I want to share with you some questions that people have had in response to some of the blogs.
Trauma has a way of mixing up our thoughts and feelings into one big confusing hamster wheel! Sometimes we have a hard time making any sense of it!
It’s like trying to see through a dark, blurry room. Shadows are moving, but we don’t know what those shadows are. We know something inside of us has been touched, and we know that we’re back in a scary place inside that feels very very young and vulnerable.
Hopefully, sharing these questions will help answer any questions the rest of you have had, but haven’t been able to put into words or had the courage to ask aloud.
Also, by others sharing their experiences, you can know that you aren’t alone and others are certainly struggling in their journey towards healing.
Without more introduction, here are the questions and answers:
Question 1: Holding Therapy For Clients
Hi Dr. Aimie,
I appreciate your YouTube videos and articles! I like your methods for rebuilding attachment. I have a question for you… Why is that so many therapists are not comfortable with holding clients… as they say it’s an “ethical issue”? The situation is that an adult client has had childhood trauma (currently has C-PTSD, depression, anxiety, attachment disorder) and cannot connect emotionally in therapy (but instead stays in her head). She feels deeply in general (although doesn’t show it) but cannot seem to connect in session due to extreme fears of vulnerability and intimacy. She has told her therapist that she longs to be held and comforted but her therapist stated that she cannot hold a client. The only way this woman has been able to connect to emotions/her body in session is through physical touch. So the therapist will hold her hands and then her body will begin to spasm and shake in response to the emotional connection, while the client also describes feeling sharp physical pains in her chest from the emotional connection. She experiences the physical touch as positive overall (as she is starving for it) despite intense feelings of shame and embarrassment from the shaking and being out of control. Can you speak to any of this? Do you have any suggestions of what she can suggest to her therapist to try doing with her to help the connection with both the therapist and herself (her own emotions)? Any ideas or advice would be greatly welcome.
In Response to Containing Trauma In Attachment Disorder
Answer: This is common situation! These are part of the limitations of healing from attachment trauma as an adult. Therapists do have their legal limitations that, unfortunately, are necessary to protect the therapist from those individuals who might do them damage.
This adult client will need to get the touch piece outside of the therapist’s sessions. There is a lot she can do to with using touch by herself, and if at some point in her life, has a friend who would be interested in helping each other with healing, the therapist could suggest different exercises they can do. It’s common for the shaking and spasming to occur, and definitely reflects the degree of fear and attachment trauma stored in the nervous system.
Question 2: My Partner Has Attachment Disorder
I strongly believe my wife is suffering from attachment disorder and there is now way she will even consider seeking medical diagnosis or even an opinion. what do you suggest?
In Response to Treating Attachment Disorder in Adults
Answer: This question actually comes up a lot! Because of the frequent emotional rollercoasters and poor ability for connection and collaboration in a partnership, it can be much easier for the partner to see the attachment disorder, while they themselves cannot! Addressing attachment trauma is very scary at any age, so it’s normal for an adult or child not to want to address it even if they know they have it. It’s just too painful and scary to go there.
Once they reach adulthood though, and even by late teenage years, it becomes their responsibility to heal. Before that, it’s the parent’s responsibility to create the environment in which their child could choose healing.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do. She has to want it bad enough herself to push past the pain and fear. You will only drive yourself crazy in trying to get her to do something. This is where it might be helpful for you to attend Al-Anon meetings to maintain your sanity and help you be grounded and happy regardless of her choices.
I hope this helpful. I know this is really hard.
Question 3: Pre-Birth Attachment Trauma
Hi Dr Aimie.
Thanks so much! When everything started to finally come crashing down in me a few years ago I searched and searched for the deeper story because it felt like there was more than met the eye. I found out my mum had almost gone into labour at 7 months (in the 1960s this could have been even more serious than today I think). She was also very unhappy. From day one I remember carrying immense fear of being separated from her so this post really chimes. My SE therapist also talked about pre-birth. So things that happened through my childhood were even more intense and distressing because of this earliest experience I think. It has been a really important understanding to gain. I’m gradually feeling more anger too, which with yours and my therapist’s help I’m learning to cope with, even though it’s not nice and I still feel guilty about having. I’m so glad I found you. The knowledge you share has been so important in my journey.
Thank you! x
In Response to Mothers and Their Role In Attachment Disorder
Question 4: My Thoughts Tell Me I Am Not Worth Anything
My inner (critic) voice keeps on saying:-You are a piece of shit….you simply don’t matter…you are here only to serve others….how dare you be happy or think positive and good about yourself? You have to be miserable
In Response to Working With the Inner Critic
Answer: Yes, that is what the inner critic voice will say! Now that you’re more aware of this, you can start to put those statements and questions up against reality. After all, just because somebody says something, doesn’t mean it’s true!
A good response generally is, “That’s really sad that you would think that. I wonder what happened to you that would cause you to think that. Maybe someday you can tell me. It seems like you could use a friend, so if you like, I’d like you to hang out with me today, just know I will not take what you say seriously.”
Keep up the good work!
Question 5: Narcissistic Mother
Exceptional post with necessary information AND options to self-help! An article that provides both, info and directives, is always a welcomed read.
Three years ago, at age fifty-four, after the sudden death of my mother, I was shocked enough to begin the long, painful, confusing road of self-recovery from Stockholm Syndrome, and attachment trauma to a malignant narcissistic mother who revealed in making my life hell and who my seven siblings modeled, me as their Identified Patient, or scapegoat.
Since my awakening, it has been made known to me I also deal with Asperger’s Syndrome. Knowing this brings huge amounts of needed clarity and sighs of relief, and also a sadness my FoO were unable to love and nurture my tender hearted self. At least I understand the ways trauma affects one’s brain. Therefore for me to blame, I must also blame my own misguided attempts at parenting, as through my lack, I hurt my children, too. No blame, shame or guilt will I give or take for we are each only as able as our interior makeup allows. I am fortunate I have a brain that functioned well enough, a heart that worked, and a Spirit in touch with Source so I knew I was really never alone.
It is through articles like yours that I am successfully furthering my knowledge. With my ever increasing knowledge base, supportive information equips me to build myself up, and helps keep me healing my wounded emotional parts and my beautiful, amazing brain.
Thank you for your good work
In Response to Trauma: Disconnect Between My Brain and My Body
Answer: First of all, thank you for your kind words. I received them and felt honored to have provided value to you.
You have worked hard to get where you’re at, and as you see, the more we heal the more we find to heal.
I specifically want to validate your comment about you taking responsibility for passing on the trauma biology to your children. This is very hard for some parents to even let this come to their consciousness, because it’s so uncomfortable! As we heal, we can tolerate more of our part and our own mistakes. In times past, we would have crumbled and been crushed by thoughts of “If I did something wrong, than I am bad… irreversibly bad and I will never be good.” More and more balance comes with healing where we can tolerate our imperfections and still see ourselves as inherently good and beautiful people who are doing the best we could at the time.
I am encouraging you in your growth!
Question 6: This Just Makes Me Discouraged
I feel quite defeated reading this. I’ve been working so hard for 3+ years and been through so much but don’t feel I am near this point of recovery. Maybe part of me is scared of it and being alone without my therapist and a way of being that is horrible but familiar. On Wednesday I start another therapy. I hope it moves things on whilst also being scared of that. I’ll keep trying.
In response to The Gift of Recovery From Trauma
Answer: First of all, I have seen perseverance and courage in you! You have been working hard for a long time!
It’s completely normal for you to feel discouraged and defeated. Yet, I would challenge the beliefs that is behind that which I imagine are something like, “I will never get there,” “I’m not working hard enough,” and “What’s the point?”
Recovery is a lifestyle. It’s a process we begin that will go to new depths until the end of our lives. There will never be a time, Jo, that you’ll say “I have arrived!” Can I ask you a question? If you look back to when you started 3 years ago, what changes can you see? It is a principle in the universe that if you are working on recovery and heal, you will see changes. Guaranteed. It is impossible to not have changes and progress.
However, we bring our expectations to the process. We expect it to take a certain amount of time. We expect to have the changes happen in a certain order. When things do not go as fast or in the way in which we expect, we get disappointed thinking that things aren’t going well or that we aren’t doing it right. It’s almost the same state of mind as when a person is stuck in “Workaholism” and they can’t ever just relax and enjoy the work and progress that they’ve done.
Celebrate your progress! (I know there has been some!) Pace yourself – know that your recovery will happen in the time and way of your Higher Power/God. The principle of life is that healing and recovery is happening in the perfect way that you need.
Encouraging you on.
Question 7: How Boredom Is Connected to My Attachment Trauma
This is so helpful, thank you. I’m really bored in my job at the moment and have a manager who mimics some of my unavailable mother’s behaviour, so this has helped me untangle some of what’s going on in my mind at work when I find myself compulsive shopping at lunchtime or getting very down and insular and feeling purposeless during work hours.
In Response to The Dangers of Boredom For Those With Trauma or Addictions
Answer: Thank you for sharing! Wow – what an amazing awareness you have of the situation now and connecting all these pieces! I will be curious to see what you will decide to do to get yourself out of this old pattern.
Encouraging you on!
Question 8: I’ve Always Been An Angry Person, Now I Understand
This post totally clicked for me! After struggling with relationship anxiety my entire adult life I was excited to learn about insecure attachment disorder a few years back. It finally made sense. On top of that I’ve always been, in general, a very angry person who is exceptionally irritable. I’ve never linked the two, but now it’s finally making even more sense! Unraveling my last I think I may know exactly where this anger stems from. From your comment above I know I need to work on the accepting myself phase still. Anyways….Huge thank you for this article!!
In Response To Blog Why Am I Angry All the Time?
Question 9: Are Medications The Only Answer?
Are there any medical interventions such as medication that can help in the distressed stage of this illness-i have recently been diagnosed in UK and have only be offered olanzapine-is there any alternatives???
In Response to Treating Attachment Disorder in Adults
Answer: This is a great question! However, the answer is hard. First of all, when we are diagnosed,we have decision points that guide us into treatments.
The first decision point is, “Am I going to treat the symptoms through the conventional medicine way,” which is to go on mood medications. These are typically pretty hard mood medications if one is “distressed” enough to be seeking medical intervention, and so these medications have some pretty awful side effect profiles. My experience and thus bias, is that medications only seem to make a person more flat and numb, and they definitely do not heal. However, sometimes medications are helpful to get a person past a certain point and back into a good enough space where they can work on healing.
There are a ton of alternatives to these hard mood medications! The list is long and honestly, there are a ton of factors in a person’s body that can be causing their mood and mental health to be worse. There can be things in their environment that is also making things worse. These are often pretty important things to address because the difference can be quite significant. However, it’s not easy. It involves eating a very different way than most people eat, becoming rigid about one’s sleep and digestive health and committed to learning and experimenting. Special lab work with a functional medicine practitioner is often needed, and the right supplements can often be just as effective as medications without the negative side effects.
After or while we are addressing all of that, we start working directly with their nervous system and the stuck survival response patterns. A lot of this is done through all kinds of variations of Somatic Experiencing and Instinctual Trauma Response Model trauma therapies.
I hope this has been helpful as well as encouraging to you that there are alternatives to the medication route.
You’ve got this!
The journey of healing from attachment trauma is our own, but thankfully, people come into our space along the way!
I love those brief moments of connection where a new level of awareness or healing is achieved!
May you find value and a sense of companionship and courage in your journey from these comments and questions.
To Your Health and Healing,