Loving the Baby Kangaroo in You: Attachment as one of the 9 survival responses
When my daughter was young we had backyard chickens. Of the six of them, Nervous Nelly got terrorized regularly by Bossy Betty. It’s quite an experience to hear a chicken screaming, only to run out and find Nelly being held down while Betty plucked her neck clean of feathers. Try as I might, I was not successful in my attempts to reform Betty, and though it was a bit charming when Nelly ran to me, often jumping into my lap and up onto my shoulder to nuzzle into my neck, it wasn’t normal, healthy chicken behavior. Once I re-homed (brutal) Betty, Nervous Nelly was nervous no more, and no longer ran to me, now exhibiting normal chicken behavior, scratching and foraging with the rest of the flock.
Once while in a light fixture shop, a California earth quake rolled beneath my feet, and I was fascinated to see the hanging lights all swaying together instead of smashing into each other. While I was in a state of excitement, wonder and fascination, another shopper, terrified, ran to my husband and gripped his arm, holding tight for several minutes until all was quiet.
These episodes showed a healthy flight response; along with another of the nine survival or trauma responses…
If you had the babyhood you deserved, whenever you were frightened, hungry or uncomfortable in any way, you could turn to your mama, who would be right there to give you soothing, protective, encouraging, physical or eye contact. This “healthy attachment” would then calm your nervous system, and teach you that whatever happens, there is always a big, loving, caring, protective force that will hold you through it, whether in her arms, or in her gaze, with her great love. This then leads to a deep knowing that whatever is happening, it’s gonna be okay, a part of you feeling held in; resting in, the experience of a great Love, the archetype of the Great Mother.
Even if you had the world’s best mom, a myriad of troubles interfere with mom’s ability to leave you unaffected by the traumas she endured, and inherited through her lineage, as well as the daily demands of surviving in this troubled world. And if your mom dies, or has to release you to adoption, your natural attachment to her is certainly impacted in ways that need to be healed.
When attachment to the Mother is damaged, interrupted, or non-existent, trouble gonna come.
Your sense of safety, trust, and faith will be deficient and you’ll find yourself wanting. Needy, actually. Ugh. Most of us shoved our needy parts into our shadow giving a little distance from their pain, while driving people around us away from our barely concealed hunger for the mother’s love we were missing.
Good news is: it’s all healable. You can access the ideal version of the best mother for you in your inner world. Not in the realm of fantasy, but in the depths of your own subconscious is an archetypal representation of the ideal mother for you, who can actually, truly, fulfill all of the unmet needs of your younger selves.
And YOU can be the safe, loving, protective attachment figure for the little Roo in you.
When a life is threatened, there’s a natural inborn mechanism that takes over to save us, getting away from the threat however we can; and attaching to something or someone that will get us out or away from the trouble, providing respite, however temporary or unusual.
You have no doubt heard of the "fight or flight" response, which are just two of nine survival/trauma responses. Attach is a critical survival response that isn't as appreciated as it could be, and when acknowledged for the powerful driving force that it is, can bring us home to ourselves.
So when you are feeling scared, uncomfortable, or in need of a sense of safe, supportive encouragement, give your loving attention to the little Roo in you, offering it a pouch to safely snuggle in, from which it can take in the wonders of the world.