It is a real pattern of mine to become attached to older women who are in a position of care or authority. Some of these attachments have brought great validation, comfort and healing; some have bred anger, upset and paranoia instead. One thing they all have in common however, is the emotional pain they carry with them. In fact, the pain I have experienced as a result of my difficulties with attachment is some of the most excruciating I have ever felt.
It may seem counter-intuitive to say that a relationship which provides holding and healing can also elicit such pain. But this is my experience, and it is exactly here that the problem lies. In fact, the more attached I feel to someone, the more pain the relationship causes me. It is a catch-22, a lose-lose situation, and I become stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Ultimately, I am in therapy because I want to make changes in my life and maintain them; because I want to reduce the intensity of the painful emotions I experience; and because I want to heal past traumas which affect me in my life today. Ironically however, the relationships with my therapists have often become so intense and complex that they take over everything else in therapy.
The depth of my attachment to these therapists has caused me to act in ways which haven’t been helpful to the relationship. I will use present examples of this with my current therapist. For instance, I will reach out to her in between sessions when I don’t need to, simply because I am feeling needy or alone. I will seek constant reassurance from her to the point that I am being paranoid and it will lead to a viscous cycle. I have tried to contact her outside of our agreed hours because I am so addicted to her support. I will send her abstract texts and she will not know if I am contacting her because I need to, or simply because I feel like I need her. Etc etc etc.
Because I am in DBT, this means that we end up talking about my Target 2 (therapy-interfering) behaviours in therapy, a lot, and it dominates the sessions. Of course we explore the issues on a deeper level, looking at my feelings, my motives, my past, my attachment history and the complex trauma related.
However, no matter how much we process things, no matter how much self-awareness I now have, it doesn’t make the pain go away, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution.
Having her in my life also means having to leave her (or her me, as it so often feels), and this means deficiency and emptiness once again. It is like her love is my drug and without her I am in the clutches of withdrawal. It is almost impossible to describe, but I will at least try.
Here is an excerpt of some writing I did a few years ago with another therapist, although the experience is pretty much the same:
“I have a gaping seeping wounded hole inside of me, centered in my core. Under the the illusion that this hole can be filled up with her love and affection, I seek as much of it as I can – although it never touches the sides for long. Sometimes it ends up becoming counter-productive; the more I get, the more I crave. The neediness does not go away.
I yearn for her love, affection, attention, validation and soothing. But no matter how much I get, I am always left wanting more. I feel like the neediest, greediest girl in the world (albeit 99% internally, which in itself is excruciating) and it is not a good look at all.
It has gotten to the point where if I don’t have contact with her at least once a day, it becomes pretty much all I can think about. I will debate with myself for hours about whether or not to contact her. If I do, I feel immense guilt and shame, or anger or hurt if she doesn’t respond how I want her to. If I don’t, I continue to ache, my immediate ‘solution’ ceases to exist and I get stuck knowing how to move on.
I want her to be there for me every single second of the day; to intuitively know what it is I need, even when she’s not physically present. I want her to pick me up and save me from all the painful emotions I feel inside, and to fix this chronic loneliness which does not want to budge. I want her to take me home with her, hold me and baby me and look after me for ever and ever, The End.
I do not know what happened to me as a child that could have led to this. It does not make sense. I must be inherently flawed.
I miss her every second I’m not with her, and it hurts so so so much. I am constantly aching with the loneliness, yearning for something I cannot have – something which does not even exist. I am chronically aching, and I don’t know how to heal the wound. I am trapped within the confines of this emotional pain, and I don’t know how to escape it.”