attachment disorder

Rising from beneath: April 2021 NaPoWriMo, Day two

Today’s prompt is inspired by Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” It’s based on our own personal journeys. What might our experiences be if we took a different path?

No matter how many times I wanted or tried to veer from the path I was on, I wasn’t able to. Having travelled this far, I realize I don’t want to have taken a route other than the one I’ve been on.

Why?

People. My children and my grandchildren might not exist. Or, if they did, they wouldn’t be who they are. I wouldn’t have or know the people in my life, not the way they are now.

My life has always been challenging and full of stress. It’s made who I am. There’s more work to be done. I like who I’m becoming.

Rising from Beneath

I was told I could be anything I wanted…
But I wasn’t taught how and
I never met anyone who was.

I was told that if I had knowledge I would have power.
Helplessness was all I knew…
despite my accumulated information

I was told, “Aim high! Shoot for the stars.”
From my depths my aim was as high as other’s low.
I shot just to see the stars.

Years of climbing, fighting, struggling
Always landing back in the hole
Anchored by the trauma of my past.

Cycles of poverty and neglect,
Generations repeating the past.
Lord, let me be the last.

Breaking through, crawling out
Eyes blinded by daylight
Skin scorched by the sun.

Someone (not Churchill) admonished one and all,
“if you’re going through hell, keep going. It’s no place to stop.”
no longer energized, yet, here I am…still going.

I think it’s a good fight. It’s been a hard one.
Redemption, restoration, rebuilding
Self and relationships once lost.

Constantly feeling weak and lost
Continually infused with life’s breath,
Molded by refining love.

But wait, there’s more…so much more
Five decades to grow up.
Here’s hoping for another 3-5.

New battles rise up,
New fears to face.
The war against self goes on.

More to see, more to be.
My future resides with me.
My path lives in me.

Practicing Presence

I have mentioned before how horrifically bad my memory is. It drives my family crazy that I can forget entire conversations and events within a very short time of going through them. I might retain some knowledge or information about these things, however the reality is that very few sensory memories are either retained or accessible to me. Perhaps they are all very much present in my brain and psyche, however at some point in the far distant past, I managed to turn memory into a one-way proposition. All memories and experiences go in, but they don’t come out, except as regurgitated narrative.

I honestly believe this is part of my self-identified attachment disorder. I have a few visual memories from my childhood, but mostly it is a series of facts I know and a narrative I rehearsed so I wouldn’t completely forget. As things have progressed in my healing and recovery journey over the past few years, I am discovering there are major gaps and flaws in the narrative, so, really there are only points on a timeline map with a lot of vacant and empty space in between. The shapes of the constellations I thought existed are not the same as I believed them to be.

Recently, as I’ve been working through things and reading a lot of blogs from participating in The Ultimate Blog Challenge, the reminder to live in the present has been cropping up in many forms. God, the Universe, and Everyone else seem to have the same message for me: Learn how to be in the NOW.

It seems like a simple task. I mean, we really cannot be anywhen other than when we are, right?

Disconnected, dissociated, distracted. These are ways I am present but not accounted for.

It is difficult for me to engage in conversations, even when I am earnestly trying to be focused and pay attention. My mind wanders, sounds distract, discomfort rises up and pain peaks causing me to lose concentration. Keith sends me a text and for a variety of reasons and excuses, including the codependency, I have to respond fairly quickly, disrupting the flow of thought and conversation.

I seldom watch “live” television. I can’t track and stay present and in tune with what’s going on with the characters and multiple storylines. On Demand is my frenemy.

Recently, Keith and I worked through one of our intimacy issues when I realized that part of the disconnect between us is that I don’t connect with the sense memories. I’m very good at using descriptive phrase and such, but when I read it, it is just words. The words don’t evoke anything other than the letters organized in a recognizable pattern. I understand the meanings and what they represent, but the written word alone, no longer evokes connections inside of my self. LaLa, like Keith, expresses herself through music and often wants to have me listen to and watch videos of songs that have significance to her. I seldom can stay focused and actually concentrate on listening to the lyrics of the song. My brain is pinballing from one thought to another that may be triggered by what I’m seeing on the screen or how the music itself is resonating inside my head. If she wants me to really understand, I need to be able to read the lyrics along with listening to the music. Even then it can be a very frustrating thing.

A little over a week ago, after a counseling session, I actually found myself practicing being present. It was a crisp, clear, cold, and bright sunshiny day. As I walked the mile home from parking the Zipcar after my appointment and had an hour and a half before I needed to meet Luna at her bus from her pre-school program, I found myself pulling out the camera on my phone and taking pictures of the neighborhood. At one point, I stopped and just listened to the cheeping and chirping of what seemed like hundreds of tiny little brown birds hiding in the bare branches of dense bushes. I snapped frantically, blindly into the shadowy branches hoping to capture some of them so I could see them later. Then I looked up and watched one little yellow creature take a grooming break. During those moments, it suddenly occurred to me that this is part of being present.

Engaging my senses, especially my vision and hearing. Using my physical senses of touch and movement by walking and holding the phone/camera at different angles. Twisting and turning my head to pay attention to the textures of sound and sight and for a brief thirty minute meandering walk to stop and witness the sun.

In the middle of the city there is a Certified Backyard Habitat for local wildlife. The Eco-Hipsters have taken over

In the middle of the city there is a Certified Backyard Habitat for local wildlife. The Eco-Hipsters have taken over.

Say what you will about church, some of the older churches have amazing architecture.

Say what you will about church, some of the older churches have amazing architecture.

I think that shadow is one of the chorus of chirps and tweets that enveloped me in melodious sound that day.

I think that shadow is one of the chorus of chirps and tweets that enveloped me in melodious sound that day.

The contrast of the sun and branches and the play of light and shadow somehow seems more profound in black and white tones.

The contrast of the sun and branches and the play of light and shadow somehow seems more profound in black and white tones.

Grieving: Loss and hope (trigger warning)

*There are some things in this post that deal with formative events and situations that may be triggers for people. Please take care of yourself and be cautious when reading further.

I did a lot of crying yesterday.  If you read my post, Suckerpunched, you will understand why and realize I also did a lot of writing yesterday. The best thing is that, in addition to letting it out by writing about it here, I also didn’t wait to reach out to one of the best and most faithful friends I’ve ever had, even though she lives so far North of me it was easier to take her kids to Canada for their martial arts lessons than to the nearest U.S. city. I even managed to have an online chat with her and talk through the situation and my thoughts and feelings.  The absolutely interesting thing about it is that when she gave her opinion in telling me what she thought I should do about the situation, even though I didn’t agree with it, I didn’t have the same instant sense of defensiveness as whenever my other friend communicates with me.  Something to consider at another time.

So, here I am now, feeling tired, drained, and a little empty. Numb, almost.

I’ve got to confess that I fed my food addiction a little bit last night in reaction to all of this, but not as much as I would have done in the past. As a result, the G.I. symptoms of my fibromyalgia are now activated.  Oh well. Enough distraction.

In my past, I’ve let go of relationships with people I considered important, in my adult life, way too easy.  Both of the friends I’ve referred to here have been examples of that.  Thankfully, both of them have turned back up in my life after a period of absence after I just let them drift away or when I withdrew into my isolated world of chaos, conflict, and confusion.

I believe that is an example/symptom of what I consider to be my bonding and attachment disorder (self-diagnosed).

You see, my mother died when I was 12 years old, in what everyone believed and I was told was suicide.  I didn’t cry for her, until a year and a half later. I didn’t really miss her.  The thing is, a few months before she died, she had signed guardianship over to her younger brother and his wife, and moved back down to Texas, where I had mostly grown up. Prior to that event, we had moved several times during the preceeding year and a half or two. Her third marriage had broken up due to her discovery (my telling) of his molestation of me. A fact that I reported only after it had been over and my prepubescent, love hungry self was feeling lost and angry about, because it had ended and he wouldn’t start again.

Wow, I just had a revelation.  I was suseptible to his distorted representation of love because I had never experienced a true sense of having been loved. Something to come back to and process another time.

I believe my mom loved me. How could she not? I was her child. She tried to take care of me and my needs to the best of her ability, but her ability was impaired.  The same way my ability to take care of Marco and LaLa has been impaired and probably for many similar reasons. My lack of attachment to her and lack of grief over the loss of her was not just a symptom of something wrong or missing inside of me, it was also a symptom of something wrong or missing inside of her. Neither one of us is at fault or to blame for missing critical pieces of ourselves that were necessary in order to attach and bond with our children.

I have carried the knowledge of what I lacked and was unable to offer Marco and Luna and worn it like a cloak of self-blame. Instead of being able to understand and accept that I had no control over what I didn’t have to offer, I have wallowed and buried myself in the false belief that my inability was due to something I was fundamentally responsible for.

When LaLa told me about the possibility of her being adopted by Jojo, she had a hard time meeting my eyes.  She was soft-spoken and slightly reluctant.  She stated that she wanted to be open and honest with me.  She acknowledged that she knew this decision would probably cause me pain, but earnestly asserted that it wasn’t her desire to hurt me and that hurting me wasn’t the reason and purpose behind her decision.  I told her I understood and accepted that. More importantly, unlike with Marco, I asked her why she was making that choice.  Her response was kind of jumbled but basically boiled down to the fact that she didn’t feel like I loved, supported, and was available to her as a mother the way I am to Luna and that in the past month while she’s been living with and helping to take care of Jojo, she has been receiving that.

I told LaLa that I could understand how she and Marco felt that I didn’t protect them and chose Jerry over them, and that their feelings were valid because they were their feelings. I also told her that I didn’t love them any less than I love Luna.  That, unfortunately, it was the pain and mistakes from me parenting them that are enabling me to do a better job of parenting Luna.  I also informed her that as much as they believed I didn’t stand up and fight for them and continually chose Jerry over them, they had no idea the number of times I heard those exact same things from Jerry in regards to them.  I have been fighting for all of us: them, Jerry, and myself all of this time.

I can grieve over the loss of my mother and the attachment and bonding we never had.  I can grieve over the loss that my children experienced while they were growing up and the mutual loss I had in my inability to attach and bond with them as they were growing up.  But the fact of the matter is, that I cannot grieve over the loss of my children because they are not lost to me. They are still living, as am I. However stilted, awkward, uncomfortable, or painful our interactions may be with one another, we are still able to interact and we are acting on that ability.  Going through this has been a very painful and wrenching experience. But, it is also something that is enabling me to really process and work through some of my personal issues that have perpetuated the problems.

The fact that they are bonding and forming attachments with other people to fulfill those belonging, attachment, and love needs while their brains are still developing, before the patterns of abandonment of self and others are completely set, means that one of my life goals is being met. Some of the generational cycles are being broken. The fact that part of me has been broken along with it isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  A broken bone that healed wrong has to be rebroken before it can be set to heal straight.