Saturday, August 3, 2013. I have to be a bit careful here because what motivates this post and what I am reacting to involves a real person who I am not slamming — but rather attempting to learn from.
I don’t think this person I call Robert is still a friend of mine. I am not sure he ever was. I know he no longer wants to be my friend. According to Robert’s final email announcement, I am “too much work.” I could not, or did not, resist my urge to reply to his note with “Funny. That’s the same thing I could say about you.” I had written the night before when the proverbial caca hit the fan that I now know that the two of us are not compatible.
The term “attachment village” recently crossed my mental desk through the work of Dr. Gordon Neufeld who is a life-spectrum attachment specialist. He was speaking at the moment that term appeared about shrinking families and the “orphaned elders” that are just one of the sad consequences of the changes in modern families of our culture. I realized as I heard that term that is what life is about for we members of a social species: We MUST HAVE an attachment village to be healthy and happy.
Now, down here far away from my family I have relied upon people I have met in this community for friendships that could help meet my attachment village needs. Robert was one of those people I attempted to form a friendship with. Now, here comes my assessment – and this is not statement of fact by any means. I don’t KNOW anything. I only wonder, guess, conjecture, and suspect what the dynamic was that did not allow a friendship between us to form or flourish.
Robert is gay. That is fine with me but it was not fine with his mother or his family while he was growing up. Robert’s mother wanted a daughter and entirely rejected her 3rd son from the moment he was born. She gave him no love. She hated him. Robert grew up remembering his mother’s response to some violent TV show after which she had said, “I don’t understand such killing, or how people can do that to one another. Unless, of course, the victim is gay.”
Robert grew from very young believing that if his mother ever discovered he was gay she would kill him.
And on and on his story goes – as does the stories of all early abuse and trauma survivors. And in the here and now it was the acquiring of HIV virus and the devastating effects the medication Robert has taken for over 20 years to control the virus that has left him physically quite unwell. While I have had compassion and shown concern and caring to Robert all along I was not intent on making this the focus of our friendship. I thought we could be peers, equals, respect one another, value getting to know one another – and other adult attachment village related occupations like having some fun together.
As it turns out although to my knowledge Robert is encircled by women I am evidently the only one who is “too much work.” What the heck does that mean?
I insisted on being respected and NOT disrespected. No, I did not give this man permission to criticize me, something he evidently desperately NEEDED to do. I don’t give ANYONE permission to disrespect me that way. There are adult reasonable ways to talk about how we feel when someone does this or that, etc. But outright bad-mouthing harsh criticism is out of the question for anyone I will keep in my life.
But there is more to this pattern. I have learned now that being myself means the MOST to me. I was not allowed to ever be a self, let alone myself, during Mother’s reign of terror against me. Any time in this relationship with Robert that myself appeared and what I felt, thought, did, believed, wondered about, wanted or desired did not 100% agree with HIM, he wanted to cricize me. Go figure!
Emerging as myself was evidently a threat to him getting HIS needs met, hence the projections of “bad mommy” onto me. In any relationship I will be myself and I will be respected, appreciated and valued — something I am equally able and willing to offer to everyone else.
I am sorry his mother was crap. I am sorry my mother was crap. But there comes a time when consciousness must be achieved by survivors of early abuse in order for balanced, healthy REAL relationships to be possible. A healthy adult attachment relationship is a dance of need and fulfillment with a LOT of space in between for just being one’s self with another one’s self. Badgering someone to be a pretend “good mommy” and condemning them when they won’t play the game as being “bad mommy” won’t do it.
I tried to bypass and work around our differences until it all blew up. While other women are evidently Robert’s “good mothers” once I insisted that I was my own person to be valued and respected as such I became, I am quite certain, his “bad mother.” Every abused child grows up with an image of their bad person internalized within them. It takes the willingness to confront those patterns in adulthood to consciously make choices about how to live in spite of the harm done to us.
To my knowledge Robert has never done that. Projection is too mild a word for how these “you are my bad parent” pattern destroy happiness in friendships. There is no working with it. I refused to pity or caretake this man. His mother did the same to him. Well – you can see where this has been going all along — until it got there.
The end. The end of my even trying to get along with this man and vice versa. That’s OK. I am learning quite a bit. I am nobody’s therapist nor am I anyone’s victim. I don’t “do transference” with people. I had enough of that for the 18 years I was abused by my psychotic Borderline Personality Disorder person (for whom I was her projected all-evil self).
But I have feelings I am processing as I let go of this relationship. If there is any kind of a personal investment in any relationship there are feelings that will have to sort and play themselves out as they heal once an end point arrives.
But there are certainly times for me when compromise and negotiation are so completely absent in relationships that there is no REPAIR possible — because the truth is there has been nothing but RUPTURE all along. Such is the contamination of the present with the trauma of the past. Trauma drama is not allowed to be a part of my life and being anyone’s “bad mother” projection is trauma drama in action.
I want a HEALTHY and HAPPY attachment village, not one that is made up of people who are as unhealthy as the anti-attachment family I was raised within.
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