When I was asked by PBS to write a blog post around attachment I chose to share the story about my journey with anxious attachment and parenting. http://www.pbs.org/thisemotionallife/blogs/anxious-attachment-heaven-hell-and-back-again .
In writing the post I was able to see more clearly how my anxiety around loss plays a big part in our overall dance. My daughter came with her own story of loss since she was an orphan and had been in a Chinese orphanage for 9 months before we met. Together, we have elements of loss in our relational dance.
Yesterday she went on a trip with friends to a hot springs. This was first time she would be gone for two nights without being able to make contact, since cell phones don’t work at the springs.
We were both excited for her to go since a lot of her friends were going and she knew everyone on the trip. For days, ahead of time, she was packing and getting excited about the adventure. I was also excited about having 2 days to rest, play and have “me” time.
All sounds wonderful, yes?
I forgot about the separation dance so when I woke up yesterday and went in her room to say good morning and get a cuddle, she asked me to leave. WHAM! Before I knew it, I engaged the “I’m not important” move and pouted my way out the door. This engaged her, “Better take care of mom” move and she called me back.
I countered with my “I’m fine” move and she easily moved into her “I’m fine” right back atcha! Oh, the dreaded separation dance had begun. The rest of the morning we moved from anger to neediness to control.
Fortunately, a light bulb went off and I was able to name that we were doing the Separation Dance. We both sighed with relief and began talking about how scary it is to be away from each other without being able to make contact. Once we were able to talk about it we both relaxed and decided to do our best to stay connected without trying to mitigate the pain of separation. It was powerful to consciously move toward a different dance.
After she left, I was left with my worry of losing her and during the night I was able to connect the dots to when my mother went away on a trip and didn’t come back. I was able to hold myself during the night and remember that I didn’t have to connect that memory with NOW. For in the now my daughter was on a beautiful trip, having fun with her friends and I was safe at home enjoying my time. I could actually focus on the joy instead of connecting with the pain of the past.
Ah….a new dance move in the works.