When Culture Reinforces Attachment Injuries

10. July 2016 Uncategorized 18
When Culture Reinforces Attachment Injuries

I’ve been noticing something lately about American culture. America has come a long way in a hundred years, in a lot of ways. Some good, some awful. But one thing that’s really glaringly obvious even in the last ten or twenty is how increasingly disconnected we are from each other. With the rise of social media and the accessibility of smartphones, there are very few times we couldn’t reach out, and very few people we couldn’t reach out to, with the push of a button. We’ve all heard the commentators’  laments about how even though we have all the technology to be the most connected generations that ever lived, we are exactly the opposite. We are the most disconnected. Certainly this isn’t news.

I’ve had a hard time lately with some re-surfacing of attachment injuries, mostly because I’m in what I believe to be one of the very last phases of deep healing for my system. No one is ever truly “done” healing in this lifetime; there are always new things to learn and more ways to grow and mature. But as far as resolving the deep and hideous traumas, I believe I’m in one of the last stages. But like all stages, it comes with its own demons. Some of my deepest and darkest dungeons have not been found in the abuse itself, but in the attachment wounds inflicted by bad – or absent – parenting. Whether the attachment wounds made the trauma worse, or the trauma made the attachment injuries more powerful is impossible to say (and a moot point, at any rate).

What attachment injuries tend to look and feel like for me is the constant never-ending ache of loneliness, the craving of the presence of an attachment figure, the lack of inner insecurity that tells me “You’re okay in and of yourself,” the compulsion to reach out – and reach out – and reach out – and reach out. But even if someone answers, the comfort only lasts for a little while.

My problem is, 80% of the time, there is no answer.

And attachment injuries are often built on a repeating pattern; namely, a baby crying out and either receiving pain for reaching out, or receiving nothing at all…silence. Neglect. Abandonment. Being ignored.

I have experienced both of those things, but I am either healed enough (by the presence of a few good people) of the fear of being smacked for crying out, or I am hurting enough when I do reach out, to take the risk. I think, honestly, I prefer being smacked to just being flat-out ignored.

Enter American culture, 2016. Everyone is busy, busy, busy. I’m really not sure what it is that we all do all day, every day, but I know that we do it with a vengeance. Nobody has time for anything. Nobody shows up for each other anymore. Nobody seems to notice this, except me. I guess I’m the only one who’s still dumb enough to feel like I need people in my life, and I don’t mean just for convenience.

One of my friends observed that she feels like it’s the competent people that are seen as self-contained; when you’re a get-er-done kind of person others may fail to realize that you actually do get weak and scared and tired sometimes. They may see you as emotionally self-sufficient, with no need of other people…or maybe just with no needs, period. Or maybe they think that the competent people, those who are commonly admired by others, already have so many friends around them that surely they never lack choices of who to hang with and when. Maybe I’m in that weird category where nobody wants to hang with me because everybody thinks that somebody already is. All. The. Time. But it just isn’t true. Sometimes I envy the people who are still seen as ill or struggling in some way, because it seems like they have more people who are more willing to tend to them because they have a measurable way of expressing their need of tending. But I’m not ill. And I don’t want people responding to me because they see me as ill and in need of care; I want them to respond to me because they like me and want me around. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t initiate contact with people, how long we would go without communicating.

I had a similar problem in high school, but in a slightly different way. I had trouble finding a date to anything (e.g. prom, homecoming, whatever) – on the rare occasion that I actually wanted to go to something to begin with – and it baffled me. Not because I’m so conceited that I assume everyone would be interested, but because I had sought out honest feedback and people agreed that I was both attractive and pleasant to be with, and we had confirmed that there were single guys available. I finally managed to find out from a girl in my homeroom that nobody ever asked me out because they assumed, based on what little they knew and saw of me, that I surely must already have a boyfriend. Maybe the same thing is happening now. I don’t really know.

I’m not sure if I’m making as much sense writing as it made in my head, but the culture is moving away from connectedness and it worries me. I don’t have a solution for it. I know that when I reach out to people and they don’t answer, it drives the attachment injuries in even deeper. I don’t mean that I take it personally; I get it. People are “busy,” and that’s just how it is. I also get that I actually know plenty of people who don’t eat, sleep, and breathe with their phone attached to their hand, and that’s probably a good thing. I don’t (usually) take the lack of answer as a personal thing toward me. But it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still hurt and cause a reaction in me that it might not cause in a securely attached person. I have wrestled with the concept. I can’t and don’t put an expectation on people to answer me every time; neither immediately or even at all. But at the same time, I don’t know how to stop myself from hurting if they don’t. It’s a conundrum.

Anyway… Just as a FYI for everyone who is still reading, I’ve been in a transition period where I started a new job recently and am moving to a new apartment in one week. So I haven’t been able to be online regularly (not even in the DI on Facebook), but that should settle down in a few weeks. When I move, I will finally – for the first time in about 2 years – have wifi at my home! Hooray!!! So then I’ll be able to get back to writing more regularly (even though it will have to be after work) and checking up on the Facebook group. Hang in there with me.

Also: nothing is set in stone yet, but I’m preparing a proposal to be one of the presenters at the Healing Together 2017 conference hosted by An Infinite Mind in Orland, FL in February 2017. If chosen, I hope to see you there!! If anyone else knows of conferences coming up related to trauma, dissociation, ritual abuse, or etc that’s not too soon to inquire about being a speaker, please let me know. And check out my new page if you haven’t already. 🙂

Jade Miller Media

Cheers. ~J8

18 thoughts on “When Culture Reinforces Attachment Injuries”

  • 1
    Loren on July 10, 2016 Reply

    I so relate. It’s incredibly painful to get desperate enough for human interaction — for a mutual friendship — that I reach out, only to get either, a) slapped down; or, b) ignored. And it happens ALL. THE. TIME. Obviously, I’m doing “it” wrong. But I don’t know what to do differently. Everything I try ends up with the same result. Maybe it’s the friends I’m trying to make. Maybe I ought to stop trying. It’s better than hurting all the time. I think after 40 years, I’ve finally learned. Better late than never.

    • 2
      Jade on July 10, 2016 Reply

      Hey Loren. I don’t think you’re doing “it” wrong, although I have often wondered the same thing about myself. Sometimes I wonder if my expectations are skewed. Or at the very least, my filters. We tend to notice what we already believe, I do know that. So I wonder if this is my perception based on the already established belief that people won’t be there for me. I’m so circumspective it can work against me sometimes. It’s hard for me to even voice hurt about something because I am honestly not intending to blame anyone. I can understand all sorts of reasons they might not be able or available and none of them mean anything bad about them OR me. I think I just long for a like-minded “tribe” that is intentionally committed to quality time on the regular. I think we are a dying breed, honestly. Or maybe the culture is rendering it impossible to be or do that anymore. I’m not sure. I just know it hurts and it’s hard. And I don’t know what to do.

      • 3
        Loren on July 12, 2016 Reply

        I understand all that. Speaking for myself, I know that *my* perceptions and expectations regarding relationships with other people are skewed. But there’s a good reason for that. It’s history that keeps repeating itself. I don’t usually reach out to anyone, because past experience has taught me that no one really cares. It’s not necessarily that they don’t WANT to care, but when all layers of pretense and social niceties are out of the way, that’s what it boils down to. No one that I have come across seems willing or able to have a meaningful relationship. It seems everyone wants Facebook friendships nowadays. People are busy and people are innately selfish, and conversation that can’t be fit into a FB message or a text is never spoken. And no, I don’t expect people to bare their soul every single day to me, neither do I want to bare my soul to any one all the time. I’m not asking for a four hour weekly conversation. I don’t want a therapist and I don’t want to be anyone else’s therapist. I just want a friend! To make a true connection! I think, however, part of the problem is that I give out a vibe that says, “Be who you are, I have no expectations concerning you, and you are free to give me as much or as little as you are willing.” Which doesn’t sound bad, I don’t suppose, at least not to me. But the truth is, I *do* have expectations. I expect a *mutual* friendship. I expect that when someone reaches out to me, that I take the time to listen to them, and I expect them to do the same for me, within reason, of course. With respectful boundaries. My husband says that I’m actually “normal,” (relatively speaking, I’m sure… lol) and it’s the kind of people I am trying to have relationships with that is the problem. IDK… it’s weird. In the past, I haven’t been able to relate to “normal” people, but I can’t maintain a relationship with people who I *can* relate to, because there’s too much “crazy” between the two of us, I guess. Maybe now, though, that I’m more self-aware (as in, I realize now about my dissociation and I can look back on my life and at least remember SOME of it), I can be more honest and open with people in my everyday life, and friendships will naturally blossom. If I ever decide to get out of my house and start being around people again, that is. lol

        • 4
          Jade on July 19, 2016

          Yeah. I understand all that. I think the most freeing way to “do” relationships – though it’s the hardest way – is to have as little expectations as possible. Not in the hopeless way, thinking that all people suck (which I’ve been there too haha) but in the “I want you to be free” way. It’s tricky though because I’ve often been unaware of even having expectations, until they are disappointed. Only then did I realize I had an agenda. Self-awareness is a bitch sometimes. :-/

    • 5
      Ana on August 16, 2016 Reply

      I hope I’m writing in the right place! (First time doing anything like this.)

      Jade, you made total sense in your writing. I identified with everything you said. I’m right there with you!

      Loren, I doubt you’re doing “it” wrong. Sounds like maybe your hubby and your intuition is correct; “Maybe its the friends I’m trying to make.” For me, it took forever to figure out I was repeating core mother-daughter relationship dynamics in my friendships. So many friends like my mother! Ugh. Superficial. Not in touch with their feelings. Not wanting to know me better or share more intimate details about themselves. Narcissistic. Fearful. Etc.

      Friends, lack thereof, is so now in my life. In the last year, with so much growth and awareness taking place (coming to terms with my DID), I’ve naturally repelled friendships that no longer fit, and have ended relationships that were more hurtful than fulfilling. Hurtful right now means inadequate reciprocity, one-sided contact, saying they’ll get to me ASAP but taking 2 weeks, not being honest, not expressing true feelings–holding back, not being able or willing to talk openly about feelings.

      It seems to me, most people have not taken the time to know themselves deeply. IMHO, most everyone is running from their inner truths which they do not wish to see. (Therefore “BUSY!”) If they cannot be there for themselves, they surely cannot be there for me.

      I’ve decided to be alone until I can attract more conscious, present, nonjudgemental and compassionate friends who want deep, meaningful, loving relationships. Parts worry. My adult and/or higher self knows the Universe abhors a vacuum and it’s just a matter of time before I find new friends I’ve always longed for.

      • 6
        Jade on August 22, 2016 Reply

        Hi Ana! I’m so glad you commented. I think you said it so well when you said most people are running from their inner truths. YES. I can totally relate to everything you said. A couple months ago I decided to stop being the initiator 24/7 in my friendships, just to see what would happen. Guess what? I didn’t see or hear from them in 2 months. And these were people I would consider fairly good friends. I just got to the point where, emotionally, I couldn’t be the driving force anymore. It’s so weird how we attract certain “types” to ourselves. For years I was drawn to mother figures, but the mother figures I was attracted to were all by and large emotionally unavailable, busy, empty-promises-making kind of women. I wonder what it means when you stop drawing anyone to you. That seems to be where I am now. And even though loneliness can be extremely painful, I don’t really care at the moment. When I’m the initiator 90% of the time, that means I’m assuming all the risk. And that’s not fair. So I guess now I’m just waiting to see what happens. I’m tired of trying so hard. At this point I’m working on my relationship with myself. Great convo, ladies.

        • 7
          Ana on August 26, 2016

          When we’re not attracting anyone new, I believe we are in “the no longer but the not yet” (from a Jana Stanfield song) and, subconsciously, creating an atmosphere for spending time with ourselves. To be present for ourselves and with ourselves takes time, space and courage. Most avoid it like the plague. Someone once said it is man’s greatest problem–not being able to be alone, still and quiet.

          I’ve made it a priority to go within, to get quiet, and to go back to therapy. It’s paying off. I am lonely in a way I’ve seemingly never been before. (I always had a furry-child in the past, too, and pets offer more Presence and unconditional love than most people, IMHO.) But, paradoxically, I am also more content and comfortable in my aloneness than ever before.

          Jade, I, too, have stopped being the initiator. Relationships have stopped. It’s okay. Well, it’s hard at first, dealing with the realization that I’m not important enough to anyone that they would pick up the phone, or email on Facebook (I quit posting several months ago), or come knocking on my door.

          At the same time, I can drop all judgement. I realize all the people in my life up to now, were chosen/attracted, before, when I was not as aware as I am now. I have changed quite a bit. There is no longer a proper match and/or fit. Nobody seems to be working as hard as I am (or at all) on consciousness. Of course, I also have a unique path with having DID, and I am just beginning to learn about my parts. (I can use more support in this area, if anyone has any suggestions.)

          As far as emotionally unavailable, I am surrounded by emotionally unavailable people, everywhere! I do believe society is emotion-phobic (think Karla McLaren said this). I look forward to attracting emotionally healthier people.

  • 8
    Jean on July 10, 2016 Reply

    Yeah, I relate, too. I once asked why I never got a response when I wrote, even when I wrote asking for help. I was told, “You write too well.” Huh?

    I always had trouble with boys — I think I emanated stay-away-vibes – except for a couple of years when they were swarming around me like flies. I could not see that I did anything differently.

    So the few friends I have, the few people I can count on most of the time, are very very precious to me.

    • 9
      Jade on July 10, 2016 Reply

      Hi Jean…I think that person’s response was dumb, to be honest. No offense if it came from someone you value. “You write too well” ?? WTF? To me that doesn’t even compute. Especially when you are writing “well” to ask for help. I have lived in my location for over 2 years now, and I have…**maybe**… 2 friends that I would actually attempt to call if I were in trouble and/or needed something. And even with those 2, it just depends on the day. Some of that is because circumstantially I just don’t have a lot of chances to socialize and meet friends, but some of it is also because the groups I’ve tried to spend time with feel like closed circles. No one regards me as someone to let “in” on the inside. They see me as an eternal visitor/outsider. I don’t know the magic things to do or say to get them to let me in. And I hope that everyone is hearing me on this post; I’m NOT saying I expect others to always be willing to just drop everything they’re doing whenever I need something. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just saying it’s uber hard to build a squad when you have no family, because of the fact that 1) most others don’t even have a grid for understanding what it’s like to be so totally alone (with no family and literally no one to call if you were gravely sick or hurt or needed help) so it’s not that they lack compassion, they just lack any concept of the need for compassion; and 2) people don’t realize that to the family-less, their responses are magnified in their impact on the person asking, because of the lack of any other conceivable support. Being turned down by friends makes a much bigger impact if they’re all you have.

      Then I wonder if it’s just too much pressure for them and it’s my fault for seeking something from them that they can’t – or shouldn’t – give. Shrug.

      • 10
        Jean on July 30, 2016 Reply

        sorry it took so long to get back to you. I’ve had more luck with making friends with individuals than groups. Fewer people to alienate! But they are closer to acquaintances, not people really close to my heart. They are still very welcome.

        Perhaps it is because as children we had only ourselves to rely on and we had no model for making friends.I was a very aloof child because I was watching pple and trying to figure out the rules of the game of life. I can see myself slipping into aloof mode, but I don’t think it is a large percentage of the time.

        In any event, I feel really bad for you having to do everything yourself, sick or well, together and competent, or a shattered mess as another level of the abuse surfaces and demands to be dealt with.

        • 11
          Jade on August 3, 2016

          I can totally relate…I was definitely aloof as a child/teen – and when you commented that it brought up a long-buried fact that that word (aloof) was used to describe me quite often. Often enough to stick with me. LOL. And at the time I was completely confused as to why people would describe me that way. In my head, I wanted to connect so badly. But my behavior did not align with that desire.

        • 12
          Jean on August 3, 2016

          Yes! And we couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong, let alone figure out how to change it. And nobody taught us, gave us hints. Some nights I put myself to sleep by imagining an adult teaching us, bit by bit, how to change my behavior.

  • 13
    compassion4 on July 12, 2016 Reply

    I was just wondering today if many people feel lonely like I do, and if people I know realize how lonely I am. It has been this way for almost my whole life.

    I know this is why it is so important to work on that “God Attachment” to help fill that whole, but in addition, community is a must–and has been quite elusive to me.

    As I read your words I thought, “yeah, I think a lot of us feel that way.”

    • 14
      Jade on July 20, 2016 Reply

      Very true. Community is elusive for many, many trauma survivors…probably most. 🙁 Thanks for reading & commenting.

    • 15
      Ana on August 26, 2016 Reply

      I think loneliness is rampant. “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Henry David Thoreau. I am sorry for your loneliness. I get lonely, too. Moreso, as I yearn for deeper and more intimate conversations. Community is elusive to me, also. I used to get some connection time at our church/spiritual center but haven’t gone much lately. That’s a story for another time.

      I work on my relationship to myself, my higherSelf/God/Soul/Spirit/Universal Intelligence everday…with All That Is…trees, flowers, nature…breath, body…

      One of the best things I learned that I’d like to share was that when I am feeling lonely, an inner child/part is feeling lonely for love and nurturing from ME. I’m still learning how to be the mom I never had.

      I think you are brave to share what you did. And I love your name! I am working on learning to have more compassion for myself everyday. Check out Compassion.org if you haven’t already. My therapist recommended it to me. There are 4 free meditations that you can download. I listen to at least one per day.

      Connecting, through writing like this, reduces loneliness, too. Thank you.

      • 16
        Jade on September 3, 2016 Reply

        Ana, do you mean practical suggestions for getting to know your inside people? I guess I have never had the problem of not being able to do that. Mine always seemed to be so desperate to be known – once we worked past the trust issues – that it wasn’t challenging. Although I do have some insiders who are more reserved than others. I have a few that will talk my ear off and literally say everything they think, all the time. I never wonder how they’re doing or what they think because I couldn’t avoid knowing if I tried. I have a few others who are much more reserved and I have to work harder to get feedback from them. One of them who I was very close to (she merged), I actually had to take in a separate room if I wanted her opinion on anything because she didn’t want to speak her opinion in a big group of others, even if they were all inside. So I guess it takes making yourself available, and either listening (if you have some talkers), or asking questions (if you have some quiet ones).

  • 17
    Richard Craig on September 11, 2016 Reply

    I have a friend who looks more poised and confident when she feels the most uncertain and insecure. Some kind of alchemy is happening with her that we don’t understand. Maybe you have the same alchemy working.

    Similarly, even when your written words are painful and deeply disturbing, they retain a steady, drawing power. Just as a poultice draws out inflammation and infection your words draw out memories. This is one of your giftings. Thank you for sharing it.

    • 18
      Jade on September 12, 2016 Reply

      Thank you Richard. That really encourages me. I tend to feel like the words in the blog posts are mostly rambling and perhaps too long and scattered. I am glad they help others. Maybe it’s just something I was born for, so exactly how I put it out there doesn’t matter as much. I’m not sure. I can relate to that alchemy you mentioned even though I don’t seem to consciously know much about it.

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