Here we go being born again and again and again. Isn’t that inner work…the art of transformation?
I was dating this guy and broke up with him once. He checked out after we had sex. Checked out as in, not a text, a loooonnnnnggg ass time before our next date, and absolute withdrawal. He apologized for sending mixed messages and we made up because I considered that he did clean up his messes, even if it was half-ass, I wasn’t that far in and decided to give him a chance. Now, after dating someone and getting my triggers triggered, I have my intellectual part come in and read read read on what is going on. That part of me serves two purposes: to alert me to the fact that I am blended with my smaller exile parts, and to also distract me from the big feelings of those smaller parts. Any time you are blended or triggered, it is a call to do inner work and come to a place of Self energy.
Apparently it takes me awhile to come to Self energy. Because you know, I read and read and read about Avoidants and attachment theory and really thought I could do things differently this time with this guy. As it turned out, he checked out over the holidays, refused to text me back then when I called him on it made excuses that it “slipped his mind” (I slipped his mind. Over Christmas. I caught a REAL good one there.) Then he got back on online dating, without officially breaking up with me, blamed me for having too many red flags, ones he apparently didn’t see three weeks ago when we were having sex.
It’s so ridiculous you can’t make this stuff up. I knew he was textbook avoidant but I wanted to learn my triggers and why I kept choosing unavailable men. It took me six months with him to learn this. Because on the flip side, I had a man open his home to me and my children, give us gifts, make a meal for us, and show us a holiday movie. And for complicated reasons I have not been able to completely open my heart to this man. Hence, the realization of my own fucked-up-ness and inability to commit to MYSELF. Being with motherfuckers is self-betrayal, and tells me I am not in Self. Choosing to play with fucktards instead of nice men is a sign I need deeper healing.
Now I’ve used some language some of you may not be familiar with. It is the language of Internal Family Systems Therapy. IFS holds that each of us is multiplicitous in that we have different parts of ourselves we use to adapt to different situations in life. Many people recognize an inner child or an inner critic, but we are so much richer and deeper than we knew, thanks to the development and discoveries of IFS. We get in trouble when we act from extreme inner parts instead of from our core Self. From this book:
“…a major tenet of IFS is that everyone has at the core, at the seat of consciousness, a Self that is different from the parts. It is the place from which a person observes, experiences, and interacts with the parts and with other people. It contains the compassion, perspective, confidence, and vision required to lead both internal and external life harmoniously and sensitively. It is not just a passive observing state, but can be an actor in both inner and outer dramas. Because most of us have had experiences in which we learned not to trust our Selves, its resources are often obscured by various extremes of our parts. In addition, while through imagery I can see my parts, I cannot see my Self because it is the me that is doing the seeing, and in that sense is invisible to me.”
IFS holds that each person’s Self embodies the following characteristics when leading a person through life: calmness, curiosity, clarity, compassion, confidence, creativity, courage, and connectedness. Parts arise out of adaptations to extreme circumstances and take on extreme roles. Parts are divided into three categories:
Managers: Managers are about control and keeping the internal and external worlds in check. They protect the system from intimacy, dependency, criticism through self-criticism and judgment, or they control through caretaking and focusing on others’ needs.
Exiles: Exiles are the parts managers protect everyone from. Exiles carry the burdens of shame, blame, and guilt placed on the system and are younger, child-aged parts. They are exiles because managers work so hard to keep them “out of sight, out of mind” by denying their needs, feelings, and desires.
Firefighters: Firefighters come when the big feelings of the exiles override the managers’ protections. They, too, serve to distract from the pain of the exiles but instead of managing and looking controlled, they lose control through addictive, extreme activities: bingeing on food, sex, drugs, stimulation, work, or self-harm.
This leads me to attachment theory, and there is going to be a Psycholobitch dating workbook so people can use their divorces to heal and grow stronger. Attachment theory relates well to IFS because it is about a wounding of one’s system, and the way to heal is to address the breaches of connection within one’s Self. Anxious attachment style could be seen as a system led by exiles- exiles who flood with their feelings, are needy and clingy, and who look outside themselves for validation and security. Avoidant attachment style could be seen as a system led by managers, managers who seek perfection, criticize, distance, and dissociate. They don’t trust that anyone can meet their needs so they deny them and stay rigidly guarded against their significant exiled needs. Secure attachment style is a system that is led by Self energy, and ambivalent attachment style is a system that is led by firefighters. When avoidants and anxious people meet, they trigger each others’ most extreme manifestations of the parts they are already blended with, and oftentimes this will lead to firefighter behavior. An ambivalent person is already locked into a pattern of exiles overwhelming managers and subsequently going into firefighter activities.
The way to stop these patterns is to heal the exiles and unburden them, and then practice staying in Self energy. It truly is a practice that is lifelong, especially if one is healing from childhood trauma, which is most of us who are operating out of extreme roles.
More to come. 2018 will see the birth of Psycholobook. New Bitchmas is the holiday we have to celebrate our own healing. Let’s do this, bitches!