Attachment Trauma

"Nothing will work unless you do"

- Maya Angelou

You may have suffered attachment trauma if your caregiver wasn’t able to meet your emotional and/or physical needs in an emotionally-containing, consistent manner. The lack of attunement made it difficult for you to self-soothe when you were a child, so you developed unhealthy coping strategies to regulate your moods and self-esteem. Individuals with attachment injuries often struggle with:

  • Chaotic romantic relationships
  • A lack of intrinsic self-value
  • Difficulty setting and keeping boundaries
  • A nervous system that’s either too wound up or too checked out

If your relationship with yourself feels unmanageable, it’s hard to have a stable relationship with anyone else.

What Love Addiction Is

People who are love addicts are not really addicted to love. They’re addicted to fantasy. They have a pattern of idealizing romantic partners and orienting their entire lives around getting that person to love them. They spend a lot of time obsessing about The One, and the rosy-hued future they will have if only The One loves them back.

They overlook the glaring red flags that The One is waving, usually some combination of addiction, anger issues, problems with the law, money troubles, difficulty functioning like an adult, chronic cheating, and emotional unavailability. Their obsession can sap them of ambition, cause them to ignore their friends and responsibilities, and generally be miserable unless they’re in The One’s presence.

If they do end up with The One, they are inevitably disappointed. The One was not what they imagined him to be. Now that they’re dealing with reality, they miss the high that fantasy provides. The relationship becomes chaotic, punctuated by tumultuous break-ups and (briefly) ecstatic reunions in hope that The One has changed.

He hasn’t.

The relationship ends for good when The One leaves. Or it ends when the Love Addict finally realizes that The One doesn’t hold the key to Nirvana and moves on in search of the person who does.

Living With Love Addiction Is Painful

Living with love addiction is painful because you give someone else the power to make you feel valued and give your life meaning. Because you have probably selected an unreliable and/or unavailable person, your self-worth spikes and plummets according to The One’s whims. If you continue to make your happiness contingent on externals – the perfect person and perfect relationship – you will wait a very long time (maybe forever) and lose the meaningful moments and opportunities you have in the present.

The “love” you feel for The One is not love, but limerence: infatuation and an obsessive longing to have your feelings reciprocated. Limerence acts like a drug because it’s the result of a biochemical process that alters your neurochemistry. You become so dependent on the feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters zinging around in your brain that you crave more and more of The One, even if the reality of that relationship makes you miserable.

Although you can “quit” a person, you won’t become emotionally sober until you repair your most important relationship – the one you have with yourself.

Isn’t it time you felt better?

Adoption Trauma

Even if you were raised by a loving adoptive family, being severed from your genetic and cultural legacy can create lifelong attachment trauma. Adult adoptees often refer to “coming out of the FOG” (fear-obligation-guilt) as the time when they could no longer deny the impact adoption had on their lives. If you’re an adult adoptee, you may feel:

  • Gaslit by the dominant “happy story” narrative around adoption
  • Anger towards your adoptive and/or birthparents
  • A chronic identity crisis
  • Difficulty relying on others or being overly reliant on others
  • Out of control with sex, money, food, substances, and other unhealthy substitutes for genuine connection
  • A dysregulated nervous system
  • A compulsion to re-enact your attachment trauma in relationships, despite attempts not to

If you’ve spent years in therapy without feeling better, that may have been because you weren’t seeing a therapist who was adoption-informed.

Adoption-Informed Therapy With Me

I get adoption personally and professionally. I'm an adult adoptee in reunion. I completed The Kinship Center's Clinical Training in Adoption as well as Peter Levine's Healing Intergenerational Trauma using Somatic Experiencing. I understand how lonely it can feel in a world that centers the experience of adoptive parents and invalidates the reality of adoptees. I also know that many adoptees don’t feel they can heal unless they talk with a therapist who has lived it. If you choose to see me for therapy, our work may include:

  • Understand how adoption may affect you throughout the lifecycle
  • Somatic techniques to regulate your nervous system
  • Mindfulness tools to foster a spiritual connection
  • Using creativity to process pre-verbal trauma
  • Inner child task-work
  • Boundary-setting and effective communication with adoptive and birthparents
  • Realistic goals for and after a reunion

Your feelings of loss don’t make you an “ungrateful” adoptee. They’re a normal response to an abnormal situation: growing up with a lack of genetic mirroring (being surrounded by people who share your DNA), in a culture that insists on seeing adoption solely through the lens of adoptive parents. Your healing from adoption trauma begins when you feel seen and heard: when you get to tell your own story, in your own words, and be told that it matters.

I’m here to help you when you’re ready.

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