Detached attachment

That night in that small room, old clothes were arranged into a makeshift bed for us, my two siblings besides me snoring. My eyes were wide open, i couldn’t sleep. I was tired. I think I was was about six. I had seen more than I had heard. The fights between mum and dad. Sometimes I wanted to take dad’s side. Mum complained  about his drinking and the women, yet when he was drunk I felt closer to him, I believed mummy was the one at fault. It didn’t help that she was the disciplinarian. She beat me for every small mistake whether I’d done it or not. Often, I felt that she took out her frustration from my dad on me. This particular night, I had just given them a lecture. I was tired of hearing them. I demanded that they make up and if they didn’t, I was going to leave. It seemed to me that my being born was the cause of my mother’s suffering – that she had married my dad because she had become pregnant. I didn’t know where to go to but I knew I had to get away.
The next morning, they were civil to each other but something had changed between me and my mother. We developed a close friendship and often, she would confide in me. I listened, eager to help, and even gave advice. Sometimes I would intervene with my dad and being the girl that I was he definitely listened. I didn’t realize how insidiously I had lost my childhood. I didn’t have many friends. I did not play much and I spent most of my time trying to relieve my mother of her burden. I would do the house chores and take care of my little siblings. And above all I listened patiently.

Photo taken by by Dagitari Wawira

I grew up knowing I wanted to marry and have a family of my own, like the perfect poster child. My family would be different. It would be nothing like what my mother and father had. But their relationship had made me wary. I feared giving my heart. Slowly, I had come to believe that all men were like my father and opening my heart up to a man was opening it up for heartbreak. When I met my first love, it was in the most unexpected of circumstances. I dialed a wrong number and he just kept talking. We got to meet. On that first meeting – we arranged to meet at a local hotel – he lied about where he was seated and how he was dressed. I sat there waiting only to be joined by someone completely different. That should have been the first red flag but this treachery excited me. Later on, he would often call me monkey. I’d laugh if off rather than being offended. The relationship had been founded on mistrust and curiosity. I would pretend not to want him then turn around and obsessively get close to him. I would torment myself when he was away, calling him over and over. He would ignore the calls which would highten my anxiety. At midnight he would knock on my door and all would be forgotten.
Somehow I was getting into the patterns of my mother. This relationship reminded me of a feeling in childhood. I was eight years old. Uncle Paul had come visiting. He stayed with us, sleeping in the little hut that was also sometimes a store when we had produce. He played with me often. One evening he called me to his hut. I got in and he closed the door behind me. He asked me to undress as he undressed. I could see his huge inflamed mahhood. It is a blurred memory that keeps creeps up on me every time I am with my lover. He began playing with it, rubbing it on my genitals. He asked me to make sounds like it was Christmas food I was enjoying. To tell him that it is sweet and i like it. He made the sounds too and then he peed on me. Now I learn that it was ejaculant. He warned me not to tell anyone as lightning will strike me. I shut up about the whole incident that I even forgot about it or so I thought until I got into this relationship.
I realize now that I have attachment issues. I have learned now that attachment is not just about closeness to a person but the deep connection that binds. It is the way we connect with fellow humans by the habits, lessons, and histories we share. It is that parent child connection from birth. There are four kinds of attachment, a secure attachment, an anxious, disorganized and an avoidant attachment styles. Secure attachment leads to healthy interactions. What I had was an insecure attachment. Insecure attachment are often by care givers and parents who are mis-attuned, distant or intrusive. Because of my relationship with my parents, Uncle Paul visiting and other relationships, I developed avoidant patterns of attachment in my relationships. The incest experience with uncle Paul was had left a wound. I now learn that taking care of my mother’s needs exposed me to premature maturity . I now know that her disregard of my needs and feelings, her discouraging me from crying when I was younger only distanced me from myself. As a result as a child and as I grew up I learned not to seek for care or emotional support from others.
My journeys of healing have led me to meditation. Now I learn that the healing path to attachment is to detach. I learn that it is a continuous journey. This was the painful lesson from that Meditation class. The guide continued, “Focus on the breath. Thoughts will come and go. Just let them but don’t hold to any of them. Feelings will come and go, just let them. Do not hold on to any.” It sounded easy until I experienced the true meaning of relativity of time, five minutes stretched on for what felt like an hour and thirty minutes was like a lifetime. I thought I was going crazy until the guru said “you will realize that the mind cannot keep still. There is so much. It has always been this way but today you gave it a minute and experienced it. It is a muscle the more you exercise it, the more you perfect it. Just keep trying even if it is just for five breaths.”
In this month of April, as I explore attachment and unhealthy attachment patterns, hope is not lost. We can develop Earned Secure Attachment at any age. It takes work of self-awareness with intentions of self-care.

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  1. Brenda July 17, 2018 at 1:11 am

    Good piece

  2. julie254 July 17, 2018 at 3:33 am

    Seems we are all cursed to relive our parent’s nightmare. Nipping the pattern as soon as you see it is always for the best.

    1. sharpbea July 18, 2018 at 4:53 am

      Very true. Once one is aware of these patterns change becomes necessary. Thank you Julie

  3. soniekithinji July 17, 2018 at 6:22 am

    This is profound Brenda! Many a times as parents in the face of trouble we focus on our needs and forget that our kids’ emotions among other needs are also on the line. Powerful piece.

    1. sharpbea July 18, 2018 at 4:55 am

      Very true. Our children need love and secure attachment but our upbringing and its unhealthy patterns make us engage in the same patterns. Awareness is key to breaking the cycle. Thank you Sonie

  4. Irene Khaoya July 17, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Amazing how many uncle moments are hidden in our collective psyche and manifesting in our dysfunctional relationship. The silence will be our undoing as the same patterns will repeat in our children. Thank you for this.
    You are awesome.

    1. sharpbea July 18, 2018 at 4:57 am

      You know, but numbness is what we were taught. Instilled with fear. Dysfunctional patterns have become the norm unless one stops, and processes these with self love and compassion.

  5. meganjamer August 17, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    I’ve had this pinned in my inbox to read with complete attention, and finally I got around to it. I’m so glad you’re writing, and I have all these questions about how you muster up the bravery to write about something so personal. I’m glad you did. Thanks for letting us see more of you, and giving us something that helps us all reflect on how we attach to others, and why. Fantastic, clear writing.
    Thinking of you.

    1. sharpbea October 13, 2018 at 8:27 am

      Thanks Megan. You are always awesome encouraging me to keep writing.


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