Tag Archives: therapy

The Hole in Me

Philip Seymour Hoffman“Philip Seymour Hoffman is another victim of extremely stupid drug laws,” writes Russell Brand in The Guardian on Feb. 6 at www.theguardian.com/ commentisfree/2014/feb/06/russell-brand-philip-seymour-hoffman-drug-laws   I posted this Feb. 7 in the comments of his article:

What causes that “pain” which drives us to use?  Russell calls it “the hole in me,”  “the gutter within,”  “the unfulfillable void,” his “private hell.”  What causes “the hole in my soul,” as William Moyers dubs it in “Broken,” in the first place?

It’s all about “the hole in me.”  Hardly anyone speaks of it – but “the hole” is the real problem. Hardly anyone speaks of it because 50% of the population in most OECD countries suffers some degree of it and it scares the heck out of us all.

Russell Brand says 10% have this pain so severely, they use hard drugs and alcohol.  OECD statistics show upwards of 30% of us have it so bad we abuse food and are overweight to obese, which kills too.  I’ve not seen statistics on child abuse, gambling, or  “respectable business folk” like me or my ex husband who are work-aholics or addicted to sports, political power, abusive romance, internet porn, sex, and so on. That’s at least another 10% (if not far higher).

In fact, the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study of over 17,400 college-educated employed Americans done by top medical doctors shows that over 50% of Americans have some form of childhood trauma and of these, a significant percent suffer from food, alcohol, or other addictions.

Plus, it showed that we die prematurely of both these “hard” and “soft” addictions — the stress eats away our body parts. It shows ACE are the primary causes in the first place of heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and the other top ten causes of death in the U.S.

Hole Under My Feet

Loss That Is Forever Maxine HarrisI discovered “the hole in me” by accident. I never heard of it, either, after 50+ years of extensive education. After my divorce in 2008 I just starting saying “I have a hole in my heart” because I literally felt it in my chest.

In 2009 I got Dr. Robin Norwood’s “Women Who Love Too Much” which says that if we simply sit quietly, we can “feel the wind blowing through the empty place where our heart should be.”  I could feel the hole in my chest.  She notes that this is why we never sit quietly (without which cure is impossible). [FN1]

In 2010 I got “Motherless Daughters” by Hope Edelman, case studies of people who were little when their moms died, and a similar book by Dr. Maxine Harris. My Mom died in 2008; why read such books?  It fell into my hands “by accident.” Yet time and again the case study subjects spoke of growing up feeling as though they had a “hole under their feet” or a “hole in the heart.”  [FN2]

I started to bawl as it hit me that I’d felt as if I had a “hole under my feet’ all my conscious life.  I just alternated between denial and praying my parents wouldn’t notice my terror.  My first memory of TV was a documentary about open heart surgery on a “blue baby” with cardiac perforation. As the camera showed a scalpel probing a gap in bloody tissue, the announcer intoned, “Here is the hole in Julie’s heart.”  I could never forget his voice.

Last month, I finally heard a specialist identify “the hole” as that which must be cured or nothing works. It was therapist Dr. Tara Brach in her talk “Reacting Wisely to Desire” (Aug.10, 2011) min 24: www.youtube.com/watch?v=hka8c4OteYA

She quotes William Moyers, an alcoholic activist, speaking at a scientific conference. “I was born with a ‘hole in my soul,’ a pain that came from the reality that I just wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t deserving enough, that you weren’t paying attention to me, that you didn’t like me,” he said. “For us addicts, recovery is more than a pill or a shot. Recovery is about dealing with that hole in the soul.”

“Drugs and alcohol are not my problem — reality is my problem. Drugs and alcohol are my solution,” as Russell Brand told The Spectator March 9, 2013: www.spectator.co.uk/features/8857821/fixing-a-hole/

Parts of My Brain Are Dark

But what is this “reality” of so many human beings?  What causes the “hole” and “private hell of pain” in the first place?

Brousblog1a Perry brains X-secThe cause of “the hole in my soul” is Attachment Disorder, a mental and physiological condition both, which results from injury to an infant or child’s brain stem while the brain is still developing.

Science has only recently demonstrated that unless kids (and other mammals) are given solid emotional connection and eye contact (“attachment”) from birth by parents or others, infant neurological systems just don’t develop well. The infant brain literally requires programming by an adult’s eyes and facial expressions to begin to program its own neurons, dubbed “Limbic Resonance” and documented in “A General Theory of Love.” [FN3]

When a mother doesn’t respond to her baby this way (she’s being battered, stress at work, is unable to attune to others), the infant’s brain stem reads that as a survival threat.  This floods its bloodstream with fight/flight stress chemicals.  If an adult doesn’t make the baby feel safe, stress chemicals overwhelm its brain and within 45 minutes the baby goes into shock (dissociation). [FN4]

What began as emotional stress ends in physical brain damage. We can now do brain scans showing that whole chunks of neurons in some brain regions don’t fire; I felt this as “parts of my brain are dark.” There is literally a “hole in me.” You can see the dark holes in the brain scans above; the left side is a normal 3-year old, and the right side a 3-year-old with attachment disorder. [FN5] The pain we feel is immense; more in:  http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/ the-silent-epidemic-of-attachment-disorder/

That’s why an “attachment wound” made when a lover (for example) rejects us sends us running to our drug, as Russell almost did in March (see his Spectator piece). It touches the original wound, an infant or childhood wound buried deep and not accessible to consciousness.

“As a baby’s precarious neurophysiology falls under the steadying spell of his mother… he is modulating his emotions via an external source… an attuned parent can sooth him; he cannot sooth himself,” as “General Theory” reports. “As a consequence of thousands of these interactions, a child learns to self-quiet… The child of emotionally balanced parents will be resilient to life’s minor shocks…

“Those who miss out… find that in adulthood, their emotional footing pitches beneath them like the deck of a boat in rough waters. They are incomparably reactive to the loss of their anchoring attachments — without assistance,they are thrown back on threadbare resources. The end of a relationship is then not mere poignant, but incapacitating.” [FN3 op.cit., p.156-8]

That’s what Russell Brand said drove him off the edge and halfway down the freeway to a Santa Monica crack house just last year — his woman broke the attachment bond (see his March 2013 Guardian piece).

I’ve felt doubled over in just that way by romance so many times. Now I know why and I know what drove my addictions.

Alcoholics Anonymous Works

That’s why the “attachment wound” responds to the compassionate sound of a friend’s voice when Russell calls from LA to London; the pain eases for a day.

Addiction as Attachment Disorder Philip FloresThat’s why the “Anonymous” programs work: we have a wound made when we didn’t get the simple human acceptance and compassion that a child’s very brain needs to grow. When we walk into a room of co-sufferers and we receive that human acceptance, and compassion, it literally fires up some of those dark neurons in our brain, and the pain eases. With regular attendance, this can work for decades.

See “Addiction as an Attachment Disorder” by therapist Philip J. Flores. [FN6] See also numerous related studies in “Does Science Show What 12 Steps Know?,” Aug. 2013: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/08/130809-addiction-twelve-steps-alcoholics-anonymous-science-neurotheology-psychotherapy-dopamine/

But why do people like Philip Seymour Hersh or Russell Brand relapse after twenty or thirty years?  Why do I still feel the occasional twinge from my old addictions, after four years clean and nearly 24 x 7 study of all this?  (Hope it’s not my new addiction…)  Blame genes if you like but I don’t buy it.

The “Anonymous” programs are as indispensable as food or water; without their “people support” we can’t even make a start. Yet they can’t possibly provide enough support or go deep enough to heal the original wound.

When will we see that “so many broken people” must be caused by society’s ignorance, and not by the individual user’s screw-up?  Why is the true cause of all this pain never addressed?   Society is militantly oblivious and illiterate about it.  And why?

Some 50% of the population in most OECD countries suffers some degree of the childhood emotional pain of Attachment Disorder. There’s an Adult Attachment Interview which has been used by psychologists in enough studies to prove it since 1994. [FN7]  The ACE Study backs this up with 17,400+ hard medical exam statistics.

The number is so high that the very existence of Attachment Disorder and of its symptoms are literally incomprehensible to most who suffer from it.  Sufferers include large percentages of “high achievers” in business and government.  Denial is rampant to the point of arrogance.

Our entire society is virtually structured for, and dedicated to, the precise purpose of providing these distractions from the “hole within.”  Such distractions give us temporary bursts of endorphins to ease the pain.  But since they can’t heal the real pain, we require more and more of our addictions until the stress kills us.

Fact is, 50% of us have some degree of “hole within,” and 40% are in denial.  The other 50% are uneducated.

Until the “hole in the brain” from Adult Attachment Disorder, and the causes of Adult Attachment Disorder are addressed, the 40% who don’t use hard-core drugs or booze, will go on wagging their fingers at the 10% who do use – blaming the wounded for the wound.  These superior folks have the same wound killing them, only more slowly.

We need mass education to publicize the cause of the “hole in the soul” so that people know not to walk around all their lives thinking they are the only one on earth who feels it.  We need publicity to wake up the many who don’t feel the hole because their hyperactivity and addictions numb them – especially those in high places.

Congressmen check their cholesterol, but Adverse Childhood Experiences are the real cause of heart disease as the ACE Study shows.  If they knew the truth, wouldn’t they get an ACE score and an Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) check-up?

People need to know to go for help – and to know that if they go for help, they won’t be stigmatized, as they are today, but supported. We need more publicly-supported programs modeled on the Anonymous groups for healing hearts and minds.  We need those groups in every flavor, for every addiction, in every city and town. We need them to be publicly supported so that large numbers of people know that it’s ok to go for help.

We need a referral system so that people in enough pain after doing all – like Russell and me – get referred to therapy.  We need a real mental health system in which therapy has insurance which makes it feasible, not a pipe dream as it is today for 99.99% of Americans.

“General Theory of Love” also demonstrates in depth that a huge percent of therapists haven’t healed their own “hole inside me” and so are tone deaf and clueless about how to heal.  We need a serious overhaul of our therapy training programs and remedial re-education programs for therapists now in practice.

Why the big deal? Huge numbers of our population are in pain so bad they’d rather die than live with it.

——————-
Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder—How I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  Norwood, Robin, PhD, “Women Who Love Too Much,” Pocket Books, New York, 1985

FN2  Edelman, Hope, “Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss,” Da Capo Press, 2006.  See also: Harris, Maxine, PhD, “The Loss That Is Forever: The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father,” Penguin Books, New York, 1996

FN3 Lewis, Thomas, MD; Amini, Fari, MD; Lannon, Richard, MD; “A General Theory of Love”, Random House, New York, 2000. Dr. Lannon interviews at: www.paulagordon.com/shows/lannon/

FN4  Herman, Judith, PhD, “Trauma and Recovery,” Basic Books, New York, 1992

FN5  Perry, Bruce, MD, “Overview of Neuro-sequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT),” www.childtrauma.org, 2010

FN6  Flores, Philip J., PhD, “Addiction as an Attachment Disorder,” Jason Aronson, Inc., 2004:  “Addiction is a disorder in self-regulation. Individuals who become dependent on addictive substances cannot regulate their emotions, self-care, self-esteem, and relationships.”

FN7  Ainsworth, Mary D.S., Blehar, M.C., et al, “Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the Strange Situation,” Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1978.  See also: George, C., Kaplan, N., Main, Mary, “An Adult Attachment Interview,” Unpublished MS, University of California at Berkeley, 1994

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Stardust 2

Tara Smile smaller fr Reacting Wiesely 8-10-11Last week, after the video class by therapist Dr. Tara Brach (left), I said that for one day, I’d try to be Present with What Is.  Hey, I struggle with a regular meditation for 45 minutes, so this’ll be a stretch.  [FN1]

On Day 1, when the alarm rings, instead of growling, I lie there and take as many deep breaths as I need, until I can greet the alarm with wonder: “Wow, I have a cell phone that works; look, it’s even got an alarm.”  I sit up, and my back hurts, so I take as many breaths as needed until I can say “Hello Back, let’s stretch” and feel the wonder that I still have a sturdy back.

Seeing my calendar for today, I take as many deep breaths as needed until I can relax the rising stress about all those calls and emails. Instead, I delight that my bed is supporting me as I stretch, that the floor is supporting my bed, and the Earth is supporting us all, as Peter Levine points out (these hints have a reason). [FN2]

What’s really amazing is that I have this tofu between my ears known as a human mind which can perceive all that. And “all that” is organized, oddly enough, so that it supports my back and my body (if I just take a moment to feel into them). All without my doing anything except paying the el cheapo movers $150 to move the bed up the stairs back in 2010 when I was suicidal and got this place thinking it would be my mausoleum.

I start to faintly believe Tara’s wild idea that all of it, like me, is made of stardust.  It feels really, really good.  I’m likin’ this…

“Stardust… stardust” I mutter to myself and my normally anxious cells as I get up, brush my teeth (amazing Procter and Gamble can put stardust in a tube), and drink a liter of liquid stardust, er, water.  The water is the best part; drinking slowly and with deep breaths, I can feel it flowing down my throat and my happy little digestive cells just soaking it in.

I make it to the kitchen; what a quandary.  A friend has left a vase of flowers on the counter.   The sight, the scent intoxicate me; the fact that someone did this for me overwhelms my heart; my eyes well up.  Then there’s my kitchen window: sunlight and tropical foliage and the bright blue California sky, has this denizen of the New York underground gone to heaven?  Can I go swing on my deck swing?

But I haven’t even opened the fridge to see what avocado or fruit treat awaits me… Just walking into the kitchen, I’m like the cat in the delicatessen: he couldn’t decide whether to eat the ham, the salami, or the baloney, so he starved to death.

Yikes, how long is it going to take me to be Present and really taste breakfast (oh, yum), choose a dress from my closet (all so gorgeous) and get outside?  Then how do I make it past all those flowers and trees and birds in the parking lot to my car?  How do I not drop to my knees (bad for the panty hose) in awe of the cherubim of Infiniti, that they could forge such a steed?  How do I choose from a dozen uplifting musical recordings for my soul while driving?  Drive?  What a concept…  By the end of the day, I’m in happy but exhausted shock.  Good God, God is time-consuming!

Day at the Beach

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABy Saturday I’m exhausted and not feeling so mahvelous dahling anymore.  I walk to the beach listening to that same Tara class again on my mp3, dejected that I’m so tired and by the way, walking to the beach alone.

If you recall, Tara starts with the need-fear dilemma: being deeply present with other human beings is love, and we need that kind of love for our brains to develop.  But once we’re born, “the primal mood of the separate self is fear.”  [FN3]   No birth or parenting process is perfect, so we get “conditioned” by painful experiences to fear love.  And coming from infant brain stem trauma, I’ve had boatloads of fear and its stand-in, anxiety. (Details in Stardust 1)

Again Tara makes her biggest leap (right after minute 19):  If we only wake up out of our bad conditioning, she says, “The basic principle…  is that love is intrinsic to what we are.  In the most real way possible, we belong to this living world.  We’re made of stardust, we all are composed of the same stuff.  We’re breathing in this world, we’re breathing out into it; everything effects everything else.  We belong, that’s the basics. ”

Just as she says this I emerge from the trees onto the beach at my favorite picnic bench.  I’m looking at a 180-degree view of the ocean about 70 feet away, tropical foliage with huge birds of paradise flowers, the seagulls, the sun on the water, the most gorgeous weather possible, and it hits me smack in the chest:  Do I have a question about whether I intrinsically belong to this world?!

I pause the audio.  Tara says I belong.  Tara says I belong.  Wait,  I said it makes no sense, this shrink’s crazy!  “No, remember, it’s physics and biochemistry that we’re made of stardust.  So we’re loved 24 x7, by the Creator of the stars, no less.  Except we don’t feel that way ‘cos of our bum programming.”

Now I’m back full steam in my comfort zone of head talk.  “Wise men have written about this forever.  Swami Muktananda says when a fountain becomes still, we can see a bright penny at the bottom; just so, as we meditate and still our mental noise, at the bottom of our heart, we can see the face of God. Gospel singers say: “Way down in the bottom, Way down in the bottom, you can find the love of Jesus, in the bottom of your heart.”  (Click here, then scroll down to song list and click Play arrow to left of #3, “Way Down.”) [FN4]

Oh, nuts to reasoning why!  Tara says I belong.  Tara says I belong, and I want to believe her, in fact I long deeply to believe her – No damnit, I DO believe her.  Tara says I belong!

Sitting there staring at the sun on the ocean, suddenly I’m sobbing full-body heaves of joy and sorrow and who knows what — a wave of astonishment too big to contain so that it shakes me from head to toe or maybe vice versa.  This has hit me often when I’ve gone to the ocean;  I’ve always been moved by it;  I’d stand in the water or sit by it for hours or days at a time.  Because something within me said: this is here for you.  Something deep that goes to the core of my being, without having a word for it.

It all subsides; I take deep breaths and restart Tara’s audio. “And when the heart experiences that truth — in a visceral, vivid way — the experience is love,” she says.  “Awareness, when it’s awake, when our awareness is aware of our own Presence: we belong to the world, and the world is part of our heart.  It’s intrinsic.

The love we need is already inside us.

Visceral?  Did you say visceral?  Damn right it’s visceral, it hits me in the chest and the gut.  I have no rational explanation but every cell in my body is suddenly singing at the top of their little cellular lungs “We BeLO–NG” and yes, Virginia, they believe it. This goes way beyond anything head talk can manage; this is a physical experience. No other way to put it.

Mendelssohn No. 4

Kathy Gown Messiah IMAG0671And then I remember the Mendelssohn.  I remember Thanksgiving 2012 after singing Handel’s “Messiah” when I had to drive home alone in despair in a ballgown, hairdo and jewels, singing “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” at the top of my lungs down Interstate 5 for an hour. (That’s my pic at left, but here’s Lynn Dawson singing; she really captures the wonder).

I got home and put on a favorite, Mendelssohn’s 4th Symphony,  3rd movement — and began sobbing for the sheer beauty of it.  “Oh, this is what love feels like!” I said into my mp3’s record button. “This is what Mom should have felt like. This is what God love feels like; this is what people love should feel like — platonic, romantic, I don’t care! Yeah, I like this, this is what I like.” [FN5]  (Click “Play” arrow at left  below for Movement #3:)


To download mp3, click below: (Firefox users: right-click link, select ‘Save Link As…’   Internet Explorer users: right-click link, select ‘Save Target As…’ )  Mendelssohn Nr4 Tr3 Con moto

“But ‘it’s just not happening for me’!” I cried, still quoting Dan the first rebound guy.  “What’s up, Lord, why is it always No?”  Then I simply had a really good sob about it, it was so painful to let it go through me, but when it was over, I felt better and better, then fell asleep in my clothes, exhausted but oddly happy.

“Maybe it started with you marinating so long in ‘My Redeemer Liveth’,” said a friend next day. “Sounds like an experience where we are so much in God’s presence, that it’s ok that it all sucks.  It’s ok you’re alone, again, that it hurts so bad – because there is a comfort here which you and I have a hard time putting words to.  God spoke to you in that Mendelssohn, God knows you well enough to know that if He speaks to you in music, to say ‘I’m with you,’ you’re gonna get it.  This is what Pure Love feels like.”

I thought that was nutty in 2012; how could an unseen etherial being make me feel better, when what I needed was a flesh and blood husband?  Still I had to admit: I did for no reason feel a whole lot better.

So a year later on my bench, I switch from Tara to Mendelssohn’s 3rd movement, still on my mp3.  And here it comes again, I feel it all over again: Oh my God, He’s right there with me, all the time!  “The Lord is my shephard, I shall not want… I shall fear no evil.”  I can hear Mendelssohn, I can see the sun on the ocean -– and the sobbing starts in overdrive. I get it, Tara, thank you, thank you: We ARE Made of Stardust.

I’ve been pondering this mystery for a year, so this time when the physical wave starts, I remember a yogi who says “Whatever happens, let it be OK and Just Watch.”  I sit for ten minutes letting it all slam over my body and out again, and the less my head gets in the way asking why, the deeper and wider the bodily reaction gets.  Then suddenly it’s done, and I feel like a million bucks, just like Thanksgiving 2012.  Is there a pattern here?

At that point my body just took off down that beach running for the ocean like there was no tomorrow; I almost was not in control of it.

Salt Creek sun Monarch_Beach_Xmas 051I hit the water and then I was dancing all over the beach sobbing for about an hour, playing the third movement a dozen times, running the length of the entire two mile strand, dancing and singing and skipping and jogging. People were staring at me, I didn’t give a damn, I never felt so much flat out joy in my life.

Then I danced my way through the whole symphony, starting with the first movement. It didn’t matter how tired I was, that first movement just leaps out at you and there I was leaping and running again like a madwoman.  The physical reaction was huge.  (Click “Play” arrow at left below for Movement #1:)

To download mp3, click below : (Firefox users: right-click link, select ‘Save Link As…’   Internet Explorer users: right-click link, select ‘Save Target As…’ )  Mendelssohn #4, Movement #1 Allegro

Eventually I crawl off the beach to my bench with a huge grin across my face.  Gosh, this Presence thing sure is time consuming!  Who’d believe that just spending a week practicing being Present With What Is for every little ordinary thing, could lead to such a wave of physical emotion of belonging and being loved?

Physical Experience

Salt Creek long Monarch_Beach_Xmas 082No matter what the people were doing, I’ve known that something in me had some deep connection to this world since I was little, without knowing to use the word “belong.”  It was bizarrely simple.  I connected to the beauty of nature, and that’s what’s resonating now.

It puzzled me no end as a kid.  I remember thinking from grade school, “Seeing that tree over there really moves something inside my heart.  But that tree is 20 feet away, and my eyes are over here; why should I feel any connection? Why should that be?”  The question has no tangible answer, none; in fact at times it seemed downright impossible to me.

And yet as a kid I had this physical experience over and over, every time I saw trees or stars or the ocean. It was just too beautiful for me, so I felt it as “visceral.”

There was little religion growing up; I learned Psalm 23 from the recitations in school whenever they thought the Russian bombs were about to drop.  Still even as a kid I could only find one answer:  Someone made this for me!  Then I would start to cry and I didn’t know why.  Despite all my anxiety and loneliness, all the wounding in my brain stem, there was a very strong sense that this was made for me.

Now Dr. Tara Brach has put a word to it: Belong.  Just the word sets off an earthquake in my heart.  Something deep inside me, without reason or logic, has felt all my life a desperate need to belong, and when I got that in nature, it hit me hard.  It’s a big deal to have that big a physical experience of belonging, even if I only had it with a tree.

Eventually I wander home in a state of shock, trying to be present with the sunset and how beautiful is the path back to my place.  I try not to go into sensory overload or fall asleep en route.  Below is a video mp4 of sunset there and my path home.

Sorry, it may only work with Internet Explorer. After you click the Play arrow, watch the moving bar because that may show how long it will take to load.   Or better, forget the electronics, close your eyes, lean back and just imagine.

Look at all the stuff I didn’t get done today!  I missed five crucial emails, didn’t make a pile of calls, and now it’s dark and I won’t even get to the gym until really late.  Darn.  Does anybody really have time for all this?

Oh well, consider the alternative.

Suppose all of the above is claptrap.  Perhaps we humans are in charge of all that we see?  Not only did we make my bed and my floor and the toothpaste, but we’re pretty much responsible for everything?  Well then, obviously we don’t have time to sit back! We’ve got our achievement programming to obey! Step on it -– we’ve got to get out there and make the world run, get all those emails out, go sell things, phone clients, write even more programs (this time with computers), or go do whatever it is we do all day.  We’ve got to achieve!  We’ve got to hustle and tote that barge, lift that bale.  No time for this stardust hooey, forget it.

I guess free will means it’s up to each of us to choose.  I don’t like that second alternative.  It doesn’t feel good; it doesn’t even make sense.  Me, I’m developing a taste for stardust (yum).

————————-
Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME:  The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.”  Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1 Brach, Tara, PhD, “Releasing  Barriers to Unconditional  Loving” – Part 1A  (5-15-13) at:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHiEAykuvvY&feature=player_embedded
Books: Brach, Tara, PhD: “True Refuge,”  Bantam Books, 2013 and “Radical Acceptance,” Bantam Books, 2003
Biography: www.tarabrach.com/about.html
Website Audio & Video page:  www.tarabrach.com/audiodharma.html

FN2  Levine, Peter A., PhD, “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body,” ‘Sounds True, Inc.,’ Boulder CO, 2005; ISBN 1-159179-247-9

FN3  Need-Fear Dilemma:  “We have a need in our heart for love, but when it’s wounded or hurt or unavailable, something very bad happens.  We don’t just sustain need.   If my Mom dies when I’m age 7, I can’t just wait 20 years and say  ‘OK now I’ll find someone nice to love me.’  Instead, when we have unmet need or injured need, something bad develops called the need-fear dilemma.  What we need the most, we begin to fear.  If it’s needing love, then we’re uneasy around love.  If we need understanding of our weaknesses, we get very uneasy about being weak.”
–  Cloud, Henry, PhD, “Getting Love on the Inside,” Lecture, April 2002 (CD),  www.Cloud-Townsend Resources.com
“The insecure resistant ambivalent child shown in the video is experiencing what has been referred to as the need-fear dilemma; he both needs the mother for comfort, but something in his history with this mother has instilled fear, and distrust whether he will find what he needs.  The video is of the Strange Situation, developed by  psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to describe secure and insecure attachment. These two attachment patterns are vividly seen in the interaction of two mother-child pairs: http://youtu.be/DH1m_ZMO7GU  ”
— Gerson, John, Phd, “Understanding Secure and Insecure Attachment,”  www.theravive.com/research/understanding-secure-and-insecure-attachment

FN4  Marty Stuart, “Souls’ Chapel,” #3. “Way Down.”  Scroll down to song list and click on arrow to right of #3 at www.amazon.com/Souls-Chapel-Marty-Stuart/dp/B000AA7I14

FN5  Felix  Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op. 90,  “Italian”  was composed from 1829 to 1831.  Its inspiration is the color and rich history of Italy, where Mendelssohn wrote: “This is Italy! And now has begun what I have always thought… to be the supreme joy in life.  And I am loving it.  Today was so rich that now, in the evening, I must collect myself a little, and so I am writing to you to thank you, dear parents, for having given me all this happiness.”

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Stardust

Tara Brach 1I’m going to tell you the cure for Attachment Disorder and its many related ills  in this simple two-part blog.  But as the good witch Glenda told Dorothy,  you won’t believe me until you experience it for yourself.

I recently spent several weeks absorbing an astonishing talk by therapist Dr. Tara Brach (above), “Releasing Barriers to Unconditional Loving.”  A good way to start experiencing cure would be to watch  this.   [Click here for video]

“Enlightenment,” she begins, quoting Zen master Dōgen, “is just Intimacy With All Things.” [FN1, FN2]

“Just,”  Tara laughs.  This shrink’s crazy, I say to myself.  Yikes, I’m supposed to let All That inside me and be intimate?  “Intimacy!” she dances on, “Intimacy with the Life inside you.  Intimacy with someone at work… Intimacy with a cousin or a sister… with the person sitting next to you even if you don’t know them.  What does it mean?  What’s the quality of heart?

“Intimacy with the squirrels that eat the bird seed at the feeder… intimacy with the weeds…intimacy with the wind. Can you begin to sense the quality of openness, of awake-ness, of tenderness, that unconditionally makes room?  The “heart space” where Everything That Is, is welcome?  Intimacy is our potential to realize, and trust, and live from, Loving Presence.

“It’s also a need.  We need Love, to develop in a healthy way.  We need a certain amount of loving attention, intimacy, loving presence from others, for our neurons to grow.  Research shows that even rat pups who don’t get enough attention, don’t grow as many neuron synapses.

“So we have a longing for love and we flourish when love is there, when there’s a sense of belonging.  The poet Hafez says:  ‘The subject tonight is love, and tomorrow night as well. As a matter of fact there’ no better topic to discuss, until we all die ‘.”   “When you figure out love is all that matters after all,” says Carrie Underwood, “it makes everything else seem so small.”

Tara Smile smaller fr Reacting Wiesely 8-10-11Yikes again, did she just put meditation together with attachment love from a good mom, as if it were the same thing?  This shrink’s crazy.  She doesn’t bother to say we need someone else to do it, or specifically with us. She just says we need loving intimacy and she’s calling that Attachment. To her it’s the most natural transition in the world – but to me it’s like jumping over the Grand Canyon.

OK,  I have a regular meditation practice, I’m used to the meditation concept “be present with my breath, the sounds, the flowers, with my friends at the restaurant and the calamari.”  But it never occurred to me to draw a comparison between Present on the one hand — and loving another human being on the other, let alone to say it’s identical.  Astonishing.  Simply being present with another person constitutes loving them?  Whu Nhu?  I guess the words “loving” and “intimate” get sexualized too much?

The real reason I’m so shocked is: I can’t even begin to imagine my mother being Present like that.  Tara says: “And that’s all we need from Mom, to simply feel she is Present.”  But what a leap from Presence with my breath, to intimacy from my mother!  She was so compelled to performance, doing something, getting somewhere.  I can’t imagine my mother just sitting and being gently Present with me. Just saying it sounds like a stark staring mad idea.

Then I notice what’s going on in my gut.

“Ahhh, Yes!” every jangling, anxiety-ridden cell in my body cries out, “this is the source of our attachment disorder, all us cells down here need Love! We don’t feel loved or wanted, we’re terrified of being alone. Skip the new age Intimacy blather, we need love and we need it now!  Hey, what’s playing on Match.com?  Let’s get this Search for Love on the road!

“Us anxious cells were programmed from birth to be practical and to get things done, Skeeter.  Yeah, we read that “General Theory of Love” book by the three shrinks who say “Too many Americans are spurred to achieve, rather than attach.” [FN3]  You said it brother – we cells were programmed to achieve. We’ve got to get to work and get things done! If we don’t perform, nobody will ever love us.”

The Separate Self and Fear

Hold on, I tell my cells, Tara’s only at minute 4:25 of an hour talk. OK she’s a little nutty but let’s see where she goes next.

It’s another whopper. “Then,” says Tara, “We have Rilke, who says: ‘For one human being to love another, this is the most difficult of all our tasks.’  The human realm is filled with misunderstanding, conflict, hurt, anger and insecurity — because we have a basic perception of separation.

“The primal mood of the Separate Self is fear.  It’s core in our conditioning to feel separate, to have all the fight/flight activity from separation.  We start with fear, and due to that, we don’t trust belonging easily.  To the degree we don’t feel a sense of belonging, we don’t trust anyone really loves us… It brings a real deep mistrust… A core wounding that appears… is a basic sense that “I’m not loveable for who I am.  I don’t belong, I can’t trust belonging, I’m not loveable in a real way.”

I Need Love-he's-just-doing-that-to-get-attention-Harry Bliss New-yorker-cartoon“The primal mood of the Separate Self is fear,” I walk around muttering for a few days.  OK, this one’s definitely is not crazy.  Everyone in brain science says that being born is absolutely terrifying; it was warm, now it’s cold; it was dark, now it’s blinding; it was hushed, now it’s scary loud;  “and what’s this stuff in my lungs?” says Bruce Perry.

I know that fear, I’ve felt it all my life, because Dr. Perry also says the baby is designed to feel stress chemicals when this shock hits, so that it cries until the mother holds it, because if it didn’t and she didn’t, the baby would die.  And when she does, the stress chemicals stop and they both get a flood of reward (feel-good) chemicals like oxytocin. [FN4]

Or not.  If mom doesn’t respond, or the baby’s locked up in a glass box in incubation for a few weeks and then after that mom doesn’t respond, the stress chemicals never stop, and the fear continues unabated until it’s overwhelming.  Which is how I lived my entire life until I found that Peter Levine book.  [FN5]

“Conditioning” in Buddhism refers to the false beliefs imprinted on each living thing from birth by external culture and family, the habit patterns of the unconscious.

“The biggest way conditioning gets solidified is the imprint of parenting,” Tara continues. “I’ve kept a long time this cartoon, a little boy with goggles on a ladder spraying paint onto the wall. It says ‘I need love!!’ But his mother and her friend are talking and she says ‘He’s just doing that to get attention.’ [audience laughs] ‘I need love!!’

“But when the love doesn’t come, when there’s neglect, major criticism, abusive behavior, even just a lack of attunement, then the child has to protect from the pain of that. A lot of our personality becomes how we protect ourselves from that raw pain of ‘I’m not loveable as I am.’

“So the fear of love, the fear of intimacy, is also a universal conditioning. We have this perception of separateness, and our nervous system is wired for it, we’re kind of stuck with it.”

“Omigod” say my wounded cells, “we need love, we can’t live without love – but the basis of our entire central nervous system is to FEAR love. You thought we were freaked out before, now we’re really screwed!”  “Wait a minute,” I say, “Didn’t Henry Cloud identify that as the ‘Need-Fear Dilemma’ and explain in depth how to get out of it?   [FN6]

Intrinsic Love

Zen Master DogenBut Tara’s just getting started, and she sees a way out.  If we study this need-fear mess we make of love and see how we’re creating the mess, she says, we can use Dōgen’s “intimacy with all things” to stop messing, heal our bad conditioning, and find the love we need. Let’s explore, says Tara, “what makes Love so difficult… and how to bring our practices of awareness and heart so we can wake up from our conditioning.”

Huh?  I say.  This shrink’s crazy.  So why do I trust her so much?

Then she makes another gigantic leap and says:  “I’ll name the basic principles at the root of any inquiry into waking up in relationships, and one of them is that love is intrinsic to what we are.

“In the most real way possible, we belong to this living world.  We’re made of stardust, we all are composed of the same stuff. We’re breathing in this world, we’re breathing out into it; everything effects everything else. We belong, that’s the basics.

“And when the heart experiences that truth -– in a visceral, vivid way — the experience is love.  Awareness, when it’s awake, when our awareness is aware of our own Presence: we belong to the world, and the world is part of our heart.  It’s intrinsic.

“The yearning to realize love is universal.  Just like a flower wants to bloom, each of us wants to unfold into our wholeness, realize who we really are, and live in that, that’s universal.”

Love is intrinsic, it’s already inside me?  This shrink’s crazy!!  Now even my cells are blowing a raspberry, all in unison.

“Oh phooey! We don’t believe we’re made of stardust for a New York minute,” my cells yell — at me, Tara and the general public. “Everyone knows we’re made of 98 cents worth of chemicals, meat and bones.  Plus we’re all drenched in anxiety and stress from all that fear that we ain’t getting no love, which floods us with cortisol poison at the drop of a hat.”

Hmmm… Wait a minute, dear cells, I say, now perhaps that’s circular reasoning?  Why all the cortisol?  Maybe it’s our bad conditioning?

Maybe our brain stem received bum programming from conception to 36 months, when nobody remembers anything? Forty-five months is a long time to be in adversity for helpless cells. Plus Bruce Perry says that the brain stem gives rise to the rest of the brain and nervous system, which drives the development of our viscera – so if our brain stem got fried, significant parts of our insides got fried in development.

Tara’s got a plan for us to Feel Loved 24×7:  we start to really get it that we are stardust.  Hey, now I think of it, it’s physics and biochemistry that we’re made of stardust.  So obviously we are loved 24 x7, by the Creator of the stars, no less.  No small deal.

Except we don’t feel that way; we often feel like cr–p, ‘cos of our bum programming.  So much happens every day to cause my cortisol to rise.  Bad news from the doctor or the bond market, no time for a good breakfast, traffic, freeways, meetings, hordes of emails in my in-box.

So here’s the plan: let’s take Master Dōgen at his word and try this Intimacy with All Things bit.  Let’s try to be intimate – be Present – with everything and every one we encounter, and do that more and more moments of the day.  Tara says the more we do that, the more loved we’re gonna feel.  Ultimately if we want to feel Loved 24 x 7, we need to be Present with everything and everyone we encounter 24 x7 – they’re all stardust, too.  Sound’s crazy but what have we got to lose?

Tomorrow for just one day, let’s try to implement the Dōgen Plan. For one day, or as big a part of a day as we can hack, we will put 100% of our effort into being Present with What Is.  Come what may.

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Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME:  The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.”  Watch for the continuing series each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  Brach, Tara, PhD, “Releasing  Barriers to Uncondtional  Loving” Pt 1A  (5-15-13) www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHiEAykuvvY&feature=player_embedded
Books:  Brach, Tara, PhD: “True Refuge,”  Bantam Books, 2013 and “Radical Acceptance,” Bantam Books, 2003
Biography:  www.tarabrach.com/about.html
Audios & Videos:  www.tarabrach.com/audiodharma.html
Some of my favorite videos:
1.  Learning to Respond, Not React  8/3/2011 (46 min)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar-L41QMYCM#at=1908
2.  Reacting Wisely to Desire  8-10-11 (50 min)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=hka8c4OteYA&feature=player_embedded
3.  Releasing  Barriers to Uncondtional  Loving – Pt 1A  (5-15-13)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHiEAykuvvY&feature=player_embedded
4.  Releasing Barriers to Unconditional  Loving – Pt 1B  (05/15/13)   www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5-AC3re9Ak
5.  Being to Being: Loving Beyond the Trance – Part IA (5-22-13)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ha30OPZ_-OI
6.  Being to Being: Loving Beyond the Trance – Part IB  (5-22-13)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqiUMCohJXQ&feature=player_embedded

FN2  Dōgen Zenji: “Do not be concerned with the faults of other persons. Do not see others’ faults with a hateful mind. There is an old saying that if you stop seeing others’ faults, then naturally seniors are venerated and juniors are revered. Do not imitate others’ faults; just cultivate virtue. Buddha prohibited unwholesome actions, but did not tell us to hate those who practice unwholesome actions.”   Japanese Zen Buddhist teacher born in Kyōto (1200 – 1253).

FN3  Lewis, Thomas, MD; Amini, Fari, MD; Lannon, Richard, MD; “A General Theory of Love”, Random House, 2000. Great link (check it out): www.paulagordon.com/shows/lannon/

FN4  Perry, Bruce, MD,  “Born for Love: The Effects of Empathy on the Developing Brain,” speech to Annual Interpersonal Neurobiology  Conference “How People Change: Relationship & Neuroplasticity in Psychotherapy,”  UCLA Extension, Los Angeles,  March 8, 2013
  Perry, Bruce, MD, “Overview of Neuro-sequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT),” www.childtrauma.org, 2010

FN5  Levine, Peter A., PhD, “Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of Your Body,” ‘Sounds True, Inc.,’ Boulder CO, 2005; ISBN 1-159179-247-9

FN6  Need-Fear Dilemma in my blog Excommunication Blues
“We have a need in our heart for love, but when it’s wounded or hurt or unavailable, something very bad happens.  We don’t just sustain need.   If my Mom dies when I’m age 7, I can’t just wait 20 years and say  ‘OK now I’ll find someone nice to love me.’  Instead, when we have unmet need or injured need, something bad develops called the need-fear dilemma.  What we need the most, we begin to fear.  If it’s needing love, then we’re uneasy around love.  If we need understanding of our weaknesses, we get very uneasy about being weak.”
–  Cloud, Henry, PhD, “Getting Love on the Inside,” Lecture, April 2002 (CD),  www.Cloud-Townsend Resources.com
“The insecure resistant ambivalent child shown in the video is experiencing what has been referred to as the need-fear dilemma; he both needs the mother for comfort, but something in his history with this mother has instilled fear, and distrust whether he will find what he needs.  The video is of the Strange Situation, developed by  psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to describe secure and insecure attachment. These two attachment patterns are vividly seen in the interaction of two mother-child pairs: http://youtu.be/DH1m_ZMO7GU  ”
Gerson, John, Phd, “Understanding Secure and Insecure Attachment,”  www.theravive.com/research/understanding-secure-and-insecure-attachment

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New Year Gratitude

Messiah_2013 045And now, the New Year’s face of trauma recovery:  I am so grateful for how wonderful I feel this year!  That’s why I wanted you to see some of my holiday pictures – so that when I tell you in mere words that “it’s worth it” to confront all this trauma by feeling it to heal it, you can see for yourself that it’s true.

My holidays kicked off with a shine on Nov. 24 when I sang Handel’s “Messiah” at the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda in a full-scale replica of the White House East Ballroom.  They even handed me a 17th-century gown and said “here, wear this.”

I looked like Bo Peep searching for her lost sheep amidst the crystal chandeliers (I called the Dollar Store to see if they had any shepherd’s crooks, but they just said “Yeah we get a lot of crooks in here…”).  It was a riot… and we sang good.  DVDs to come, ask me.

Many of us, whether in trauma or just excess stress, unfortunately find the holidays to be the worst time of the year.  When the whole world is supposed to be joyous because they’re cuddling up with family, those of us who don’t have the Picture-book Perfect family can feel like failures, feel unloved, and even feel that we don’t belong to exist.  I sure did, in particular for the ten years 2002-2012, in spades.

But not this year.  It’s no exaggeration to say that 2013 was the best holiday season of my entire life.

Trauma stinks, to put it politely, and I’ve been posting some pretty awful stuff about about “as bad as it gets” with infant brain stem trauma and how the emotional pain can louse up a whole life.  I had some friends back east who in jest (usually) didn’t call me “Lousy Brousie” for nothing.

I’ve also noted that the worst of infant trauma can happen not only in poor and violent areas, but in the most wealthy and educated families.  In fact it happens in 50% of American households.

Messiah_2013 054So there are a lot of us in this together –- whether some of us know it or not.

I wanted to let you know that every step we take to walk fully through whatever trauma we may have, is so worth it.  It’s worth it, to feel all the even terrifying feelings we sometimes need to feel to heal them — because the healing can feel “as good as it gets.”

I may be clowning around now and having Thanksgiving dinner at the beach, which I did — but it was a result of a lot of hard internal work.  Doing this work results in a growing feeling of “love inside” as Dr. Henry Cloud puts it, which at times can feel as if God’s love were pouring in the windows of our soul.  Or at least of the Nixon Library, which are some pretty huge floor-to-ceiling ornate windows…

And: this year I actually had  Christmas!  It’s amazing how much of the joys of Christmas we can miss when we’re frozen in dissociation.  But now that I’m unfreezing, I get to experience the wonder of finally being alive.  Starting in December I went to so many tree lightings and caroling parties that I began to gain weight because I could finally taste the food for the first time this year.

Tustin Dance Nutcracker childrenI went to the Nutcracker Ballet with a dear friend, just at a local high school – and got 100 times more out of it than if I’d flown to New York to see the New York City Ballet’s world-famous production.

I could hardly keep myself from leaping up onto the stage.  It was a shock how fully I could hear Tchaikovsky’s music, feel it in my heart, see the children prancing around, like never before.  It feels like the joy a child feels when we just jump for the sheer joy of being alive.  Everything feels so real.  I tried to get tickets to go see it a second time but they were sold out…

Emotional Attachment

1 Kathy ALYC 12-22 Xmas 001It took deep emotional attachment from good friends and more to heal me over the last five years.  Here I am toasting one such friend at the Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade on Dec. 22.

Humans can only feel safe in the presence of caring humans.  “The Mind is a dangerous place – never go in alone.”  So yes: I do mean it when I say “Don’t Try This at Home.”   And I wanted you to know that it’s all worth it.  And that you are worth it.  And yes – you can find compassionate friends who will let you attach.

Dealing with trauma has required me to set up a very broad safety net: an empathic, painstaking therapist skilled in Adult Attachment Theory; support groups modeled on the AA and other “anonymous” organizations’ principle of total acceptance and emotional support for the wounded; and close friends who were serious about staying attached to me — because they wanted to heal, too.

2 Gingerbread Crop2Keep looking until you find people who have issues of a similar severity and who also want to heal.  They’re out there, and they’re worth it.  I know; they saved my life.

A lot of these snowmen on the gingerbread house on Newport’s Balboa Island were quite frozen in dissociation when I first met them.  But over the years, as we shared our histories and helped each other grieve our real grief, we began to heal from the past, and melt our frozen hearts.  So now above on Dec. 22 we’re all enjoying Christmas!  (And yes there were real people involved, but the first rule of this kind of deep sharing is 100% confidentiality – so I can’t use their pix…)

Therapy alone won’t do it.   It requires the whole “recovery suite.”
As the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, attachment disorder, brain science and the biology of brain stem dysregulation have become understood in the last ten years, we’ve all focused on creating “preventative programs” to help babies and children now.   We’re trying to alert parents to be more attentive to their infants and to these issues.  Obviously this is necessary and mission-critical.

But I’d also like to point out: if half of today’s parents themselves, like 58% of the adult ACE Study participants, have moderate to severe brain stem developmental trauma, will working with parents on how to be better parents be enough?   Necessary, but not sufficient, as mathematics textbooks put it.

I wanted you to know that you are worth it, specifically.  You can find Recovery friends and support groups to really lean on — so that you can get to the parts of the traumatized brain where you can feel the deep stuff and really experience deep healing.

Dr. Dan Siegel calls it widening our “window of tolerance” to feel things which are repressed in dissociation.  This biologically can only be done in “dyadic consciousness,” in the presence of other compassionate human beings whom we can trust and to whom we can therefore become attached.

Otherwise the brain stem just knocks us out into dissociation and we can’t feel a thing, period.  You can’t fool your brain stem; it knows you much too well.

3 Kathy ocean 12-25 Xmas 058Don’t we need a campaign to heal the parents, too?  Not for some socio-economic brackets – but all Americans?  It sure is worth it! That’s me in the ocean at Dana Point on Christmas Day,  in 80-degree sunshine!  A New York girl’s dream come true.  (You can see the grin on my face if you click on the picture… )

In one example, scientists report that the infant brain, from conception and early cell division, must divide cells and grow based on some kind of rhythm, and for nine months it is driven to tune on a cellular level to its mother’s heart and breathing rates, among her other vitals.  “We have a pregnant employee who’s an athlete who’s resting heart rate is 40 beats/minute; she’s likely to have a very relaxed baby who likes relaxed rhythms.  And a hyper-thyroid mother whose heart rate is 95 may have a baby who finds a higher regulating rhythm,” Bruce Perry reports.

But a mother with ACE trauma herself, hysteria, or any high stress often has  “a totally irregular heart rate, breathing and other vital signs,” he notes.  “These moms end up with kids who are difficult to sooth because the mother had no rhythm consistently present for them to entrain to in utero.  After birth, they can’t find any rhythm that is soothing.”  Perry says that can easily cause developmental trauma.

Such mothers themselves, even the most determined to love their baby, require deep psychological and biological healing for their own trauma. That is often true for fathers who marry such women as well.

If a mother isn’t “attuned” inside herself, how can she truly attune to her baby?   I had so little ability to attune to a baby in my 20s and 30s that I literally “didn’t even have it in me” to have children.   “I would have thought the very idea would have been absolutely terrifying to you,” my fourth — and last! — therapist said (finally found a good one).  Without far reaching programs to heal the parents, many will remain biologically incapable of attuning to children.

It’s Adult Attachment Disorder which is the underlying cause of childhood trauma — not babies.

4 yogi tea 13116516 Kathy eyes openSo remember, all you adults out there, including you who may be in this field of endeavor because of your own childhoods or because you just can’t bear watching the inter-generational trauma being repeated over and over:

You’re Worth It.

I raise this cup of spicy home-made  Christmas Tea to you, with the most contented smile I’ve ever had on my face, to prove it.

———————————

Kathy’s news blogs expand on her book DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series  each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

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Survival Instinct

#18: Last book blog from “Don’t Try This at Home,” Chapter 3

Goya Capricho 75 ¿No_hay_quién_nos_desateLast time, I was in the hospice with Mom in 2008 and Dr. Rita told me to “just disengage.”  “I can’t disengage, she’s my Mom and she may be dying,” I said. “Besides, I couldn’t do that to my sister.”

But the real story was, self-protection literally never entered my mind.  Since infancy, self-protection wasn’t in my biochemistry; my entire organism was all about trying to oblige Mom.  I took Mom’s excommunication verdict when I was 25 the same way – the idea of protest or self-defense never remotely occurred to me.  I didn’t even know I had self-preservation instincts.  Whu Nhu?

Yet we all have survival instincts – strong ones.  Trouble was, my instincts for self-preservation had been constantly being overwhelmed by events which seemed beyond my control.

I was beyond clueless in 2008, but here’s a fact I’ve learned since: “the overwhelm of our instincts for survival by events completely beyond our control” is the technical definition of trauma.  And when our survival instincts are forced into trauma mode, “double-plus un-good things happen,” to quote George Orwell.

As I went into overwhelm in that 2008 hospice, it was like living in a nightmare during the day, all day, every day.  I began to experience days when it felt as though Mom’s critical voice was screaming so loud in my head that her voice had become the inside of my head.  I began to have waking and sleeping nightmares about Goya’s Los Caprichos, a series of 80 etchings heavily populated by just such images.  All I wanted was for Mom to let go her claws from my brain. [FN1, Goya, above: “Can’t anyone unleash us?”]

One day watching Mom nap, I was dimly conscious of a horrifying gut reaction from deep in some prehistoric part of my mental sub-basement, a place out of Dante’s “Inferno.”  Up came a horrible idea: something which is inflicting so much pain upon my sister and me requires the raw animal response of fight, flight, or who-knows-what.

I looked at Mom and thought “This is a creature in total misery because it knows no God and no perspective.  It can’t find enough meaning in life about which to feel peace, so it’s going out inflicting as much hurt as it can on the universe, because watching people like me suffer is the only way it can know that it exists.  This is a bad golem, a hurtful thing, and not only is it hurting me, it’s about to be flown to New York to make life miserable for my beloved sister.  I must defend my little sister!  Why do we prolong this golem’s ability to torture itself, my sister and me?”

Horrified at my own hideous emotional upsurge, I flat-out ran from the room and the hospice.  Many palm trees narrowly escaped the fury of my assault upon the grounds around Mom’s condo that night as I jogged off this unwelcome animal fury, until I limped inside and fell asleep senseless in my work-out togs.

In short, parts of me were literally going mad.  There were deep places lurking in me with a gut instinct that emotional pain this intense must mean that I was about to be killed – and we all have a survival instinct to fight back.  Luckily the higher parts of me prevailed.

Caution: in trauma, adverse experiences can feel either much worse or much better than they actually were.  Perhaps Mom was no such person.  Perhaps I was traumatized during my incubation, then I projected my anxieties on her.  We have no laboratory proof either way.  But my job is my own healing and transformation.  For that we must go beyond denial, to feel into our feelings without acting out.

I’m Sorry

Goya Capricho 72 No_te_escaparásDuring the last three days in the hospice, I decided I had to bring some calm to Mom’s soul, or all this would kill me along with her.  I went in one morning and basically insisted on loving her.  I sang to her.  I held her hand.  I rubbed her back.  I used the fact that we thought she was about to be kicked out of the hospice for failure to die according to the Medicare schedule, as a selling point.

“Things are looking up,” I said, “Linda’s finding you a nice place in New York.” My sister was in court running legal cases all day, while trying to find a nursing home nearby. “How am I going to get to New York?” Mom demanded.  I talked her step by step through how we would first get her up into a wheel chair, then onto a plane with oxygen, and I’d sit with her on the plane, and Linda and her family would meet us at the other end.  In great detail.  That seemed to calm Mom down.

“I’m sorry I separated you from the family,” she finally said, 100% out of the blue, regarding me with a baleful look before falling asleep.

I felt moved and teary, but somehow it wasn’t enough to make me feel much better.  I was way too far gone into the emotional pain pit.  [FN2, Goya, above: “You will not escape”]

During these last weeks, I was staying alone nights in Mom’s upscale retirement pad on the beach, out of my mind with isolation and grief.  To keep my immune system from collapsing, I’d jog around the gated community late until midnight after 12 hours in the hospice, so disoriented that I had trouble not running into a palm tree or two and bashing my own head in.

I had to use the computer for business, and I couldn’t go through this alone; one night I “just found myself” on Match.com.  What, you ask, after all those weeks of diving deep into the pain of the Inner Child, then being told “Go Way Kid” by my mentors, and then more weeks of ultra pain delivered in person by Mom?  “That stretch in the Florida hospice with Mom was the worst weeks of my entire life,” I wrote at the time.

Wasn’t I more ready to enter a mental hospital than a dating website?  In retrospect, that’s a big “Yes.”  Years later I heard that the standard joke at Alcoholics Anonymous is about a guy who’s been sober for months, then suddenly “just finds himself” with a drink in his hand. That’s exactly how I “just found myself” on dating websites.

But nobody warned me at the time.  In fact, my second therapist Dr. Rita told me that I was doing very well on her program.  She said that I was well enough to go back to work, and that I was well enough to drop my own therapy and fly around the country to physically nurse someone else for weeks.  She also said I was well enough to date.

In my mind, it was simple: I had a huge deficit of romantic love.  I’d gotten no deep emotional connection in my 27-year marriage, then I got a taste of it from Dan back East, a taste which blew me away.  I had accepted starving to death as a 27-year norm, then discovered there’s food out there.  Really tasty food, in fact it was addictive, if you recall.

Hitting the Bottle

Goya Capricho 43 El_sueño_de_la_razón_produce_monstruosNow it’s simple, I thought: “I married a bad man.  He was mean to me.  So I’ll just find a good man to love me.”  If Dan wouldn’t, I’d find a “West Coast Dan” who would.

What I didn’t know was that I was in so much pain from not merely 27 years but a lifetime without attachment, that I was hitting the bottle.  I was trying to anesthetize an entire life of emotional pain, with the “feel good” of romance.  [FN3, Goya, above: “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”]

I couldn’t stand the thought of returning from Florida to California after week upon week of this living Hell, with nothing and no one to whom to look forward.  After my evening jog, I’d take advantage of the three hour time delay to take calls from California into the wee hours.

“I hope to meet a productive man who has worked in transportation, construction, engineering, the military, science, or any field which gives him the satisfaction that, at the end of the day, he can look at his work and say:  ‘Today I created something to make the world better’,” my Match.com profile said.  “Such men seem to have the self-confidence necessary to love a real woman.” It also mentioned my singing.

“Hi, I’m a productive guy, and turn in a day’s effort for a day’s wage,” one aerospace engineer wrote back.  “I like to be active, love to play in the ocean during the summer, play racquet ball outdoors, and bicycle the Back Bay.  But I also have this music connection, and found it fascinating that you perform music.

“I have too have lived abroad, and I have a universal outlook on business models in today’s world.  It would be interesting to talk to you about the American and world economies.  Got to go practice the piano!  With a song in my heart…” he signed off.  A prospective accompanist, no less.  We spoke several times about everything from Schubert to Schopenhauer.

Another night there was Bob the Air Force man.  We both had the same science degree and an interest in international affairs; we hit it off by email and then by phone.  “I just read your profile and was impressed,” he wrote me.  “We seem to have a lot in common, including a connection to the military.  Appreciated what you wrote in your profile, and have never seen it put quite that way before (about productive men).

“The experiences I had during my many years of military service (world-wide travel + two wars) were exciting, inspiring, and humbling.  The average American has no idea how lucky he is to have had the good fortune of being born here, rather than one of the thousand other places I have visited around the globe.”

Mom passed away overnight in Florida the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  We had been scheduled to fly her to New York two days later, that Tuesday.  My brother-in-law booked me to New York for Wednesday Thanksgiving eve, to give me two days to pack up whatever I could carry of Mom’s belongings in our parents’ suitcases.  I gave away most of the wall paintings to Mom’s friends and relatives, made arrangements for the furniture, brought whatever bulky items might sell to an e-Bay trader, and took calls from Match.com while packing.

We held a funeral for Mom in New York on Thanksgiving eve in my sister’s upscale church.  Again Linda and her family said all the words.  When they were done, I just got up and sang again, this time Mom’s favorite song, “Moon River” from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  Again everyone cried and almost applauded my singing.

Again I was without tears.  At least this time I knew why.  I had always lived in fear of Mom, and now she had spent her last six weeks doing what felt like trying to obliterated me.  I felt really awful.

I’d been scheduled for many months to sing in the Handel’s “Messiah” given annually at the prestigious Nixon Library in California on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I decided that I’d had my life on hold while sitting in Florida long enough, and told Bob I’d be back for the performance.

“You can’t be alone in California the first night right after your Mom died,” he said. “I’d like to take you to dinner after the concert.”  We arranged it.

And you, dear reader, already know what happens next.

Footnotes

FN1   Goya, Francisco de, “Los Caprichos,” set of 80 aquatint prints, Madrid, 1799 :  Capricho № 75: ¿No hay quién nos desate? (Can’t anyone unleash us?)
FN2   Goya, Capricho № 72:  No te escaparás (You will not escape)
FN 3  Goya, Capricho № 43:  El sueño de la razón produce monstruos  (The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters)

———————

This is from Kathy’s forthcoming book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series of excerpts from the rest of her book each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in Adults, Adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

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Mommy Doesn’t Like Me

#17 in my book blogs from “Don’t Try This at Home,” Chapter 3

Scan3-1 Kathy at porch crop 1I bet that title got your attention. Hey, most of my life I thought it was no big deal. I just always took it for granted that Mom didn’t like me much, and so what? Lots of people simply don’t get along. Mom was kinda like the weather: a fact of life about which one couldn’t do a thing, so why fret?  You don’t like the weather, you move.  So I graduated high school a year early and got moving.  Problem solved.

Or so I thought. But in 2008 in the hospice with Mom, the problem was back in my face.  And didn’t start when I quit med school at 25.  That’s me at 8 in the photo.  What kind of face is that on a kid?

I reported last time that in 2006 at her 50th anniversary dinner, Mom looked at me out of the blue and said, “I nearly died having you; you almost killed me. You gave me an infection that put me flat on my back for weeks…”  Huh? This was the first time in my life that I’d ever heard of that.  It seemed so unimportant, no one ever said boo.

When I was a kid, Mom did sometimes show me her scar, say I was an emergency Caesarian, and hint I was an unplanned pregnancy. When I hit puberty she’d warn me hard against boys. “It’s the woman who pays,” she used to repeat, “You don’t want to end up pushing a baby carriage.”  It wasn’t banter; it felt anxious and scary.

Later in 2009 I learned that at birth I was instantly put into incubation for many weeks since I too had that infection, one so bad it nearly killed me as well, not only Mom. She never mentioned that.

At about 4, I swallowed a penny and was rushed to X-ray. I was terrified by the huge cold black machine, by being held down, and by Mom’s anger; I thought she’d kill me for causing all the commotion. Another time before I was 5, Mom took me aside and said of one of my playmates, “I don’t love Michelle; she’s not my daughter.  But I like Michelle.  I love you – but I don’t like you.”  I tried to ignore this stuff, like the weather, but that one stung.  I realized just last week that I can still see the family dining table where it happened.

I recalled cowering in the kindergarten bathroom at 6, trying to erase a B grade and pencil in an A, afraid to come home with less than perfect – and then Mom’s fury at the lie. Washing my hands in school at 12, a tiny ring Mom gave me slid down the drain and she didn’t speak to me for weeks.  I felt complete panic.

Suddenly in that 2008 hospice it hit me: I’d always had some underlying feeling of fear, because I knew: Mommy doesn’t like me.

What child, you ask in disbelief, grows up thinking “Mommy doesn’t like me?”  Don’t all children think Mommy likes and loves them?  Hey, when I was a kid, I’d never been through childhood before, so I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to feel that! And didn’t dare discuss it.

All I knew was: Mommy doesn’t like me, she told me so in person, and I believed her. And in early 2008 when I interviewed five older relatives as instructed by the Inner Child Workbook, they confirmed it in spades: “Your mother never seemed to like you much.”

I was in this hospice because Mom was my Mom, and my beloved sister had commuted from New York to Florida for months to help first Dad, then Mom.  Now, Linda had to stay in her law offices on Wall Street; she had a husband, two sons, a large dog and a sailboat to support.  But Mom didn’t care. She just didn’t want me around.

My Wasted Life

homeless woman color1 cropI reasoned that Mom must be terrified of being ill and facing death.  No matter what she said, I decided, what Mom needed now was a huge amount of compassion and love; then surely she’d calm down.

I tried the compassion route to the best of my ability, which was probably pretty meager, but I tried. I sat with Mom for hours.  I said, “Mom, it must be scary to have a heart attack and be in here; why don’t you let me just hold you and support you emotionally?”

“I don’t want you to hold me,” Mom finally said. “I don’t want you anywhere near me. I sat on the living room couch and cried after I got off the phone with you, every Sunday for 25 years.”  (About seven minutes into my weekly Sunday phone calls to her, as noted last week, Mom did have a habit of hanging up on me… for 25 years.)

“Is this a good time to focus on bygones?” I persisted. “I’ve had a rough time with my divorce, the loss of my home and the collapse of the job market, and I could use emotional support, too. Can’t we do that for each other and just be mother and daughter?” I asked.  But no.  Now, the years of hang-ups were about to be explained.

“I’m not interested in emotional support.  Your sister helps people every day. What have you done with your life?” Mom said. “You have a brilliant mind and we gave you everything. It’s your own fault you married Larry.

homeless woman color2 crop“It was a wasted life, a wasted life!  You deserve what you got.  Emotional support doesn’t mean a thing.  The only thing which means anything is money.  If you care about someone that’s what you give them.”

Again we ask: am I imagining this, projecting my own neurosis onto Mom?  I wish.  And who brings a voice recorder into the hospice with their Mom?  Yet not only did she say it – I believed she was right.

I even called my sister to ask desperately:  “Is it true, is it true, did I really waste my entire life?” Sis was kind and said, “Of course not,” but she was so preoccupied with Mom’s illness that that was it.  My situation simply was not that important.

In fact it was the logic of history. It’s not as if I disagreed with Mom.  I’d long heard her say “I don’t like you,” and to a kid, Mom is Authority.  The Authority must be right, so I must be Bad.  I’d felt that forever, long before my first therapist Dr. Matt spelled out the science that “rejection creates a false belief structure deep in a child’s subconscious that ‘I am bad.’ ”

I must have led a wasted life.  In fact, I had fully internalized that – taken it into my heart – ever since I could remember:  Mommy doesn’t like me, so I must be worthless.

It’s Not My Coat

Ugly Coat 1 Poster 59129_641416799242577_626162796_nOn days like that (most days) my cell phone kept me alive. I placed a lot of calls from that hospice to friends in California and Virginia. When my sister couldn’t help me, I was reduced to calling my ice-queen second therapist Dr. Rita. “Is it true, did I have a worthless life?” I asked her in panic.

Dr. Rita had always refused to talk by phone, but under these circumstances she agreed.  I figgered my shrink must be the sane one since by now I sure did feel as if I were going stark staring mad. And God is merciful.  Dr. Rita actually did help some; she gave me one of her textbook examples that’s had lasting catch-phrase value.

“No one cries for 25 years for someone else; it’s all nonsense,” Dr. Rita said. “Your Mom projects her psychological problems onto you, and you take it on yourself.

“If she’s so miserable, then she’s the one with the failed life and she’s crying for herself, not you. If she wanted to go to medical school, she should have gone herself, not tried to break you over over it, to force you to do something she wanted to do herself. Why should she make you a pariah for marrying anyone? This is her psychic garbage, and you’ve been assuming it for years.

Ugly Coat Yellow _570xN.383387044_cpv2“It’s like a big ugly hairy coat that comes in the mail that you didn’t order. You open the box and find a coat in some horrid shade of orange or vomit yellow-green, with things sticking out of it. Your mother says, “I ordered it for you, it fits you perfectly, this coat is You!  You must try it on.”  So you try it, you walk around for her, you hate it.  You hate the style, the color, it does not fit you at all – but she makes you wear it.

“It’s time for you to take off the coat and say:  ‘Mom, this coat does not belong to me.  This is not my coat.  I did not order it – you did.  I think it will fit you better; please wear it yourself.’  Tell her to wear it.  Let her be responsible for her own resentments and complaints.  Or send it back, because the point is:  This is not your coat.

“This trip to Miami is an opportunity for you, if properly taken. You have a better chance of pulling yourself together now, to separate yourself from Mom now, while she’s still alive. This is not your coat. You’ve got to take it off and emotionally separate from her.  Do not tear yourself to pieces.  Use humor. Step back.  Go out and take a walk.  Take deep breaths, don’t let it all choke you.”

Fabulous insights, I now see, typing up my 2008 hand notes; if only I had been able to “get it.”  Back then I did see the logic; it did help logically.  It’s a great story.  But it didn’t calm my heart for beans.

Because this was the same Dr. Rita who also told me to lock myself up alone and relate to myself by myself. That had shut my emotions down with a bang. Without any bonding with Dr. Rita or anyone else, I still was so alone, terrified, and in a state of clinical shock that I couldn’t “get” much of anything – except that I hurt like hell.

And Rita still wasn’t doing emotional support.  Instead she concluded the call with her same old “go support yourself” Inner Child mantra. “When you have these panic attacks, you must talk to the Inner Child inside you and tell her ‘That authority figure was ridiculous.  Mom was ridiculous, you don’t treat a daughter like that.’

“Just disengage,” Rita concluded.  Terrific.  I was alone in Miami, 1,200 miles from my sister in New York, 3,000 miles from Rita and any new friends in California, sleeping in Mom’s retirement complex surrounded by people on walkers, completely isolated from the rest of Planet Earth.  Go tell Daniel to “just disengage” from the lions.

—————————–

This is from Kathy’s forthcoming book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series of excerpts from the rest of her book each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Tags: Adult Attachment Disorder, Adult Attachment Theory, Adult Attachment Interview, Emotional Support, Grief, Incubation, Inner Child, Therapy, Unplanned Pregnancy

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Excommunication Blues

#16 in my book blogs from “Don’t Try This at Home,” Chapter 3

Excommunication 1Last time, I wrote that just when I thought 2008 couldn’t get any worse, October-November 2008 with Mom in the hospice in Florida turned out to be my psychological Cambodia. It was going to get a whole lot worse.

I also noted that Adam and Eve had a Perfect Parent, but a 50% failure rate producing their kids, meaning babies damage real easily.  What if my Mom in reality was a fine (if not Perfect) parent, but I (like Eve) somehow got damaged, and had a mess in my head which made me project my own neurosis onto Mom?  Everybody loves their mom; I do, too.  I sure didn’t want to demonize my own mother.  Ouch!

Linda, my beloved little sister, I know you love Mom so and I know you won’t like this chapter. I’m looking at your photo now and I weep. Yes the one I took in your junior high acrobat leotard; even then you were hot, babe.  I love you like Life itself and I’d do anything not to hurt you – except to live another decade with these horror stories eating at me.

So the truth must come out, and I am so sorry that I could not talk it all through with you at the time, but there was just too much pain.  Today’s 2013 brain science says that the emotional pain was so intense in 2008, that my brain stem literally knocked me out like a mouse when a cat picks it up.  Forgive me, darling, that this comes so late.  I love you so.

Gulp.  Well folks, that one surprised me, too.  Gosh, being a writer certainly has its ups and downs.  Those soggy tissues on the floor all around my desk, where did they come from?  Er, back to our story…

Scholars note that Buddha, Moses and Jesus all had trouble with their family when they went home.  That’s simply because the ones to whom we are the closest, are the ones to whom we are the most vulnerable. We all need closeness and vulnerability, but that’s also where we can all get hurt most. Since nobody’s perfect, that’s where we do get hurt.  They call it the “need-fear dilemma;” we need closeness, but we fear it. [FN1]

Thinking back on what happened next in 2008, I had plenty of need and fear inside my own head. But maybe Mom did, too; she had it none too easy as a kid, as detailed in “Butt End of Evolution.”  See what you think.

It’s always hard to watch a mother die, and my Mom was very hard to watch, as I wrote last time.  But then, I was not just an observer. I was the designated pin cushion.  Mom had made no bones for decades that she pretty much didn’t want me anywhere, least of all in that hospice at the end.  And I did promise you the back story.

Hero or Villain?

Astronaut Parade 1Decades before, I’d started medical school in the Philippines and came home to New York at age 25 for a visit, where Mom feted me like a returning astronaut at family parties to honor my acceptance into that professional track.

I never had a performance problem; I graduated high school a year early with a full college scholarship and finished college six months early. It seemed natural enough to me that I was alone on the other side of the world among strangers, killing myself pulling all-nighters as med students must for years on end. But one day after my return from Manila, talking with my former college sweetheart (now my ex), it hit me that I was trying to do something I didn’t want to do.

And I can’t find a more diplomatic or more truthful way to say this: Mom always wanted me to be a doctor, and I saw that’s why I was doing it.

I saw that I couldn’t go back to Manila, and decided to return to my boyfriend in New York. “I’ve realized that I’m not doing med school for myself,” I told my parents, “but I can’t do something this serious my entire life, for someone else.”

My mother despised my ex for his political involvements; that became grounds for a sudden explosion. “You’re throwing your life away,” she said in great anger. Before I knew it, she had accused my ex of “killing my daughter” by talking me out of medical school. And yes, my 20-20 hindsight freely admits my ex had lousy politics, in as deep with one of the many whacky groups which lined the streets of New York after the Vietnam War. No mom would want to see a daughter with such potential get mixed up in that.

But that could have been discussed in the bosom of the family. I could have left U Manila and gone to work in New York while I figured out what I wanted to do or where to go to grad school.

Instead, I was booted out of the house so fast it made my guts spin. This was not simply, “you’re a quitter, no more parties.”  It felt like one minute I was John Glenn the hero riding in a parade with confetti, then awoke to find myself metamorphosed into Lee Harvey Oswald. The message was: “Go, and Never Darken My Doorway Again.”

I couldn’t think; I just wanted to die. Where was Jack Ruby when I needed him?

I had been excommunicated. There’s that odd feeling again; why does something always remind me of the Inquisition? It just keeps popping up. Perhaps I should create a new perfume line, “Eau d’Auto-da-fé ” or simply “Eau da Fe” for short (maybe have it marketed by Daffy Duck).

He’s a Bad Man

Oswald & Jack RubyIt took me another 25 years to notice the real shocker:  all concerned were distressed, yet everyone accepted Mom’s response as a fait accompli. Scratching my head in 2013, I can’t recall a debate from anyone, not from my father or any other member of my family. Now that I think of it, it never entered even my head to debate it, either.

Everyone, including me, seemed to be in silent agreement that I was in the wrong and bad, while Mom was in the right, and good. That required all to nod in endorsement, as if to the law. It was like I’d been caught in a mortal offense to the Ten Commandments.

I simply condemned myself “guilty as charged” and slunk off as if to some den of inequity. “You’re supposed to feel bad when you’re treated bad!” one therapy expert later quipped on hearing the tale, in an effort to shake me awake. “You were in a sick system so long you became numb to it,” he said, it’s technically termed “dissociation.”

Were my ex or his politics a Nuremberg crime heinous enough to merit this?  No one ever distinguished my being a med school quitter from his hated politics — not even me. It was all one huge ball of wormy guilt.

I didn’t steal from my dad or sleep with my sister’s boyfriend.  I just said, “I can’t go to medical school, I’m going to hang out with a guy you don’t like, and I may have some politics you don’t like.” Yet suddenly it was “Off with her head!”  Not until decades later did I realize it was all nuts.

No one ever said simply: “He’s a bad man, he’ll be bad for you — we love you, stay with us!”  I would have stayed with my family in a New York minute.  I was just trying to come home from the other side of the planet to find a little love for my wildly mixed-up head in a very cold world.  But then I jumped out of a certain controlled script.

Unwanted

Ugly Duckling 1No one said “But we want to see her!”  There was not one protest, as if they were muttering “whew, glad it’s not me.”
They didn’t even attend my wedding five years later.

Now, here I was in 2008 in Mom’s Miami hospice, where as I wrote last blog, I’d come to her room each morning and Mom would roll over and turn her face away.  She’d ask the nurses “Where’s my daughter?” with me standing there. When I’d say, “I’m right here, Mom,” she’d say, “Not you.  Where’s Linda?”

How could Mom and I have run so far off the rails?  I had plenty of time sitting in that hospice to agonize over that.  It hurt a lot.  One thing I knew:  it didn’t start when I returned from Manila at 25.

Mom had been hostile ever since I could remember, since age 4 at least, which I knew from memories predating my sister’s birth.  A few early incidents popped up out of nowhere in my first group therapy session as mentioned earlier.  But as a kid I could never fathom it or discuss it with anyone.  We just didn’t discuss such things at our house; there was too much to get done at home, work and school.  I sure wasn’t going to mortify myself by telling anyone at school.  It was a serious Ugly Duckling routine which never got to the swan part.

Another puzzle piece arrived in January 2006 when I flew in alone from Washington DC for a cameo appearance at my parents’ 50th anniversary dinner in a swank Miami bistro.  With my sister and her family in their finest, amid the champagne toasts, Mom suddenly announced that she had always resented my existence.

Fixing an eye on me across the table decked with flowers and candles, she said out of the blue and loudly, without a trace of a smile:  “I nearly died having you; you almost killed me.  You gave me an infection that put me flat on my back for weeks.  I was so sick that Grandma begged Dad not to have any more children.”

There was stunned silence at the table.  I looked into Mom’s eyes an instant in panic, but there was no way to make a connection with what I saw looking back.  To be blunt, it looked like either a very cold fish or something more dangerous.

I went blank, and made a beeline for the ladies room so no one could see me break down, collapsed in a stall in a blur of chiffon, stilettos, and tears.  My sister eventually pulled me out. Everyone acted as if nothing had happened.  Again.  Even my poor sister blanked out the entire incident, and denies to this day that anything occurred.

————————
This is from Kathy’s forthcoming book DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder—How I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series of excerpts from the rest of her book each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in Adults, Adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  “We have a need in our heart for love, but when it’s wounded or hurt or unavailable, something very bad happens.  We don’t just sustain need.   If my Mom dies when I’m age 7, I can’t just wait 20 years and say  ‘OK now I’ll find someone nice to love me.’  Instead, when we have unmet need or injured need, something bad develops called the need-fear dilemma.  What we need the most, we begin to fear.  If it’s needing love, then we’re uneasy around love.  If we need understanding of our weaknesses, we get very uneasy about being weak.”
—  Cloud, Henry, PhD, “Getting Love on the Inside,” Lecture, April 2002 (CD),  www.Cloud-Townsend Resources.com

“The insecure resistant ambivalent child shown in the video is experiencing what has been referred to as the need-fear dilemma; he both needs the mother for comfort, but something in his history with this mother has instilled fear, and distrust whether he will find what he needs.  The video is of the Strange Situation, developed by  psychologist Mary Ainsworth in the 1970s to describe secure and insecure attachment. These two attachment patterns are vividly seen in the interaction of two mother-child pairs: http://youtu.be/DH1m_ZMO7GU
   — Gerson, John, Phd, “Understanding Secure and Insecure Attachment,” www.theravive.com/research/understanding-secure-and-insecure-attachment

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Thanksgiving in Cambodia

#15 in my book blogs from “Don’t Try This at Home,” Chapter 3

Cambodia Napalm“Once again”  I thought, “Fall 2008 surely was the end of my world. Surely it could get no worse than this.”  So ended “Isolation Row,” my last post three weeks ago from my book.  Little did I know that 2008 could, and did, get a whole lot worse.  The gods of Pain had barely gotten started on my file.

By September 2008 I couldn’t take any more isolation row as prescribed by my first two therapists or I’d have bonked one. Meanwhile back in the real world the bills were mounting, so I worked out my nervous energy (read “anxiety”) in a whirl of new business projects. Remember the Newport Beach financier who took me on as her protege to write her book – but then all her banks collapsed?  Like writing a book about nuclear war in the middle of a nuclear war?  Well, I just went at it again.

Wrestling my demons to the bathroom floor, I forced myself to write a three-page memo to a company in San Diego, offering to market their power plants in Asia.  I e-mailed it to the Vice President, left a message, and nearly passed out when he returned my call next day.  He said the memo was “brilliant,” and two days later I was in his office.  Negotiations with his staff, however, dragged on for months as they did not have his vision, to put it mildly. They wanted to await the November 2008 election as they worried the new Administration wouldn’t support nuclear energy (it didn’t). They worried the banking collapse meant there would be no financier appetite for new ventures (there wasn’t).

Meanwhile my friends at the South Korean central bank were calling in a tizzy (wouldn’t you), worried the U.S. financial system melt down would take them with it. They had a Seoul government rep in Los Angeles take me to dinner. He asked me to write a white paper for South Korea to take to a world financial summit next spring on how to prevent the meltdown of the global foreign exchanges. No pressure, of course, just in my spare time. This minor project didn’t resolve neatly or quickly either.

In other words, “nuclear war” just kept happening, which did little to bolster my nearly-expired self-confidence or bank account. At least it pushed therapy with its “Inner Child” poppycock off my agenda during September-October 2008, easy to do because all that failed therapy only made my emotional pain worse.

And now for Mom

BVH-00701395 Then back on the East Coast there began a train of events which pushed me, my crisis, and any emotional needs for help (not being met by failed therapy anyway) well and truly off the agenda. Actually more like buried my stuff under a very large landslide.

Mom.

Mom had been “home alone” in Florida since Dad passed away in June and my younger sister the Wall Street lawyer in New York thought we should check on Mom regularly. In mid-September, in the middle of furious negotiations in San Diego over the fate of the national electricity grid, it was my turn to make a two-day visit.

Mom was never eager to see me (a long story for next week), so sis and I made my trip a surprise. Landing in Miami, I hopped a cab and phoned Mom en route to her place to say, “Surprise! I’m on the way.” Her reaction shocked me, even at that late date. “You can’t do this to me,” she yelled, “I don’t want you here! I don’t want to see you, leave me alone!” By the time she hung up she was in hysterics.

I phoned sis in New York from the cab. “Could you talk to Mom?” I said. “I’m afraid to give her heart failure, plus now I feel really awful; maybe this wasn’t a good idea?” But my poor sister Linda had spent so much time in the last six months commuting to Florida to tend our parents that she was worried about the stress on her job. Someone had to see Mom, and I was elected.

The problem was that if I couldn’t make it work, I was the problem.

“Why do you always have to fight with her? Couldn’t you just be sweet?” sis wanted to know.  Now, my sister is a famously nice person with a permanent glowing smile through thick and thin — but not when it came to anything which upset Mom. No one in our family would dispute a cousin’s recent statement that “your mom was a very strong-willed person, and a very emotional person.” Well, when Mom wasn’t happy, no one was happy, as the saying goes (it’s hackneyed for a reason).

It had to be my bad if things weren’t going swimmingly. “I can’t leave work any more and it’s your job to visit Mom so just get it done,” sis said point blank. Naturally I agreed; I thought it was our job to make Mom happy and so it must be my fault if she weren’t. I didn’t even notice until years later when I finally put this incident under a microscope that there was no room for anyone to even consider the collateral damage to me.

Doing the Right Thing, I ignored the arrows lacing into my heart and the terrified looks from the cab driver and dissolved in silent sobs in the back seat. We duly arrived at Mom’s place, whereupon she had to calm down so as not to cause any lifting of eyebrows amongst the upscale neighbors. The visit proceeded in an uneasy truce and I returned to my project negotiations in California.

Mozart’s Requiem – Again

Kathy @ 2008 Requiem AnaheimOn October 5, 2008 I again performed Mozart’s Requiem, this time as soprano soloist, in Anaheim.  After the previous events of 2008, you can already see my glazed stare in this photo taken minutes after the performance.

Three days later, as my last dream to accomplish something with my life by reestablishing my international business was in play, my phone rang again from back East, just as it had the day after I sang the “Requiem” the previous May.

This time it was my sister, calling to say Mom had been hospitalized in Miami with chest hemorrhaging and heart failure. She had smashed her ribs in a bad fall at home while the live-in nurse was watching TV.  Yes, this actually happened a second time.  Whenever I sing Mozart’s Requiem, a parent begins to die.

Again, time to leave the biz meetings and get back on the plane from California to Florida; truth is verily stranger than fiction. I would be afraid to ever sing that Mozart piece again, if I had any more parents.  Mozart’s Requiem was my favorite work for most of my life, and I don’t have any more parents, but I have not sung it again to this day.

Now my emotional crisis, the battle royal in therapy, the economic disaster, and my high-stakes attempts to jump-start my career were wiped off the agenda.  Now it was all about Mom in earnest.

I’d worried over the years that Mom lacked perspective; one rarely heard her speak of the eternal nature of love or the immortality of the soul.  I’d long been concerned that she might not be at peace when the time came.  Indeed.  Peace, to paraphrase Henry Kissinger, was the light at the end of the tunnel which turned out to be an oncoming train.

October and November 2008 with Mom in Florida were my psychological Cambodia.  It was going to get a whole lot worse, and “better” had just been summarily wiped off the agenda.

First came the genocidal doctors with the insurance hounds at their heels. Their sole concern seemed to be to remove Mom from whichever ward she was on, before the Medicare police could find her and cut their funding to the hospital in retaliation for the doctors allowing Mom to stay anywhere too long. They moved Mom from ward to ward, forcing her to undergo vigorous physical therapy to prove she should be hospitalized at all, which for a woman her age in her condition was in fact brutality. Finally Mom collapsed after physical therapy.

As a result our intrepid doctors summarily booted her out of the regular hospital wing and moved her to the hospice wing, where they said, mincing no words, she had an allotment of a few weeks before she’d have to leave, one way or the other.  Ouch.  “Welcome to the U.S. health care system” said my sister by phone.

To be clear, no one thought Mom would die; she had a bright mind and a strong constitution. Rather, my sister was up north working the retirement homes in New York 24 x7 to find a place into which to move Mom. We all thought she was just headed for a stressful plane flight.

Where’s My Daughter?

Adam & Eve Expulsion_from_GardenBut then there was Mom herself, who in essence began to snarl when I arrived back in Miami and continued to do so for six weeks. It wasn’t that she was in pain; the nurses saw to her meds.  She said herself that she was not in pain.

Mom, simply put, did not want to see me, as she had in fact clearly stated earlier and for decades. In fact about seven and a half minutes into each of my weekly Sunday phone calls to her, Mom had had a certain habit of hanging up on me – for about 25 years.

Curiously now, however, Mom was also hanging up on her friends and relatives as they called.  She folded the phone even on bridge partners from the retirement home who sounded anxious to see her and terrified that they themselves were next for hospice. But Mom flat out refused to see them, didn’t care anymore what anyone thought and did precisely as she felt.  Not only with me, but with all sorts of folks.

Mom had always been known to put on a happy face and be entertaining with her jokes to friends at her retirement complex or with shoe store clerks.  Now, actually it was remarkable to watch the change.  Apparently she was done with appearances, for why bother?

The nurses and I kept telling Mom in detail how we were going to get her to New York, I’d fly with her on the plane, she’d be fine with Linda.

The problem was, however, that Mom had never been willing to discuss questions such as “why and for what do we live.”  She’d always dismissed them as impractical nonsense from fools who haven’t worked as hard for a dollar as she.  She was pragmatic to the point of scorning theory as idiocy.  But in life as in science there’s a reason for theory, and when the time came for faith and belief, Mom didn’t seem to have enough inside upon which to base a view of ‘Now what?’

“Oh God, it is fearful thing, to see the human soul take wing,” as Byron put it, especially when it doesn’t have a wing to wing it.

Mom seemed to get no comfort from God, nor even be aware of the subject, for starters.  She also seemed to get no comfort out of seeing my sister’s loving smile.  Even the appearance of Linda’s two handsome sons from New York did almost nothing to lighten Mom’s face.  She seemed to get no comfort out of having brought her family, and my sister’s family, into being, of having friends (who never set foot in the hospital due to the hang-ups) of having a very long and until just these weeks, healthy and prosperous life, nice clothes, fine homes, and international vacations.  All of the things she always said were so important didn’t seem to bring her much joy in the end.

I had to spend a lot of hours watching this and felt driven to make sense of it.  As best I could grasp, Mom was terrified of something but I couldn’t dismiss it as fear of death since people do die in peace.

All this would have been gut-wrenching to watch just as an observer.  But then, I was not an observer.  I was the designated pin cushion.  Mom had made no bones for decades that she pretty much didn’t want me anywhere, least of all in that hospice at the end.

It got to where I’d arrive in her hospital room each morning and Mom would roll over and turn her face away.  When the nurses were dressing her or when she wanted something, she would raise her voice and say, “Where’s my daughter?” whether I were standing right before her, or down the hall on a business call to San Diego or Seoul.  When I’d say, “I’m right here, Mom,” she’d growl, “Not you. Where’s Linda?”

Now look, Adam and Eve had a Perfect Parent, but a 50% failure rate when producing their kids. Moral: Babies are really easy to damage.

Yes it felt bad at my end – but what if this were my paranoia?  What if Mom in reality was a fine (if not Perfect) parent, but I (like Eve) were somehow damaged, and had some mess in my head which made me project my own neurosis onto Mom?  I sure didn’t want to do a re-run of that dreadful “Mommie Dearest” or demonize my own mother…

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This is from Kathy’s forthcoming book “DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment DisorderHow I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.” Watch for the continuing series of excerpts from the rest of her book each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about Attachment Disorder in adults, adult Attachment Theory, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

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Isolation Row

#14 in my ongoing book blogs from “Don’t Try This at Home”

Last week my second therapist Dr. Rita was telling me to “heal yourself” to where I was reduced to singing Verdi arias about being doomed to live alone in a cave forever.  So I just felt worse.

isolation cell blueYet Rita continued drumming in the isolation message. “You don’t need Dan,” she scoffed about the rebound guy.  “You don’t need anyone else.  What you need is, to stop trying to heal the child who’s sick, with some guy’s d–k.  Just heal yourself.”

No, I may have New York potty mouth, but that did not come from me.  Yes, you did see that in this polite book on brain science, because that, verbatim, was the instruction from a therapist, at my great personal financial and emotional expense.

That is a quote directly from this refined, soft-spoken, highly educated lady, right in the middle of her technical shrink-speak in my 2008 notebook – and I doubt she coined the rhyme.  It must be standard trade jargon in some PhD circles.

Note the irrational but seamless segue asserting that only total isolation can work.  Going to other people, anyone at all, is linked to the disgust and mortification of “going to some guy’s d—k.”

I’d never heard of different ways to “go to other people” back then, but what about Dr. Rita?  Had she never heard of a middle ground somewhere between an isolation cell, and a “d—k?”  Say, go to a pastor, a divorce seminar, a women’s group, or a girlfriend?

Or maybe, gasp, go to your therapist for emotional support?  I sure never wouldda thunk of that at the time!  By then, that would have sounded to me like a nice outing to visit Torquemada. “Why do they call him Torquemada?” asks Mel Brooks.  “Because you can’t torq him outta anything!” [FN1]

While it did turn out to be true that neither sex nor romance can heal childhood emotional pain, can it be done by lying alone on a sheet covered in applesauce?  (Oct. 11 blog)

 Death Sentence

Mel Brooks Torquemada crop best”But this is a Death Sentence,” my emotional limbic brain, otherwise known as my heart, responded forcefully from deep within. “This feels like a Death Sentence,” I kept telling Rita, “This isn’t working!

“I do need someone else to love me!” I would go to her in tears saying.  “If you tell me do it myself, that means I’ll be alone forever!  Something feels terribly wrong!  It makes me queasy to say I have to do it myself, like I’m not good enough that someone else would love me enough to help me.  It’s a sinking feeling.  You’re telling me that no one else is going to love me enough to help me, which means I must be intrinsically unlovable.”

By making clear to me that they wouldn’t work with me unless I found a phantom inner child I just could not find, both my first and second therapist were in fact telegraphing just that. “You’re the problem, everyone else can do it, you’re uncooperative, we can’t work with you, you’re a failure.”

Not too far from “unlovable,” is it?

I joke now about Mel Brooks pronouncing death sentences (above).

But back then, as I searched for an inner child, all I could feel was a bottomless well of emotional pain and terror like something out of the real Inquisition.  I’d find something really horrifying deep inside which I was afraid to look at, and have repeat nightmares about dead fish with horribly dead eyes (or worse unmentionable themes).  No inner child, just horror.

Is that horror, me? Am I a freak with some kind of inner dead fish or inner monster, instead of a “normal inner child”? The whole time, I can find no mention in my notes of the word “trauma.”  But what, I ask you, was all of this, if not trauma?

The only thing I could do, once in this  down-spiral result of the isolation, was to sit in my room hugging a pillow, and repeat to myself how badly I wanted to be held by someone, anyone — anyone at all.  Then I’d think of how Dan the rebound guy held and caressed me head to toe for hours and days on end, for the first time ever in my life.  (For some reason my ex preferred tennis rackets, and my parents were too busy.)

In particular, I would recall the overwhelming sense of relaxation I experienced with Dan, in a way that bowled me over.  Granted, a funny way to talk about relaxation.  But it was that big a contrast to my “normal” of the time, which after all was a very high- performance, finish-off-the project and bring home the bacon “normal” more suitable to someone as relaxed as, say, Donald Trump (possibly the least relaxed being on Earth.)  “You just take all the tension out of my body” I used to tell Dan.

It got to where I’d walk into his room after work, take off my watch and literally throw it against the far wall – hard, because it was a really big room – at which point we would both dissolve into gales of laughter.  Temporarily.

Romance vs Therapy?

But now all that was gone, and I was the living opposite of relaxed.  Now the original Dan emotional pain which drowned out my Dad’s funeral, blew out my transcontinental air budget, hijacked my world and sent me running into therapy would start all over again, in an endless loop of grief.

True ManhoodCertainly my thinking brain was growing dimly aware that for all his tractor-drivin’, gun-slingin’ he-man manners, Dan was not much of a real man when it came to women.  Somewhere in the same 2008 notes I also wrote quite reasonably that his no- attachment credo couldn’t be right because “if all men treated women that way there would be no one to care for the children and no more human race.”   Wouldn’t a real man stand up to protect a woman (from guys like him) ?

Yet go tell that to my emotional limbic brain while it was locked up alone.  Ha.

How was I to stay away from men, when romance was the only thing left on the planet which appeared to offer some semblance of holding?  I felt sure this kind of holding must be “bonding” (aka attachment). [FN2]   I had been totally unaware of the existence of this wonderful thing until the “Inner Child Workbook” revealed it to me, and also revealed that I lacked it so utterly.  Now, all I could think of was:  couldn’t I please get some bonding before I die?

Around this time without even thinking I wrote something in a notebook, then blanked out on it completely and put it away.  A few months  later going over my notes, I noticed it with a shock and here is what I wrote:  “Dan loved me more than anyone in my entire life has ever loved me.”

Huh? An astonishing thing to say, given Dan’s predatory behavior and utter lack of regard in throwing me out of his farm house days after my dad’s death.

Still, I stared at that sentence for a long time: “Dan loved me more than anyone in my entire life has ever loved me.”  And then I had to admit to myself despite all reason, that it was true — not that I’d dare tell another soul, least of all my, er, therapist.

I just flat out did not feel as though I had gotten anything near the kind of love that Dan had given me, however meager, in the almost two years we were together, from my mom, dad, ex, or anyone in my life before.

A sad statement on the state of my soul but still the truth is the truth.

And hey, compared to both my therapists, Dan did love me a heck of a lot more. What after all, did they give me? No wonder I kept trying to crawl back into Dan’s arms in subsequent romances – at least from Dan I got something!

Where were the diagnostic tools – or any diagnostic method? Where was the Adult Attachment Interview, I ask again? Hadn’t Dr. Rita read any Adult Attachment Disorder books or anything on adult Attachment Theory or adult Attachment Disorder?

Once again I thought, Fall, 2008 surely was the end of my world.  Surely it could get no worse than this.

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This is from Kathy’s forthcoming book DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder—How I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.  Watch for the continuing series of excerpts from the rest of her book each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about adult attachment theory, attachment disorder in adults, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  Mel Brooks, “History of the World Part I” (film), 1981; Brooks plays Grand Inquisitor Tomas Torquemada (among others).

FN2  Technically there is a fine distinction between”bonding” and “attachment” in recent psychiatric literature, but for years therapists used the terms interchangeably.

Tagged With: Adult Attachment Disorder, Adult Attachment Disorder Books, Adult Attachment Theory, Attachment Disorder in Adults, Adult Attachment Interview, Divorce, Rebound, Emotional pain, Grief, Inner Child, Therapy, Trauma, Limbic Brain

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Down the Rabbit Hole

#13 in my ongoing book blogs from “Don’t Try This at Home”

When Dr. Rita heard about my exploits last week with “The Inner Child Workbook” and the applesauce caper, she said, “Well, I thought you could do some reading, but we don’t recommend doing those exercises unsupervised.” Now you tell me; the damage was done. [FN1]

I was terrified by my lack of bonding (attachment) which the Workbook had revealed.  But from my notes, I was too terrified to realize that I should try to describe it to Dr. Rita.  Anyway, she had her own agenda, which caused more damage.

Inner Child Garden w. fairyIn guided imagery, a professional creates a script for a sort of dream sequence and has the patient imagine it, to uncover feelings locked in the subconscious.  It’s a fine tool in the right situation, but this weren’t it.

“Close your eyes,” she said, “and imagine you’re going down, down, down below the ground. You emerge onto a path to a secret garden. You see a little girl about 5 coming toward you. Imagine you take the child’s hand; notice how tiny it is.”  She had me sit with the girl by a stream awhile “to get used to each other,” then lean against a tree to “see whether she’d sit on my lap.”  But I still could find no child inside me; trying just created more anxiety.

Next Dr. Rita said “Let’s ask the child some questions. Respond without thinking, from the gut. What’s your first memory of Father?”  “A pair of slacks going behind a closed door,” I mumbled.  Spontaneous, yes, and I’d never said that before, but that was me talking.  No child involved.

“What’s your first memory of Mother?”  “I got a B in kindergarten and I was afraid to go home.  So I hid in the class bathroom trying to erase it.  I wrote an A over it, but I got caught and it was really awful.” Again it came spontaneously, but this was me talking, and it was an incident I’d remembered all my life.  I can still see the inside of the class bathroom door and feel the fear.  But I’d just tried to forget it since Mom was a fact of life, like the weather.

“You had to put on a front because they didn’t accept the real you,” Dr. Rita announced.  Me, I never would have thought of any of this.  She, however, had a whole analysis: “Both your father and mother abandoned and rejected you.” Gosh I never would have thought of that, that sounds really embarrassing!

“You have ‘repetition compulsion’- you’re compelled to find men who abandon, so you can recreate the problem ‘on stage.’  So you can go back and fix it,” Rita went on. “But you didn’t break it – you don’t have to fix it.” I wrote that motto on a large 5 x7 file card and it’s still on my desk today.  It sure sounded like plausible and useful data.

But where was the Adult Attachment Interview, needed to diagnose anyone starting therapy?  It’s been around since 1996. Why didn’t she tell me about Attachment Disorder in adults like me, as well as in children? That might have given words to my terror at my lack of bonding. [FN2]

Instead it was all head talk, and the solution was even more head talk.  Dr. Rita, my second therapist, concluded with the same advice verbatim that my first therapist gave at the end of my Oct. 11 blog: “Just let it go,” she said.

“Just stop trying to fix it with men, and let the past go. It’s an act of will.” Just think your way out of it.  But “trying to fix the heart using the head, is like trying to paint with a hammer—it only makes a mess,” as I later learned – much later. [FN3]

Isolation Again

Then Rita lowered the isolation boom—again. “You are the one who has to do it,” she intoned. “You have to feel the little girl in your heart and comfort her, love her, and heal her.  She wants you to be the one to make her feel safe and be the Mom she never had.

“You have to do it alone, that’s the whole point. If you go to other people, she’ll be frightened, because she’ll think you don’t love her, if you’re running to others. You’ll scare the little girl away if you go to anyone else. A child will always run from anyone other than Mom.  Especially from men.  If you go to men she’ll be terrified.”

Forza-zinka-milanovStill, there was absolutely nothing that felt like a child inside me.  I tried and tried; I was paying good money for all this! I listened to Rita’s “Garden Path” imagery over and over on a tape I’d made of her, and did all the exercises; no result but despair.  It was more like “down the Rabbit Hole.”

I got out Verdi’s epic “La Forza del Destino” in which Leonora is consigned to live alone in a monastery cave unto death, to repent of her ill-fated love affair. I sang her farewell aria until I sobbed. I took it all very seriously, and Zinka Milanov (right) rocks as Leonora. But I felt worse and worse.

“I can’t do any of this if I can’t find a child!  Is there any way to put a structure on this process?!” I actually said the following week.

What I meant was “Have you no methodology?  I’m drowning over here!” The more I look at my notes, the less I can understand why no one could understand my protest.  It was a really loud call for help.

My emotions may have been shot, but my thinking brain could still perform.  My notebooks show it all.  I had just worked 30 years to restructure the global monetary system, build rail and water infrastructure projects, and launch billion dollar satellite systems.  So if Rita’s RX made sense, I could get it.  If I could find an inner child, I would. My predicament was bizarre, but no one listened.

Where were the diagnostic tools – or any diagnostic method? Where was the Adult Attachment Interview, I ask again? Hadn’t she read any adult attachment disorder books or anything on adult attachment theory or adult attachment disorder?  But no.

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This is from Chapter 2 of Kathy’s forthcoming book DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder—How I accidentally regressed myself back to infancy and healed it all.  Watch for the continuing series of excerpts from the rest of her book each Friday, as she explores her journey of recovery by learning the hard way about adult attachment theory, attachment disorder in adults, and the Adult Attachment Interview.

Footnotes

FN1  Taylor, Cathryn L. MFCC, “The Inner Child Workbook,” Penguin Putnam, New York, 1991

FN2  Main, Mary,  “The Adult Attachment Interview: Fear, attention, safety and discourse processes;” also titled “The Organized Categories of Infant, Child, and Adult Attachment: Flexible vs. Inflexible Attention Under Attachment-Related Stress,” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2000, 48:1055-1095. At: http://70-40-200-36.bluehost.com/documents/Main.pdf
–This is a very difficult topic to research, so I did it for you; check my blog on it, with more footnotes at the end: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/adult-attachment-interview-aai-mary-main/

FN3  James, John W., Friedman, Russell, “The Grief Recovery Handbook,” Harper Collins, New York, 2009 (original 1998)

Tagged With: Adult Attachment Disorder, Adult Attachment Disorder Books, Adult Attachment Theory, Attachment Disorder in Adults, Adult Attachment Interview, Divorce, Rebound, Emotional pain, Grief, Inner Child, Therapy, Trauma, Limbic Brain

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Comments are encouraged with the usual exceptions; rants, political speeches, off-color language, etc. are unlikely to post.  Starting 8-22-16, software will limit comments to 1030 characters (2 long paragraphs) a while, until we get new software to take longer comments again.

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