The first steps to healing attachment wounds

As grownups, healing our deep-seated wounds is very similar to the process of an infant learning to walk. We come into healing through the back door, so to speak: by learning to trust in others, we learn to trust ourselves. I love this quote by Kierkegaard, which brings the process of finding one’s ground indelibly to life. talks about how we can navigate the blurry waters of attachment, by being just available enough for our child that we give them the support they need to become independent.

“The loving mother teaches the child to walk alone. She is far enough from him so that she cannot actually support him, but she holds out her arms to him. She imitates his movements, and if he totters, she swiftly bends as if to seize him, so that the child might believe he is not walking alone…And yet, she does more. Her face beckons like a reward, an encouragement. Thus, the child walks alone with his eyes fixed on his mother’s face, not on the difficulties in his way. He supports himself by the arms that do not hold him and constantly strives towards the refuge in his mother’s embrace, little suspecting that in the very same moment that he is emphasizing his need for her, he is proving that he can do without her, because he is walking alone.”

So how de we navigate the blurry water of attachment as adults ? My favorite part of the quote is: “Thus, the child walks alone with his eyes fixed on his mother’s face, not on the difficulties in his way.”

The first step to repairing attachment wounds is to be able to focus on one’s inherent goodness and one’s own ability to love. EMDR can often speed the healing process up, by allowing the brain to conclude that the past is different from the present and that the old “frozen conclusion” is no longer valid. The power to shift conclusions and patterns so efficiently is what makes EMDR one of my favorite therapeutic tools. It is the encouraging arms that supports but does not hold—everyone must ultimately walk the walk of healing alone.