Disorganized Attachment

Attachment theory proposes that the quality of the relationship between a child and their primary caregiver sets the foundation for the individual’s future social and emotional development. A secure attachment style, characterized by a sense of safety, trust, and confidence in relationships, is linked to positive outcomes, such as higher levels of self-esteem, better coping skills, and healthier relationships.

However, when caregivers are inconsistent, unpredictable, or emotionally unavailable, a child may develop an insecure attachment style, leading to difficulties in adulthood. One of the most difficult of these insecure attachment styles is the disorganized attachment style, which can have severe consequences for adult behavior in relationships.

Disorganized attachment develops when a child experiences both the desire for closeness and the fear of the caregiver simultaneously. In other words, the caregiver becomes a source of both comfort and fear, leading to confusion and disorientation in the child. The child may express this conflict by displaying contradictory behaviors, such as seeking proximity to the caregiver while at the same time avoiding or pushing them away. Disorganized attachment arises from trauma, neglect, or abuse, and is often associated with the parent’s own unresolved emotional issues or trauma.

In adulthood, disorganized attachment may manifest in various ways that can negatively affect the quality of intimate relationships. Adults with disorganized attachment may have difficulty regulating their emotions, leading to impulsive behavior, poor impulse control, and mood swings. They may also struggle to communicate their emotions and needs effectively, leading to misunderstandings and conflict in their relationships. Moreover, people with a disorganized attachment style may have a negative view of themselves and struggle with low self-esteem, leading to feelings of insecurity and fear of rejection in relationships.

People with disorganized attachment may also struggle with intimacy and trust. They may have a hard time forming close relationships and may be suspicious or fearful of others’ motives. They may also struggle with vulnerability, as they may associate it with danger or rejection. This can lead to avoidance of intimacy or engaging in self-sabotaging behaviors that push away potential partners.

In addition, disorganized attachment is associated with a higher risk of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These mental health issues can further interfere with the individual’s ability to form and maintain healthy relationships. Moreover, people with disorganized attachment may have a higher risk of substance abuse, eating disorders, and other addictive behaviors as a way to cope with their emotional distress.

This Train is Leaving the Station

Journal Date: May 5, 2020

I woke up early this morning to take my little puppy Beso outside before the sun rose.

Coming back inside, I gave him a snack and lay down to rest more on the living room couch while he played with his toys.

Soon, I found myself in the middle of a terrible dream.

In this dream, I was being rejected, shamed and abandoned by everyone in my life. I felt wildly out of control, unable to control my body or my reactions to anything around me. I was sure that I had been drugged, I had a vague memory of taking a pill I had been offered earlier in the dream by my mother.

I tried to tell the others in my dream it wasn’t my fault, I couldn’t control my self, it was this drug I had taken that was making me act intoxicated, that the way they saw me wasn’t reflective of who I really was, but no one believed me, and left me alone with my shame anyway.

Soon I came to realize I was on a train, which continually traveled between two stations, an old station and a more modern one in a new town. Sometimes I would get off the train and explore the land surrounding each station, but inevitably I would find myself back on the train as it continued its ceaseless journey from one point to the other.

On one trip back to the old town station, I saw a hospital emergency room. I wanted to rush off the train and see if they could give me a drug test or something to prove the cause of my condition. But I could never stay off the train long enough, I always came back sooner than I would have wished to commence a new cycle of pain and confusion.

Once back on the train, I re-experienced each abandonment anew. Most times, it was one of my parents which were leaving me after delivering their cold, unequivocal judgements on how I was not worth the trouble to be around. But there were times when even my puppy Beso was taken away from me. It may not seem like much, but each time it happened, I felt my heart implode like a massive black hole in my chest, and I heard myself scream out loud.

This lasted until I was woken up on the couch by my mom. “Are you okay?” she asked. She had heard me scream again and again in my sleep, and was afraid something was wrong.

I finally got up and she brought me water and some aspirin to help with the headache I had woken up with.

“Look at Beso,” she said, pointing to my dog laying under the couch beneath me. “Even though you were making so much noise he never left you. He’s so loyal.”

I avoided thinking about the dream until later in the afternoon. I had fallen asleep again for a nap, and on waking up, the meaning of the earlier dream came to me all at once.

The drug I had been given was my trauma, my childhood experience and conditioning which told me I was and would never be good enough.

Being high (or in this case, low) on this drug had me acting in ways I felt I couldn’t control. I was reactive, reckless, hurting myself and others, watching this bitter pill create the wreckage of my life I knew, feared, and experienced over and over again.

There was still that part of me that wanted to get off at the old train station, to go back further into my past, to find some authority that would look at me and give me a diagnosis that would shift the blame onto anything outside of me. I wanted someone to say to me, “It’s the drugs talking. It’s this tough pill of trauma you’ve been hooked on for so long. We understand it’s not your fault.”

But no doctor could ever give me that script. Even if they did, few would believe me and even less would care.

I could feel all of the shame and fear and sense of “stuckness” rising up within me as I reflected on the dream and what it could mean for me.

Then I remembered, the train always kept moving. The train was always taking me forward, trying to open its doors for me onto new frontiers, but I had such a hard time feeling ready to make roots in this foreign territory, I was obsessed with proving something about who I was and who should be held responsible for all the consequences that came of that that I found myself again and again on that same train “home”.

Now I could see that when those doors opened again, I needed to plant my flag in that new space and declare the future my true home.

The past is a desolate place, a withered landscape, a war-torn country I could never trust as my own. In some ways I think that maybe I never had a home, I felt as if I’d been born at sea, a small ship at sail in dangerous waters. 

I know I can’t go back to where I was, but now I’m prepared to get off this train and build my own home, create my own safe harbor from a pattern I am putting together as I go along. I’m ready to go home, to the future, and leave that train of sadness behind for good.

Eternal Return

Journal Date: November 27, 2020

I’m reading Lesson 2 of the “Tarot Interpretation” series, which discusses Keys 2, 9 and 16 that I have just been studying.

In this lesson, reincarnation and our ability to remember our past lives through the use of the subconscious and transliminal states of consciousness is also discussed.

This adds relevance and weight to what I had already been considering about past lives, and how they have created my current experience of reality.

I’ve been wondering:

What if my mom and dad didn’t make me who I am today?

What if instead, in some sense, I caused them?

What if it were true that I chose them, as the perfect people to be my parents?

What if my past thoughts and desires cast my parents in their roles, who then cast me into mine?

It seems hard to imagine.

I mean, why would I ever have willingly chosen this, right?

But my visions of my past life (especially when combined with what I know of my natal chart) make me more inclined to think that this is the case.


“The eternal hourglass of existence is turned upside down again and again, and you with it, speck of dust!”

Friedrich Nietzsche

So let me just imagine that for a moment…

In my past lives, I suffered greatly from other people’s perceptions of and reactions to me.

I’m told I was punished severely for crimes I never committed.

According to Angelic, and from what I saw on my own, I was trapped in this underground dungeon, held in chains in the dark beneath earth, accused and attacked, humiliated and blamed, tortured and mutilated in the most violent ways.

Here, I was forced to pay not for what I had done, but for how I had been seen.

And maybe it was then that I first betrayed myself, and left my soul behind.

In the face of so much pain, maybe the truth no longer mattered to me so much.

It seems possible that, in terror and desperation, I gave in, and accepted their words as truth. 

Maybe I started to believe that I did deserve all that I suffered. 

That it was my fault. 

That it must be true, that if I had not been so selfish, stubborn and wrong, I never would have ended up there.

Maybe there, beneath the earth, banished from the world, I had started to wish that I had never dared to be me, that I had just hidden myself away, and never been so foolish or proud to attract attention to myself at all.

Maybe I’d wished to go back, to have done things differently, to have promised myself if I had the chance to do it all over I would have hid, I would have been more modest, I wouldn’t ever have provoked anyone to hurt me.

And when the grace of death finally touched me in that hell, maybe all of these fears and traumas and regrets carried on with me into the next life.

This one.


“What has been will be again,

what has been done will be done again;

there is nothing new under the sun.”

–Ecclesiastes 1:9

Maybe this created exactly the upbringing my soul wanted. It desperately wanted to feel safe. And it thought the best way to do that was to stay as small as possible.

Never let anyone see my goodness. Never allow myself to be “too much.”

Hiding.

Living in fear.

Living to please and pacify all others, lest I be captured again, lest I once again bring about my demise due to what was called the sin of my vanity.


Well, it didn’t exactly work.

I wouldn’t really call what happened to me “keeping me safe,” anyway.

But either way, I see what may have been the intention, and I see the results.

I tried my best to beat myself down first. To keep myself humble and small before others, so no one would have any reason to believe I thought myself superior, “too good” or better than anyone.

But the problem was, I could never be small enough.

I could never hide myself so well that no one ever took offense.

In betraying myself, I just recreated the same pattern of betrayal from others.


Maybe this is the lesson I need to learn instead:

You can’t ever control other people, no matter what you do.

You can try all day to please, but some people will find only bad in all of the good you have to offer.

Sometimes, people are committed to their perceptions in such a way that you are almost irrelevant.

Your attempts to prove your “goodness” may only drive some to even further hatred or revenge.

Maybe I need to stop trying to convince people who refuse to be convinced.

Stop making other people’s perceptions the priority.

Maybe I need to let go of my fear and my desire to manage others.

This would probably do more to cause change for me than anything else.


Sign of necessity!
Supreme star of being! —
That no desire attains,
That no No desecrates,
Eternal Yes of being,
Eternally I am your Yes:
For I love you, O eternity!”

–Friedrich Nietzsche

Healing Injured Instinct

“Trauma is about thwarted instincts. Instincts, by definition, are always in the present. When we allow them their rightful domain, we surrender to the ‘eternal now.’ With the full presence of mind and body, we can gain access to the source of our own energy and enthusiasm.

“As we resolve our traumas, we discover missing parts of our beings, those that make us feel whole and complete. Our instincts house the simple but vital knowledge that ‘I am I’ and ‘I am here.’ Without this sense of belonging in the world, we are lost, disconnected from life. If we learn how to surrender to our inborn knowledge, it can lead us on a healing journey that will bring us face to face with our natural spirituality, our God-given connection to life.” —Peter Levine

I feel that this is starting to happen for me.

In some ways, I’m starting to feel more alive than I have in many years. More myself, more centered and calm than probably ever before.

After all the sadness and regret at my pain, and the grief over the loss of “what could have been,” I am finding that there is still much left that remains.

One thing I’m finding strength in is knowing how resilient I am.

I had always bought into other people’s perception that I was weak, “too sensitive,” incapable and insufficient on my own.

Now I see how different the truth is.

I am strong.

I have been through so much, yet here I am—I survived.

Injured Instinct

Journal Date: Saturday, November 7th, 2020

“I think you can see that a dilemma of profound consequences is set up if the people who are supposed to love and protect us are also the ones that hurt, humiliate and violate us. This sets up a double bind that undermines people’s basic sense of self and trust in their own instincts. Our sense of safety and stability in the world and our interpersonal relationships become undermined by childhood abuse because we carry these early thwarted—that is, deeply conflicted—survival pattern into adulthood.” —Peter Levine

I’ve hated myself ever since then. I’ve been disgusted by myself. And have believed that my mom must have been right. That I’m worthless, and a lost cause, and don’t deserve to be here. 

That I should hide, or even die, because to show my face in polite society is an insult to all those good people I’m trying to fool.

This is what I have believed, and eventually, have gotten oh-so-good at creating as my actual life experience.

Deep down, I was so invested in believing this about myself, that I forced it upon myself, even in circumstances where there were people who wanted to like me.

I’m thinking of all the times when there have been people who have liked me, respected me, admired me, and even wanted to try to love me.

I just couldn’t handle it. 

It was too much for me. I didn’t understand it. Couldn’t trust it.

It gave me the deepest, most terrifying sense of anxiety and dread.

I had to “fix” it immediately. I couldn’t keep up “the lies.” I was terrified of what would happen when they discovered the “truth” about me.

So I was compelled to show them.

[insert horrible betrayal here]

Look at me. “This is who I am.”

Do you love me now?

That’s right. 

I DIDN’T THINK SO.

And over time, I got so much better at showing people “who I was” up front.

It took a while, but soon enough there was not even a chance for them to try and love me; I did my best to make it obvious how much I hated myself (and how much they should too) right from the very beginning.

Amazingly enough, some people still tried!

It was always such a shock to me. It was what I said I wanted, but I could never tolerate it for long.

I was obsessed with my compulsion to “tell the truth” about what I was, and to prove how unworthy of love, respect, or even common human decency I was. 


What a crazy, stupid, unnecessarily painful life this has been.

None of this was necessary.

None of this was even really about me, at the end of the day.

Back then, I was just doing my best to be a good girl. So I just kept carrying all the crazy projections my family sent my way, no matter how painful or detached from reality they were.

God, it makes me sad to look back on my life and see the truth of what has been.

How easily it could have been another way.

This pain, this shame—it was never mine to carry.

I don’t want to keep holding onto it anymore.

I’m ready to be free, and just live as my own self.

I don’t need to do this anymore.

I’m ready to be free.

Descansos

Journal Date: Thursday, November 5, 2020

I just finished an exercise Estés suggested we do in this chapter on rage in Women who Run with the Wolves. It’s called “Descansos,” and here we are to mark all the little (and large) deaths of our lives.

Descansos are symbols that mark a death. Right there, right on that spot, someone’s journey in life halted unexpectedly. To make descansos means taking a look at your life and marking where the small deaths, las muertes chiquitas, and the big deaths, las muertes grandotas, have taken place.”

Estés encourages us to make our own descansos, to sit down and examine our lives, our losses, all the places which must be remembered and at the same time, put to rest.


I had a lot of crosses to mark.

My life has been filled with losses. One right after another, with little chance to recover in between.

At this point, I have between 25-30 crosses marked down to represent what I have lost.

Descansos

It’s a lot, but somehow it still doesn’t feel like enough.

I don’t even think my greatest losses are even on here.

My deepest pain comes from having missed something more intangible than a job or a boyfriend or anything I listed here before.

Maybe my greatest loss is actually me. My own self.

To have grown up never knowing (not to mention never liking) myself.

To never have felt at home. Not even in my own body. 

Especially not in my own body. This was a source of shame, and where I could locate all of my pain. Better just to not be here. To escape, by whatever means necessary.

And not just my body. I was estranged from all of me.

Always looking outside of myself for the “right” answer. 

The “right” way to look, think, feel, act, be.

I didn’t even know what I was looking for.

I just knew that I was doing it wrong.

I was just wrong, period.

I never belonged to myself. 

That’s the worst part.

I was in such a rush to give myself away. I would sell myself off to the lowest bidder. I was constantly in a rush to find the quickest way to betray myself next.

It’s very sad.

Looking back on all of this, I feel so tired. 

Exhausted. 

What was the meaning behind all of this?

It’s hard to understand.

But I’m starting to feel ready to grieve my losses. To grieve, and to let go.


“Remember in ‘The Crescent Moon Bear’ the woman said a prayer and laid the wandering orphaned dead to rest. That is what one does in descansos. Descansos is a conscious practice that takes pity on and gives honor to the orphaned dead of your psyche, laying them to rest at last.

“Be gentle with yourself and make the descansos, the resting places for the aspects of yourself that were on their way to somewhere, but never arrived. Descansos mark the death sites, the dark times, but they are also love notes to your suffering. They are transformative. There is a lot to be said for pinning things to the earth so they don’t follow us around. There is a lot to be said for laying them to rest.”