Healing from Attachment Anxiety and Chronic Mistrust

anxiety attachment

Attachment anxiety often stems from a caregiver who found the needs of a baby overwhelming. Contrary to popular wisdom, babies are extremely sensitive to the responses of their mothers.  If mama feels she can’t possibly fulfill the needs of her baby, the baby learns to become demanding. The more he or she cries, the more attention baby gets. But the emotional support is inadequate because just as mama is afraid she isn’t enough, the baby internalizes that anxious message as well. The belief developed in infancy and carried on into adult relationships is generally I can’t get enough!

Later, in adulthood, romantic relationships and even friendships become unwitting repetitions of this unconscious sense of abandonment.  Those suffering from an anxious attachment are clingy. Needing constant reassurance, they often go to great lengths to please their partners, often losing themselves in the relationship. They often project fantasy images over their partners in order to justify the enormous sacrifices they make to sustain the relationship.

The normal go-to for a person with an anxious attachment style is someone avoidant. This offers fertile ground in which to replay the internal mantra of never receiving enough love. A common symptom of this anxiety-ridden belief is that one is only motivated by the presence anxiety attachmentof loving encouragement. In the absence of constant reassurance, one feels an absence of self. Tragically, because of the well of unmet need, one then is unequipped to deal with real intimacy when it comes around. Too little sense of self prevents being able to respond adequately to the real emotional honesty.

The Road to Healing: Understanding Your Inner Selves

We tend to think of ourselves as only our current age. But if we were to look deeply inside of ourselves, we would recognize the voices of our childhood, each representing a different phase. As an adult, reparenting from an outside source is not an option. But nor is it necessary. What can be extremely effective in healing the emotions of the various children inside of us is reframing our role as parents of our inner child.

How This Worked For Me

About a decade ago, I embarked on a real search for inner wholeness. I trained in every kind of inner healing modality out there, just about. While some worked better than others for me, each gave me a deeper understanding of how I worked. I began to develop an ability to separate myself from the flood of my emotions and instead, use them as trails back to original wounds.  I became an observer of myself while experiencing myself. This kind of self-awareness is key to beginning to uproot longstanding behaviors.

So with this understanding of myself as both inside and outside of myself, I began to hear the voice of a woman crying inside of me. At the same time, during one long winter, every tree I saw looked like it was upside down. I don’t know how to describe this except that as I looked at the bare branches, they looked like underdeveloped root systems. It took me a couple months to put these two circumstances together.

You see, I had an underdeveloped foundation. And when I looked inward to confront the tears of the woman inside, I found that woman to be my mother, and not myself. Instead, within this internal picture, I was only six months old. One of the major realizations I had within that internal vision was that my mother, very young at the time, and overwhelmed with poverty and a new baby, felt engulfed by my needs. In retrospectattachment anxiety, I have no doubt that I communicated the same to my first baby. I was the tree without a sufficient root system.

 I can’t do this. I am not enough. Those cries of young mothers can create such insecurity within a baby. A secure foundation is communicated through a mother’s belief that she is ok. That she and her baby will work it out. Fear undermines the ability for a baby to trust that things are ultimately going to work out and their needs will be provided for.

So back to the scene in which I am a plump six month old in a yellow jumper, sitting silently in my carrier next to a young and desperate mother. I feel the lack. I try to be good in order to comfort my mother. And I invite Jesus into this internal world. And He comes in, safety enveloping that little room. He picks me up and holds me, heart to heart. And my thirty-five-year-old body relaxes.

For some reason, Jesus often operates in real time. What I mean is that while sometimes He can heal emotional wounds of long lasting duration in a moment, sometimes He requires real-time growth. I carried this scene and felt Him holding my compact little baby body for several years. Eventually, He invited me into this scene as an adult. He then gave me back to myself. I held my little baby self, heart to heart, and then she just disappeared inside of me.

You see, I got the object affection constancy I needed from Jesus and from myself. We often dismiss the inner child forms of therapy because it seems so silly to a logical mind. But we are spiritual creatures who live both inside and outside of time. When our spirits retain the wounds of abandonment, whether physical or emotional, we have the power to reach back into time and pull our past selves into a present healing moment.

If you feel as if there will never be enough love or care from those you love and you feel unable to trust anyone to fill your need, the solution is not external. Sometimes we try to solve this through religion. We memorize scripture that tells us who we are. I am not dismissing scripture. But the anxiety attachmentanswers to our deepest fears and wounding come from the Holy Spirit who lives within us. In cooperation with our hearts, He who draws all men to Himself draws our inner child with his or her mistaken beliefs and deep wounds to His healing love.

More than almost anything else I have ever done in the name of personal growth, the time I spent with Jesus as an infant changed me. I became far less clingy. If I felt the old insecurity rising, I put myself back in His arms. I concentrated on feeling His heart beat in time with mine. If I began to lose myself in people pleasing or feeling needy, back in His arms I would go, to be refilled time and again. At first,  I could only do it a few seconds at a time. Now my heart is at rest in His great heart.

I am no longer anxiously attached. I take the tests and now I come up securely attached. And I am, to my Heavenly Papa. My marriage is far more enjoyable for both of us. I can communicate my needs without anxiety. Did this happen overnight? No, but the wounding did not either. But I write this today to share with you that he who the Father has set free is free indeed.

 

It is through this book that I learned the prayer method I outline above. If you are serious about healing, this is a must-read.


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Revelation: How to Open the Eyes of Your Heart

7 Replies to “Healing from Attachment Anxiety and Chronic Mistrust”

  1. “I began to develop an ability to separate myself from the flood of my emotions and instead, use them as trails back to original wounds.” WOW… just, wow.

  2. sashaatsuchatimeasthis says: Reply

    You know..the timing of this post is profound. I have felt a very similar thing just this week. It wasn’t about myself as a baby or child but as a very young woman who had just lost her mother to a battle with cancer. The feelings are still so very raw … although it was so many years ago. I believe God led me back there gently so that I could shed those deep emotions that I had buried down deep in my heart. I was carrying this burden with me for so many years and yet I didn’t see it – and how it was hurting me. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  3. I did some work healing my inner child with a therapist to get over my childhood. At first I thought it was kind of absurd, but I had buried things subconsciously for years and it was a way to work through it!

  4. This process can be so incredibly hard to get therapy clients on board with because they do often find it absurd and uncomfortable. A willingness to delve into the past and seek introspection is such an important part of healing. Attachment anxiety often happens with first born children because everything is new. This then aligns with the typical first born anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionist characteristics. This also happens more frequently if the mom experiences postpartum depression.

  5. Wow just wow! I need to go back and read this a second and third time! Really awesome stuff. I feel the Lord all over this!

  6. Good stuff, Alice! I had a similar experience when I went through EMDR. And I liked your explanation of “real time” growth. I used to want God to heal me quickly, but if He would have, I would have missed out on SO MUCH grounding and root growth!

  7. How wonderful that you were able to catch yourself feeling needing and made the point of leaning back into Jesus.

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