To heal our attachment wounds, we first need to understand what they are.
Attachment wounds are usually formed in childhood and stem from a lack of connection with our caregivers. This can happen when our parents are unavailable or even when they’re simply not attuned to our emotional needs.
As children, we rely on our caregivers for emotional support and connection, so when we don’t get that, it can leave us feeling isolated and disconnected.
These attachment wounds can show up in our adult relationships in a number of ways. For example, we might find ourselves attracted to unavailable partners, or we might have a hard time trusting people. We might also attract narcissistic partners who exploit our vulnerabilities.
Wounds That Hobble Us
Last week I flew home to Melbourne to be with my three adult children and grandees as we helped my mum celebrate her 90th birthday.
‘Family’ holds so many painful and destructive attachment wounds, some of which I’ve touched on via my Blog.
While home, I found myself experiencing profound emotional dysregulation. It’s my perception of what I feel as ‘rejection’ by loved ones that cut the deepest.
Because of my hidden wounds from childhood and my inability to truly love myself, the quality of the love I endowed my children was ‘compromised’. Example — I cannot remember being cuddled as a child or sitting on my mum’s knee. I was an anxious child who internalized her emotions. I yearned for a mother’s gentle and nurturing love. That just never happened. Mum ruled us seven kids with an iron fist!
In my early twenties, I married a passive-aggressive narcissist and allowed him to disrespect and diminish me over decades. My lack of self-love, or rather the absence of unconditional love, this gaping hole inside of me where real love has never revealed itself, led me to over-compensate for how I loved in my relationships with my children, grandchildren, and partner.
I gave others — children and husband — the quality love I would have wished for myself.
It’s clear to me now, my unresolved attachment wounds create emotional distortions in my adult children. And until I find in myself that unconditional love I seek in others, all the relationships I hold dear will die on the vine.
So, let’s tease out here how we can better identify and understand our attachment wound to facilitate real healing.
3 Types of Attachment Wounds
There are three main types of attachment wounds: abandonment wounds, rejection wounds, and betrayal wounds.
Each one can cause different problems in our relationships.
Abandonment wounds are the result of a deep emotional wound created when we experience feelings of abandonment, rejection, or betrayal. This can happen in our relationships with others, or even in our relationship with ourselves.
When we have these types of wounds, it can lead to some major issues in our lives. We might find ourselves constantly seeking approval from others. We might attract partners who are narcissistic or abusive. We might even start to believe we are unworthy of love and happiness.
There are few things more painful than feeling rejected. Whether it’s being passed over for a promotion at work, getting dumped by a partner, or being left out by friends, the sting of rejection can leave us feeling hurt, alone, and unworthy.
Rejection can be a sign that we have unresolved attachment wounds. By exploring the root causes of our fear of rejection, we can begin to address them and create healthier, more fulfilling relationships with others.
The rejection we experienced as children can be especially wounding because our inner child is still carrying those hurt feelings around. So, it’s important to learn how to heal those old wounds and give our inner child the love and attention she or he needs.
If we’ve been betrayed, we may be feeling a range of intense emotions, from anger and hurt to sadness and confusion. We may even feel like we’re going crazy. Betrayal wounds can be incredibly painful and difficult to heal.
It may be that the person who betrayed us was a narcissist. Narcissists are experts at manipulation and control. They’re often able to make people feel like they’re the ones in the wrong, even when they’re not. Narcissists can be extremely charming and persuasive, which makes them very good at betrayal.
Betrayal is never our fault. But it is possible to move on and rebuild our life after betrayal.
Tips to Start the Healing
Consider professional help
If you’re struggling to heal on your own, seeking professional help can be a valuable step. A therapist can help you to work through your feelings and start the healing process.
Acknowledge the pain
Don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend they don’t exist. It’s okay to feel angry, sad and hurt. Allow yourself to grieve the loss.
Taking care of yourself is essential for healing emotionally and physically. Make sure to schedule time for activities that make you feel good, such as exercise, relaxation, and spending time in nature.
Spend time with supportive people
When you’re struggling, it’s easy to withdraw from the world and isolate yourself. Unresolved wounds can damage your trust in others. But don’t let that keep you from building new and meaningful relationships. Reach out to family and friends who you can trust. Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. People who care about you and will support you through your healing process.
Write about your experiences
Putting your thoughts and feelings down on paper (or screen) can help you make sense of them and start to work through them.
Challenge your negative beliefs about yourself
If you believe that you’re not good enough, unlovable, or undeserving of love, try to counter those beliefs with positive affirmations. Remind yourself that you are worthy of love and connection.
Become a volunteer
Helping others can take your mind off of your own problems and make you feel good about yourself. Find a local charity or nonprofit organization that needs your help.
If you were the one who was betrayed, you may need to forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness is not easy, but it can help you to move on.
Do things that make you happy
Such wounds can make us feel bad about ourselves, so it’s important to do things that make you feel good and help you to relax. This can be anything from reading, listening to music, spending time in nature, or spending time with friends and family.
Some wounds can take time to heal, and that’s okay. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time and space to heal in our own way and at your own pace. There will be ups and downs, but eventually, you will start to feel better.
By following these tips, you can start to heal your attachment wounds and build up your self-esteem. Remember, you are worthy of love and respect, no matter what anyone else says or does.
Love, light & laughter