Digging into Attachment Styles

So I have been reading about attachment styles recently and yesterday I dug a little deeper and got a more complete breakdown regarding Crittendon’s attachment strategies, which extend Ainsworth’s infant attachment styles. I was looking at a Routledge handbook online, if you want to see for yourself.

Anyway, it essentially distinguishes between strategies which efface the self (avoidant) and those which control others (preoccupied). The more complex breakdown began to allow me to see myself and to see other relationships in my life. In the past, looking at this has not yielded any resonance for me.

It helped me to understand my mother’s behaviour and its impact on my life now: I have been pondering a sense of being interfered with recently.

My mother interrupted my activities impulsively in order to demand my attention. It came across to me as a sense of forbidden activities, but I think it was more jealousy. In the present, I end up feeling that whatever I am doing is wrong and I ought to be doing something else. I also sometimes delay or avoid starting on tasks and now I think it is this early experience of things not going well.

Maybe it wasn’t jealousy on my mother’s part. It is hard to know what her motives were, but she frequently presented with anger–a preoccupied strategy, which comes from believing only intense emotions will get someone’s attention. Or maybe from feeling anger at the other for prompting what seem to be forbidden attachment feelings and making the individual “bad.”

Who knows….

But I can see how it led me to have difficulty pursuing my own goals, if I expect unconsciously to be prevented from experiencing any success.

And the thing is that people do: I still have preoccupied people in my life who interfere with my pursuits and use coercive tactics to get attention. I was walking home last week after a 2-hour walk home from a nature preserve. I was tired and I also had a plan for later in the day, but my principal happened to be passing by and pressured me into going for a picnic with her in the place I had spent an hour walking away from.

It is not just a remnant of my childhood. It is something people still do.

I am reminded of C’s anger at me for months. I came and I just sat there until she was calm. She has been interfered with too. It was a long time before she began to realize she was allowed to carry on. I was just there. She did not need to stop what she was doing.

It creates a depression–this expectation of interference. Also, you start to do it to yourself. I was thinking about this yesterday, when I began to get bogged down. I realized, as it was a holiday, that I could enjoy whatever I managed to be able to do, but I wasn’t. I kept trying to find reasons it was wrong–anticipating interference.

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