Attachment Pain is Back

Things have been up and down over the last few weeks, but one thing is for sure. Over the past few days, attachment pain related to my therapist has sprung back in an overwhelming way and I find myself stuck in that place of rejection and hopelessness once again.

I thought that maybe I was starting to get somewhere with this attachment stuff. But unfortunately my attachment pain hasn’t really got much better. I think it possibly comes and goes in waves more than it used to, and the periods of it taking over my life are probably less frequent than they were; my therapist and I certainly have less numerous and catastrophic ruptures. However, I’m currently in a period of high attachment pain and I cannot say that the distress of it is any less than it has been before.

Sometimes when I’m not in as much pain I forget just how unbearable it feels. But now that I am IN it, it feels like this pain is all that has ever existed and all that ever will.

I love DBT. It has saved my life in many ways. But regardless, when it comes to these attachment difficulties, DBT skills never seem to be enough. I hate it when they tell me that this pain will eventually extinguish because I see no evidence of that. Instead it just seems to peak and peak and peak….. then keeps me stranded, alone, in the most excruciating emotional pain anyone could experience.

Sometimes DBT can feel a bit “surface” and like a mostly “top down” approach. But my belief is that I need to target this attachment stuff from the “bottom up”. My belief is that without the right sort of trauma work I won’t ever be able to fully heal from my attachment difficulties because they are a result of relational/ complex trauma that is pretty much ingrained within my cells. I am in a more trauma focused therapy at the moment although we still use DBT as an underlying framework. I am advised and encouraged to practice the skills as an addition to the trauma work, and my T constantly reiterates the importance of skills such as self-soothing and self-validating whilst we are doing this work.

However it still feels impossible and almost counter intuitive to soothe myself when the only one I want that from right now is my therapist. I am the last person I want any care from (I despise myself, I disgust myself, I want to punish myself, so why would care from myself feel nurturing or even possible!?). I understand that this is where I need to be (and is where the healthy part of me wants to be!) but how to get there is another story.

My therapist tells me the actions have to come first (“act as if”) and the feelings will follow eventually (albeit from the outside in). Like I said, I have little evidence of that as yet, but maybe as I continue with the trauma therapy things will start to shift from the inside out.

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5 thoughts on “Attachment Pain is Back

  1. Do you know what triggered it? I was reading something the other day which kind of main sense. It said those with BPD can crave chaoticly emotional feelings. Now at first I found that really OFFENSIVE….but as it explained, sometimes we cannot tolerate regulated calm for too long, as our inner self can’t cope with the emptiness that can come from it – it’s as if we need the turmoil just to be able to ‘feel’ something, as the opposite is emptiness…..I will try and find the article which explains it lots better….thought it worthy of a mention…….your thoughts? Whatever the case I hope calm is winning this battle by now……it always does pass but it never seems it at the time…like you, I find writing helps release some of the pressure valve. x (PS, these comments don’t go on FB do they? Or is so, they stay anonymous?)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t have this account affiliated with Facebook in any way so nope! Anonymity all the way!

      But yes I totally relate to what you’ve written (albeit not in this situation). My T reckons that attachment pain has got worse again because in the last week I’ve experienced multiple mini rejections, but instead of letting myself feel the sadness of the back of them, I’ve sort of deflected all feelings onto my relationship with her and my need to be soothed by her. Instead of being upset at the legitimate rejection related situations, I’ve just been getting upset that the person I want to soothe me the most (off the back of the situations I mentioned) is not able to. And then it’s brought up that achey empty cravy feeling of missing her and wanting her around but not being able to have access to her. Alsoooo, trauma work was getting super painful but because of attachment related pain, I now haven’t had to think about trauma stuff for a few days. The pain of attachment stuff is more familiar and *current* and doesn’t have to be based on reality; whereas this specific trauma pain is panic-inducing and very much REAL. I don’t have to face it though when I’m preoccupied with therapist related attachment. E.g. Attachment issues got in the way of trauma therapy today so we didn’t have to do EMDR, which meant I got to avoid the distress of that work!

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