Each of us, if we were true with ourselves, has one of two base fears surrounding either intimacy (trust) or abandonment (security). We may fear both, but one fear outstrips the other. These fears are manifest in our personality by the way we were brought up in our childhoods. This is about Attachment Theory.
If we desire emotional healing, we will need to be honest enough to courageously explore whether trust or security are problematic for us, toward fear.
If we were given to stereotyping we’d say men struggle most with trust and women most with security. But such estimations are misleading. I, for one male, struggle more for security than I do in trusting. My attachment style, whilst primarily secure, verges on the anxious and not at all dismissing (though at times my mind wanders into a pattern of thinking that’s akin to a disorganised style of attachment—where I lack the wellbeing of both security and trust). So I may be atypical as a male—like many other males I know. Many women I know don’t have security problems, but may have problems with trust.
We can surmise, then, that there are few, if any, generalisations we can make regarding the barriers to emotional healing.
In the present discussion, we are imagining home as a place we want to be able to safely leave (without it causing anxiousness) and trust enough to return to. Home, here, is the metaphor for any base, whether it is God, a spouse, a workplace situation, or even a physical home.
The key question is, are we more fearful of being abandoned by home or more fearful in trusting it—whatever ‘home’ is?
When we can easily move outward from ‘home’, away from people and situations that make us feel secure, and we can move just as easily inward toward ‘home’, toward people, then we can consider emotional healing to be well on its way.
Let us take each of these two ways of emotional healing in turn:
Leaving Home Safely
For those of us who fear abandonment most of all we are more naturally anxious. We are the passionate ones who want to be praised for our enthusiasm. We are disappointed and betrayed more easily than those who fear intimacy.
The good news is we have the wherewithal and motivation to love.
Our trust is strong, but sometimes, along with it, we are hurt. Emotional healing here is about learning to take more risks in leaving our physical and relational comfort zones. The more we can trust that our living situations won’t change whilst we’re away, the less we’re shackled to them.
In leaving ‘home’ we should fret less whilst we are away.
Returning Home to Trust
For those of us who fear intimacy, trust is our growth opportunity—to grow towards people and more willingly and freely love them. We might be quite ambivalent, even indifferent regarding things others are more passionate about.
We may be told we don’t care enough. It’s wrong; we do care, but we don’t make a big deal of things like some others do. We can take or leave things.
We don’t understand why others trust so easily, but secretly, inside ourselves, we may wish we could trust people a little more and have the ability to get closer to some people; particularly our loved ones—sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, etc.
Emotional healing here is about getting out of our comfort zones in a different way; we need to take risks in approaching people, and in trusting people, allowing them emotional access to us.
Two opportunities for emotional healing come in growing past the fears for intimacy and abandonment. Such opportunities for growth are about achieving a balance of wisdom between being too passionate and not being passionate enough.
When we feel there are few barriers to both trust and security we live in an emotionally healed way. We are free to love and be loved and we fear being hurt less.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.