I remember one evening we were sitting around talking about some of the issues we have faced with Emma regarding bonding/attachment. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she has full blown attachment disorder, but she certainly has some of the characteristics. To me this just points to the huge void in her life in her first years of life. It’s exciting to watch her backtrack and desire the things she missed. Things like stroking my face, touching my hair, cuddling close, and being carried. She is growing in love and learning what love is in the first place. It is about giving and receiving. It is about believing in love.
I remember so vividly when Emma first came home and how foreign expressions of love were to her, how awkward it was to snuggle her, how she recoiled from touch and kisses, how she stiffened in our arms. I remember watching her watch us love each other and just take it all in. I remember days she received willingly and eagerly and other days when she pushed us away.
The biggest obstacles to attachment are fear and pain. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being hurt. Pain that says, all I have ever known is rejection and hurt and what I know feels safe. So I’m going to push away this thing I crave but don’t understand, because it’s new and frightening.
That night while discussing this process Emma has been walking through I said, “You know, we all have ‘spiritual’ attachment disorder to some degree.”
The Father chose us from before time, paid a great price to welcome us into his family, and has waited eagerly for the day when we would finally call Him, Abba. He offers us unconditional love and acceptance, He gives us the full inheritance of His Son, He delights in calling us His very own. And we, well we have issues. We have pain. We have fear. We have faced rejection. We have been wounded.
And so we push Him away. We get comfortable in our little emotional cave, rocking on the floor like Emma. We go all inward and get self absorbed in what we know, pain and hurt. We forget to look up to the One who has taken all of that pain and hurt and offers hope, healing and wholeness.
Or we start to let Him in because we’ve tasted of His love and we like it, it feels safe and good. And then it scares us because it means letting go, giving up control, and trusting Him. So we push away again.
We try again. We want to love and be loved, we really do. On one hand the Father’s love is the best thing we’ve ever known and on the other hand it’s so unfamiliar that we approach Him as awkward, silly little children. We approach Him with hesitation, keeping our guard up. We enter into His presence and feel out of place or uneasy in its unfamiliarity. We want it. We long for it, and we muddle through because we know He is life and hope.
Or we judge His love based on the way others have treated us. We still wonder “are you for real?” We still think if we blow it He’ll turn His back on us, or be disgusted by our failures and weaknesses.
All I want as a mother is for Emma to know that I love her. All I want is for her to feel safe enough to be herself, or to discover who she really is. All I want is for her to feel safe in my embrace, to feel comfortable in my presence.
The Father longs for us to act like His children. He longs to hold us and tell us the truth about who we are. He longs to look deeply into our eyes and tell us that the pain and the sorrow wasn’t His plan; it wasn’t His idea. He longs to wash away every tear and tenderly care for each wound. He aches deep inside when we push away from Him, the One we need the most. He aches when we perceive His love through the eyes of our own pain. He just wants to love us and be loved by us.
Maybe we all just need some attachment therapy! Just extended time looking into our Father’s eyes, listening to His voice, and becoming so familiar with His heart that we finally realize how truly loving and trustworthy He is. There is hope and healing for Emma, and there is hope and healing for you too. Let the One who loves you most of all hold you close, look into His eyes, and listen to His voice.