Peace in Finding a Diagnosis

It is Thursday morning, October 4.  Pat and I had a powerful session with Sage and Anthony yesterday. We began by sharing how awkward it was when Pat came home at midnight on Monday after a 5-day trip to California. I was standing in the doorway to the garage when she arrived, but we did not know how to link up in any casual way. We headed straight to the job of unloading her luggage and then going to bed, each in our own world it seemed. Pat had to work on Tuesday, so she needed her sleep and could not really chat about what her very rich trip was all about. And I did not talk about my “time alone” either. In our session with Sage and Anthony Pat confessed that it would have been easier for her had I gone to bed and not waited up for her. This saddened me, but I was not clear how to show up for her even though I had stayed up physically to greet her.

What was up for us in this awkwardness of simply coming together after five days apart? This simple exploration led to discovering how each of us has our antennae up trying to figure the other out, trying to assess what was going on in the other. Neither of us was aware of our own feelings let alone expressing them. Both of us had anxiety deep inside that we did not dare to share.

We talked this out for a while before Anthony offered that what could be going on here could be rooted in what is emerging in the psychological world as a diagnosis of Anxiety Attachment Disorder. This disorder is one of having anxiety in the presence of those closest to you – in all likelihood beginning with mom, but sometimes also dad. The young child does not feel secure with mom, is not sure mom will be there, and is not sure that he or she is really welcome or wanted by mom. In this existential insecurity the child gives constant attention to where mom is, what mom wants or expects. There is never or rarely a focus on the child’s own needs, in fact the child feels no right to have needs of his or her own. So beginning with this pervasive but eventually unconscious anxiety with mom, the child has anxiety in any relationship, never being sure what is expected. Later this would be most challenging in the adult’s closest intimate relationships.

And so I could see that with this constant anxiety in me in the presence of Pat, of course part of me, the young child in me, would want to be alone and not have Pat around. And this part of me would not like being with people in general, and with crowds, well forget it. This constant attention – antennae up and alert – makes me, the real me deep inside, unavailable. All of my attention in this part of me would be on what the other person needs or wants of me. I would constantly have to defer to what the other person wanted. And Pat could only nod her head in agreement that this energy, what Anthony named as Anxiety Attachment Disorder, lived in her as well.

We record our sessions with Sage and Anthony and replayed the recording last night before going to bed. Yes, a powerful and insightful session indeed! So how do I feel this morning after yesterday’s intense session with Sage and Anthony? Amazingly relieved and at peace – as if a key piece of my life puzzle just came into place. Did this give me, us, hope? Perhaps, but there was simply peace in having the diagnosis that so explained our behavior and challenges. I was very grateful for Sage and Anthony and their wisdom and perception.

I was drawn to a quote by depth-psychologist James Hollis on page 151 of Tracking the Gods printed in the latest issue of The Way Through, a Newsletter by Marv and Nancy Hiles:

“As children we suffer the wounds of too-muchness or not-enoughness, feeling overwhelmed or abandoned, and wind up adapting our souls to protect our wounds.  What a difference it would make in the life of a child or the whole world if the parent could repeatedly, sincerely say: You are brought into life by nature having all you need.  You have a great force, a great spirit, a great energy within. Trust it, stay in contact with it, and it will always lead you toward what is right for you.  Never hurt another person, but always be true to that great inner force and you will never be alone and never without direction.”

I also see the privilege to be present to such self-awareness. While psychotherapy is viewed by some as useful only for those who cannot cope with life, hold a job, or keep a relationship, we all have a collection of neuroses that keep us from being fully who we are. We can all benefit from psychotherapy as well as spiritual direction and the richness of a path such as Pathwork. What a luxury to be able to dedicate the time and effort needed to grow in consciousness and thereby to live in deeper states of Joy and Peace, free to be one’s true self in the world. This is, of course, the very purpose of our incarnation, and is a process of purification and transformation.

So specifically for me this morning, this more refined awareness and understanding of the possible source of my ever-present anxiety frees me from being unconsciously controlled by it.

Shared in love, Gary