Tue. May 17th, 2022

As I move forward with Healing Developmental Trauma, I hit feelings in places I did not know feels could be hit.

And then I realise how I am passing the torch.

professional insight into a predictable set of trauma symptoms and deeply ingrained behaviours that result when a child does not get the core developmental need of connection with the mother/primary caregiver in the first year of life met.

This developmental arrest may happen because of:

Adoption (even if the adoption happens right after birth)
Early childhood hospitalization
Prematurity and incubation
-Substance abusing parents
A mother with postpartum depression
A teen mother who is overwhelmed by the demands of parenting
-Mothers traumatized by too many successive births (without adequate access to family planning)
-Any “checked out” primary caregivers, such as a narcissistic mother, who simply isn’t present with an infant’s need for bonding, closeness, and connection
Cry it out” kinds of sleep training
-Being carried in the womb of a mother who does not want you
Being carried in the womb of a traumatized, dissociated, depressed or anxious mother
-Feeling rejected, blamed, or even hated by one or both parents
One or both parents who didn’t get their own Connection needs to be met
-A psychotic or borderline mother
-Being made to feel like a burden
-Physical or emotional abuse
-Mother who died in childhood
-Intergenerational trauma, such as being born to Holocaust survivors
-Being born in wartime or significant poverty”

 



So… not cool. It is bad enough for me to suss out my own shit to realise that I have continued the circle.

There is no end in sight.

You do the best you can, right? I mean, I cannot change anything that has happened to me.

 

“…children have five core developmental needs- for connection, attunement, trust, autonomy, and a healthy connection between love and sexuality, which, when met, give us core capacities essential to our wellbeing.

If any of these needs are not met, a series of predictable behavioural patterns arise- but the need for connection is the most primary. Without it, serious attachment wounding happens and adults grow up scared of intimacy, but also craving it.

If the need for CONNECTION is not met:

feeling shame about needing anything from anyone
-communicate intellectual or spiritual superiority
-relate to others who did not get connection needs met and don’t challenge their need for personal space
-use interpersonal distancing as a substitute for adequate boundaries
-withdraw in emotionally disturbing situations
tend to relate in an intellectual rather than a feeling manner
-seldom aware that they are out of touch with their bodies
fear both being alone and being overwhelmed by others
feel like a frightened child in an adult world; do not know how to deal with or appropriately manipulate their environment
-exaggerated fear of death and disease
fear their own impulses, particularly anger
fear groups and crowds
intense ambivalence: deepest desire for contact is also the deepest fear
yearn to fill emptiness and fear fulfilment at the same time
-a strong need to control self, environment and other people
difficulty tolerating intimacy
want to know the reason why; transcendentally or intellectually oriented
-because of their failure to embody, often have access to esoteric spiritual states
-drawn to therapies, meditation, and spiritual movement that reinforce dissociation

Mis-attunement happens to all parents. Problems arise when interactions leading to ruptures become the norm. This is the genesis of attachment trauma. The infant grows into a child who expects to be infringed upon and/or emotionally abandoned and develops protective defences to cope. A parent’s determination to repair ruptures soon after they have occurred, on the other hand, builds emotional security. Parents can do this by being mindful of how emotions organize their infant’s and their own behaviour. Basic education in emotions and childhood trauma provides tools so a parent can proactively strive for positive connections, while at the same time learning to tolerate their own feelings of rejection, disappointment, anger, sadness, and longing. When we ignore a child’s emotional cues because we don’t understand them or we can’t tolerate our own responses, we leave them to cope on their own. But when we respond to those cues appropriately, the child’s authentic self will emerge and thrive.

Attunement Survival Style

As parents, one of your major responsibilities is to teach your children to express their needs. But many parents find this an inconvenience that they discourage. In turn, they raise adults who grow up thinking they have no right to express their needs. Or they may come to believe they don’t have any. Instead, they spend their lives pursuing everyone else’s and making sure that everyone else is happy and secure. This sets them up for both failure and abuse.

Attunement style survivors assume if they express their needs, they’ll be rejected, so they repress or remain unaware of what they actually want from relationships.

*bangs head on wall*

So… now what?

At least I know I have been on the right path!

Building a new awareness of my true self is step one.
I have started here.

I do not mess around, you know. I write everything down everything that makes me feel uneasy. You see a few posts but there are over a thousand entries on this website. Most of what is here is private.

Girl, I am trying so hard to screw this head on straight. If I cannot get this right, who can? No one is going to come along and love me enough to save me. If I cannot find the things I desire the most in me I will never sustainably find them in anyone else.

I will be chasing my own shadow forever.

Make no mistake, however, this work THIS UPHILL JOURNEY is not for anyone besides me. I may not have illustrated or printed the cards that I was dealt but I certainly keep laying them back out in the same nefarious order.

If I want something different in my life, I need to change. Plain and simple. Blaming my past, other people or the weather for my shit makes no damn sense.

If I want it, I got it. Period. End of discussion.

Edit: while reading Healing Developmental Trauma, I looked up what other people thought of the book. I found this quiz.

It tells you your connection style:

(From a review of the book)

These are mine:

I do not know exactly what it means but I would gather it is not gravy.

Why is the trust one so small compared to the others?

So here is what I could find:

1. The Connection Survival Style

Unmet Need:

This survival style derives from a lack of connection with significant adults during childhood. Traumas leading to this survival style can include physical or emotional abuse, parental substance abuse, feeling rejected, blamed, or unloved by parents, and failed attachment attempts with anxious, depressed, or mentally-ill parents.

How this survival style forms:

Chronic neglect and abuse can cause children to dissociate and numb themselves, and disconnect from other people, which can lead to a vicious cycle of feeling excluded and unwanted. If children are made to feel like a burden to the significant adults in their lives, they often try to become invisible to lessen that burden and keep those relationships intact, even if those relationships subsequently become unhealthy or disconnected.

This survival style arises to help children protect themselves and their relationships, as disassociation prevents them from feeling overwhelming pain and sadness, allowing them to survive and function.

How this survival style is expressed:

People with this survival style ultimately struggle to relate to others, as well as connect to their physical and emotional selves. They feel shame about needing anything from other people, leading them to self-isolate. And while they crave connection, they also fear it—they’re used to numbing themselves, so opening themselves up to feel pain and sadness is terrifying.

This survival style might also lead to high anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

2. The Attunement Survival Style

Unmet Need:

People with this survival style didn’t receive any attunement to (or, validation of) their emotional and physical needs as children.

How this survival style forms: Children who don’t receive validation or attention to their needs learn to stop expressing their needs, and sometimes, reject their own needs altogether. Specifically, they might give up their need for love and care, and instead, turn their focus to the needs of others.

Essentially, they stop pursuing their own desires because they believe that expressing their needs will lead to rejection and disappointment.

How this survival style is expressed: Attunement style survivors assume if they express their needs, they’ll be rejected, so they repress or remain unaware of what they actually want from relationships. They’re used to scarcity and sadness and tend to long for what they don’t have—when I get X, I will finally be happy.

Or, instead, they might tell themselves that they have no needs. That they are the strong ones, and people need them, making them hyper-attuned to the needs of others; they are the empaths and caregivers. Often, people with this survival style feel empty and worthless because their needs are unimportant, expecting others to disappoint them; they also have a tendency to self-sabotage.

3. The Trust Survival Style

Unmet Need:

People who form this survival style often lack a feeling of safety during childhood, affecting their capacity to trust both themselves and others.

How this survival style forms:

When children are forced to grow up too quickly and give up their childhood at a young age, they suffer from a loss of safety and trust in the significant adults in their lives. This loss of childhood might come from an irresponsible parent (in which the child has to “parent” the parent), or a parent who was manipulative and forced the child to try to be someone else.

The trust survival style is associated with pageant children, child prodigies, and children with parents who projected their own ambitions onto them. A need for control might form to give the child a sense of safety again, or they might pretend to be something they’re not in order to please their parents.

How this survival style is expressed:

Those stuck in this style need to be in control at all times and feel that they can’t depend on anyone but themselves. They often fear that being close to others will result in a loss of independence. They also might develop a persona to fit with the idea of who their parents wanted them to be, as this persona gained their love, attention, and praise.

People with this survival style tend to displace blame on others, project false confidence, and want power. And the attention and praise that came from their accomplishments pushed them to become ultra-competitive.

4. The Autonomy Survival Style

Unmet Need:

Children who develop this survival style were not allowed to explore their own voice, push boundaries, or express independence. Love can be linked-to pleasing or depending on caregivers and fulfilling duties.

How this survival style forms:

People with this survival style might have had all of their other needs met—connection, love, trust. But when a child is not given the ability to set their own boundaries and limits or speak their thoughts and opinions without guilt or fear, they struggle to become independent. Often, this survival style can develop in children with fearful, anxious, or over-protective parents, or in children raised in strict religious and political environments.

Children with this survival style learn to become overly compliant, even if they are secretly resentful of authority, and become paralyzed by conflict because they just want to be the “good” kid. Essentially, a survival style of compliance and enmeshment develops because that is the way to receive love and praise.

How this survival style is expressed:

Those with this survival style have difficulty setting boundaries or directly saying no, and constantly feel burdened or pressured to live out values that they don’t necessarily believe in personally. They might also view expressions of independence as dangerous, and don’t assert themselves for fear of rejection and criticism. They might feel that being “good” is the way to win love, which makes them care a lot about how others perceive them.

People with this survival style tend to cling to anyone with whom they feel an emotional connection because their biggest fear is disappointing others.

5. The Love-Sexuality Survival Style

Unmet Need:

This survival style usually comes from a lack of loving relationships during childhood. Children whose love was rejected or unacknowledged by their parents might develop this survival style.

How this survival style forms:

If during childhood, someone didn’t have a connection, attunement to their needs, trust issues, or a lack of autonomy, then they might struggle to form loving relationships as adults, especially those with sexuality. If they were hurt by these unloving relationships, they might form this survival style as self-protection to prevent themselves from getting hurt in future relationships.

How this survival style is expressed:

This is one of the most complex, but also the most intuitive. Often, this survival style inhibits one’s ability to open their heart to new relationships, sexual or otherwise, and makes it difficult to integrate both love and sex into healthy relationships.

Those stuck in this style often use perfectionism when it comes to looks and/or performance in other areas of their life as a goal that needs to be reached before intimacy can be attained. These people tend to be very energetic, successful, and attractive. They’re the jocks and cheerleaders and famous actresses and actors.

Their self-esteem derives from their physical attractiveness, and they judge themselves harshly. They might appear confident, but deep down, they feel flawed, rejected, and unloved.

Why is any of this important?

Since these styles are oriented around an early unmet need, recognizing our adult patterns requires a certain insight into the events of our early childhood that forces us to sort through hazy memories or just finally realize that maybe our traumas were NOT normal.

But identifying our survival styles might help us understand why we sabotage our friendships, can’t make a romantic relationship work, never trust easily, or still have issues saying no.