Pondering attachment

We talk….. me and Bob. We are always talking, me and Bob. We have worked together since 2005 and our work has become part of our lives and friendship part of our work. Processing and assessing. And so the schedule that we offer on the NEXT Project is always changing and evolving.

We were talking about how much of the content of training days such as ‘Interpersonal Boundaries’ or ‘Understanding your emotional world’ assumes that trainees are aware of, or know, or understand the significance of early childhood. So we decided we would develop a new day that looked at the basics of childhood development – taking in Piaget’s stages of cognitive development and Bowlby, Ainsworth and Main’s attachment theory.

I spent about 39 years of my life – prior to therapy and psychoanalysis – insisting that since I had little memory of my childhood it was obvious that ‘nothing of note had taken place’. I chose to think of my childhood as a sort of 1970’s themed waiting room in which I sat alone and bored until the clarion call of punk saved me and I could leave home – helpfully the two coincided.

I have found researching for the day and thinking about my relationship with my mother to be unexpectedly painful. Hey, I thought I’d worked all this stuff out on the couch! I think that one of the reasons I’m finding it so distressing is because Bowlby, Ainsworth and Main’s theories make so much sense to me. It’s that visceral response when you read something that you can’t help but know to be accurate. I come from a family that tends to dismiss’ any kind of emotional response to events as being ‘indulgent’ and yet is so clearly haunted by bereavement and loss.

Reading Bowlby’s essays also got me thinking how difficult it is to meet someone and trust them enough to form a healthy, supportive loving relationship; to have a secure base, from which to live your adult life, in a creative and curious manner. How depressing the logic of intolerance is in judging certain relationships as inferior or unnatural to an idea of ‘normal’. How dismal the prejudice against LGBT or any kind of unorthodox consensual adult love relationship is – this could include age, physical ability, mental health or ethnicity or simply codes of what constitutes attractiveness in our society.

I wanted to post this to say a few things…..I wanted to write about the processes Bob and I go through as trainers and the connections that we make with our material, our own lives and the lives of our trainees. The other thing I wanted to say was that understanding your emotional world doesn’t make everything easy or give solutions, or stop things hurting. However, what I do know is that if you start to understand the roots of emotional pain in the context of theory it makes you not feel so out of control or confused or crazy. This is something that I hope our trainees get from the subjects that we cover – essentially it brings a little power back into their lives.

Liz

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