We all need support. We cannot exist in a vacuum and so many of our wounds come out of early relationships so those wounds can only really be healed and explored in relationship. This is something that we may get mixed up about, especially if we had to develop an avoidant style to cope. We can and do on our path of confusion get drawn towards certain spiritual disciplines and then we may be told we have a problem with our ego or need to learn not to ‘attach’.
For a really interesting perspective on this I highly recommend reading Mark Wolynn’s book It Didnt Start With You. Mark had a traumatic relationship with his mother who carried lots of wounds, he went on a spiritual path and it was when he was caught up in meditation in a monastery or ashram he got the inner message that he was never going to find true relief or healing until he reconnected back with his Mum and learned about her life. A lot of his book concerns what happens we learn to block the love we give due to love blocked coming to us from a parent for some reason. Often the root of the blockage or disconnection or even complicated enmeshment which ensues lays several generations back and may be hidden or shrouded in silence. I have a number of posts which share research from that book to back up this point of view.
I was prompted to write this due to some comments back and forward about how much good therapy helps us and to my mind it has less to do with the type of therapy we engage in and more with the person we chose as well as with how accurately our true self and attachment wounds are ‘got’ by the therapist and contained. If you have ever had serious therapy ‘misfits’ or clashes you know how painful these can be. If you have early attachment wounds and a borderline personality style the important of a consistent reliable, emotionally present person in your life is essential.
I listened to the second of a series of radio programmes on Sunday on BPD and the girl interviewed was told she would never recover by several professionals, but she has and part of her story was a story of maternal separation going several generations back. The girl in question was aboriginal and her grandmother or mother was one of the ‘stolen generation’ those kids forcibly removed from their mothers or families by white colonisers ‘for their own good’. As she pointed out in the programme, she carried that wound for the collective and is now healing and addressing it. She is now helping others to come to terms with and understand the deep roots of a borderline personality diagnosis. The programme gave me real hope that things can change for those who suffer in this way. What she mentioned as being most important was the consistent love of a therapist to be available, something I shared about in several posts last year.
In my own life, I know the legacy that inconsistent, unreliable or emotionally neglectful attachments had on me. I was taught by my older sister to bond and seek relief in alcohol and I idolised and idealised her for years. I know she learned this coping style in my family but it got worse over several generations until it reached critical watershed in me. I am so grateful not only for the sobriety I attained at 31 years of age but for the family member who in doing ancestral research gave me essential missing pieces of our multigenerational inheritance about 10 years into my recovery. Up til then I saw myself as the failure, the one who couldn’t cut it, the one who was hopeless or a helpless alcoholic.
All along the way of recovery my higher power helped me try to undo this mistaken belief though. There was the woman who came to me for an astrology reading in 2003 and told me of the book How AA Failed Me. Apologies here to active members of 12 step groups. I did get a lot of help in AA but defects of character and some of the strong moralistic tone of the programme did not help but confused me more. This book which I was never able to find again and which she loaned to me helped me at a critical time not to become what I now called scapegoat identified. AA was though, like everything, not totally good or totally bad, parts of the programme still sustain me and I use them in my life but other parts didn’t explain to me the important missing human attachment dimension of my own psychic wounds and injuries.
For me therapy has been the healing place, a place to be mirrored effectively in my true self, a place to be given good boundaries of care, a place to be myself, to be nurtured, to grow, to freely express all of me and never, never to be shamed ever as I was at times in other therapies. I know how set right I am after a good session, how it wasnt an ego problem really but a problem of a healthy emotionally grounded and aware ego that lay at the root of a lot of my difficulties.
Its been a long road to get here but without that help and support I would never have got this far. And it has helped me to undo the fallacy I was told by certain older sober members that I could only ever look to God for that kind of understanding and care rather than ever fully trust another human being. Not everyone will fail us, and when we find the right person we can finally heal our deeper attachments wound and learn how to trust the right people, developing a deeper inward discrimination for whom is helpful or harmful to us. When we understand how that injury underlay so much that came to pass in our lives we can learn also to let go of self blame which can dog so many of us who were never adequately mirrored, held, affirmed or nurtured in childhood.