it's been a long time since i've talked to anyone about adult insecure attachment. that's what i live with i believe.. i test to be the fearful-avoidant style, but i've come to realize how preoccupied & disorganized i must be as well. this was not anything i talked about in my many many years of therapy as it was just becoming better understood right as i left therapy for the last time, but i always knew i was just like harlow's distressed little monkeys.
i was 10 or so when i had my first conscious awareness of my ocd (although i didn't know
it was called this) & something else.. something even more basic to my survival, that i had
this need to find a guide in this life, a parent, an older sister, a mentor, a teacher, a friend,
somebody to rely on since i'd never had this in my life before. i won't rehash the story of my
childhood & the circumstances which brought that about, i already wrote an entire book about it (see down in the left sidebar) & you'd have to just take my word for it, it was what psychologists have told me is 'one for the books..' the situation was a perfect setup for me to be insecurely attached, & the kind of lifestyle i grew up in only continued the trauma & worsened my predicament. i spent my childhood in a blessed state of dissociation, a gift from god to protect little children who have nothing else to provide emotional comfort or safety, a gift from god that can eventually turn into a dark night of the soul.
so although i excelled in school & was told i could do anything i wanted to do in life, in fact
i left just as soon as i could & holed up in agoraphobic isolation the moment i could get away. i married & had a son, & thank god began reading john bradshaw right at the time so that my eyes were opened as i set about being a parent myself. i nicknamed my inner child 'toxic' at that time.. (straight from bradshaw) anyway that was when i first started trying to help myself & began some therapy. therapy was hard & didn't really help, but all the same i attached to the male psychologist i saw then as if he were the dad i never had. that was brutal because he really couldn't have cared less about my care as far as i could tell, so i was just repeating a painful situation.
i have had a lifetime of gi problems & have been on every stomach med imagineable, one called reglan turned out to be a total nightmare that took forever to figure out. it messed up my metabolism so bad & caused crippling depression, which sent me back to a psychiatrist who tried me on ssris & more tranquilizers, which i'd gotten used to being prescribed to me routinely, no matter how i'd try to get off of them. that year was such a black hole nightmare to try to survive through & when a dr finally figured out what was going on i stopped the meds entirely & quit therapy too. it was like coming back to life in one way, but i then seemed to have worse health issues like migraines with aura, tmj/tmd (or what i think is a kind of mild td from the black-boxed reglan) & the onset of an eating disorder.
eventually the eating disorder forced me back into therapy. it didn't help. emdr was traumatic,
supposedly safe, but i learned it shouldn't be used with dissociatives like myself. i became
convinced that others were trying to get rid of toxic just the way my mom had tried once.. very very terrifying. i swore to protect her above all else no matter what anyone else & so-called pros said, as always i had to take care of myself based on my life experiences & my own reading & not trust anyone over that. although i had learned something from each attempt at therapy i never felt trust. i went to several other psychologists & therapists at that point until i finally found what i thought was a better match.
at first this therapy was very positive. i believe now that the hope i felt for the first year or so is what allowed me to improve, the hope that i found someone i could trust. i came back from the brink in many ways & gained back ground i had lost in the years before. but testing my therapist proved disappointing. as much as i liked her & thought she wanted to help me, eventually i came to the conclusion that she just really didn't understand me or know how to help me. & then that led into thinking she just wasn't inclined to want to try to help me. in other words all my insecure attachment issues came forward to thwart me, & i was so dissociated through the process that i could never actually be emotionally present no matter how hard i tried to be, something that i think must have frustrated her completely. i became more & more self injurious & self destructive in my disappointment in myself & in her. but i kept trying. it went on for more than 5 years. at some point my inability to cope with therapy & my family of origin drove me back into drinking, something i thought i was done with a decade or more before. it was just far too painful to be in my own skin, (or what i believe to be my lack of skin) that i got through it by being hammered to the point of alcohol amnesia just to keep the attachment of someone who would be there at the end of an email when i really needed her.
i was frustrated with her bringing up meds as i'd made it clear from the start i wasn't going there
again. i'd become so used to the prozactive atmosphere that i couldn't bear to lose the one person i hoped i might be able to trust to not push that on me, it made me sick as a dog anyway, so what was the point? and so trust was not really achieved. she couldn't trust me & my clouded judgment & i couldn't trust someone who couldn't trust me, that just made no sense because it's like treating someone you don't know, & so it deteriorated rather badly. when the opportunity to move far away up to portland as we'd always dreamed became possible, i left therapy behind me just like my family of origin, thinking at that point i was so far gone i'd probably die soon anyway. i guess you have to be sort of suicidal to leave behind everything you've ever known that way & jump off into the unfamiliar, but it also felt like i was just possibly saving my life.
so into another self imposed isolation i went, & after learning how my heart literally had been damaged from it all i settled into a self protective mode of practicing taking care of myself, how novel. this took me years to learn. i only look back now at the brutal self-loathing & self destructiveness & can see how horrible & reckless that was. at the time it was all i knew. i never want to return to that state, & i have learned to love and embrace toxic in all her aspects in a way i never imagined i could do. in fact if it weren't for her i wouldn't have joy in my life, & she has her hand in all my expressionist creative art projects, which is our therapy, along with our perfect therapy cats. but i won't lie, the insecure attachment issue has never gone away in my lifetime so far. i work around the edges of a crater. all the meditations & relaxation exercises in the world meant to help my anxiety haven't touched the insecurity that is at its root, i needed to trust myself when i told myself that it would be ok, i would look out for toxic. self-soothing was what i needed to learn. empty exercises meant little & only invalidated what i was really experiencing in my body & mind. it was always about trust.
for a couple of years i ran a support forum for other adults i'd met with similar insecure attachment issues as i'd hoped we'd be able to support each other in a way that our therapists could not. i learned so much from listening to others with similar stories. but i still felt attached to my old therapist & many times just wished i could email her again when i needed to. i knew leaving the therapist i'd attached to would be incredibly hard for me, but at least i felt ok with it in one way, if i had to attach to someone at least it was someone i genuinely did like & respect, someone alot more pallatable than others before.. i had trusted her just a little bit, so i could live with that being in my head if necessary..
but why couldn't my insecurely attached friends and i be enough of a support for each other? i mean, in a way that a therapist cannot, since we do not have 30 other people who need our ear, & we don't have the frame of therapy there placing a boundary on us in the same way. i felt like we deserve better than being dependent on these well paid for figures, who by their own rules place such painful limitations on the relationship. isn't it just the same as having love withheld from us the way we experienced in our own early lives? even the best intentioned therapist can't be a substitute. i understand they have expertise & knowledge we laypeople may not, but we well-read folk are at least an improvement from our parents & we can be real. all the insight & awareness that can be gained through therapy still falls short of the power to really heal, & i've come to believe the whole basis for cognitive behavioral therapy is flawed & inevitably invalidating. true we regular folk are just as apt to disappoint & make mistakes as anyone else, but i've come to wonder whether therapy really can even ever help us, you know? or is it just reopening the same wounds ad infinitum & keeping us miserable? is it even more harm than good with some of us?
i know saying this would upset & depress many of my insecurely attached friends, but after my years of isolation my only enlightenment has been that i don't believe therapy is ever enough, just like dedicated friends may never be enough. the loss we've suffered runs so deep as to be unhealable really. but we must still try to have the most quality of life we possibly can. i still read what i can on this subject where i can find it. i have not returned to therapy although at times when i feel dreadfully bad i think about it. but i talk myself out of it. it's so hard to find someone really experienced with this subject. sometimes the ones really experienced with it are the ones going through it. (also who can afford it?) is it just my avoidance that talks me out of it, the way i left therapy the last time? or is it actually my resolve to take better care of myself & toxic that makes the decision, (also the way i left therapy the last time..) something to ponder. i don't think isolation is the answer. so much goes forever unresolved & no amount of going through the pain ever seems to lead out of it in the end.. i want better for us than this, but right now i don't know the answer.
is there anybody out there still haunting like me that has any thoughts?