Is There Any Hope for Me?

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Question: I’ve spent much of my life in various forms of counseling or therapy. My parents split up when I was a mere six months old, then my grandfather died and my grandmother took me to a foreign country, leaving me there to live with an aunt and uncle I’d never even met. This was supposed to be a temporary arrangement till my parents got back together—they never did.

 I already know {from previous therapy work} I have some major bonding issues. Even now I tend to withdraw at times, especially after I reveal “too much” of myself to someone. I have a hard time trusting people, believing they care. This isn’t a problem in my marriage as much as my friendships. I have a hard time bonding with female friends, especially when they’re older than me {goes back to my mother and grandmother rejecting me}. I’ve also dealt with anger over the years, plus struggles with eating disorders as well as the constant sense of not measuring up or being good enough.

Other than my husband, even when people say they love me I find myself doubting it. Is there any real hope for me?

Anonymous

 

Dear Anonymous,

Being abandoned by one’s parents is the most grievous of attachment wounds. I would first recommend you read a book by Dr. Gary Sibcy and Dr. Tim Clinton called Attachments: Why You Love, Feel, and Act the Way You Do. I have done several podcast shows with Dr Sibcy on this topic. If you have kids, or if you want a better understanding of your attachment style, this is a great book.

And of course there is hope for you! We are wounded in relationship but we are also healed in relationship. Here is the exciting news about the brain, we’ve learned over the last decade about its plasticity, which tells us that neural pathways (old dysfunctional patterns of thinking and relating) can actually be rewired despite what has happened to us in the past. This happens through the secure loving presence of another; first God, then someone close like a husband or a trusted therapist or friend.  {I’ve done a show with Dr. Joshua Straub called God Attachment, so that’s also available to listen as well.

These resources will help you put things in easy-to-understand terms. The reason attachment is so important is because when we’re little, we get messages from those who are supposed to be there for us and love us unconditionally, these messages form our core belief systems about self, God,  and the world around us. This is critical because we live out of what we believe. So if I was abandoned growing up, I may form a core belief that says “I’m not good enough” or “I’m unlovable” or “others may abandon me because of my flaws.”

If actions follow beliefs, I will then act in ways that confirm these beliefs. So it makes total sense that it’s hard for you to trust people; those who were supposed to love you the most weren’t there for you.

If you are working with a counselor, I’m sure she/he has helped you with your grief work and you have identified your losses and put words to your pain. It sounds like you have a loving husband which is great. Let him be that secure base and safe haven you need that will show you there are trustworthy people.

As far as relationships with others (friends), you will need to be willing to risk being hurt again if you want to be in close relationship. Realize this is a fallen world, we are fallen people. We were not meant to be life for others—that’s God’s job. The question really is, “What is the best response to the hurts and losses I may incur in life through my friendships?”

We all choose our willingness to risk our hearts in relationships and no one can make those choices for us. I pray the Lord will lead you on your journey toward healing.

 

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2 thoughts on “Is There Any Hope for Me?

  1. My parents died when I was a baby and so I was left with my grandmother and than later 4-6 yrs old an aunt took me and got full custody and raised me. So I do bonding issues with people, just realizing in the last 6 yrs that’s why I have those problems. I’m now 65 yrs old, married no kids, two stepsons, married to a controlling husband, but now I realize it by being in a support group, I’ve learned to take care of my self and not put up with his control issues, he refuses to see that he needs some counseling. I’ve had to set up my boundaries. So my question to you is, how long does it take to not being able to bond with people and to get over it and stop feeling like I’m not worth it. I have my good days and than some days I’m back in the slump with those old feelings, I’m not good enough. I have a relationship with the Lord. Some days I just get tired of dealing with these old feelings.

    • Linda, setting your personal boundaries is great. Keep it up. In order to bond with people you will need to understand your attachment style and what core beliefs you’re holding onto that keep you from being able to attach in a secure way. Two core beliefs you cited here are “I’m not worth it,” and “I’m not good enough.” What evidence do you have to support those beliefs? If you are a believer in Christ you are completely loved, value, secure, and acceptable in him. You have everything you need for life! I know you get tired. I can’t image your pain–but Jesus can, and he wants you to know that he is safe and secure. He is our ultimate attachment figure. Get the book I recommended on attachments; it will help you understand all this while offering much-needed hope. You can also listen to the podcasts I noted–these counselors talk in depth about attachment. You are loved dear one!

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