I happened upon an excellent blog for trauma survivors today. I have linked to a post from it in my previous blog post, but the following with resonate for trauma survivors like me who have struggle in their relationships. I identified with most of this comprehensive post.
I am getting more insight into when my inner child with her host of unresolved hopes and fears and pain is running the show lately. My abandonment wound has been triggered a lot in the past few days and it was easier to give away my power or alternatively become the ‘bad’ one again who is ‘withholding’ than to recognise that due to discomfort I am scrambling again for attention and love when contact is cut due to someone being upset with me because I am justifiably struggling with something.
I just know when I act from my inner adult I feel a greater sense of strength and solidity within myself and that requires recognising the far younger more vulnerable part that lies hidden or covered by defences. It can be painful when abandonment anxiety and depression strike as both create in my body and psyche so often a potent chemical cocktail that at times pushes me to the brink of available resources to contain.
Pete Walker addresses the issue of the ‘abandonment depression’ a lot in his own work and book on Complex PTSD. Much as all as it can feel hard to be left ‘all alone’, I have heard it said that in adulthood we cannot be abandoned by someone, only left. That said I do think there are times our emotions need to be empathised with and understood by friends, family and partners otherwise if we are judged for certain things and not empathised with, on one level we are abandoned on an emotional level.
It’s an issue Alain de Botton addresses in his wonderful book The Course of Love which tells the story of a mythical couple Rabih and Kirsten in which he delves into the host of insecurities and psychological defences that can plague a couple’s intimate relationships as it develops over a course of years. In the book the tale of the relationship iw told in normal type face is interspersed with sections in italics in which de Botton highlights the underground issues affecting the couple. I particularly enjoyed the following paragraphs.
We would ideally remain able to laugh, in the gentlest way, when we are made the special target of a sulker’s fury. We would recognise the touching paradox. The sulker may be six foot one and holding down adult employment, but the real message is poignantly retrogressive : ‘Deep inside, I remain an infant, and right now I need you to be my parent. I need you to correctly guess what is ailing me, as people did (or rather failed to do) when I was a baby, when my ideas of love first formed.
We do our sulking lovers the greatest possible favour when we are able to regard their tantrums as we would those of an infant. We are so alive to the idea that it’s patronising to be thought of as younger than we are, we forget that it is also, at times, the greatest privilege for someone to look beyond our adult self in order to engage with – and forgive – the disappointed, furious, inarticulate child within.
In a more evolved world, one a little more alive to the Greek ideal of love, we would perhaps know how to be a bit less clumsy, scared and aggressive when wanting to point something out, and rather less combative and sensitive when receiving feedback. The concept of education within a relationship would then lose some of its unnecessarily eerie and negative connotations. We would accept that in responsible hands, both projects, teaching and being taught (in love), calling attention to another’s faults and letting ourselves be critiqued – might after all be loyal to the true purpose of love.
There is something about love and vulnerability and hidden need that can cause us to age regress and be taken back to that painful time we stood all alone longing for the attention and love that was not available due to the absence, withdrawal or inattention of others, so much needed for us to feel hold, loved, contained and seen. Learning to hold ourselves in this state takes some considerable time for those of us with anxious and/or avoidant attachment issues. Its a work in progress being honest with ourselves, learning to extend ourselves in empathy into another hidden world and letting the unhealed child that so longs for attention or consideration been seen, held, accepted, nurtured and loved.
No, this isn’t a post about never depending upon another human soul, we were born as social creatures and our very survival depends upon our mother and family meeting our needs in infancy and we all know what can go wrong when these needs are not met. What I am getting at here is the wounds, or scars or injuries we take into new relationships. We can have a kind of fantasy which was addressed by Jungian analyst James Hollis in his book The Magical Other. This is the romantic fantasy of a partner who is our ‘soulmate’ who will just turn up and know us as a soul without having to exchange many words, they will instinctively know and sense our wounded or empty or hurting places and be able to respond to and fulfil them completely. And for sure we may experience meeting someone who can and DOES empathise with us to a degree, it is just my belief that we cannot really look to others to heal those earlier injuries of ours or help us escape from our own encounter with our aloneness.
Today I cried a lot in therapy as this Venus retrograde in Scorpio has been bringing up very clear visual memories of times with boyfriends/lovers past and many of them were painful and today I was telling Kat how dark the period was when I first lost my virginity, not to someone I loved. Sadly at that point I had already turned to drugs and alcohol to try and deal with the crippling insecurity I had around my self and my body.
I was raised in the Catholic religion which taught me female bodies and sex were somehow perilous or evil in some way (this may not have been direct message but it was the one I absorbed) and remember being crippled with shame and anxiety when my first boyfriend sought a more intense sexual intimacy with me. I had my car accident shortly after this and then lost my virginity in a very unhappy place which comes with memories of things being oh so dark. I cried with Kat today as we agreed there are so many things I went through in my years of active addiction I will never be able to forget or change. In a way they are behind me but it still saddens me I did not lose my virginity in a caring relationship with someone all those years ago.
I know I take these wounds into new relationships and I know the things Scott says to me about how I am his whole reason for living and being isn’t really that healthy. Surely we have to be able to be a complete person inside before we be a truly healthy partner for others? I guess I am used to standing alone and coping alone at its what I was forced to do. Lately I am reaching out for connections from others but its from a far different place than before. It’s from an older and wiser place. I know that over the past years of therapy my capacity to support myself and be there for myself in my feelings has grown. It’s just its also very great to having loving connections with others in my life. In the past fears have stood in my way of reaching out. But I also know I cannot look to others to heal my wounds or fill up my empty places. I know when I demanded this in past relationships things fell apart and others sense it and resent it. That said wounds can be openly shared. We can be vulnerable with the right people and receive empathy and support for the pain. It’s just a matter of seeking the right kind of person. But there will also be times we don’t get each other and we cannot fulfil requests or demands placed upon us.
Maybe I am considering all of this very strongly because its Libra time astrologically speaking and Venus is aspecting my Saturn Moon by retrograde which is bringing up this self containment issue for me. Discussing it with Kat today she was saying how in the end its about finding the unique balance we all need between solitude and our need for connection. We cannot be solitary all the time and neither can we be connected at all times, both states tend oscillate in our personal and relationship life. And knowing the limits of what we can ask for and receive is also an ongoing work in progress as is being able to stand alone and be our own best friend and loving parent or witness when necessary.
I am finding it challenging to open my heart to someone loving me again. All Scott seems to do in every single message to me is offer to love me, to support me, to be the one who stands by me and often what he gets in return are a host of doubts and arguments. Then there are times like today when something he starts to offer me triggers painful memories of past relationship bruises and cuts where I was not offered these things and actually suffered abuse due to my past two partners in ability to accept the symptoms of my PTSD condition. I have been very open with Scott about everything, including the challenges he will face in trying to love someone like me. He is frankly pretty horrified when he hears about some of the callous treatment I suffered at the hands of both my ex and my ex husband.
I know its time for me to open my heart and trust again but today I have been feeling so very sad and he texts me with a brief window of time between waking up and training which is now an hour and a half earlier to tell me how much he loves and misses me and when I say I have been feeling sad he asks me why and then tells me he only wants me to be happy. Well this TRIGGERS THE BEJESUS OUT OF ME for its one of the reasons two ex partners chose to leave, they could not handle my sensitivity or sadness and I used to get red the riot act in the last relationship including being given the silent treatment when I cried too much at the death of my ex partner’s father all those years ago. Due to my addiction I really didn’t start truly grieving anything until about 12 years of sobriety and then things would come out in an avalanche especially around any funeral of a father of a friend which would trigger earlier grief I had not permitted myself or been permitted to fully feel.
Don’t get me wrong I have a lot more happy days lately but this time of year is fraught with painful anniversaries and lot of self blame has been running around in my head this past week due to the way my ex husband and I separated years ago and in a week or so it will be our wedding anniversary. I know ‘I should be over it’, in many ways I am but things of shame and guilt that I wish I could have done or handled better tend to come up all the time and I am getting lot of flashbacks lately. I have been praying today that I can come to peace and find self forgiveness because this opportunity with Scott is a new chance to leave the past in the past (if that is actually a realistic objective??) It is just that when he offers me love it tends to open up a lot of fear from the past and a backlog of the deepest sadness, I just find myself crying and crying mostly with feelings of gratitude (but also disbelief!).
I have been reading up on the Twin Flame relationship lately and everything I have listened to and read says that once we are on a healing path we may attract a partner to offer us unconditional love and that it will open up all the blocks inside our own heart towards unconditionally loving ourselves, for actually this the only way we can heal and make it work in a new relationship. Often one partner can tend to run and the other pursues in this situation if the fear is too great. Whether or not you believe in this split apart soul concept of Twin Flames it does seem that self love needs to proceed love of others, for if we cant love or accept ourselves fully, past omissions, mistakes and all, how can we offer this love to anyone else and these feelings may block us or be projected in fear or distrust or misbelief. I am terrified too as an empath of being overwhelmed in relationships and this is something I have had to talk to him about. We already had an argument last week when he got upset that I needed distance as he felt my feelings had changed, when actually as an introverted personality type this is the way I recharge, by needing alone time. I know in this relationship I can negotiate for my boundaries and be accepted. Its just I have so much sadness in coming to believe that happiness may actually be possible this time, if I truly open my heart and am vulnerable about my fears and feelings.
When I first saw you
I think I understood
You had the power to unravel me
And when I allowed my body to open to yours
Dizziness came with the fall
As you picked me up
And promised to keep me forever
Safe from harm
But instead our relationship
Took me towards the edge of a precipice
I could not negotiate
And my vertigo
Made you realise
I was not lion hearted enough
For one such as you
And so you let me fall
After such a long battle to hold on
And then the real unravelling began
As I tried to keep my self afloat
But slowly drowned instead
Captured by a black tide of history repeating
A whirlpool circling in upon itself
Chased toward the edge of extinction
How could words explain the darkest of years
Instead all pain falls into emptiness
But through poetry
Birthed out of the deep black hole
With chaos at the centre
And yet hidden inside
Lived so many mysteries
Waiting to be penetrated
And so the labour began
To understand it all
Light began to dawn again
At the centre
I am realising after the past few months of Mars retrograde how often I feel attacked or respond out of a sense of attack when abandonment wounds or fears are triggered. Instead of staying in my soft heart I tend to go on the attack and be quite defensive and this ends up actually pushing away the very love and understanding I need at times. I harden my heart and can feel an accumulated backlog of frustration and anger from past unresolved needs. However as I learn to listen to and comfort my inner child more its easier to enter a more adult mind set offering that little one or sore spot inside me love but not letting her act it out on others too violently. After this I find it is easier to go and speak to others about how I felt, what they did and what I needed and luckily with my new friend, Scott he understands through using emotional intelligence how I felt inside and doesn’t shame me for reacting the way I did and so I am feeling more healing.
As I shared over past days I did react and things I said, I noticed have made him withdraw a little bit. Its understandable. He was contacting me less because he said he was scared or hurting me or waking me at night, but when I told him that isn’t want I needed or even asked for, what I really need is to be connected with it was easier for him to understand. This latest tussle has helped me to see before how other friendships suffered when I had a strong outburst and others were not willing to fully empathise or understand. Some friends just backed off and then have another go which I really appreciate since they understood I was reacting that way for a very good reason.
Today I cried a lot at the softness and tenderness that is opening up between Scott and I and inside my own heart towards my own past pain. I had a good inner dialogue with my inner child this morning and what I learned form it was that as a child I never really learned how to get along with, communicate my needs to or interact with others. My parents were always busy with work and too tired to give any emotional support whatever. I was left alone most days after school with no one after my second sister left home and even before that she resented taking care of her baby sis after a certain point and I was on the receiving end of a lot of bullying and harshness. Then at 13 I went into the family business where I had to perform and be serious. It wasn’t much of a childhood or adolescence. It was a real Saturn Moon childhood where I learned to depress my feelings emotions and needs.
In addition home was not a relaxed environment due to Mars conjunct Moon. Mum carried a lot of inherited adult grand child of alcoholic survival behaviours and was never cuddled or nurtured. By an act of ancestral synchronicity she was sent to work at 13 to into domestic service to live with a family in another suburb of our home town which she hated. Her and my father were kind to each other but Mum was a non stop dynamo who never really could relax. She had OCD as far as the home was concerned. We were not allowed to play until all chores where done and we had taken care of all of our responsibilities. Sadly too my Dad died before he and Mum never got to have the play time they anticipated ‘one day’ when they had achieved financial stability, security and success. Things began to fall apart due to this driven schedule from 1979 on wards starting with my near death NDA and my sister’s cerebral aneurysm.
I have been shedding a lot of tears this morning. I am sitting here wearing one of my mother’s tops and thinking of our complex relationship which has taken me years of sobriety and emotional recovery to navigate. Its just over 8 months now since she died and the old wound of her being more involved in her work is replaying with Scott who is caught up in a very dangerous and hectic life over seas at the moment. This morning after my breakfast and bath I just cried, hopefully he may be out of there in a few weeks, if not its going to be around March next year and I fear for his life every single day, though he always tells me my prayers are keeping him safe. Still its interesting to me that this is the man I attracted and that I had lessons of love to learn here with him in terms of the way I react and what is triggered from my past. I am just grateful I have so many more tools now at my disposal.
Speaking of which I just bought another wonderful book by Stan Tatkin, PsyD on attachments and relationships Wired for Love : How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Hep You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship.
He explains how we are wired to react from the primitive parts of our brain which are geared for survival but how other parts of our higher brain functions (which he calls The Ambassadors) can be engaged when we observe this happening and notice our reactions in the context of close one on one relationships. Putting the needs of connection and relationship first instead of just trying to blow thing off by blaming our partners for ‘being selfish’ or not caring about us or our needs is part of the process and is something that’s not so popular in this day and age with singles with their lists of requirements prospective partners need to fulfil in order to be considered as worthy.
Anyway I always like to share new books or resources I find here in my blog but today it was good to be able to feel the softening in my heart towards Scott and let myself and my body just relax to a degree. I am usually fending off spasmodic symptoms of one variety or another in the mornings and today after Scott and I talked things through I did manage to sleep but I still woke up startled trying to integrate all that has been happening between us in terms of boundaries and connection in past weeks. I feel Mars slowing down now and it is on 28 degrees of Capricorn for two weeks. My own Mars is at 1 degree Aquarius so this is what is called a Mars Return which happens every two years but would usually just pass by once. Due to Mars retrograde it will have hit my chart three times by the time it finally passes around the 18th of September. So I am getting a really good long look at the ways I react to emotionally laden events that hark back not only to my own mothering but to the inherited mothering wound on my Mum’s side of the family. I have tracked unresolved grief and separations/divorces going back four generations so far to the original wound which was the loss of my great great grandfather’s mother at age 12, a wound he never got to address and I believe led to his addiction and eventual abandonment.
I shared with a good friend yesterday that I feel I have carried the grief of the ancestors for most of my life but I don’t want to carry this wound on. I really would like to be able to have a loving relationship with a partner where we can both take care of each other’s hearts. I don’t want past pain or anger and grief that didn’t begin with me to spoil a new change at living a personal life no longer so affected by an unconscious collective psychic inheritance.
There is nothing worse for a child than having our inner reality undermined. Being told “no you don’t feel that way” “just get over it” “that didn’t hurt, you are such a baby” and worse things and this is the legacy sadly of those brought up in narcissistic homes. Children raised in these homes learn to shut up and repress the reality of their True Self pretty quickly (especially anger which goes along with invalidation abuse but has to be supressed for us to survive). We carry great fear and there is never really any freedom to take an unimpeded breath. For those of us who meet partners in life later who aren’t this way and want to see, hear, validate and love us as we are, the struggle to trust is even harder. IT IS something therapist and author Janet Woitiz deals with in her book The Intimacy Struggle which I have had for years but am rereading now I am in a new relationship that is so vastly different to the old ones.
There are ten fears that Janet outlines which hit the nail on the head for me lately. Children from alcoholic or narcissistic and emotionally neglectful homes often will detonate a relationship that offers them exactly what they need as soon as it gets close and intimate, its due to a profound fear of abandonment we cannot often even fully admit to ourselves. Partners of such people go through shock and confusion as the one they love acts out, especially after a time of closeness and connection. The adult child will quickly pull the rug out from under such closeness by starting a fight, disappearing or going disconnected in some way, all due to not being able to stand the heat of their own feelings of sadness and longing for what they were denied needing or wanting from a young age which are evoked in intimate relationships. As pointed out by Robert Firestone who has done a lot of work with inner voices and the inner critic often we will start to hear criticisms and doubts in our heads when intimacy threatens us putting ourselves or the other person down if we carry past unresolved attachment wounds. Its something addressed too in the book on attachment by therapists Amir Levine and Rachel Heller ‘Attached : The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – And Keep Love.
Its helpful to know when our fear of intimacy is being evoked. It may not always stop us acting out but it will start to bring awareness which is the first step, then maybe we can have a talk to our partner about it later if we can be honest and they are open. Partners of adult children of trauma, addiction or neglect can also educate themselves to the vulnerabilities of their partners if they don’t suffer this way and are more securely attached.
Below is a list of fears which Janet Woitiz outlines in her excellent book.
- Adult Children fear hurting others due to their own pain and sensitivity. They make excellent loyal partners for this reason but such fear may make them into people pleasers because their fear of conflict is so high.
- Adult Children fear the person others see them to be does not exist. They were not able to be their full selves and were never unconditionally accepted.
- Adult Children fear they will lose control if they love someone or connect with them, often due to the fact their homes were out of control or they had overly controlling parents.
- Adult Children will deny things hurt or matter, its a defensive approach to make themselves appear bullet proof and deny their vulnerability which was never safe before.
- Adult Children fear any love given is not real, things going well is so unfamiliar to them it seems unreal since all they knew growing up was chaos. High drama doesn’t go along with a healthy relationship and they never experienced peaceful connected relating so they have no template for it.
- Adult Children fear their anger when exposed will lead to abandonment. They have a power keg of it anyway due to the way they were treated growing up. They have difficulty asking for help then get upset if partners don’t mind read due to a fear of expressing needs.
- Adult Children feel shame for being themselves and they feel responsible for everything that went wrong in their families. This is unrealistic but its very true for them. So how could you love them when they are so bad?
- Adult Children fear that if you really get to know them you will find out they are unlovable. They were probably led to believe this anyway due to the way they were treated or blamed for things growing up that were not their fault. They often feel failures that they could not fix their dysfunctional family.
- Adult Children have difficulty tolerating the discomfort that is a natural part of getting close to others. Feelings naturally get stirred up with intimacy and adult children fear their feelings or don’t really know how to deal with them so often they cut and run.
- Adult Children fear they will be left and this fear harks back to their history. It is important these fears are not discounted and that a loving partner gives them constant reassurance, they didn’t ask to be abandoned growing up, it wasn’t their fault and they don’t “have to get over it”. Their fear needs to be understood and soothed until they can learn to trust in a present that is profoundly different to their traumatic past.
Reading the book I recommended yesterday Anxious in Love is putting into perspective for me why things can hurt and go so wrong for us who suffer PTSD, Complex PTSD or anxious and insecure attachment in relationships. As the authors point out in Part 2 : Connecting With the One You Love different parts of the brain are operating for us and our partners who don’t see what all the fuss is about when we respond with anxiety to certain events or triggers. I am being taken back with every word to my last relationship where I would get an hour long lecture on how wrong I had things to be responding in the way I did with little empathy shown.
In anxiety our forebrain (or rational brain) is emotionally hijacked by the lower brains (hind brain and mid brain) where centres such as the amygdala lie. Being responded to with logic as most of us know is tantamount to having a red flag waved in front of the face of a raging bull!!!! But we also need to understand our partner may be coping with the situation in the best way they know how while lacking a more complete understanding of how rationality has flown out the proverbial window.
In this situation what is called for is developing the ability to intentionally respond rather then becoming reactive. The solution is for each partner to understand and have an attitude of curiosity about what is happening for the other. It’s something an old therapist of mine would bring up a lot about by ex saying “its just sad he cannot have an attitude of curiosity about what is occurring for you”. To be told you are bad or wrong for responding as you do is just terrible and I think its a key to so called Borderline Personality Disorder sufferer’s struggle. Perceived abandonment when triggered can send us into a cascade or spiral that takes is into the darkest place for days and if we are left alone in it too long for some the feelings (what therapist Pete Walker calls the abandonment melange) can lead to suicide, addiction and other self destructive mechanisms of coping.
What Carolyn Daitch and Lissah Lorberbaum, authors of Anxious in Love offer instead is a way of each partner entering the other’s reality for a time to validate it, both the non anxious partner and the one who suffers anxiety. As sufferers of insecure attachment we can learn to understand our partner’s reactions and can learn to voice our needs in relationship in a less angry, attacking or accusative way. Often non sufferers who operate from the higher brain just do not understand the severity or intensity of our responses to triggers.
Lack of emotional flexibility is one of the hardest legacies of anxiety reactions in relationship, it shuts down emotional attunement between partners and makes an open dialogue impossible. Being able to set a time out when we know we are being triggered and our brain is going into hijack mode is useful, and hopefully our partner will accept it if we let them know what is going on with us. The alternative is they respond with emotional distance/withdrawal themselves, judgement and anger (being triggered themselves), misunderstanding or protest which can be very difficult. The more we can talk through these reactions and responses in our relationships the better change we have of resolving conflict and growing empathy and attunement. The more we can step into their shoes and understand what is happening the more we can make an “appeal to reason” while explaining what underlies our reaction.
Some partners may be even triggered by us saying what has triggered us, though. They may respond by telling us “that’s all in the past” but in that case they need to work to understand how emotional hijacking works and show empathy in any case. A person who is not willing to do this for those of us with insecure or anxious attachment may not, in the long run, be the best partner for us.
More detailed techniques for reconnecting are given in the book in later chapters of Part Two but today I thought I would just share what I have learned from the book so far for those not in the position to purchase a copy at this point in time. The book is building on my knowledge of many years of trying to deal with anxious attachment and its destructive effect on some of my relationships.
Because the experience of attunement with a significant other is powerful, ruptures in attuned connection bring about a sense of absence, loss, and even distress. Yet those ruptures in attunement are inevitable in all relationships, no matter how solid. There are times when you just fall out of sync with one another. It’s important, therefore, that you both have the ability to repair ruptures when they occur. Just as quickly as you fall out of sync, with some flexibility you can repair the disconnect and engage one another in attunement again.
Anxious In Love, p. 98
It was so hard to hear you yesterday
So defeated my darling
You are usually the one so full of hope
And in the situation you find yourself
Sometimes I wonder how on earth you cope
And manage every day
To keep soldiering on
All you ever think of
Is how to protect me
How to care for me
And when I get angry because things go wrong
And I have not one clue
What is going on
Over there in that hell you inhabit
Then I forget to remember you are doing your best
All I feel is my frustration
At the fact trauma seems to find me
Over and over again
So many times it seems I bled
From the wounds of others
I was the one who cared
The one with a bandage
Ready to say there there
Because I knew too for years
How it felt to be traumatised
Or left for dead
Oh my god the things it does to your head
And so I gave love
As I knew I must
But sometimes the anger well it rages inside
Why oh why God did you give me this life?
But then just as the storm seems to have totally consumed
And almost sucked all the air from the room
A bright sun will suddenly burst free from the clouds
And like a dead Jesus pain disappears
Only leaving a shroud
And then I know defeat is not really the end
Just a stepping stone on the way
To a new healing
A new understanding
A new way of living
A new victory
Pain of early separations from our mother can haunt us for a long time and we may not always know what the pain is about. It’s an issue that Mark Wolynn, San Francisco based therapist on multigenerational trauma addresses at length in his book It Didn’t Start With You : How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle. The separation may not have been physical alone, it could be just that our mother was undergoing a depression, grieving a loss or being unseen and unnurtured by her own mother did not know how to be fully present for us. (According to Wolynn the original problem or disruption often lies a generation or two back and we may be unaware of it). We feel the loss and absence keenly and such feelings can cause us to actually turn away when our mother tries to connect with us another time.
Wolynn shares just such a story on page 175 about a baby Myrna whose mother leaves for three weeks. On her return as she waits and longs for her daughter to run to her Mryna’s mother experiences instead a daughter who turns away becoming even more distant. Rather than understand her daughter’s reactions and look for a way to restore the bond Myrna’s mother instead encourages her independence. The mother loses sight of her child’s vulnerability, so where did it go for Myrna? Answer in short. Into the unconscious.
Of course later when Myrna fell in love, love was experienced as a minefield and its something I can relate to as will anyone with insecure, avoidant or anxious attachment. Vulnerability of needing another opens up a pit of loss we do not fully understand and we can relate by sabotaging things further should we choose to deny or repress our true need feelings and vulnerability.
Mark Wolynn talks of interruptions to the flow of love and energy between parent and child a lot in his book. He knows a lot about it as he pursued a path of so called ‘spiritual bypassing’ seeking a healing he could not find in ashrams and through meditation (though he does use visionary meditations with a clients ancestors in order to effect healing of past wounds carried on). Wolynn did not heal his early trauma with his mother until years later understanding how its roots lay far back in his own mother and grandmother’s history and eventually becoming a therapist himself.
When our early experience with our mother is disrupted by a significant break in the bond, shards of pain and emptiness can shred our well being and disconnect us from the fundamental flow of life. Where the mother-child relationship remains severed, empty or fraught with indifference, a stream of negative images can lock the child in a pattern of frustration and self doubt. In extreme cases, when the negative images are continuous and unrelenting, frustration, rage, numbness, and insensitivity to others can emerge.
Psychopathic behaviour can be the result but the key result if often a form of pathological narcissism – an inability to truly connect and take in love.
According to Wolynn the majority of us have experienced some kind of break in the bond with our mothers. Many though, got enough of what was needed to be able to maintain healthy relationships later in life. Many of us were not so lucky. Ideally disruptions to attunement need to be healed in the context of any relationship. How we deal with them are important as are the beliefs about our inherent lovability. According to Janet Woititz adult children of addiction and trauma believed they will only be loved if they act in a pleasing happy way. No relationship can survive like this and neither can we.
Knowing what happened in the bond with our mother and the impact it had on our attachment style as well as inherent negative self beliefs and development of what Wolynn calls ‘core sentences of separation’ is vitally important if we wish to heal. We can become conscious of these, work to understand how they may be influencing our present and do inner work to change negative core beliefs we may have absorbed unconsciously so they do not continue to play our in our relationships. I have found so much help myself reading Wolynn’s book which I shared from extensively in my blog last year. It is well worth a look if you struggle to maintain healthy loving relationships in your own life and are working to understand how the flow of love between you and a parent (not only your mother) is impacting you in later life.
(Examples of core beliefs which negatively impact our capacity to love and be loved are : I’ll be left: I’ll be abandoned. I’ll be rejected. I’ll have nobody. I’ll lose control. I’ll be helpless. I don’t matter. I’m too much. I am not enough. I’ll be annihilated. I’ll be destroyed. I will push love away.)