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Archive for July, 2022

Letter to Andy (summary of learnings and ask)

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Hey there-

I know i’ve been flooding you with texts as i process so I wanted to create a bit of a summary along with an ask for therapy.  I’m gonna skip the “what happened and how i reacted” bit because I think you’ve probably got a pretty solid understanding of that. i’ll try to do it in ADHD-friendly format so its nota  bunch of block paragraphs that are impossible to concentrate on because I’m nice like that.

MY LEARNINGS

DISORGANIZED (FEARFUL-AVOIDANT) ATTACHMENT STYLE.

I’ve done a deep dive into Attachment Styles and identified myself as a Fearful Avoidant type (aka Disorganized Attachment).  I have no idea if you’re up on that stuff so for the sake of super clarity: 

Disorganized Attachment comes from childhood when a child is looking for support and attachment from a parent or caregiver, but also the caregiver is dangerous and/or the reason for the need for support and attachment, making the child have to go it on their own without the tools or base level of support.

 This leads to a situation where Attaching/connecting with others feels dangerous, but also avoiding attachment leads to anxiety and loneliness and desperation for connection.

For this reason, I will vascillate between the two, never letting people get too close but also wanting to feel strong attachment to me in a way I can control/feel safe about.  I’ll link a few more in-depth descriptions below.  Interestingly, disorganized attachment/fearful-avoidant people tend to have a larger amount of sexual partners.

General Info: https://jessicalangtherapy.com/blog/disorganized-attachment/

General info : https://thrivefamilyservices.com/a-deep-dive-into-disorganized-attachment/

General Info (and a great site): https://www.attachmentproject.com/blog/disorganized-attachment/

This resonated with me as similar to my experience in relationships (sometimes) – https://www.margeauxfeldman.com/being-in-the-mess/learning-to-trust-in-the-uncertainty-healing-my-disorganized-attachment

EXPECTATIONS OF ABANDONMENT.

Another fundamental belief of FA people that resonates  with me is a feeling of being fundamentally unworthy of love, and that people close to me will eventually abandon me and I should expect that will happen (that’s the avoidant side) along with a spectacular fear of abandonment (that’s the anxious side). I have historically probably sabotaged relationships in order to prove this true.  One of the ways this happens is through co-dependent behavior, which I now recognize a lot in my relationships including my relationship with Kate. I rely on her for a lot and probably more than is healthy in maintaining a solid interdependence .

This seems relevant to the abandonment stuff – https://myattached.com/2021/09/27/boundaries-self-advocacy-for-the-disorganized-or-fearful-avoidant-attachment-style/

UNDERSTANDING OF MY SPIRALING AND DYSREGULATION.

It totally makes sense to me, then, that Kate going on a date and having sex with someone would set me off into a spiral of emotional reactivity.

I felt abandoned and that a significant person in my life had proven me right. I felt unloveable and desperate for attachment, as well as wanting to push her away for having ‘hurt me’. 

This, I think explains why after she picked me up and said she was nervous about telling me, I told her to tell me everything and then spent a lot of energy soothing her and reassuring her that it was all okay and that I wasn’t upset.   I was upset but I was also trying to “earn back her love”.  I was also very fearful of sharing my upset and needs at that moment causing more distance and also ruining her time by leading her down a path of “Look what happened, I did a thing outside my comfort zone and now I’ve hurt Jeremy and ruined everything”.  I get that others feelings are not my responsibility. I think in this case it may have been slightly justified to be gentle about it.

I feel a lot of embarrassment and shame around my reactivity (even though I know it’s as a result of my programming and not my fault) just due to the vast chasm between my understanding of the reality of the situation and where my brain has been at. 

Kate has expressed that she’s trying not to think about it in terms of blaming herself for my trauma trigger, and I have assured her as best I can that basically “yes I was set off as a result of my attachment trauma being poked, but that doesn’t mean I am legitimately upset or bear any grievance for you going out on dates and having sex with someone” and like… trying to separate those things out for both of us.

LACK OF SOOTHING TOOLS

I don’t feel like I have any effective tools for self-soothing when emotionally activated.  In my life I seem to always have either asked for or manipulated others into providing me the soothing I needed (which is a short-term band-aid and not an actual fix).  I’ve been trying to do that a little with Kate this week which is definitely unfair to her since she has a lot of her own processing going on.  I was able to communicate where I’m at and make a reasonable ask, and she shared some of her fear as well (she’s scared that i’m looking for a nurturing parental figure which she can’t be for me, which is fair).

I was talking with Sue (my bff since high school and a friend who i’ve been closest to the longest) and she made the point that my manipulating people into soothing me would have been a necessary survival skill in my household growing up. If I was wounded by my dad, I would have had to manipulate my mom into redirecting the energy she was spending soothing and stroking his ego and direct it to me for a little bit.

But also, to quote her: “And it seems like having to put a ton of energy into developing that skill doesn’t leave a whole lot of capacity for developing other tools. But also your dad went out of his way to smack at any attempt you made to build healthy coping mechanisms, emotional support networks, or like joy. So yeah, hard to build a toolbox if someone is yanking out the tools and demanding that you return to manipulating them the way they’ve taught you to to get their attention and soothing (and to stroke their ridiculous ego needs) And hard to build a toolkit if getting what you need from your other parent is contingent on manipulating them to pull their attention from attending to the ego needs of the first.”

INNER CHILD WORK

One of the things in the ‘healing fearful avoidant attachment’ literature focuses on re-parenting and listening to the inner child and offering it what it asks for.   I tried a meditation about this (https://insighttimer.com/saqibrizvi/guided-meditations/abandonment-healing ) and i broke down crying. As I said, i really shouldn’t have been doing it out in public. But I guess thats good knowledge for me. 

I’ve also found a methodology that is called Ideal Parent Figure Protocol started by Dr Daniel P Brown (who i THINK Is also part of attachmentproject.com?) where this is externalized and the process is more like “imagine yourself as a child, and now imagine yourself in a situation where you needed support. Now picture an ideal parental figure or figures giving you excited love and unconditional support and seeing you” etc.  There’s a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2au4jtL0O4 which was also really emotional for me.  

It’s also demonstrated effectiveness in treating cPTSD which I definitely think is part of my experience.

A QUICK ASIDE: KATE’S ATTACHMENT STYLE

Kate has identified as an avoidant-attachment person which means that growing up she learned that she couldn’t trust her parents and caregivers for support so built walls and became self-reliant, and keeps people out.  She has a need for space in order to feel safe, but also has a deep need for connection which may be either suppressed or frustrated, and will shrink away from strong (anxious) attempts at connection, creating a pursue/retreat cycle which is toxic to relationships (this is what I feel about our sex life). 

After doing a lot of reading, however, I have a gut feeling that she may actually also be Fearful Avoidant? She has general anxiety disorder and a lot of worry and interpersonal strife and stuff.  Fearful Avoidant people can lean more toward the fearful or more toward the avoidant type. It would be really interesting if we were the same type and could be really helpful in untangling conflict and areas of disconnect.  I found a video on “how two fearful-avoidant people can thrive in a relationsip together” which seemed really relevent to both of us https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLe7zQDv95M …

MY ASK FOR A PIVOT (KIND OF)

In a way I’m glad this all has happened (even though I still feel slightly dysregulated and i realize that hyperfocusing on it is not actually helping, which is why I’m trying to summarize and go do something else for a little bit) because it has yanked my attention toward something that clearly needs to be a priority for me.

  • I don’t want to remain in a place where stuff that is a thing that is maybe mentally uncomfortable but within my hypothetical tolerance threshold send me off the deep end.
  • I want to develop internal tools for processing and getting perspective and soothing rather than NEEDING to rely on external sources for soothing rather than support. I get that it is part of my programming and not my fault and that people can be happy to provide that (especially other anxious attachment folks) but i don’t want it to be my only option.
  • I want to do the reparenting work (even though it feels scary as hell) and learn how to give myself what I need.
  • I want to move from co-dependent behavior in relationships to co-regulating behavior https://www.instagram.com/p/Cck0WUgLO-V/?igshid=MDJmNzVkMjY=

So, slightly off topic but I think i’ve actually been doing a lot better in terms of setting boundaries for myself and asking for things from people (several people have commented on noticing a change).  Still suck at sharing my feelings (or even knowing what they are), but progress is progress.

Anyway I really appreciate your availability as i text flood at you, and I’m grateful for the hard work we have been doing. I think I’ve made more strides with you this year than I have with my last 4 or 5 therapists.

-Jeremy

-- 
Jeremy Meyers
Small Businesses Website Refreshes and Redesigns (portfolio.jeremymeyers.com)
Lead Producer, Deeper Context (www.deepercontext.com | @deepercontext)
Twitter @JeremyMeyers | Blog (www.jeremymeyers.com) | chat clients & Skype: JeremyMeyersFTW
Phone: 646-594-6515


So, what's your story?

Written by admin

July 21st, 2022 at 4:05 pm

Texts to Therapist re: Kate Dating Reactivity

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as a followup to my email, diving into Polysecure the book and some youtubes and i think it’s basically exposing the raw nerve of insecure anxious attachment system of mine as the (not entirely accurate) sense of security that came from being Kate’s only sexual connection becomes less true… which will need some processing hel

thanks. I’m doing attachment trauma reading and trying really hard not to burden Kate with helping me process stuff that’s coming up around everything because that feels unfair to her even if she’s generally willing to do it to be supportive. it’s hard to find a balance when i already feel like any asking for help or boundaries from anyone is an imposition, but also in trying to change that have a fear about setting myself up for isolation. (not asking you for a response rn, just infodumping).

I guess i just didn’t expect this level of dysregulation over something that would be pretty rote on my side in terms of what happened and how it does or does not affect my relationship with Kate generally.

is me – https://www.attachmentproject.com/anxious-attachment-relationships/ is Kate – https://www.attachmentproject.com/avoidant-attachment-relationships/

if as someone with an anxious attachment i sometimes use sex as a means to feeling validated and loved and secure and my partner as an anxious avoidant attachment feels uncomfortable any overwhelmed with bids for connection that require vulnerability and focus in the moment, then that is probably a pretty mutually unsatisfying dynamic

(for the record, the avoidant thing for her is a thing she’s identified herself and told me, it’s not me diagnosing)

theres a lot of memes and articles about like “anxious attachment and avoidant attachment are a bad relationship combo because their needs and comfort are diametrically opposed”. and surprise surprise my anxious attachment sees that an thinks “oh no, we’re going to have to break up because we will never be able to meet each other’s attachment needs in a satisfying way”.

or “I’m never going to be able to have the kind of fun satisfying sex life that i want with my person because i think of it as a means to connect and explore and be close and she thinks of sex as a way to gain status and maximize distance and separation and really prefers emotion-free sex”

but of course that explains why for her it was fine and no big deal and less complicated and for me it felt painful and disconnecting. because for her that was getting her need for sex at a safe feeling level of connection and for me it felt like she was out doing a connection-building thing with someone that she’d just met when it can be like pulling teeth for anything like that to happen between us more than once every few months or whatever

and why it felt viscerally dangerous to me (the implication that she’s backing away from me and towards not-me super casually and without care for me which of course both as her partner who knows her well and as a person with a decade of experience building connections with other people i know is not accurate, but i guess that’s why it’s called a trauma trigger and not a considerated response

really the Internet seems super anti avoidant attachment pairings, especially pairings with anxious attachment people. but also probably people in okay relationships or also avoidant people in general are not the ones writing or seeking attachment based relationship advice on reddit or whatever

sure. the posts i see from avoidants are more along the “i hate that I’m disappointing my partner over and over i just feel really suffocated, what do”. i imagine there aren’t really very many self aware avoidants who are super happy with where they are

boy people aren’t kidding when we talk about poly surfacing old wounds

but maybe not entirely anxious avoidant but more that this situation triggers the anxious side of disorganized attachment? because i think i can minimize bonds while wanting them, too

also

i guess the label doesn’t really matter

my experience when hearing about the sex she had was simultaneously betrayal and rupture and also need for reconnection and giving soothing, plus embarrassment at my reactivity. i spent a lot of time reassuring her that while i was feeling overwhelmed and reactive, i wasn’t upset at the fact of it and she hadn’t done anything “wrong”. which to which she basically said “yes, i didn’t do anything wrong, and i told you immediately”

maybe we could try EMDR? am i making it up that that’s a thing you mentioned at the beginning?

(TUESDAY 7/19)

this all happened Saturday night and now it’s Tuesday night and I’m still feeling dysregulated and I’m so tired.

#goals https://risingwoman.com/healing-anxious-attachment-abandonment-wound/

is it ok to keep texting or would you prefer i compile into an email?

note to self: don’t do childhood abandonement healing meditations while out for a stroll if you are not prepared to be a crying mess on the sidewalk half way through

Written by admin

July 20th, 2022 at 12:31 pm

Posted in toexport,Uncategorized

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Braindump on Kate Date / Sex

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So Kate had a second date with the guy she went out with on Saturday night, a dinner at his house. They ended up having sex. I was over at Katie’s and Kate was supposed to pick me up after her date, but it got to be around 2am and i hadn’t heard from her, until i texted and she finally responded and said she would leave to come get me.  She was really nervous about telling me what had happened, but walked me through the date and the sex that they had and how she felt about it (she felt okay, he was nice and respectful, she had fun, she was scared about how i would react even though she knew it was okay for her to do that)

I’m not sure I knew how I would react, though I mean, i have been encouraging her to go and have experiences and stuff.   I feel overwhelmed and pretty triggered at the moment.  Mostly I feel kind of blindsided because this had gone from a presumably mono/poly relationship (in practice if not in theory) over the course of two weeks to Kate fucking a new guy for the first time since we started dating.  At this moment I feel dysregulated and anxious and like some trauma has been triggered.  I’ve been doing some thinking and I think what’s happening (beyond us not having talked about it) to cause this much of a visceral reaction in me is that it possibly touched a trigger around my having been cheated on in the past. it’s kind of bringing up similar emotions?  At the same time, I am aware that this is because its very new and I haven’t had time to adjust and that there are many positives that can come from this door opening.  I think also maybe I’m mourning the end of the old chapter of where our relationship was?

Now, conceptually of course I don’t have an issue with this (and i’m kinda beating myself up about it because hypocrisy), and I’m glad she got to try a new thing and have an experience with someone who seems like a good guy that apparently she’s been chatting with for over a month but didn’t mention? (not that she’s obligated to mention, and not that i mention everyone that i connect with to her). i don’t feel like…. jealous or whatever? it’s just that it kinda went from 0 to 100 really quick after nothing happening for years and I feel really unprepared to process the huge change in the dynamic of our relationship.

We’ve been talking about it a lot and stuff.  I’m noticing when i’m in my “reassure the other person that i’m not upset and its okay and nothing is wrong” mode and when i’m in a “let me be a source of advice and validation for you” mode as opposed to actually being able to be present and say “this feels very uncomfortable and upsetting for me even though I don’t believe you did anything out of bounds”.  I was able to communicate that I really wish that we’d had a conversation when she was considering actually going out on dates with people to set some expectations for both of us and for me to better prepare myself and what might come up for me.

I think she was operating under the assumption that I would like to be notified in the way that I let her know when i’m going on dates or whatever, at this point, like no big deal. I was able to communicate that though it’s old hat for her to have me going out for whatever, for me it’s a huge shift and very difficult, and asked her to remember how she felt when i first started dating. not that it’s 1:1 but it’s not as vastly different as she might have assume.  She’s had a decade to adjust and normalize and I have had basically zero time. Which she took responsibility and apologized for.

We went out for dinner last night and kept talking and she was saying how this is kind of a pattern for her, how on second dates she’ll behave ‘out of character’ or ‘extra slutty’ or whatever and that she doesn’t feel great about what happened and how it happened (though it was obviously a consensual experience) but that it felt informative for her.   I’ve talked about how I feel about it and basically that i’m proud of her for doing a thing outside her comfort zone and also that i feel really overwhelmed and like its a lot for me to process.  At the same time, i’m still processing my mom dying, the will drama, and potentially some other relationships transitioning away from physical/romantic. So its a big thing on top of a lot of other big things.

An additional complicating factor is how little sex Kate and I generally have.  In our most recent conversation about that, she has shared specifically that there’s so much baggage between us about our sex life that she feels like her anxiety prevents her from being present in her body very much, and that instead she’s always monitoring me for whether i’m happy with whats happening or whether she’s responding in a way that I want or whether she’s “doing something wrong”, so more often than not over the last years, my attempts to initiate will be rejected, and if we do play, i can see her get up in her head at some point and the fun stops and at least part of the time there are tears.  Which sucks because it both prevents us from having sex play and also its somehow because of me, even though I have no agency around it and can’t really do anything about it?  It gets me in my head like “”ok so Kate can’t enjoy sex because she’s taking responsibility for my enjoying it, so i then have to be either hyper-vigilant about not showing anything but pure positivity or it will all stop and it will be because of me but not really because it will be because of Kate’s assumptions about how I’m doing that then spiral. So it’s a thing that is about me but not anything I have any agency to change or adjust because its happening in her head”.

We’ve also had conversations about us both being more verbally communicative during sex, both for giving instructions and feedback, and she has said that it’s hard for her because she’s basically already trying to stay out of her head and when i ask for feedback like that it just makes her feel like she has yet another task to keep track of and juggle while having sex”  So the combination of those things really leaves me no room for anything but waiting for it to go south?

I’m trying to treat these as separate things rather than intertwine them because that seems like it would be way less useful.

I’m so confused as to the boundaries right now. What is appropriate to share with her about how i’m processing? What is too much? What responsibility do each of us have toward the others comfort? I guess that’s between the two of us.  I’m trying to check in with her about how much she wants to hear about where i am with processing everything, and may be overexplaining and caretaking “this brought up feelings about being cheated on, and i know thats not whats happening and not something for you to take on”.  And also I think that I have an assumption that her brain is going to use stuff i say to beat herself up with, which is not necessarily the case.


Anyway, I don’t actually think my relationship is in danger or that these things are unresolvable or anything, so that’s something I can look to for comfort at least. Just ouch.


Anyway that’s what’s been happening on that front.


j

— 
Jeremy Meyers
Small Businesses Website Refreshes and Redesigns (portfolio.jeremymeyers.com)
Lead Producer, Deeper Context (www.deepercontext.com | @deepercontext)
Twitter @JeremyMeyers | Blog (www.jeremymeyers.com) | chat clients & Skype: JeremyMeyersFTW
Phone: 646-594-6515


So, what’s your story?

Written by admin

July 20th, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Kate,Poly Stuff,toexport

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