I always had this feeling of not belonging or feeling alone in a crowd – a feeling of disconnection that seemed to keep me separate and apart. Do you know this feeling?
It literally took six decades for me to learn that I felt this way and still do every now and then because of early childhood attachment problems. I was in a graduate level psychology class where one of the texts was The Neuroscience of Human Relationships by Louis Cozolino, W.W. Norton & Company, N.Y., 2014. In this text, Cozolino says, “Interpersonal neurobiology is the study of how we attach, grow, and interconnect throughout life. It is the story of how we become dysregulated and unhealthy and how we regain our emotional balance and mental health. It is also the story of how genes and environments interact to produce who we are and how we create each other through relationships, the stories we tell, and the imaginary worlds we fashion, inhabit, and explore”(page 12). He goes on to talk about all of the psychoanalysts and scientists involved in the research of attachment theory and I remember holding my breath when I realized the “why” and “how” behind my self-blaming and fear-based mind-sets – it was right before my eyes in black and white. Raised by a stern and perfectionistic mother who was dismissive and rejecting led to my long-term feelings of insecurity and self-doubt. The good news came later in the text when Cozolino says, “Thus, the powerful shaping experiences of childhood can be modified through personal relationships, psychotherapy, and increased self-awareness” (page 156).
I thought I had made tremendous improvements in my feelings of self-worth through my 12-step program and therapy but it was only by reading and studying about these earliest of childhood attachment experiences that I was truly able to let myself off the hook. It wasn’t my fault! I had spent the majority of my lifetime not understanding why I felt the way I felt and blaming and shaming myself for something that was completely out of my control.
Now what? This is my work today. Not only do I continue challenging and changing my own very entrenched mind-sets but I help others to do the same, if they are willing. I invite you to watch two videos I’ve prepared where I tell my story in more depth and then, if you can relate and are interested in talking to me further, I’ll look forward to that call.
Until then, remember that awareness is the first step toward freeing change in your life.
Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.
~ James Thurber