Fear of Goodbye

Fear so often keeps us pinned inside lives we wish were different. So often, that fear is irrational, only an echo that sets wiring of brains vibrating, certain we will be set upon by wolves if we leave the ring of firelight.

How do we not fear pain? How do we not fear loss? How do we not fear being unloved, or not-now loved, by someone we love? How do we not fear that, back in the ring of firelight, they laugh and sing and did not notice we were gone?

Fear is hard-wired into the code of who we needed to become when we descended naked and defenseless from the trees. Fear is fed to us with mother’s milk, perhaps tainted by her abandonment, maybe spoiled by angry harsh words from her own father, or corrupted by neglect from the man she married. What’s to do with it now?

Sitting, watching a rising sun paint mountains pink then gold, I see goodbye for what it wants to be, an ogre too large when wrapped in a cloak of fear, instead of what really is, just a good bye. I miss you. That’s a good thing, not to be feared.

Living inside it

The research for “It’s Nobody’s Fault” kicks over a lot of rocks. While I really dislike it when somebody says with the best of intent, “It sounds like you are working through a lot of issues,” there is truth to that. Still, most of my life has been intensely private. It is horribly uncomfortable putting any of this out there.

But my goal is not personal. The goal is to provide a key for those with Adult Attachment Disorder, or those in a relationship with that person, to unlock the door or just create a window, so the oppressive neediness, the chaos of “crazy-making” is lessened,  the serenity of Jeff’s “it lasts as long as it lasts” visible, if not within reach. Because that makes all of life better.

“…because healthy functioning of the attachment system facilitates relaxed and confident engagement in non-attachment activities, it contributes to the broadening of a person’s perspectives and skills, as well as the actualization of his or her unique potentialities.” (Mikulincer, Mario (2007-05-14). Attachment in Adulthood (Kindle Locations 887-888). Guilford Press. Kindle Edition.)

The opposite is also true. My friend Greg would describe his unhealthy attachment system as causing anxiety, making it hard to engage in non-attachment activities, limiting his perspectives and skills, and difficult to actualize his unique potentialities.

I talked a day or so ago to a woman who is an Anxious, one of the first I have met since starting this project. She has had a very, very difficult time with serious consequences from her attachment behaviors.

AAD is not trivial, it impact is not limited to the realm of romantic relationships. It spreads like a stain through everything. But I have to be very careful not to look at too much through this lens, nor let this small project get out of control.

Is AAD “Real?”

Today I was asked if Adult Attachment Disorder was “real.” When asked what was meant, they responded by asking if AAD had a definition within The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Yes and no.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) was first defined in the DSM-3, according to a review for the DSM-5 (an update due for release in May, 2013) written by Charles H. Zeanah, M.D., and Mary Margaret Gleason, M.D. for the American Psychiatric Association.

RAD is the name given to attachment disorders as they appear in children. The review by Dr.s Zeanah and Gleason will update the definition of RAD in a number of ways that reflect current research.

So the DSM does not have a definition of “Adult Attachment Disorder” per se. However, there is a substantial body of work relating RAD to adult behaviors (see: A Brief Overview of Adult Attachment Theory and Research by Dr. R. Chris Fraley).

The assumption is that behaviors around attachment developed in childhood impact relationships one is capable of forming as an adult, and possibly result from biological survival mechanisms.

Walking away

From hereRan into somebody who had read the short verse I wrote in January about a relationship that had just ended with a wonderful woman because our paths were not converging. That’s a hazard of falling in love later in life. I had forgotten I posted those personal emotions but was grateful this person enjoyed the “poem” and was moved by it. Had even read it.

Sometimes it is too easy in moods of “terminal uniqueness” to forget we share so many of these emotions and experiences. A friend, also a writer, talks of the universal nature of what brings us joy and heartbreak. That is part of the value in art, that ability to share experience. And to feel not quite so alone.

It took me a while to understand that, plus words from a friend going through a tough time who has recognized that “letting go,” while exquisitely painful, is sometimes the only path toward fulfillment if not self preservation.

That is one of the themes in Chalice and something I am trying to convey in It’s Nobody’s Fault. Sometimes one has to walk, or let our love walk. Because after enough break-ups and make-ups we know the pattern if not the causes, and we have to make a cold calculation that it is what it is.

That’s not to say there isn’t hope, only that change sometimes requires that … we make a change.

On Ice
holding only in my heart whom I’ve held in my arms,
distance great, time short, this is life’ sorting,
souls skate near to brush fingertips to lips,
momentum’s past push/pulls us apart,
your cashmere warmth my memory.