Inner Safe Haven, by Susan Austin-Crumpton

When I call for connection and no one comes it is terrifying.

I was born in a time when picking up babies and soothing them was considered “spoiling the child”.  With a bad case of colic I spent a lot of time crying, I am told, and no one coming.

All of my relationships are merely a reflection of my first attachment with my mother!  I sure do not want to be thinking about that when I believe that “I am right!” not abandoned and betrayed.  Now I understand much of this is a repetition of my first experience with my mother.

Attachment theory is teaching me that my hurt feelings, righteous indignation, and justified anger may simply be my longing for emotional connection.  I would add that this applies to all of my relationships with myself, my money, my body, my husband etc.

When my need for safe haven and safety in connection is not met, whether the situation is real or perceived, I react in two ways:  I protest and become demanding or I withdraw and become numb in resentment.  For example, when I am having a bad day and my body doesn’t look like I want it to, I protest with demands I lose weight, get in shape, eat only apples and almonds for three days etc.!  When this is not accomplished in a few hours I withdraw into “who cares anyway, it really doesn’t matter how I look!”

As an adult, my partner is a safety cue that calms me down.  The brain releases oxytocin, which turns off fear when a loving partner or family member is even thought about!   It is true that loving relationships make us better.  Loving myself, my husband, my family, my body etc. makes me stronger.

I am learning that being emotionally responsive to myself, my partner, and others is the key to creating a safe haven.  Learning to hold each other close as we face life’s conflicts creates the loving lasting relationships for which I have always longed.   Emotional responsiveness to myself creates an inner safe haven that will sustain me.

I am a little late learning this!  And I am so grateful for the bumps my mother and I experienced which led me to these bountiful connections.

 

Susan Austin-Crumpton
Founder & Executive Director, The Estuary
Email:   susanaustincrumpton@theestuary.org