Saturday, April 9, 2011


I am taking a class right now on attachment parenting, and am astonished at how deeply impacted I've been by the material. Most of it rings true, and I recognize it in my mind as true when it comes to children and how to parent them, but emotionally I have been gutted by some of the stages and levels of attachment, and where that process can be derailed. I feel like a child myself again, as I allow myself to feel hurt and disappointment in a way that I never have before.

We have all been let down by those we love, and we have all let down those we love. I know this to be true. But it's like a revelation when you can connect the dots between things that happened, long ago, and how you react to situations now, as a full-grown adult. Everything in this life is connected, in one long line, and hearing the theories of attachment parenting has been like taking off my dark glasses and seeing the light.

I'll probably write more on what I'm learning from Dr. Gordon Neufeld as I continue to attend the classes and get further into the material, but what struck me at the last class was the section on vulnerability. Attachment is about relationship, and how we feel that our children should love us because we love them, but it must go deeper than that. We must have their hearts, and they must attach to us. If you are attached you want to be with a person, and a parent is to be the true north for the child.

Attachment involves vulnerability. When you give your heart away, you risk it being broken. Our vulnerability lies in our emotions, and in the course I learned about the brain's automatic responses to the perceived threat of repeated damages to our vulnerable states: it shuts down and pulls away. This response is meant to be situational, but when the hurt happens again and again, eventually we get stuck in our attachment development, because our brain is unconsciously protecting us.

I had been slowly figuring some of this out over the course of the last year, but to hear it put so succinctly, and to recognize it so transparently, was powerful for me. It was like opening a window in a stuffy room, and breathing deeply again. It was freeing to see with some clarity what had happened, and how I reacted, and how I got from there to here in my life.

This is true for everyone. We all have healing to do. We are all vulnerable, but I had learned to shut down my vulnerability; to lock it away and pretend it didn't live inside of me. I think that's why William's hyper-sensitive nature, so similar to mine as a child, was so stressful for me. Unconsciously I recognized it and identified with it, but it felt dark and shameful to me, and I had trouble embracing it in him because I couldn't see that it was a big part of who I am.

Until recently. Now that I have been thawing my emotions, one by one, and feeling them in all of their horror or beauty, I am slowly shoveling my way back to my vulnerable core. I don't want to shun this part of me, hiding it in the basement of my psyche. I want to embrace it, for our strength dwells in our deepest vulnerability, provided we will acknowledge it as such.

There is no more pretending for me. I have walked that path, and now I'm on a different path, one that leads me to more honesty and recognition of myself. It's not easy and probably never will be. I know I still can't see most of what is really going on inside of who I am. But I'm closer than I've ever been before, and feeling the emotions and owning the vulnerable child who dwells in me is important and will get me where I eventually hope to go.

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