There is no electricity. Electrical power was alright this week, but in other recent weeks, it’s been unreliable. They did some maintenance work somewhere, I guess. There was a fire and a line was knocked over by a tree. I have no idea what today’s power outage was caused by, or when it will end.

My laptop battery isn’t what it used to be and I have only 1 hour left. So I cannot meander from the point or procrastinate, as I often do.

I gave a talk today on phonemic awareness. I think 50% of the teachers were interested and 50% were bored. But I think being the center of attention is difficult for me. Visions of bashing my head in or smashing my hand with a hammer flash through my head. It’s not difficult to think I may feel inside that I have done something very wrong.

The Developmental-Maturational Model helps me in these times, especially when I connect it to the two systems within our brains: System 1 and System 2. I think my mind recognizes attention as a danger point. Danger creates a stronger sorting mechanism in the mind for relevant details. While I pushed gamely on, engaging with people when I was raised not to engage with them, this went quietly on, leaving me vulnerable to seeing indicators of whatever I am doing as being unwelcome or unacceptable.

Someone with a preoccupied style might experience this as thoughts racing. Mine doesn’t. I don’t actually know why I am being slammed with shame. I work really hard at trying to connect my feelings to something so that I can create some order in my mind, but I am starting to see I have had a lot of contact with people who have a preoccupied style and for them this is how the mind works–not just theirs, but everyone’s. How other people have presumed my mind worked is that all of this stuff was frantically swirling around and what I ought to do is make it stop, because that’s unbearable. So their advice has often been to use dismissive strategies–to do things that make the danger seem less immediate and less alarming.

But the danger is within myself. I can’t actually distance myself from it. I am not seeing that the danger might be someone’s disapproval of me or their rejection. I am seeing it as something within me–something I did or felt.

The DMM model says this kind of thinking happens with consistent parenting. Thinking about it that way kind of horrifies me to think about. My mother may have been consistently neglectful. I developed a causality within my mind that drawing attention to myself would not end well. Inconsistent parenting would sometimes reward and sometimes punish the same behavior. Intermittent reward encourages behaviour. The parent might sometimes pick up the screaming infant. Crittendon’s idea makes me think my mother never or almost never picked me up when I cried.

I sometimes have this overwhelming urge to lie down when I am struggling emotionally. I end up wondering if this is actually because that ended up being the most reliable strategy. Lie still, don’t scare mom, she may eventually get lonely and pick me up….Cry and mostly she hits me.

It’s not a nice thought.

 

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Last year at this time…

The Boy talking to me about his parts makes me think more about parts and how it feels to have parts. Also, it’s a holiday, and I am thinking about C and the emotional quality of some of our times together. I wonder why they feel the way they do. I think those two things are related.

It feels hard to express though, I think perhaps because it feels unspeakable to be the way that I am. It’s a strange way to be, and I think I have spent a lot of my life being told I didn’t or couldn’t have the experiences that I do.

When I saw C on this particular holiday in 2016, she was very angry at me. I remember I did not sleep most of the night, because I did not understand why she was angry or what she needed. So it’s not a pleasant memory, and yet when I think about that memory I have some sense of closeness. Not a feeling of being unified in any way, since we did not have the same emotions and we also did not understand cognitively what she was experiencing. Something more in the line of feeling that I saw her.

Perhaps it feels that way because she was trying to be seen.

I can’t really pin down why people end up in parts, but I think it has to do with a parent so unable to function emotionally that they distort their experiences with their child, so that the child feels dangerous and threatening to them. What happens for the child is they feel they themselves are dangerous and they must be extinguished or concealed. But C was angry and showing to me how she felt. I know she had ideas about why she was angry, and it had to do with her misunderstanding of my motives. I wasn’t trying to meet my own need for company at the expense of her needs. But her experiences with people were that she kept herself safe via compliance and caretaking. Then the other person liked having her comply and caretake. And in the process, she lost more and more freedom.

I don’t think she had ever met someone who saw that behaviour and thought, “Probably you comply because you are frightened. Probably you need someone to help you feel safer so that you can explore your own interests.”

So when I said, “Would you like me to come and just be there?” This offer made no actual sense. She was protecting herself against exploitation. The strategy that worked with parents she relied on attracted people into her life who behaved in harmful ways.

 

Parts

The Boy has parts. He says sometimes he thinks there are small people inside him. When he is running and his heart pounds very fast or when he is hungry and asks for food, he says he thinks it’s the small people. They get hungry and tired because they are small.

People who use A strategies psychologically place danger at a distance from themselves in order to maintain the way their mind functions. They stay tilted toward the mental system which works slowly and is conscious. They make decisions based on cause-and-effect or based on rules. Feelings have not been reliable sources of information.

When your felt states are themselves sources of danger, that must be kept at a distance in order to function. So he’s doing that. It’s dangerous to be hungry or tired, so that can’t be me. It must be someone else, and it’s a vulnerable feeling, so it must be someone small.

I don’t actually have any idea what to do about parts–his or mine or anyone else’s. I suppose the danger must be addressed in some way, so that eventually the danger of having felt states diminishes, and I suppose you do this a little at a time.

Sinks

I have been reading about attachment–not Bowlby’s, but Crittenden’s. It is more detailed and more resonant than what I have read before.

Crittenden does not cluster attachment into 3 styles for adults, but instead places them along a continuum of relationship strategies acquired throughout one’s younger years. She calls these A and C, with B falling in the middle. A strategies diminish one’s feelings of being in danger by distancing the sense of danger from oneself or controlling what causes the danger. C strategies use coercion or manipulation to force others to respond or provide support. People who use C strategies have more obvious dysfunction and are more likely to seek help: they land in therapist’s offices more commonly. A strategies deny one’s felt experience and rely on cognition more. C strategies rely on feelings to dictate responses–cognition is experienced as unreliable. Some people use both A and C strategies. In childhood “disorganized” attachment, the child attempts to use A strategies but is unable to do so: the instinct to seek help and comfort is too strong.

I have now some theories about myself. I use mostly A strategies. I cope by diminishing my sense of danger so that my ability to reason does not become overwhelmed. Over the years, I have added to these strategies and expanded them so that I now have quite a range of them. Therapy has encouraged me to do this, maybe because therapists are accustomed to treating the other end of the spectrum or maybe because using more profoundly dysfunctional relationship strategies diminished the episodes of being overwhelmed. Or maybe I just kept using the same ones.

Crittenden’s strategies are numbered from 1 to 8, with 1 and 2 allowing for quite normal and successful relationships and 7 and 8 leading towards total dysfunction. I can see I use A5 and A6 quite regularly and have for a long time. I may have moved into A4 as a step forward.

I feel I fall back on C strategies at times, but I cannot identify with the person who does this because I have learned so deeply not to have feelings.

I am working at healing this divide, but I am actually not sure how. I have worked out that the sink is involved with some kind of trauma. I go to the sink and feel worthless and ashamed. A strategies would tell me to ignore those feelings and carry on with my work–they are from the past and are no longer helpful. I am trying to remain with those feelings while I work in case that does something.

I think as a child I could not accurately identify sources of danger, because the dangers were themselves my only hope. I couldn’t know my mother drowned me under the tap. Instead, I became afraid of sinks.

Sinks

I have been reading about attachment–not Bowlby’s, but Crittenden’s. It is more detailed and more resonant than what I have read before.

Crittenden does not cluster attachment into 3 styles for adults, but instead places them along a continuum of relationship strategies acquired throughout one’s younger years. She calls these A and C, with B falling in the middle. A strategies diminish one’s feelings of being in danger by distancing the sense of danger from oneself or controlling what causes the danger. C strategies use coercion or manipulation to force others to respond or provide support. People who use C strategies have more obvious dysfunction and are more likely to seek help: they land in therapist’s offices more commonly. A strategies deny one’s felt experience and rely on cognition more. C strategies rely on feelings to dictate responses–cognition is experienced as unreliable. Some people use both A and C strategies. In childhood “disorganized” attachment, the child attempts to use A strategies but is unable to do so: the instinct to seek help and comfort is too strong.

I have now some theories about myself. I use mostly A strategies. I cope by diminishing my sense of danger so that my ability to reason does not become overwhelmed. Over the years, I have added to these strategies and expanded them so that I now have quite a range of them. Therapy has encouraged me to do this, maybe because therapists are accustomed to treating the other end of the spectrum or maybe because using more profoundly dysfunctional relationship strategies diminished the episodes of being overwhelmed. Or maybe I just kept using the same ones.

Crittenden’s strategies are numbered from 1 to 8, with 1 and 2 allowing for quite normal and successful relationships and 7 and 8 leading towards total dysfunction. I can see I use A5 and A6 quite regularly and have for a long time. I may have moved into A4 as a step forward.

I feel I fall back on C strategies at times, but I cannot identify with the person who does this because I have learned so deeply not to have feelings.

I am working at healing this divide, but I am actually not sure how. I have worked out that the sink is involved with some kind of trauma. I go to the sink and feel worthless and ashamed. A strategies would tell me to ignore those feelings and carry on with my work–they are from the past and are no longer helpful. I am trying to remain with those feelings while I work in case that does something.

I think as a child I could not accurately identify sources of danger, because the dangers were themselves my only hope. I couldn’t know my mother drowned me under the tap. Instead, I became afraid of sinks.