So, in attachment theory, in this famous experiment, about 3/4s of babies were deemed secure: meaning, can face distressful situations like being separated from a parent, but upon said parent’s return, are happy to be soothed by said parent. But then 1/8 will be ambivalent, meaning, sad that the parent left, and then soothed by their return, but avoiding contact as a way to “punish” said parent. And the other 1/8 will not even notice the parent is gone and will be seemingly unimpressed when the parent comes back. Now a teensy percentage has been deemed as “disorganized”, meaning, their comfort-seeking responses are deemed to be pick and choose from these other 2 dysfunctional responses.
I know I’m ambivalent. If someone hurts me, I’d have to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that that person is very sorry for what they did and that they have taken steps to make sure it won’t happen again. In all honesty, how many of us has gotten an apology of that degree frequently, if at all? My mom and dad were a part of my life, but mostly my grandma raised me, as my mom had to work and my dad had to study (getting his degree in journalism). Because my grandma had a household to run, she cared for me but wanted me very much to toe the line, and this of course benefited my parents as well.
A little girl with no needs or desires to speak of is an invisible girl.
I wasn’t fully invisible, my grandma was caring and affectionate, and modeled what most people with stay-at-home moms get: domesticity, affection, a physical presence in the house. But to say I was fully heard, listened to, or anything of the sort, yeah, that’d also be an overstretching of the truth.
I really really REALLY wanted to please my caregivers, in the hope (because it didn’t always materialize) that I would get praised, as that was the closest to validation as I ever got. Being enough, you know? Praised for just being me. And I picked up that being quiet, obedient, and docile, was the way to go. It makes me think of my cat when he wanted my dad to throw the ball and his whole body vibrated waiting to pounce on that ball.
That’s how keen I was to be agreeable, docile, likeable.
That’s the same girl, of course, that as a woman, at first confused sexual attention with positive attention, but I’m a quick learner, thank gawd.
I can’t believe I have C-PTSD because it was economically/mentally more feasible for my emotionally ignorant family that I didn’t have any needs or wants growing up.
In ours, the ambivalents’ defense, I would say that yes, the hurt someone causes us triggers old, crotchety pains, but only those who love us -and themselves- in truth can make their wrongs right. DARVOers (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender) are not the ones:
Gaslighters ain’t the ones either. People who would rather lie (to themselves and others), by direct falsehood or omission, are also not the ones, because that’s someone further away in their journey to self-realization, and if you’re already committed to the truth, that person is just more work into your life, instead of offering the possibility of mutual help.
So, to my ambivalent siblings, I tell you: don’t beat yourself up over failed relationships/interactions. Chances are (if you’ve done the work) that you were putting more effort AND stock into it than they were. It’s meant to be when that person is a communicator, not a leave-you-in-the-lurch type; and (not or) if they show compassion over your needs of reassurance and roll with it (cause if they can’t, because they don’t want to or it triggers their insecurities as well, you will not, I repeat, WILL NOT, get fulfillment from that bond).
Only when you have ALLA this, and they express their moments of discomfort or duress, only then are you allowed to freak out and doubt if they meant any of it or if it was all a ruse. No, I’m kidding. Take it easy during arguments and breathe. Preferably, write, and perhaps at first, maybe just hold hands, as I’ve heard that for us ambivalents the presence of our loved one already soothes most of our deep(er) discomfort.
I’ve never had an open, honest communicator that wanted to just stay in the room and hold me while we worked out our feelings. Or an open and honest communicator that expressed to me that right now they couldn’t handle the conversation, but immediately penciled it in for an hour or two later. A day, max. I’ve had violent asshole never leaving my sight or stop talking, because that’s a torture technique as well. I’ve had aloof asshole dump me over the phone so he can avoid his own discomfort. I’ve had all forms and shapes of betrayals. I’m ready for the real deal.
And if and when I don’t match up for that open and honest communicator that loves me and understands my needs and is willing to work on them, then I pray to the Goddess that he tells me, so I bring my ass back to therapy or work in it with some book or what not.
Because I’d love him back, and the people worth hanging onto, you’re supposed to do everything in your power to make it work, because they’re already doing the same thing for you. Only way it works, folks.
Insecurely attached but working on it (to the best of my abilities, as relational trauma can only be more sustainably repaired by new relations),
P.S.: By new relationships I don’t just mean romantic attachments. Therapists are (if good), great new -temporary- bonds with whom to work out wounds from the past. They’re the professionals of the field (particularly if you want to work on trauma therapy), but some people also go to leaders in their community, social or religious. I will always rather go to the professionals, but as long as you’re contacting others about these issues (with a good trauma book to boot), you’re working on yourself. Ain’t no greater sign of self-love, my dudes.