being able to not take it so personal when I’m not really one to lose friends or go through any type of loss in that sense, like, just being able to be less hurt by it and like, oh, okay. This person is just, like, highly traumatized, and there probably wasn’t good compatibility with us.
What is very interesting for me in our relationship is that I know you’re abandoned wound, and so I expect you intellectually to be avoided. But when there’s a rupture in the relationship, you tend to lean in, right. Sometimes you can avoid. I think the first thing is trying to lean in and be like, okay, what’s going on? Okay, tell me. Talk to me. And then if it stretches and you don’t get a response, then you tend to close down.
Yeah, I would say that’s really true. And I think this goes back to, once again, secure attachment because we’ve created safety in our relationship. And I feel free to express myself and to also be witnessed as, like, the mess, glorious human being that I am. It creates safety of like, okay, I can lean in. I can lean in all the time. And for me, I just grew up. I think we’re going to get to it. The last one. Yeah. Let’s go over that one, and then we can go into that a little bit more.
All right. This is organized so it will be disorganized. Technically, it’s organized for a child and fearful avoidance for an adult, but coming may referred as disorganized attachment style.
So what this can look like in a child is deactivated or hyperactive at the same time. 1ft on the gas pedal and 1ft on the brakes. Trauma the caregiver is also the source of distress. The caregiver is scary, threatening, or dangerous. Parent on an emotional roller coaster or unpredictable. And how this translates to being an adult is characteristics of both dismissive and preoccupied clashing Fears of being too close and too distant desire Closeness but never satisfied with it, but never satisfied with it high relationship Turmoil Dissatisfaction Toxicity Selfdestructive behaviors abuse, mental illness, and addictions. And so you might be disorganized if you tend to think I often don’t feel safe or fully trusting in relationships. Even if my partner acts in safe and trustworthy ways, I frequently get triggered by things that may seem to come out of nowhere. I genuinely want intimacy and closeness, but I can experience episodes of fearful overwhelming. Intimacy with a partner increases. When in conflict, I can from being overwhelmed or aggressive to being dismissive and numb. I can vacillate between different types of chaos or rigidity. When in distress, I have acted in ways that have been harmful to myself or my partners.
I often expect that the worst will happen in a relationship even when things are going well. I have elaborate negative fantasies about what will go wrong or how my partner will inevitably hurt me beyond repair. Even if things are mostly going well, being in a relationship can cause me to become dysregulated, disassociated or confused. There are times when I look fine on the outside, but I’m actually a complete tsunami on the inside. I frequently experienced the conflicting internal drives of wanting to be close and share myself, but fearing that closeness or vulnerability will be dangerous or cause the relationship to end.
Right. So, yeah, it’s ridiculous. The emotional roller coaster where there’s no ground.
So relating this back to my own journey and my childhood. My dad is undiagnosed, bipolar. Definitely hot, cold, super intense. Like switching over to like almost a whole new personality. Like there’s never any solid ground. You never know what to expect from him. He is definitely abusive, scary, threatening, dangerous, unpredictable. Like literally everything that I just read off this handout was my dad. And for me, I don’t think it necessarily creative create. Now that going over this, I don’t think I am disorganized.
Maybe you were for a while.
No, I think I was actually avoidant.
I think I was actually like a pretty solid avoidance.
I’m just stunned with your resiliency.
Well, this is the interesting part because I know some people go through trauma and it causes them to shut down and almost die within themselves. And for me, the trauma that I’ve been through, I actually created this deep desire for intimacy because I never got that as a child.
But then that means you didn’t fully give up on it.
Exactly. This is how I see it playing out with that friend. Breakup is like the first option that I always am going to give is like love and tenderness and intimacy. And then when that’s not received, then that’s when I become like, alright, shut down. Like I need to protect myself. It’s really interesting, like tracking that because with you we have a secure relationship so I can be this super lovely dovey, like always leaning in. But if you were to be cold and distant, then it would make me cold and distant after some time.
Yeah. After trying and after trying.
Yeah. And I think that’s like, I don’t know what that’s called. We need a therapist here. But yeah, I definitely see myself.
No, I do. I mean, it’s called secure attachment after reading from Trauma.
There you go.
It’s part of the book. I know all those things that we spend an hour on or 15 minutes are worth the book.
Yeah. So it’s like interesting becoming securely attached after trauma. So it is possible it takes a lot of self work and examining your belief system, I would say, because going up to avoidance, I was literally hyper independent. Like, I don’t need no one. I don’t need no man. The only person you can rely on is yourself. Literally didn’t trust anyone. Definitely saw others as weak like, oh, my God, you need emotional regulation. You’re so weak. I definitely have low sexual satisfaction would have sex and actually, like, was damaging to one relationship that I had where he could not keep up with the sex that I was, like, craving because I had one. I have, like, a high libido, high sex drive, and I just was not sexually satisfied. So I, like, always craving sex.
And it was really difficult for me to be vulnerable. I mean, I still get reflections of, like, oh, you’re guarded, which is, like, totally not true.
That’s not something I would say about you. I know, but the safety and trust that we’ve established.
Yes, but people that perceive me from an outside perspective who don’t know me or like, oh, you’re scary. Or like, oh, you’re guarded or all these things that are really not me. But at one point definitely was me. And it was just, like, a result of the trauma that I had been through as a child. And, yeah, it’s just really interesting, like, working through those beliefs because they’re just, like, beliefs. They’re not true.
We are beings of beliefs.
And what shapes our beliefs are the social environment and the trauma and our personality. But there’s a lot of unlearning or clearing to get to what our real personality is if we tend to be overburdened by a strong social trauma. And you’re talking about when your lineage or your culture has suffered a lot of either war or Afro American or Native American suffer a lot of cultural and social trauma, plus the personal trauma that creates a lot of beliefs that we think are who we are.
But just healing from that trauma. I just had a client recently who had something about, Men are dangerous. Men are not. Men are toxic. Men can’t be trusted. And so we did a whole healing. Not on that, actually, but on her childhood and how the lineage of women had transferred certain beliefs in her. So we dissolved that, and she opened up to a new world. And she’s like, wait, some men are toxic and not trustworthy, but half of the population actually where were they are healthy and secure and safe. And now that she has healed that belief, now she can see them instead of not even seeing them at all. They were nonexistent. Now she’s starting to attract friends. Very solid friends. Male friends. And she’s like, wow, now I got three very healthy and solid male friends. Maybe a partner is about to come in with a healthy and solid as well.
Yeah, it’s relating it back to the cultural trauma, I would say. Not only did I experience did I come up to these beliefs through my personal experience, but also I feel like these beliefs are handed down to me from my black father. Like, keeping people at arm’s length, priding yourself on not needing anyone, like, literally anyone.
Would you say that he has an abandoned wound.
Honestly, I have no idea what’s going on in the family.
What’S going on with his parents.
Unfortunately, my dad does not open up very much about his childhood. And what I do know about it is not pleasant. I mean, I literally can’t even psychoanalyze because I have no idea what’s going on. But my dad came to those beliefs as a black man going through like he lives in Virginia, which is like a pretty racist area. And he wasn’t allowed to ride the school bus until he was in high school, went through some deep, significant racial trauma. I see these perpetuated in the black community because of cultural trauma and racism.
Yeah. What I think is not useful is when somebody identified with their traumas or when we tend to categorize people as their trauma. And I agree from the paradigm of understanding, if I know that you have a history of abandonment or abuse instead of categorizing you and psychoanalyzing you and, oh, that’s your trauma again, I will be very hurtful and dismissive. But okay, I know your history. So I expect you to react in certain ways that I can understand, and then I can offer a balance, but not in a I got you figured out. But if you’re acting in those ways, like if you’re acting normal, dismissive or distant or self reliance. Okay, that’s not her. That’s the belief from the trauma that’s coming out. I can still love you through it. Right beyond. So I think those notions of understanding trauma and attachment styles, it’s great for understanding yourself, but also to understanding your partner, not to. I know you just think past that and trying to reach to the being and the person beyond their trauma.
Yeah. And I think that’s the beauty of secure attachment and connection and relating with others is you’re presented with this beautiful, beautiful gift of receiving a healing from someone. Okay. I understand you went through some pretty shitty things in your past, but I’m not here to do that to you. And we’re going to work together and we’re going to allow healing on both sides.
So use the Honeymoon Paris for that. Because after that, when you get triggered, those attachment wounds, they tend to get inflamed. And so one tends to retract the other one is graspy. And so then we’re just playing those attachment wounds instead of being with the other. Just the attachment wounds are playing with each other, and we’re in hell, and we don’t know how to get out of that hail. So if one the worst thing is when both are in planes, if one can keep the ground while the other is getting triggered and having this understanding, compassion and empathy for what’s going on with them and bringing them back to a grounding level, and then we can do that for each other.
Yeah. I definitely see us when doing that. Luckily, we’ve never been in flight at the same time. Maybe like once, maybe, but it went pretty well. Yeah.
So that’s the beauty of intimacy. That’s what intimate relationship can do for you. And so the problem is that we tend to screen people and choose people based on our attachment wounds to try to heal it and so we tend to find the opposite or the thing that’s going to inflate us. Usually we tend to choose our parents to finally heal that wound but of course they just replay it so gain more consciousness about what’s going on with me and what’s going on with the other for better understanding, compassion and empathy. Again, to see past those wounds when we see past those ones and we can reconnect being to being that’s when the wound can dissolve.
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