Expressing our needs and being heard : insight into my emotional neglect, attachment struggles and self blame.

I cried the long way home from therapy today, so much opening up inside I blocked the way to before, with ‘analysis paralysis’ and seeing finally how much I had to deny to stay alive.. I went to have lunch at the Botanic Gardens afterwards and while there read the chapters in Love Sense on how babies cry out their needs and distress and how long ago it was seen as better for them so as not to ‘spoil’ them to leave them to cry.. I thought of how when I walked out on my husband for 6 months, I dismissed his cries of loneliness and then of how Mum told me so often there was no point in crying out as Nana was away at work cleaning offices after her father died.. It all just seems a little too sad and hopeless today, but maybe this is a watershed for me.

I was so lucky to come across a book a few years ago called Addiction as Attachment Disorder, in the book the therapist Philip Flores outlines his work with people who ‘turn away’ into addictions and I think of how I learned to turn to food on the lonely afternoons all alone after school, as a latch key child and how I was put down and dismissed for this in later life by my brother in law and my last romantic partner. I understand why my body hurt so much on the days I woke up alone and he was gone surfing or to work, I did not have object constancy, the absence felt total, oceanic, all encompassing, a profound trigger of far earlier feeling. In fact I wrote about that in several poems, at that time. Before I met him I was in almost permanent isolation at our family’s coast house and writing furiously every day, not getting out of my pyjamas and struggling to eat..

I now understand my sister’s attempts to pull me out of it, in 2005 and 6 as well as her inability to understand why I tried so hopelessly to draw comfort from an isolation that could never heal me, and of how sick people in the fellowship said God was my only cure, not other humans which made my therapist raise her eyes in therapy earlier.. Such are the lies we get fed when broken attachments, as well as lack of empathic attunement and response to true need has dogged our earlier years.

I am very grateful to the blogger Don’t Lose Hope Who recommended Susan Johnson’s book as well as the site Trauma Research UK whose post on attachment and trauma prompted that discussion between us, where would I be without you guys? Answer : up lonely street and shit creek with no guide book and no canoe paddle!

I think now of how hard my Mum’s death must have hit my sister knowing she now only had an avoidant sister around her, that said I was the one crying all the time while her eyes remained dry. .. Luckily her son moved back with his family two years ago but they don’t seem to be able to respond to her need for them to be close either.. the focus is on ‘doing things’ instead of being together and sharing connection and love.

I am glad I got back over to see her on the weekend.. I love my sister and there have been past misunderstandings due to the fact we both struggled with the burden of emotional neglect.. It was she who convinced Mum to come to Sydney to be with me when I underwent that painful ectopic pregnancy and had to have a fourth termination in 1990. My God parents thankfully took me in then, as if I had to be in the group share house full of other addicts and alcoholics God knows what would have become of me.

Kat said to me today ‘you poor younger self went through so much, Deborah, she struggled and suffered too much.’ Sad truth is that a part of me balked at that statement and she asked me why. I told her I think there is a larger self inside of us who can stand aside from these woundings and understand them, a part of me that is untouched, a witness or observer self.. But maybe that is about dissociation, I don’t know, either that or the more profound spiritual understanding that part of undergoing all of these harsh experiences is eternal and can encompass them in love. I like to think so and that stops me crying, is this dissociation? Grateful for feedback.

I left today’s session realising that self care must be my absolute paramount need at this stage of recovery. I push myself so hard out of a sense in some way I don’t measure up, or am less than, for having endured all of this trauma.. But my own misunderstanding of earlier impacts drove me to self reject and self neglect and keep trying harder and harder in ways that don’t solve anything and may only end up hurting me. This is just the way it goes with early developmental or carried ancestral trauma, and escaping patterns of self blame and self negation or self sabotage takes a lot of work and insight, as well as healing and time.

Link to Don’t Lose Hope’s helpful post below :

The flood from today’s session seems to have risen up and flowed on through by now. It is par for the course with transiting Moon in Leo square to my Natal Neptune and transiting Mercury in Scorpio which plunges the depths. What is carried from Mum is also kicked into awareness by the mercurial influence as today Mercury sits on the same degrees and close to a conjunction in her chart of Sun Mercury and Saturn. I carried Mum’s wounds in so many ways and she even told me this many many years ago.

I will stay as close to my sister as I can in this lead up to the anniversary of both my parent’s deaths. God knows she needs me.. And I love her.. I can say that now. I even got a call from my brother last night and found out its not him blocking our inheritance, its down to the accountant being perhaps overwhelmed after the end of the financial year in a difficult year of Covid 19. I struggled so much in my family that sometimes it seemed better to blame emotionally distant siblings, but I can hold to that awareness now while seeking more available sources of support from here on in.. I no longer want to live alone and in isolation, for me healing is about reaching out and connecting in authentic ways, in order to love, care for and nourish each other.

6 thoughts on “Expressing our needs and being heard : insight into my emotional neglect, attachment struggles and self blame.

  1. Sounds like you’re realizing your own behavioral patterns now, and that is a great thing, because becoming more and more aware of what makes us upset or tick, we will be in more control of how we react, in response to these stimuli now, more so than before.

  2. Gosh you have been through so much. What a journey. But you sound like an amazing fighter and survivor.
    On a slightly different note, I never understand when people say that God should be enough since it specifically says in Genesis that he made a partner for Adam – because it isn’t good for man to be alone. We DO need other people. We need to belong. We need to have our worth and value reflected back to us by others who like us and care about us. Usually a parent does this for us when we are very young – but not all parents do. It then becomes an unmet need that leads to insecurity and a shaky self-worth.

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