The Invisible Child

I’ve always struggled with the term attachment, used in my profession to denote the relationship that is supposed to develop between mother and infant during the earliest months of life.atach

it seems to imply a kind of physical connection when in fact, it’s all about the emotional relationship.  Read : Attachment theory, Allan Schore ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory ) brings that relationship to life when he speaks about the complex interactions between mother and baby — the role of eye contact, physical interaction and facial expressions in creating secure “attachment” — but it still seems to me to be the wrong word.

In my work with several different clients, I’ve been struck anew with the role of our parents’ attention in creating our sense of self, how important it is that we feel that we are seen. In a fundamental way, we come to know who we are by witnessing our parents’ responses to us in particular, the joy and love we see in our mother’s face convey to us that we are beautiful and important. Allan Schore has shown how the infant comes with a set of inbuilt expectations and behaviors geared to elicit those parental responses; when the reality of an engaged and loving mother meets those expectations, the result is a secure “attachment” (ugh).

It also results in a secure sense of self, the basis for later self-confidence and self-esteem. But when those expectations are disappointed, it leaves the infant with a sense of intrinsic defect and basic shame. This is particularly true when the environment is highly traumatic or abusive.

Take for example when I was younger, I felt like my mother did not like me, I did so much to get her attention, (I scored good grades, I always did house chores including those of my sisters, I was a great child) my mother, favored my sisters more than she did me. One Christmas morning (we always went shopping together so that we could see Santa) I woke up and the house was empty, they had left without me, no one cared!! I was so upset.

I was left feeling like a ghost, like I did not exist in my mothers eyes, which brings me to Kohut’s word, mirroring, , it suggests that what the mother does is behave like a physical object (a mirror), when I look at my mother (the mirror) instead of seeing her joyful expression, love, and care for me, all I see is a blank space…

This discussion helped me understand yet another reason why  you will find in some relationships, partners tend to cling on to one another, or you keep trying to seek approval for something, or you always need to have someone else around you. On some level, without the other person you cease to exist.

That is why as a therapist, when working with a clients of this kind, once you develop a deep interest in them as individuals, their source of self develops and grows through the sessions, they become visible in your eyes.

I wonder if people know about the importance of being seen and known by others, how at the end of the day, it’s a very small universe of people who “get” you, who are capable of actually seeing you for who you are. I wanted to be felt, seen and known by my mother, maybe it would have made me a better human being and we would have a closer relationship.

I missed out on the attachment, maybe that’s why i have such a big problem with the word. I became a ghost, withdrawn and shy, I become to attached and needy in relationships, always seeking approval, likes and people to embrace me.

Now I’m struggling to get out of the ghost world and become visible, the good thing I realized now is that I do not need any ones approval.

 

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