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We Need Others

Dear Reader,




Welcome to Lentz Letters!

Understanding more about the way we engage within our relationships as adults is discovered with a look back in time when we were precious, wrinkled, leaking little packages of wonder.


I remember those 3 am wake up calls when my children were infants. In a state of confusion, I would stumble out of bed and groggily wonder how such a helpless wiggling tiny body could muster such a loud, blood curdling, painfully ear-piercing sound that was loud enough to wake up the people in the next county. Little did I know that voice was communicating so much more than letting me know about yet another explosion from one extremity or another. I was already starting to meet lifelong fundamental needs for love, value, trust, and safety.


Who would of thought that a person’s response to such a tiny being could have such significance? What if a caregiver chose to hit the snooze button to catch up on another hour of sleep justifying this action in their minds by saying to themselves, “it is probably just the baby’s way of getting their way or here they go again trying to manipulate me.” Some caregivers do not embrace the truth that their infant is completely helpless at birth. The truth is that tiny tears symbolize their means of survival and launch their understanding about connection to other human beings. The unmet cry of a child becomes internalized and resurfaces in adulthood by defining the world as unsafe and manifesting a difficulty with navigating relationships.


No matter how relationship is defined as adults, it begins with a type of attachment that was experienced as a child. There are 4 possible types of attachment in childhood:

!. Secure attachment: Caregiver/s responds appropriately to the infant’s needs. The child learns healthy affection, comfort, and love. Alan Sroufe put it best, “Attachment is the relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation and exploration. It is a deep, abiding confidence a baby has in the availability and responsiveness of the caregiver.” This permits adults with these types of attachments to have relationships with respect, healthy boundaries, open communication, and active listening.


2. Avoidant attachment: The caregiver/s are not emotionally available to their child’s needs. They are physically present but tend to avoid displays of emotion or intimacy. The same is expected of the child with a zero tolerance for displays of any type of emotion. The more emotionally charged the situation is, the more emotional distance the caregiver displays. The child’s emotional needs are left unattended to when the caregiver lacks support, has difficulty reassuring or providing affection. Frequently, it is passed from generation to generation. On the surface the adult appears confident and self-sufficient but has not learned to tolerate emotional intimacy. People with avoidant attachment style prefer casual rather than committed relationships. Relationships that require a deeper level of intimacy are quickly discarded. They may prefer to be alone or choose relationships with pets over people.


3. Anxious/ambivalent attachment: This type of attachment stems from inconsistency and unreliable parenting that the caregiver experienced as a child. As a result, the caregiver begins to confuse their impulse to meet their own unmet need for love with a preoccupation with their child to satisfy their desire to get love. Parents mistake this desire to fill the void with actual love and concern for the child’s well-being. These parents appear excessively touchy and over- protective, try to live vicariously through their child, or become focused on their child’s appearance and performance. Signs that the child is developing anxious attachment includes excessive crying and clinginess, becoming upset when caregiver leaves, and difficulty controlling negative emotion. Adults with anxious attachment give more than they receive leaving them feeling unsatisfied and resentful. Additional symptoms of an adult with this style of attachment include difficulty trusting others, rejection sensitive, low self-worth, fear of abandonment, craving closeness and intimacy, dependence in the relationship, requiring frequent reassurance, overly sensitive to a partner’s actions and moods, being highly emotional, impulsive, unpredictable and moody. A 2015 study discovered that adults who have developed anxious attachment may have increased risk for anxiety disorders and depression. They find themselves caught in an unfulfilling cycle of engaging in attempts to avoid rejection leading to escalating demands and possessiveness which are met with the very rejection and abandonment that they fear.


4. Disorganized attachment: This style of attachment is fraught with attempts at getting needs met only to encounter fear and terror. The caregiver is likely abusive or neglectful and riddled with a history of unresolved trauma from their own lives. The unpredictable behavior of the caregiver contributes to children using disassociation to detach from what is happening to them. The memories may be completely blocked from consciousness years later. As adults, those with unaddressed disorganized attachment will struggle with maintaining relationships and possessing an ability to emotionally regulate.

The good news is that it is possible to attract secure attachments to find healthy ways of getting your needs met in adult life regardless of the type of attachment style that you experienced. You can learn to develop compassion for yourself via developing awareness of your attachment patterns, let go of the past and build healthy relationships with a mindfulness connection to the present moment rather than reliving the unsafety and inconsistency from the past. New healthier neuro-networks and behavioral patterns can be created that can help you learn to self- regulate and stay grounded, balanced and content in the present moment.





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