This is work by Pete Walker, someone very insightful into complex trauma and the needs of the client. He is a complex trauma survivor himself, and it is my opinion, that only another survivor truly understands and knows, what another survivor feels and needs.
A child with parents, who are unable or unwilling to provide safe enough attachment, has no one to whom she can bring her whole developing self. No one is there for reflection, validation and guidance. No one is safe enough to go to for comfort or help in times of trouble. There is no one to cry to, to protest unfairness to, to seek commiseration from for hurts, mistakes, accidents, and betrayals. No one is safe enough to shine with, to do “show and tell” with, to be reflected as a subject of pride…to even practice the all-important intimacy-building skills of conversation.
In the paraphrased words of more than one of my clients: “Talking to Mom was like giving ammunition to the enemy. Anything I said could and would be used against me. People always tell me that I don’t seem to have much to say for myself.”
Those with Complex PTSD-spawned attachment disorders never learn the communication skills that engender closeness and a sense of belonging. When it comes to relating, they are typically plagued by debilitating social anxiety, and social phobia when they are at the severe end of the continuum of PTSD. Many of the clients who come through my door have never had a safe enough relationship.
Repetition compulsion has compelled them to unconsciously seek out relationships in adulthood that traumatically re-enact the abusive and/or abandoning dynamics of their childhood caretakers. For many such clients, we are their first legitimate shot at a safe and nurturing relationship; and if we are not skilled enough to create the degree of safety they need to begin the long journey towards developing good enough trust, we may be their last. Continue reading