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Re: Attachment vs. transference Daisym

Posted by lucielu2 on October 15, 2010, at 15:28:40

In reply to Re: Attachment vs. transference pegasus, posted by Daisym on October 15, 2010, at 0:19:55

Daisy, thanks so much for your eloquent post and clear explanations. This is something I've been struggling with all throughout therapy, and you may remember, I think, that my T is one of the "good guys." (He'd have to be, to put up with me for so many years...) For me, transference and attachment are not the same thing although they overlap and interrelate. Attachment has been a hard-won achievement that took several painful years, nearly 5-6 years before I even began to feel remotely secure in this relationship. My attachment pattern is much like what you described as the disorganized form, where dependency is both longed for and yet viewed as an extreme threat. I used to describe it to him as being drawn irrestistibly toward the sun but being in mortal dread of falling into it and being swallowed up by it. It was a recurring nightmare I had in the early days. I think my warm, genuine and normally easygoing T was sometimes shocked when I would look at him with such mistrust and dread. For me, then, it has been a great achievement to be able to see him for himself instead of superimposing my past experiences onto my current relationship with him. I struggled equally with positive and negative transference, both of which were intense and painful. I had a similar, long-standing problem with my H of 20+ years, who actually has stood beside me all these years. Yet I would often see him almost as a beast when my issues really got activated by some situation. My transference was so strong that I couldn't really see either man for who he really is for a long,long time. I remember moments of such triumph when the veils would part and I could see them each clearly! That was my struggle with transference.

Not surprisingly, a secure attachment with my T was hard to achieve while the transference was so strong. I really couldn't trust and therefore couldn't take in the nurturance others were offering me because it felt threatening to me. I would turn to my T in desperation and then run from him because vulnerability felt so dangerous. So another big achievement was to be able to feel and take in what my T (and H and others) were offering, so healthy attachment bonds could grow. Now I really feel a firm and secure attachment bond with my T, and that with my H is a lot less conflicted. I have learned some trust and have opened up more than I ever thought possible without therapy.

I am now in my 8th year with my T and not yet done, we are still working on my feeling more secure in relationships. But for me, being able to work through this relationship really was at the core of my therapy, as well as establishing such a close and loving bond with him. This was not only a goal, it was what got me through it. If it had been someone else, I just don't know if my therapy would have worked. I've had many T's before and nothing really took before this one. I didn't really know what I was getting myself into when I started - I wish I had a dollar for every time I told him "I just can't do this!" - but it was quite the most important journey I've ever taken.

My therapy is in the later stages now and I am still, in one form or another, trying to work out issues related to transference and attachment. If I see the relationship for what it really is, will its meaning to me change? Will it somehow be diminished or will it attain higher meaning? Can I now accept limitations that I couldn't accept before and dealt with previously only in fantasy, the sorts of things that Emmanuel has posted about? Can I let myself feel the full strength of a bond that inherently is like no other, for better or for worse, that we will ever have? Can I really finally trust what what is right in front of me and has been for all these years? And... what will it be like to move on? That last question is the million dollar one, and there's an entire universe full of things in it to be dealt with.

This has been a great thread to read. I can relate to so many of your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Thank you, Peg, for starting these threads and being so open with your experiences in beginning a new therapy relationship. And I thank everyone else who has replied for contributing so many great insights and so much food for thought.





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