I have just finished a historic tour of Spanish moss-filled Savannah – full of Southern hospitality, home of the Girl Scouts, Forrest Gump, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, tumultuous scandals, and tragic Civil War deaths. Perfect for the trauma resolution specialist with a hankering to help folks with their relationships.
Luckily, now I am hanging out at the beach in Hilton Head with my NICABM buddies, who are all so creative and inspiring.
Then off to visit my 92-year-old mother who still lives and prospers in her own home!
It occurs to me that there is a major myth about Avoidant adaptation in Attachment theory. Writers in our field often dismiss the Avoidant as not wanting relationship and being loners. I find that reactive self-sufficiency to be the sticky cover of the longing all people feel to connect.
When we move toward avoiding contact with others and becoming overly self-reliant as kids, this adaptation is due to lack of parental presence, availability, and/or kindness. The experience early on was, “Others don’t work, Others don’t help” – so there is a habit of withdrawal, isolation, and “I do it better myself!” thinking. It is our job as therapists to help unveil the original secure attachment, that is comfortable with both aloneness AND connection – and relaxed either way with an easy flow between circumstances. In my experience, it is often true that people healing from Avoidant adaptation will discover their longing for connection and restore physical gestures to reach out, connect through eye gaze and safe touch, and let others in once they experience the nourishment of contact nutrition and true mutuality.