"We are hurt in relationship and we heal in relationship"

Bringing more secure attachment into our relationships

Recently I’ve been recognising when I need to reach out my hand and ask for support and when it is needed to open up to others about my most vulnerable feelings in order to feel more safe in my body and environment. Because of this very unique and strange time in the world right now and I have been embracing the pause of the world, by diving into a period of intense inner work and feel like sharing some of it with you.


I have been enquiring into the dark parts of me and identifying some of my unresolved core wounds that have been hiding out in there in shadows. These are the patterns and behaviours that get activated within intimate spaces and relationships with others. Did you ever hear that phrase “You don’t really know someone until you live with them?”

"We are hurt in relationship and we heal in relationship"

For some time I thought that those ‘icky’ parts of me needed to be annihilated, that I needed to ‘develop’ myself and with that there was this unconscious shaming going. 'I love myself' and 'I need to fix myself' doesn’t actually go very well together in one sentence. Ultimately it’s saying 'I need to change to be lovable”


BUT when we tend to those fragmented parts of us and give them more attention we can help to integrate and they become more manageable- They need two things from us 1) to get very curious and 2) with tons of love and say “Hey, there’s that thing showing up again, what tools, resources do I have to work with this”


Why is it we hide these parts of us away? Well from my experience the source of them is often extremely painful. The shadow is full of coping mechanisms that we have created in order to survive mostly from childhood. Not everyone had appropriate nurturing at critical developing times as they were growing up.


Some parents because of their own traumas were unable to meet the child’s needs and therefore the child learns to rely on themselves, or it could be that the needs being met were unpredictable and inconsistent thus creating lots of anxiety. The parents own traumas can be also passed down to the child. There could have been violence and abuse in the home either to the child or the child witnesses. Some children have to create roles in order to feel like they are loved or acknowledged, some caregivers have limited emotional capacity and are unable to receive their children emotions so they learnt it was not okay to show them or that they were too much. If there was rejection or abandonment (a parent leaves, bullying) some children can internalise that and create a belief that it was something they did and deem themselves unlovable.


If we grow up with experiences like this it often means we have trouble in allowing connection with others and unable to be vulnerable and authentic with them. The foundation of their nervous system has not got a solid sense of safety becasue their was lack of attunemen, the caregivers nervous systems were not regulated themselves. As we become adults and there is some unresolved wounds and unmet needs from our past, we tend to project these onto the people around us, very unconsciously. The original patterns are locked in to our bodies and nervous system.


Many people end up spending their days with their nervous systems in survival mode, a place where everything seems to be a threat. We experience intense reactions and high levels of stress. We loose contact from the people around us and we loose our ability to play. The part of the brain that is able to be self aware and connect with others shuts down.  


“If you feel safe and loved, your brain becomes specialised in exploration, play, and cooperation; if you are frightened and unwanted it specialises in managing feelings of fear and abandonment.” 

― Bessel van der Kolk - taken from his outstanding book on trauma - 'The body keeps the score'


When we do have trauma it robs us of some of our self,  our most authentic self, our ability to feel safe. Feeling safe is the foundation for the wellbeing of the mind and body.


One of the ways in restoring safety in my body was going against my huge resistance of seeking support when I needed to. When a person has been conditioned by family and social systems that they have to do everything alone and be “independent” reaching out to take the hand of another, to ask for what they need or say how they are truly feeling is a really hard thing.


By identifying our core wounds and developing awareness around them being able to recognise when they are playing out in current relationships is key in changing the pattern or behaviour.

I have a huge gaping abandonment wound. Before I had acknowledged this it would be activated in my intimate relationships in what seems like many “silly” reasons.


For instance when my partner turned away from me in bed to sleep I would feel totally disconnected or if a friend cancelled on me I would feel rejected, lonely and sad. The sadness would be masked by anger. 


In the moment I wasn’t able to be in the present with the reality of the current situation - at an unconscious level I was being reminded of my past, my nervous system was wired and stuck on loop saying “Hey its happening again, your being abandoned, protect yourself” 

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It is hard to grasp reality when you are triggered, we have the left side of the brain which is analytical, rational and responsible for problem solving and then the right side of the brain is the intuitive, creative and emotional side. When a trigger of a trauma occurs or a flashback the left side of the brain which is in charge of logically sequencing experiences and identifying cause and effect stops working so well and the right side of the brain reacts if the traumatic experience is happening right now in the present. They are not aware that they are experiencing the past, and unfortunately after the emotional storm passes in confusion they may shame themselves for the reaction or blame someone else.


For my experience, having the awareness of the wound, helps me grasp reality when I become triggered by abandoment or rejection, I have learnt to reach out to those and get support instead of isolating. This is a corrective experience to what was in my blue print as a child, encoding my brain with positive experiences, regulating my nervous system and healing my trauma. It is so important to have these kind of people around us, that when we do take that leap of vulnerability they are there to receive you by seeing and hearing you. They can be friends, family, a lover or a therapist/Counsellor 


“We not capable of healing in isolation. We need other people. We are hurt in relationship and we heal in relationship. Our brain and nervous system are not isolated, but interconnected and social. At our core, we are social beings who regulate through connection with others. Being comfortable in your own skin and having tools that help you relax is a really big deal, but learning how to feel safe with others is revolutionary.”

-Dr Diane Poole Heller


When we shine some light on the shadow and get a little bit more curious about our reactions and patterns within our relationships, we give ourselves the gift of awareness. We expose those parts of us that are vulnerable and LOVABLE which gives a chance for those old stories and feelings to be integrated and manageable. We allow an opportunity for acceptance and forgiveness because the things we buried then become part of our wholeness.


See when we are able to see the things that happened to us objectively we understand that our reactions have been completely unconscious, we can stop shaming ourselves for our behaviour and start to take positive action that helps to regulate our nervous system. We stop being so invested in our pain and reactions and more open to healthy relationships.

I really recommend Dr Diane Poole Heller's book - "The power of attachment” For me a life changing book. She very sensitively brings awareness about the 4 different types of attachment styles we may develop through our childhoods and how they are at play in relationship. These are secure, avoidant, anxious and disorganised. She guides you through somatic exercises for increased connection, heightened body awareness and to help shift the mind in a healthier direction. She nourishes you with her words and with warm confidence affirms that it doesn’t matter what trauma you have experienced or what type of environment you grew up with some work you can become more safe in your body, relationships and environment.


So much Love to you and within all your relationships heart


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