“Attachment trauma occurs when parents don’t know their child as a person, meaning there’s little to no engagement or investment in the child’s interesting though important feelings, and rich inner world. Even when responsible caretaking and good parenting are present, the child might still be emotionally ignored. Parents who deny their child’s relational attunement send the message, “I might love you but you don’t matter enough to be known.”
— Alan Robarge
When you’re a child, you don’t realize you’re also watching your parents grow up
Opening to Grief and Love
Being with the in and out breath, let the body relax.
Notice the gap at the end of the next exhale.
Before the next breath is drawn, let go into this gap…
Then let these phrases rest in the heart:
May I be open to receive love and compassion from others.
May love fill and heal my body and mind.
May I find peace and strength that I may use my resources to serve others.
May all those who are grieving be released from their suffering.
May I offer love, knowing that I cannot control the course of life, suffering, or death.
— Joan Halifax
When X falls in love with Y, an onlooker might call that projection…but as long as there is no uneasiness, I have no right to cut into that participation by calling it a projection; that is a horrible poisonous mistake people constantly make.
— Marie Louise Von Franz
What’s in there? Anything? Is it a desert, a cosmos, a party, a war? Our eyes are fixed on the outer world. We know little about what’s in us.
Why is that so common? Having grown up with parents who didn’t want to know their children as people, I still find it strange. Is this where all the bottled-up rage is coming from in our society? Do we have a culture of people who don’t know themselves and have no way to do so?
I remember the instant anger from my father any time I spoke my questions or my truth. I was always perplexed at why my simple childlike reflections caused that reaction. I paid dearly in my thirties just to have a professional listener hear my thoughts and feelings. Just being able to speak my jumble of thoroughly contradictory reactions to life was healing. Just having a patient listener — who of course was well paid to listen — helped immensely. It’s artificial parenting but in my case it really did make a difference.
We live in modern societies that give little value to the inner world. Children are not encouraged to stay in contact with themselves. It’s no wonder to me that there are so many angry people. I know what that’s like. Forcing yourself to be spiritual is not the solution. You actually have to wade through the muck that has accumulated inside you before you begin to connect to the inner Universe. It’s there but it’s not accessible to anyone who has been walled off from their true thoughts and feelings.
Children keeping secrets of who they are to protect their parents from hearing about it become ignorant of themselves. Living that way makes for a meaningless life. It’s not surprising these people are full of rage. Trump brought these people out in the open and they are far more numerous than we realized.
We can’t just decide to be good people and love the world. We have to love and get to know our most intimate selves. We have to learn to stop hiding from ourselves. That takes the courage to befriend the so-called “shadow self.”
Not being listened to as a child is a violation of a child’s essential being, causing a sense of abandonment. Too many of us are furious orphans feeling isolated from everything, including ourselves. Killing is the only thing that some people can do to give themselves a feeling of aliveness. A culture that promotes this way of being is a danger to the planet.
America has gone so far down this road that turning back seems impossible. I don’t know if it actually is impossible, but if it isn’t it’s only because an aggregate number of us heal our cultural wound.
That’s the project of poets, of artists, of anyone who can still love living things.