Facing My Own Attachment Disorders

Yesterday Pat and I had a great first-follow-up Skype session with Sage and Anthony, our Pathwork couple’s counselors with whom we had had our first intensive in Toronto in early July.

For me the most helpful discovery to explore on our call yesterday was what I might call my own attachment disorder. This discovery came about early in the call when Anthony asked how, after four weeks apart from them, we were feeling toward them coming into this call. Sage observed that there were times during the intensive where I really connected with her, heart-to-heart. Was that energy accessible in me today in the call?

As I dropped into this question I could see that in fact now, today, I would not allow myself to really connect with Sage or Anthony – or Pat – from a vulnerable heart place within my being. This awareness was at once shocking and yet so thrilling to realize.  Thrilling in its truthfulness and profoundness.

I could instantly see and feel in reflecting back, my isolation that was present growing up with Mom and Dad. As a young and even older boy, I would not, for whatever reason, connect with Mom and Dad. It was, for whatever reason, not safe to my little-boy-self to connect. No, what was safe was being in my room or in the basement playing with my toys, building things, reading, etc. Here is where I found my joy, happiness, and peace. Whereas with Mom and Dad I sensed that I had to perform or obey or in some other way not really be me. I was living a double life – one pleasantly on my own, and the other more guarded and controlled in my family.

So in this way I had created a cocoon of isolation and safety around my heart and came to live safely in my own little world. I would take this cocoon or shell everywhere I went – to school, church, boy scouts, band, camp, etc., and then later in my college years to the classroom with my professors and fellow student and to my fraternity, then later still into my career, church work, and, yes, my own family that I created. Perhaps I came into this life in my cocoon of safety, and my environment helped to keep me there. How exciting it is to realize the possible truth and profound impact on my experience of life that living in a cocoon brought me!

Now with Anthony and Sage it was so clear that my cocoon was at work. I was not, in this call on Monday, allowing myself to honestly engage vulnerably with them. Rather, I was holding back, especially my feeling self. Yes, holding back my feelings even from myself, from Pat and then from Sage and Anthony. This was an amazing awareness and I saw that my cocoon of isolation had been active throughout my Pathwork experiences as well. Never really surrendering to my helpers, teachers, or the activities they were creating for my growth.  I would not allow love to penetrate my life experience even while I was in my Pathwork community.


And Anthony was pointing out that this isolation strategy would not work if I intended to grow through our work with them.

I shared with Anthony, Sage, and Pat all of this that came up in me in the call in response to Anthony’s simple question. And then shared that this felt to me to be a rich issue for me to mine. Truly connecting, especially with authority figures, allowing their love to come into me, seemed impossible for me, something that would take decades of work to dissolve.

Anthony smiled and offered that this was not his sense. Based upon our behavior in the intensive he sensed that this intimate connecting was “closer than you think!” He said my sharing where I was in this connecting space even on this call was being REAL with them and with Pat. And being REAL IS connecting.

I could see this, but still I felt vulnerable and a little frightened. Could I really take in Sage’s and Anthony’s obvious love for Pat and me? Even a little? My heart wall is thick, but not impenetrable. And I sensed that, being a heart-centered person in my Enneagram THREEness, my heart has tons of feelings to feel and to express. I am told all the time that feelings, even love feelings, ooze out of me even though I have no awareness of this and, to others’ frustration, even insist that I am “the emotionless one.” With this new sense that connecting is simply daring to be real, I felt hopeful that the wall around my heart could indeed come down. There are new possibilities. And all of this interpenetration of heart energy is emotional intercourse. Pat noted that we are entering this space with beginner’s mind. How helpful to know this, too.

In the call I quickly wanted to go on and talk about Eros in our relationship, but Pat said she was not ready. Her readiness to talk about Eros depended upon us getting a little further down the path of experiencing emotional intercourse. Sage jumped in and agreed. She said that this was the feminine role, to block moving ahead in a relationship until the emotional connection was more solid. I instantly got this and, after a little embarrassment over being “merely human” in wanting to rush ahead, was glad that this truth had been spoken by both Pat and Sage. Yes, our relationship is a gradual unfoldment.

All of this felt to be uncovering deep layers to penetrate within me. I could see my lifelong blocks to Union and Love, and I could share what this life in the cocoon was like. I feel hopeful for US as we come to experience and share more feeling colors on our currently seemingly sparse palette of emotional colors.

Shared with love, Gary