Personal Attachment

I have just come to parts of the Heller and Levine (2010) book that are resonating with me and also are guiding me to my own attachment work that I need to do.

I just read

“[A]n entire mosaic of factors comes together to create this attachment pattern: our early connections with our parents, our genes and also something else–our romantic experiences as adults” (p. 140).”

  • I had a loving, supportive, and completely attentive mother
  • I have always been able to talk to people openly and that has grown even more since I’ve come out (2007)
  • I have been independent and pragmatic my whole life
  • I have had few intimate partners for my age: 9 total; and I can list what I learned in those relationships

The authors also give some advice that I’ve followed as the secure base in the partnership: availability, lack of interference and encouragement. I will make sure that with liaisons and also partnerships that I have concurrently that I focus on my leading with these factors.

Like other authors who I’ve enjoyed, there are vignettes in this book and one sounds just like my ex-wife. This character, Shelley, throws tantrums, threatens to leave, and has online affairs. The latter weren’t affairs, but rather being glued to her phone all the time and joining and leaving support groups or being consumed by fighting with colleagues and chained to her emails. Shelley threatens to leave all the time and doesn’t finally leave until she’s “met someone else” and leaves the marriage (Heller & Levine, 2010). Nathan can’t understand why he put up with this treatment for so long, but the authors offer explanation:

“Secure people are likely to offer relatively benign explanations of their partners’ hurtful actions and be inclined to forgive their partner”

from Mikulincer and Shaver via Heller & Levine, 2010, p. 147

That’s what I did when she would be volatile. She’d move in with her sister. She’d look at apartments. She’d live with her Mom for a couple months. Finally, she bought a condo and showered there and spent increasing hours there; sleeping at our house a couple nights a week until she got a tenant. After she got a tenant, she was here, but not really here. She’d space out when I talked for more than one sentence and then snap back and say, “Sorry, what were you saying?”

I simply don’t look back now. I’m so glad that she’s gone and in two short months, I’ve not seen or spoken to her for a year. My attachment work is making sure that I am still a consistent base for my partners and also liaisons, and that I don’t continue a date or be in a partnership in which I can’t express myself honestly.

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