Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 2)

I’m sure this has happened to everyone here at one point or another….you write a post and it’s a long one you’re super proud of…and it disappears into the ether.

Ugh and double ugh.

Luckily the WordPress gods got half of the post and I only have to get through the second half. I’m bummed because I think it was one of more well-written posts and I had jokes. Ha.

Yesterday I intended to write about the 3 huge words that can mean different things to different people under multiple circumstances.

I’m confident in my evaluation (of myself) in regards to being desperate (I’m not, even if it seems that way sometimes) and having anxious attachment syndrome (I do, working on that).

The last part of the post was probably another 1k words addressing that last big word: communication. Maybe WordPress saw fit to give your eyes and head a rest from my babbling for a couple hours!

I’ve really been thinking hard about communication since the John match some 5/6 weeks back. I am always open to feedback on my communication style since it’s probably the single biggest challenge I have had in my entire life.

Clearly, I don’t lack the ability to communicate well. I’ve always been intelligent, articulate and well-spoken since I’ve been able to speak. My issue is always in delivery. Pace, body language, facial expressions and in particular, tone. My character is not well represented by my tone of voice and I often, including in writing, leave a bad taste in people’s mouths or they misunderstand the message I am trying to communicate because I don’t deliver in a way they can understand.

How you communicate is almost more important at times than what you communicate.  You need to know your audience.

After a lot of heartfelt soul searching and, believe it or not, I looked backwards for my answers. They were pretty clear.

I grew up in a time that the word “hyperactive” wasn’t a word applied to a child’s  behaviors. I was a very busy and over active child needing a whole lot of attention. A mother who was too gentle beyond words, a disinterested father and an era where the only label that could be applied to me was “bad” did not provide the healthy outlets I needed for all my energy.

Why was I so overactive? Why couldn’t I sit still and keep my mouth shut like other children? I must have learned very quickly that they preferred to ignore me and I began yelling and screaming for attention I wasn’t getting. I probably didn’t know how to explain as a small child what I needed or wanted. So, I acted out. That netted my mother taking me to doctor and doctor to “fix” me and calm me down. Ultimately, since there was no solution for my “badness” they put me on a drug that my mother told me was reserved for the criminally insane: Ritalin. Since then, based on the research I’ve done, I think my mother made that shit up to tell a better story, or make me feel bad, who knows. The drug was prescribed as an ADHD drug for “maladjusted children” long before the ADHD was mainstreamed.

My mother quickly took me off the drug. I went from a vivacious, active, verbal child to non-verbal and staring at walls. She would rather have hyperactive. Her hippie cousin (this is the 70s remember) suggested a “natural” type of doctor who might help and my mother was desperate at this point. Today we would call that doctor a nutritionist! He told my mother to stop feeding me so much sugar and for rewarding good behavior with candy. He also suggested my mother put me in activities to burn out my energy rather than expecting me to comply to the “children who are seen and not heard are good children” belief.

My mother found relief. I was active, involved and out of the house most of the time doing my activities. She would drive me to Timbuktu if it meant she got an hour of peace. We still couldn’t see eye to eye because I became independent quite quickly – she wasn’t expecting that and definitely didn’t like it.

If it sounds like I understood any of this as a child, I didn’t. This was how she told me the story for as long as I can recall.

I learned to communicate by screaming, yelling and making a fuss because I didn’t get the attention I needed from my parents.

Doesn’t that sound like Trixie has been around for a hella long time?  Yup.  I thought the same.

I didn’t improve my communication techniques for a long, long time.  It took many, many negative outcomes and scoldings before I really understood how to behave, and how my parents expected me to behave.  When I didn’t behave, I was beaten.  Spoon, belt, hand, basically whatever was closest.  This physical abuse didn’t stop until I was 16 and I recall the day quite clearly.  It was the last day my father laid a hand on me.  I don’t recall when my mother stopped cracking spoons over my head.

Years later, when I recounted these stories my parents reply was “If your father ever really hit you, you would be in a hospital.  Those were nothing more than love taps.”  Eventually they denied it ever happened and said I made it all up.  Perhaps the first time I knew I was being gas-lighted (before gas-lighted was a word).

I didn’t begin to understand I could control my tone until I started to work.  Again, it took a lot of mistakes before I began to understand the difference between assertive and aggressive tones, how not to be bossy but authoritative.  But, learn I did, and very well.  I learned how to take what I perceived as my biggest failure as a child, my worst possible trait, and make it an asset and my ultimate strength.  This is how I became successful, I now had the communication style to communicate my ideas in a way that moved me forward instead of hindering me.  I became a valued employee and a really good leader.  I gained some pride.

Of course, there was still the personal component.  My parents style didn’t change and I married a man who was both my mother and my father combined into one.  Looking back, I married for familiarity and because I had anxiously attached.   Even then, my life was sort of pre-planned in my head and the x checked my boxes.  I didn’t understand that I never really saw him for who he was until we were already together for over 18 years.

When I look back, I believe the only romantic relationship I ever had that wasn’t from an anxious attachment was my first long term boyfriend, Randy, when I was 15.  Every relationship after Randy was formed in anxious attachment.

When children came along, the tension between the x and I as well as my inability to always control my tone, led to  my children often calling me mean.  Of course this is quite upsetting to a mother, but I am sure it is true.  Nowadays I try and explain what they hear isn’t always mean.  They have taken their fathers approach of zero confrontation whenever possible (which is probably common among teens).  They are just beginning to understand that when they ask for what they want/need, with confidence, they may be able to change the outcome.  They still don’t like my tone most days, and certainly don’t like when I go up like a bottle of pop and yell at them for one mess or another they have made.  I’m still learning how to be a better parent and communicate in a language I don’t really comprehend (teenage boy).

I view my inability to communicate appropriately as a young child and through to adulthood within my personal life as the outcome of anxious attachment.   That’s where it all started.

So here I am, at 51 years old, basically in the same situation.  I am crying out for attention and I am not communicating appropriately in order to eliminate, or at least avoid, my anxious attachments. I feel like I have never had a solid foundational relationship in my life that wasn’t founded on anxious attachment and that may be the reason I feel such a deep emotional hunger that I have to make my needs known loud and clear in order to get what I need emotionally.  I am most likely perceived as clingy because I am seeking a sense of safety from someone who isn’t able to ready to give it to me.

And then there was this in one of my google searches:

“While it may seem that an anxiously attached person would seek out someone who was nurturing and available, oftentimes they wind up being drawn to a person with an avoidant attachment style who has trouble meeting their emotional needs. While this sounds paradoxical, their intense emotions complement the missing, actually suppressed emotions of the person with avoidant attachment.

They reinforce each other’s adaptations in the painful dance of their interactions. 

Although it is painful to re-experience this insecurity, people often feel compelled to recreate the emotional climate of their childhood.”

So how do I manage my communication and behavior in order to get where I need to be?  How do I learn how to have Secure Attachment when I don’t recall ever feeling that way in my entire life?

This ain’t gonna be easy.

 

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

15 thoughts on “Big Words: Desperation, Communication, Attachment (part 2)”

  1. You’ve hit a nail on its head: It’s not always what you say but how you go about saying it. Yeah, you wanna get your point or points across and going off the rails might sound like the best way to do this or, “Friendly persuasion is nice but nastiness gets better results;” a lot of people don’t understand nice… but they do understand nasty… and they don’t react well to anything that looks or feels like nasty.

    How do you deal with this? By being careful about how you say whatever you say; be aware of your own body language and by all means, engage your brain before opening your mouth! You want to be able to let your emotions be felt through your words… but “beating someone over the head” with them ain’t gonna work – and it’s hard not to let this attachment thing color how you talk to someone.

    You want it. You need it. And you can probably have it if you can talk in a calm and even logical kind of way – you can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar, right? You want to get your points across with out sounding needy and as if the world’s gonna end if you can’t get it. Really, if you know you suck at communicating, give some thought about how and why you are… then try not to be that woman when you’re speaking.

    You want to be clear about how you feel as well as what your wants and needs are; the trick is not to let that anxiety inside you run the conversation; this is the part where I tell you to let your intelligence drive the bus and let this anxiety have a seat way in the back; it’s not gonna like that and, yep, this ain’t gonna be easy.

    But. I believe you’re intelligent enough to do this and, importantly, you have to believe you can do it… because you seriously need to be able to communicate better than you have been doing. If it helps, go back in your blogs and take a look at how you’ve communicated with me; look at what you’ve said to me and how you’ve said it – and pay attention to how I have responded. If you think you could sit down with me and just talk about all of this – and without your anxiety jumping up and demanding it be heard, then you should be able to talk to a potential lover or suitor in that same calm, logical, and anxiety-free way.

    Yep; we’ve conversed and I’ve seen that monkey on your back… but I’ve also seen you talk to me in a non-anxious way about how you feel, why you feel the way you do as well as those things you want and need. It’s not what you say – it’s how you say it and while “yelling and screaming” might get someone’s attention, it’ll also get you summarily ignored because such communication behaviors are very unattractive.

    If you really wanna have some fun, you should ask me why I wouldn’t date you – we can do that privately if you want to – the answer might surprise you and give you some insight on how to be a better – and anxiety-free – communicator.

    As I’m trying to understand this, this is probably something that’s been going on with you all along and you weren’t aware of it; you didn’t run into many situations where this really manifested itself – and then you did… and this this went right off the rails and took you with it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, I’ve read it some time ago.

      The catch for me would be not trying to anxiously attach to someone who is secure before they are ready. I would just push them away. Of all the men I’ve met, Tony and Mike most closely resemble secure attachment despite the situation. The goal is to get there with someone who is ready to attach.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Almost forgot – there was that thing the other day when a WordPress bug bit the crap out of me as well – just aggravating to the nth degree!

    Running off the rails. When it happens, one usually isn’t aware that they’ve gone off the reservation; whatever they’re doing in this regard not only makes sense but appears to be normal and, usually, when others notice it and say something about it, well, they don’t know what they’re talking about, do they? Insert lots of growling, yelling and screaming at this point – how dare they try to tell me I’m going about stuff the wrong way! I know what I’m doing!

    And then, the realization of it all hits you and maybe someone gets you back onto the rails just enough for you to see that, yep, damn it, you’ve been out of control of yourself even if for valid reasons since you gotta do what you gotta do. Now it’s all about getting you literally back on track and doing what’s necessary to ensure that you don’t go off the rails and reservation again.

    The thing about being ready to attached – and to someone who is also attachment-friendly – is that, sometimes, it sounds good on paper but in practical application, eh, not so much. Sometimes, when you “back someone into a corner,” they don’t react well and triggers their “flight or fight” response and the harder you try to attach yourself, the more they feel like running away as fast as they can even though, in the beginning, becoming attached sounded like the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    Ideally, you have a plan or agenda for what you want to do and you follow it… but you don’t push all that hard and that must feel “impossible” for someone with attachment anxiety or, “Patience my ass – I wanna get attached to someone!”

    Taking your foot off the gas might not sound like the “right” thing to do, I imagine, even when your intelligence is screaming at you to do just that and let things happen at a more “natural” pace. What’s funny is I think what you need is someone who can actually settle you down and someone who’ll tell you, “Look, I wanna be with you but stop pushing – let nature run its course!” Insert more growling, yelling and screaming because, of course, you feel the need to push as hard as you can to achieve and maintain this… but you wind up pushing them away and now you’re all bent out of shape and more so when, in the beginning, they wanted the same thing you did.

    Make sense? I hope so! It’s the difference, I think, between being assertive and being aggressive in your pursuits… and aggressive doesn’t always work. I get it – you want what you want and the way you want it and you wanted it yesterday – right now is way too late! But it remains true that if you push too hard, you’re eventually going to push things away rather than bring them closer.

    It won’t be easy for you to take your foot off the gas but I’m confident that you’ll figure it out and I’ll do what I can to get you back on the rails. I’ll leave you with this:

    In “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” Admiral Kirk is on the bridge, shouting orders all over the place when Dr. McCoy comes over to him and quietly says, “Jim… you’re pushing; your people know their jobs…” Admiral Kirk looks like Bones bitch-slapped him… but he stopped pushing, sits back in his chair… and chills so that his people can do their jobs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! I believe if I could just find someone to set my mind at ease. The ones I was settled with at the start always said that to me. I was calmer at the beginning of some relationships that started that way.

      I agree I can push someone’s back to the wall if I keep asking “when will I see you” and I have to have some patience to let them do it at their pace. I interpret not being specific about seeing each other again means they don’t really care if/when they see me and then the anxiety starts.

      At the moment I am trying SO HARD with Mike NOT to ask. He comes in and out randomly but hasn’t yet asked me out again. The closest I got to to bring anxious was asking “what are you doing this week.” I’m writing the post.

      Everything you said is right.

      Like

      1. There’s some merit in the parting greeting, “I’ll see ya when I see ya!” and it becomes rather pointed in more fluid interactions. Yep… you wanna hear from and/or see someone who’s caught your eye every day and you’d probably be willing to throw your whole schedule out of whack to, at least, do your part in this – then it gets weird because you know that they have a life to live that doesn’t involve you all of the time but it also ramps up your attachment anxiety.

        As you say, you interpret no contact as a lack of interest, caring, desire, whatever, in you… and off the rails you go. It’s okay to ask, “What are you doing this week/weekend?” and it’s okay that if the answer is, “Nothing…” or something like that and you don’t have anything that needs your full attention and you want to see them and let them know – in a non-pressurized way – that, you know, if you have the time, maybe we could do lunch (and then do each other, wink, wink)?

        You want them to jump all over this chance to see you like a seriously bad habit but if they say, “Sounds great but I’ll let you know!” okay, bummer… not the end of the world, though.

        Now it’s about not letting that anxiety start whispering in your ear and filling your head with dumb shit – and dumb shit that cannot be proven or verified.

        Insert yelling, screaming, cussing – you know the routine, right?

        A book I read too many years ago had a line in it that said, “The harder you try to hold onto something, the easier it is to slip from your grasp.” I actually put that to the test with a cup of water – yep, science nerd here!.

        And in every test to hold onto that cup of water as tightly as I could, the cup and/or the water wound up on the floor or all over me. I deduced that when I didn’t hold the cup with great tightness – but not all that loosely – I was one with the cup of water, my hand and arm didn’t get stressed, stuff like that.

        Not all that big of a stretch for me to apply this experiment to a lot of life-related things: Hold it too loosely, it’ll get away from you; hold it too tightly, it’ll eventually get away from you.

        And I did it with different cups, from paper to glass and even a cast-iron frying pan… and the results were the same. Figured out how to hold stuff “comfortably” while not focusing on the actual holding; I had it my hand and if I hold it while being aware of the item, I could hold it for quite some time, even that heavy-assed frying pan.

        It works with people, too, even though, duh, people are more dynamic than inanimate objects. The harder you try to hold onto to someone, the easier it is to lose them so now the trick is to hold onto them just enough – not too loose, not too tight.

        Your mind is screaming at you to ask Mike and I get it but since you’re trying to correct behaviors in this – and it sounds easier – tell your yelling, screaming, and cussing mind to shut the fuck up and that you got this; its services are not required.

        You’ll see Mike when you can see him and when he’s able to be seen. If not, well, there are others you could see because even though you’re “shopping,” you’re not tied down with anyone that would prevent you from continuing to shop if need be.

        Still – and I know you are understanding this better, the more you push, the more you are probably pushing them away… so don’t push even though the anxiety is demanding that you should.

        As a man, I’ve been subjected to this anxiety thing and while I understand it, even I don’t like it. I disliked having to tell really pushy women, “You do know I have a life to see to that doesn’t involve you, don’t you?”

        Yelling, screaming, cussing; accusations of not caring, no regard to how they’re feeling, so on and so forth… and the end result was me heading for the hills even though, other than this, she was pretty damned interesting.

        Here’s an interesting question for you to ponder: How would you react if someone did this to you? Think hard about your answer because I suspect your anxiety is going to tell you that, sure, you’d like that; having someone going all off the rails to be able to bask in your greatness is exactly what the doctor order.

        So don’t let your anxiety answer the question – two tests in one.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. KDaddy I’m starting to wonder if you have a camera on me. Lol. As you’ve written your last few comments I’ve been living them! Posts to come but…I think I said in the last two as well….you are absolutely right and I agree. Now to put it in action.

        Like

      3. Nah, no cameras… just a guy who knows a little something about women, that’s all. I’ve seen – and continue to see – women behaving much in the same way you sometimes tend to do – and, yep, quite proud of you that you’re not so… extreme like you were before.

        I just happen to know how they can be more okay with themselves and how they shouldn’t always let their emotions dictate their actions when their intelligence is recommending a different course of action.

        I know what you want and why you want it… but I also know what you need at times and that you don’t have to go “all out” just to get some, ah, human interaction when, sometimes, that’s all you really need.

        Yes… keep on the hunt for your Mr. Right… not a damned thing wrong with checking out Mr. Right Now while you’re at it. No expectations; no pressure on you or the other guy – it’s just keeping it simple and basic and I say to you there is zero shame in just jumping a guy’s bones – or bone – just because that’s all you want to do.

        They come back for more, good! They don’t. well. their loss – there are plenty more men for you to feast upon even if you’re more interested in them. But you gotta keep Anxiety at bay; lock that bitch up and gag her ass so that you can be the Madeline you need to be without her interfering and screwing things up.

        If they come back for more than your wonderful goodies, good; if not, their loss and the hunt continues on both fronts: Find that Mr. Right, enjoy moments with Mr. Right Now when you want to.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I think you are doing some really hard work tackling the shit that the vast majority of humanity prefers to ignore. You are amazing.

    I am no expert in these matters. One thought that crossed my mind is by identifying these issues, you are raising your awareness of them. That helps you make amends for some past behaviors and check yourself before doing destructive behaviors in the future.

    Perhaps the next step is re-framing your interpretation of your past. I listened to a really interesting episode of this American Life about CBT – Cognitive processing therapy. It’s this week’s episode. The process is fascinating. Perhaps that type of process would help you put things into a more objective context.

    Great post! Demonstrates a lot of hard work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your acknowledgment of my work makes me feel so good because you know how much I admire and respect you ❤️

      I did CBT right around the time of Bobby. Some of it worked and some didn’t. I liked it because it’s goal and action based – when you do this, you feel that and what can you change to feel this instead? Pretty straightforward. Trixie was able to run right around those logical thought patterns! 😂🤬

      I don’t know why, but I have a totally different feeling now – about everything. I have a clarity I never had and I’m listening to my body which, really, is pretty intuitive.

      I know my one single biggest challenge is my ability to slow the fuck down. If I can just slow down I think I can begin to actually date with a hell of a lot less anxiety.

      And you are right about reframing the way I think about the past and Nichts actually recently gave me some good advice how to talk about my body is a positive, rather than apologetic, way. I realize I have been apologizing to every man since the beginning of time for something or another and that’s got to stop

      Liked by 1 person

      1. See – you continue to think & grow. I am so impressed!! I would reframe the slow down to “pause for a gut check”. Perhaps you have been in a rush because Trixie didn’t want your inner voice a chance to speak up. Just like the classic Animal House scene with the Devil on his shoulder saying “Fuck her!” And the Angel says no. Give your inner Angel a chance to speak up. I think she’ll be a great asset. Keep up the great work!!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anne. ❤️. A year ago I couldn’t even see straight – I was far gone down the rabbit by this point last year.

      I don’t think I could have done the work sooner. I think, unfortunately, I needed the life crisis I had to find myself.

      And I’m lucky to have people here who stuck with me and know the history to help guide me now that I am ready.

      Liked by 2 people

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