Attachment

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My mother left me when I was 14. I’ve honestly always thought that that was the primary root of my problems, but it can’t be. I think it goes back much further than that. I’ve been reading up on attachment and it seems to me that the evidence of who I am today and the ridiculous difficulties I have indicates that something went wrong when I was a baby and I did not experience or form secure attachment. I actually think it goes back to my mother having never formed that secure attachment either. If you don’t break the cycle it just keeps getting passed on to the next and the next and the next.

My adult relationships have been a disaster. In fact I would say most of the time I don’t even feel like I am an adult. I am still that 14 year old kid who doesn’t know how to talk to people or exhibit what most people would consider normal adult behavior. I don’t know if I even believe in God, but thank God I do not have any kids. To subject them to what I have been through would be selfish and unfair.

I completely believe in the cliche phrase “knowledge is power”. The more you know, the more you are capable of change. This article lists a number of things you should develop if you have had secure attachment as a baby. Feeling safe, developing meaningful connections with others, exploring the world, dealing with stress, balancing emotions, experiencing comfort and security, making sense of our lives, and creating positive memories and expectations of relationships should all be a natural part of a child’s development just as much as physical growth.

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Feeling safe. Well I basically never feel safe. I have passed on so many things, changed my mind, backed off, given up on an idea all because I don’t think anything is safe. I have always been afraid. I realize life is filled with opportunities where you have to take a risk and that in itself means that there will be some fear involved. But natural, healthy fear is supposed to be a motivation that pushes you to do, go, and see more. Instead, my lack of feeling safe has held me back completely from taking any kind of risks.

Developing meaningful connections with others. I’m not sure I can say if I have that capability or not. Other people would probably have a better sense of that. And I think my opinion of whether a relationship is meaningful or not isn’t the same as most people. I don’t seem to have good perception when it comes to that whole meaningful connection thing.

Exploring the world. I think that goes hand in hand with feeling safe. If you don’t feel safe you aren’t going to explore the world and look at it as something full of wonder and opportunity. Instead I was given the impression the world is a horrible, bad, scary place that I should hide from at all costs. I am getting a little better at this. I did finally move out of my parents house so that’s a step. Mostly I have found that the world is full of wonder and exciting opportunities instead of a place that is completely evil.

Dealing with stress. Yeah I’m very very bad at that. I don’t know how to handle stress. When it starts piling up I don’t eat well, I don’t sleep well, I don’t exercise, and I start having anxiety attacks. These things of course only contribute to making the stress level even worse. It’s a vicious cycle. I also think this is one of the things I hate the most because I feel like I’m turning into my mother. And that can’t happen. Being healthy is really important to me. Any kind of health including, physical, mental, and emotional was never a concern or priority in my house growing up.

Balancing emotions. Another one I’m really bad at. I don’t think I even know or recognize what it feels like to have balanced emotions. I’ve always been a highly sensitive person, but that isn’t the bad part. Highly sensitive people are perfectly capable of having a balanced emotional life, they just have to go about finding that balance in a different way. But it is something that makes finding balance more difficult.

I pretty much feel constantly overwhelmed by emotions both good and bad. They take over. Of course I know intellectually that I have the capability to control and manage my emotions but that doesn’t seem to help much. I still feel like they control me. When I’m happy, I’m elated. When I’m sad, I’m despondent. I feel there’s no in between, it’s all or nothing. An example of this is any time I ever feel like I’m being abandoned, I flip out and lose my mind and don’t really act like myself. It’s terrible. I turn into a crazy girl. I seriously don’t know what to do about it.

Experiencing comfort and security. Nope, I don’t experience either of those things. Sometimes certain people make me feel safe and secure for a time but they usually leave and I lose it again. I have absolutely no idea what it feels like to truly have comfort and security in my life. The irony is that I end up being the one who pushes away the person who makes me feel secure and comfortable.

Making sense of my life. Not being able to do this has taken me around in circles again and again. The number of times I’ve changed my mind about what I want to do is innumerable. I think people don’t believe me when I say I want to do something because a few days later I want something else entirely.

Creating positive memories and expectations of relationships. I don’t think I can do that very well either. Positive expectations of relationships. My head is all messed up about that. I don’t really know what I should and should not expect of relationships and I am constantly in fear that at any moment I am going to make a terrible mistake and throw the relationship down the drain.

And now that I’ve told the entire world my every weakness I’m going to go hide in my room.

Mourning A Lost Childhood

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Because of my job, I am constantly thinking about children and their experiences as they grow. I see this baby I take care of five days a week and the growth that takes place in just one years time and I wonder how I am going to impact the adult she will eventually become. The primary caregiver(s) in a child’s life are so important that if they mess up in those early years, there is no going back. You have instilled in them how they are going to relate to people in their adult life.

I am endlessly fascinated with attachment theory. The fact that your attachment as an infant can practically predict how your adult relationships are going to play out is incredible. While there are a variety of insecure attachment styles there is only one secure attachment style. In other words, you are either secure or insecure in your attachment. And when you’re on that insecure side of things there are many possibilities as to how screwed up you can be. As a caretaker you hold not just the power but the unbelievable, overwhelming obligation to make certain that that child receives the kind of security and bond that they need to be able to be a thoughtful, compassionate, confident, loving, giving, secure human being. When I really let that sink in it scares me half to death.

Isn’t it sobering? It is such an incredible responsibility to raise a child. When you make those all-important choices early on in their life, you are literally forming their sense of attachment. Forming how they will approach relationships. Do they feel loved? Do they feel safe? Do they feel they can trust adults? Do they feel wanted? Do they feel validated? Do they know that what they think and feel matters? Do they feel the world is exciting and full of opportunity or something to fear and hide from? Now these questions can’t be verbalized to an infant. Even a toddler isn’t going to understand what they mean. But the fact remains that a child’s attachment begins to solidify in just those first few years. If an infant experiences insecure attachment, you can pretty much guarantee that they will have a number of serious issues and probably many failed adult relationships.

I have been a mother since I was 10. Honestly I think it was probably even before then but I don’t have many memories before the age of 10. I know firsthand though that this attachment theory is accurate. It is very very real in my life. I know for a certainty that I have severe abandonment issues. I am getting help, but I cannot begin to tell you how devastating it is. It makes you feel like you can’t function properly. I could spell out in detail how so many of my relationships have fallen apart. And the thing is, no matter how good or bad is was to start off, it always ends the same. I can predict what will happen because I know exactly how I am going to respond to feeling abandoned. The smallest thing can contribute to that feeling of abandonment even if it isn’t directly or even at all related. I don’t trust people. I am certain that at any time they can and will want to walk away. And it’s like a self-fulfilling prophesy. Because I end up doing the things that make them want to walk away. I guess because I already assume they are going to.

I came across this article the other day on the Huffington Post and it shocked me. Mostly because it is so true and makes so much sense and yet I have never heard it before. This last paragraph especially intrigued me, “It’s important to realize that we attract people at our common level of health — which is the level of taking personal responsibility for our happiness and wellbeing — or at our common level of self-abandonment — which includes making someone else responsible for our feelings. Given this reality, you have a far better chance of creating a healthy and loving relationship with a partner when you have a healthy and loving relationship with yourself.” I mean what else is there to say after that.

Attracting people at our level of health. That almost seems like common sense. Everyone should know that, right? I think it really goes to show that no matter what the situation, the two people involved both contribute to the success or failure of the relationship. Again that sounds obvious. But really I have always thought that it was always me. In a sense it is. Because I attract people who are at the same or very similar level of mental, emotional, relational health. If I’m not healthy and in a good place I’m going to attract other people who are also not healthy and in a good place. And while I am not responsible for their actions or how they treat me, I am responsible for my own feelings and actions. It’s a problem if I act as if someone else is able to make me feel better and take away the bad feelings. No one person will ever be able to do that, nor should they feel obligated to.

I mourn my childhood. I have finally come to the place where I realize that I can look back and say, “No, that is not how it was supposed to be. That little girl shouldn’t have had to live like that. She lost something because she was never really given it to begin with.” I have a hard time being compassionate with myself. It’s easy for me to have compassion on other people, but I struggle so much with seeing myself just like any other person deserving of compassion. I can easily break down in tears when I see or hear of a child being harmed, or neglected, or used. So why can’t I do that with myself. I was that child at one point.

I refuse to sit by and be the person who ignores, and hides, and pretends my life isn’t what it really is. I will accept change and refuse complacency in becoming a better person. I will not be the one who passes on those bad things and that insecure attachment to someone else. Because that isn’t fair. It wasn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair for me to do it to anyone else. I will take responsibility for changing what I don’t like about myself and the things that harm me and keep me from being someone who can give freely and easily.

Do Not Panic

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I am more aware then ever of how much I do not fit in with anyone, anywhere. It’s not news to me. My whole life has been that way. I always had friends who were either much older or much younger than me. I wasn’t bullied, I wasn’t popular, I didn’t get in trouble, I didn’t excel. I wasn’t anything. I don’t seem to have things in common with normal people. I’m not a parent, I’m not a partner, I’m not pursuing some fabulous career, I’m not the life of the party, I’m not going places. Those are the things I see everyone around me doing that connect them to other people. And then there’s me. What can I connect to?

I feel like I see so many people who are courageous and chasing after exactly what they want and getting it. I don’t distinctly remember someone telling me growing up that I would find my place in the world. But I somehow have always had that assumption that I would. I haven’t yet. And it seems people much younger than me are fitting in. They are finding their niche, and going after their dream and I don’t understand why it’s taking so long for me. They have their people. Where is my niche? Where is my connection? Where are my people? Or person? I’d be happy with just one person.

On the rare occasion I actually say out loud to someone something that I want, I feel as if they don’t believe me or hear what I’m saying. Or they say I should wait, or do something else, or “find myself”. But that’s the thing, I do know what I want. I haven’t often put it into words. I’m not exactly a talkative person. But I do know exactly what I want. Yet, I still don’t fit in. And it seems that while I know what I want I am also floating around alone with nothing to ground me. I think perhaps the problem is that I know what I want, but I need help to get it and there isn’t anyone. I’m not good at doing this adult thing. I can’t figure it out. It seems I am lost and everyone else is found. Found people don’t connect with lost people.

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I do believe I experienced my very first panic attack a few nights ago. And wow was it the most out-of-this-world, scary thing that’s ever happened to me. I do not wish it on anyone and I can’t even imagine how awful it must be for people who have them all the time. I’ve been under an incredible amount of stress in the last few months and my body decided to freak out without my permission. There was absolutely no reason at all to fear some impending doom, but that is what it felt like. Like a big huge empty black whole was coming to devour me. I’ve had momentary feelings like this before but they lasted only a few seconds. This time it was about 10 or 15 minutes, although it felt like forever.

I am feeling somewhat recovered from that episode as well as being very sick with the stomach bug this past week. But I am still quite exhausted. And now I am moving. Moving is also exhausting. I’m sitting in the middle of my bed looking around my room at everything that has to be packed and I have no idea where to start. I kind of feel like that in life a lot of the time. I’m just standing in the middle of everything all alone trying to figure out what I should do first, and second, and third. I am unbelievably overwhelmed.

Have I mentioned before that I hate dating? Because I really hate dating. After having my heart ripped out of my chest, I’ve been trying to get back out there and it isn’t going that well. I’ve had one absolutely terrible date and one good date that didn’t turn into anything and I’m already tired of it all. Am I just making this up or am I crazy? I thought that dating was supposed to be fun and falling in love was supposed to be easy and magical. I get a lot of attention… from very creepy weird guys. And that’s saying something because I’m weird myself.

I love to write. So very much. And that is something that has been making me angry and very much adding to my stress levels that probably triggered my panic attack. The past few months I haven’t been able to write like used to. It pisses me off because it’s my thing. I need it. I love it. And yet recently I have had zero desire to do it. It’s making me want to bang my head against a wall. I was on a roll and now my brain hurts. Everything hurts.

A new year

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Hello all my dear readers. It’s been a while since I posted and that is because I have been having a very rough few weeks/months. I pretty much hit rock bottom again. I have been completely exhausted by a number of things and my body was telling me I absolutely had to take a break, even from writing which is usually my safe haven. I will be back on a regular writing schedule soon.

Something happened last week though that I really think is going to turn everything around. Well maybe not everything, but a very significant thing. Sometimes the exact perfect book that I need to be reading comes along at exactly the right time. This was no exception.

This past Saturday I was wandering around Barnes & Noble not really looking for anything specific when I happened upon this book, Was It Something I Said by Jess McCann. I’ve never heard of her before but apparently she is a pretty popular dating coach. I’ve read both this book and another book of hers in the past week and it’s completely changed my perspective.

It turns out there is actually a way to get what you want in a relationship. I am in control of that. Who knew!? Now I can stop screwing it up over and over again. It’s just about first knowing what it is you are looking for and wanting and then sticking to that. If you want a relationship, you can’t ignore the signs that very clearly prove you are not moving in that direction with someone. As shocking as it is for me to actually believe, there is nothing wrong with knowing and telling someone what you want. Otherwise you will truly end up miserable.

So I have actually come up with a specific goal for this year. And that is doing one thing at a time. So far it hasn’t been going that well. I am a serious multi-tasker which isn’t always bad but it isn’t always good. I very rarely fully complete something in a few days or even a few weeks. The reason being, I do 5 things at once. One example is that I’m always reading at least 4 or 5 books at the same time instead of finishing one and going to the next. It is very hard to focus on writing, reading, organizing, even watching tv, ect. when my attention is going in multiple directions. I have decided to really make it a priority to put my full attention on whatever it is I am doing at that moment.

I have made a few other decisions too to keep me sane and hopefully greatly improve my mental and emotional health. And one of those is getting off of some social media venues. It was creating a lot of unnecessary anxiety for me and I already have more than enough of that without social media. I can already feel a difference and I honestly don’t miss it much at all. For those of you who keep in touch with me through facebook, feel free to email me. This is just something I really needed to do for myself and my health.

You know “moving on” is a practically impossible task for someone like me who is always in my head. I think I should probably try meditating more regularly. One day I’ll wake up and feel fantastic and have pretty much completely forgotten about someone and then later in the day it hits me like a ton of bricks again. The memories flood my brain and I can’t control the water pouring down my face. And it frustrates me to no end. There’s nothing I can do about the situation. And yet I am continuously bombarded by emotions and pictures in my head that I don’t want to be there.

I used to be so embarrassed all the time that I cry so much. My ex-boyfriend would make fun of me for it so that wasn’t exactly helpful. But I still even before him would try my hardest to keep it in and only cry when I was in my room by myself. The reality is it’s part of who I am. It’s a physical reaction to whatever is going on inside me. And almost all of the time it is therapeutic and restorative. I literally feel physically and mentally better after having a good cry. The part that’s bad about it is that it sometimes happens at very inconvenient times. But I’ve learned that for me it’s just a way that I express and relieve emotions. Other people have other ways, mine is crying. And that’s ok. If people think it means I’m too sensitive then that’s on them. I cry about happy things all the time too.

I’m really really looking forward to getting back into my writing groove. Aside from this blog I’ve got some other projects I’m also working on. I just need something to keep me motivated to keep going.

Can’t Breath

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I am laying in my bed with my face buried in the sheets trying to stifle the unrecognizable sounds coming out of me. It literally feels like someone came and took my lungs away. I can’t breath. And at the same time I clearly can because the sobs I hear from my own mouth are very real and too loud. They couldn’t possibly come without breath. How can I feel completely void of breath and yet clearly using all of my lung capacity to express my sorrow all at the same time? I have no idea.

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I talked a little bit in my last post about how much I used to suffer with asthma. As an adult, it is pretty much gone. It flares up once in a while if I get really sick or if my allergies are really bad. But it’s been so nice to not have to deal with that as I had to when I was little. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how it’s a picture of what certain things feel like in my life. Like love.

Love is good. And love is so damn hard. I personally don’t think we really have any control over who our heart chooses to love. Love is multi-dimensional. I believe that love is expressed in actions. And I also believe that loving someone unconditionally day in and day out is definitely a choice. But it’s a feeling too. A feeling that takes over you when you least expect it. A feeling that you thought you were doing a good job of avoiding and hiding so you don’t look and feel ridiculous. But it happens anyway. Without your conscious consent, your heart goes and decides to love someone. And for better or worse, you are forever changed.

For worse. Mostly for me it seems like it ends up being for worse. I can imagine the for better part, but it hasn’t happened yet. I can honestly say that at 28 I’ve only truly been in love once. The “I could be with you all day long and talk about anything there is to talk about and hold your hand for hours and laugh about ridiculous television” kind of love. Once. Only once. And it didn’t last very long.

I think I’ve decided to make writing and NYC my true loves. Because they’ll always be there. That’s not to say there won’t be that person one day, but cities and words don’t leave you, let you down, or hurt you. I stayed with my uncle on Long Island over the holidays and went into the city as well. I actually haven’t been to Manhattan in a couple years and I forgot how much I love it. Things are always moving and there is so much possibility. It’s in the air. There is an energy you just don’t find anywhere else.

I adore writing just as much as I adore NYC. Getting out of my boring town and into the city was just what I needed to push my writing out of its funk. I fully intend to get there a lot more often. It’s only a bus ride away. And I have plenty of family who live close by so it’s an ideal situation. My job puts me in a very good place to be able to live in the city within a few years and that excites me. It is the one dream that I have always had.

Through all of the heartbreak, I have to mention my sister-in-law/best friend. When I first met her, my brother and she were engaged. I was in college thousands of miles away and I didn’t know her all that well. It was interesting and not even close to being fun trying to get ready to be in a wedding for a girl I barely knew and a brother I didn’t know much better. But she has truly become one of the most important people in my life. She is a pretty freaking awesome person and I am so glad to know her and have her as a sister.

I cannot even begin to express how much we have been able to connect and it means so much. As the oldest of five kids and a girl who basically had to take care of all her siblings from a very young age, I never really had a confidante. A person I could go to anytime who could support me. I had to be responsible and grown up and take care of and be the support for everyone else. She is that for me now. I honestly don’t know what on earth I would do without her. For anyone who doesn’t know her, you are truly missing out on knowing a fantastic person.

I love you Brittany.

Even when it keeps hurting and hurting and hurting, I will still love. Because the good parts are so much more worth it.

 

 

 

One step forward, two steps back

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My head hurts. My brain isn’t working like it should. I can’t focus on anything. I’ve been very forgetful lately which is extremely abnormal for me. I feel like I am walking through my own brain like it is a maze and every turn leads to another dead end. There are a lot of dead ends. The dead ends make me want to break down and cry every time. Mostly because they seem never-ending. Whatever turn I make next there will be another one.

For a while I was in such a good place. I was on a roll with my writing. Things were getting substantially better in my personal life and in my working towards improved mental and emotional health. I felt like I was starting to grow. I felt like I could finally breath easy for once. But I’m gasping for air again.

I began having pretty severe asthma symptoms around the age of six and the memories of wheezing, coughing and choking to get some small amount oxygen into my inflamed lungs are still very clear. I remember going to the hospital a few times and I remember being sick for weeks and weeks at a time wondering if I was ever going to breath freely again.

My depression feels like that sometimes. Like no matter how deeply I breath I can’t possibly get enough oxygen to function properly. It knocks me out. Trying to write now is somewhat agonizing. Sometimes I wish I could literally step outside myself and slap myself in the face and say “get it together! You know what you need to do.” It’s especially irritating right now because usually when I am having a bout of depression, writing is exactly the thing that gets me through it and moves me forward. Feeling like I can’t even write just makes it worse.

I spent some time with one of my uncles this past weekend and we talked a lot (mostly he talked!) about discipline in our personal lives. He takes care of the home and dogs of some very wealthy people and we were talking about how rich people get rich. He was telling me how disciplined this man that he works for is in pretty much everything he does. And I said that that’s probably how wealthy people make all their money. They’re disciplined.

I’ve never been a person who writes down or even thinks about New Years resolutions. I think mostly because I already knew I was going to let myself down big time. This year I still am not writing down any specific resolutions for 2015 except that I’ve decided I’m leaving behind anything that is dragging me down. And forcing myself to get out of my comfort zone. In a lot of areas. That is so hard for me. I don’t ever do it. But if I’m going to change, that has to change.

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It’s been both an exciting and infuriating year. Unfortunately a broken heart isn’t something I can just leave behind and forget about easily, but it’s time to actually take the steps to move past it. I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before. This level of broken-heartedness is debilitating. I have discovered that in order to move past it, I have to actually go through it. Trying to ignore it or pretend and hope that the situation might change for the better just keeps you stuck. No more wishing for what could have been.

One of the best decisions I’ve ever made is cutting out people who make my life miserable. That seems like an obvious thing to do but it is shockingly more difficult than you might expect. I need to do that with everything. Relationships of all kinds are the hardest things in life. As human beings we are wired to need relationships with other people. Relationships are the most important part of life and yet they seem to be the thing that is most difficult for people to navigate.

Here’s to a new year of learning to take risks and love with abandon!

Much love and Happy New Year! xoxo