(It’s Valentine’s Day and love is all around. So here is a post to honour those whose path to true love is a little rocky).
Why do attachment-disordered children struggle so hard to accept our Love, the very stuff that would help them heal?
Because love brings with it promises that were never fulfilled; promises of safety, loyalty, protection and comfort. For these children, Love is simply a trigger for the hurt, and the betrayal, and the abandonment. Love itself is the feared element.
Yielding into love is risky. It opens us up to be seen, to be felt by the other. And to be known or recognised is to immediately experience the other’s power.
“The other becomes the one who can give or with-hold recognition; who can see what is hidden; who can reach, conceivably even violate, the core of the self” (Jessica Benjamin).
When we offer our wounded children our hearts, we must know that, in their eyes, this is a very dangerous thing. So we must gently, fully and freely give them permission to keep pushing our love back into our hands, to keep spitting it back in our faces, over and over, until they have the deep, felt sense that we can be trusted never to snatch it away from them again.
We can’t control when and how this will happen, no matter how much we care, no matter how hard we try, no matter how intensely we love. It’s for our child to choose when they are ready, on their terms, not ours (and it’s for us not to take it personally).
In fact, it is only when we experience the relief that comes when we DETACH ourselves, and therefore free our child, from the incessant pressure and responsibility to ATTACH, that we free up a truly safe enough space for moments of healing to occur.
We can’t determine the outcome. But we can learn to hold our child within our inclusive, compassionate presence, without expectation. And we can trust the process, shoring up the resources we need to help us stay hopeful, stay present, and stay very, very, patient – not just with our child, but with our own precious, beautiful, selves.