Love and Attachment From Cradle to Beyond the Grave
It is amazing to me how a sense of secure attachment can extend beyond the grave. I was lucky enough to have a mother who loved me when she was alive so much so that I feel it even in her absence. My goal for clients, and hope as a therapist, is to promote this type of feeling and attachment.
My reflection, "Listening to our handyman speak Portuguese to one of his workers or maybe Spanish with a Portuguese accent, sounds like music to my ears. It must be reminding me of the sounds and rhythmes of my mother's voice and of her lullabies when I was a baby. Portuguese was her first language and she had only been here a few years before I was born. It is strange the sense of peace I feel listening from a distance. I think, 'Don't stop talking.' I feel so soothed and calmed."
I think I must have had some kind of a pre-verbal memory as I was not close enough to hear the distinction of the words but only the muffled sing song melody of the voice. I guess like an infant might hear. I was then flooded with a very calm and peaceful feeling and a deep sense of knowing that I was loved not only by her but by God. It was very profound and spiritual, an experience I wish all could have.
My mother's birthday is the 23rd. She always seems to send me a message from beyond that she still cares for me and loves me, usually around or on her birthday. I feel blessed and so wanted to share.
Can love last forever through the ups and downs of life? Couples therapist Dr. Sue Johnson explains what it really takes to make a relationship work. This is really good.
Poem by one of my Yoga Teachers Kiara McBain. It is profound.
Tonight I realized
life is clean and simple
a mere blank canvas on which to create
it's people that make life complicated
the mess of another
makes a mess of our own life
I wanted to swear to stay away
from broken hearts
and broken people
but the hard truth is
very few sort out their demons
very few know themselves enough to live honestly
and very few look at life as an opportunity to learn
so it is our job to love
the messy landscape of humanity
as if adoring a sunset
with all its bleeding lines
lack of definition
and gleaming imperfections
Grandma died yesterday morning. She was 102. She loved life and she loved people, especially her family.
By Evelyn Schmechtig-Cochran 2008
This is Grandma. She is ninety-seven and three-quarters years old (in this picture she is 102). Doesn't she look great? She turns 98 in September of this year. I consider myself very lucky because I inherited her when I married my husband almost 22 years ago. She enjoys good health, an active mind, and a quick wit. As far as I can tell, Grandma has never really been one to spend very much money on herself. I am sure she could but she prefers to spend her money on what she feels is the most important thing in her life. This would be her family.
Almost every two years, during the summer, Grandma hosts her entire extended family for a family reunion. We always stay in very nice upscale places usually near the ocean and on the beach. Those who attend are her children, their spouses, some siblings of spouses, her nieces, and until recently her sister. Did I forget to say that all of her grandchildren, great grandchildren and their spouses attend, too? We are a pretty big bunch. I believe that all together we total 30 people.
Grandma loves these events. She enjoys the good company of family and the always excellent food prepared by her tribe of relatives. We are so lucky to have her around this long. We are blessed by her commitment to family and her generous spirit. She is quite an amazing women having survived two husbands, all of her siblings, and I am sure many other friends and family.
For me, the benefits of inheriting such a loving grandma have been many. What I am really thankful for are these regular events. They have given me a way to get to know my extended family in a way I probably would never have been able to do. This feels like a great support to me. In my heart, I know that these people are my family and that they love me.
Thank you, Grandma. It is because of your big heart that I get to experience this great joy.
According to National Institute of Health, Major Depressive Disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults. This is about 7% of the population age 18 or older. When you add in Dysthymic Disorder or Persistent Depressive Disorder, chronic low grade depression that does not quite fit the bill for major depression, the percentage of sufferers goes up to almost 9%. My guess is that there are many people limping around with chronic low grade depression who don't really even know they are suffering. So maybe the percentage is even a bit higher? I do not know. But it is alarming to me that almost 10% of the United States is struggling with a very painful set of symptoms we call depression. The NIH notes the signs and symptoms as follows:
These symptoms are nothing to take lightly. They can be debilitating and even cause disability. It is not completely clear what causes depression, but it appears when looking at brain scans of a depressed person that they look different from a non-depressed person's. As with many things in life, depression is probably initiated by a combination of interacting factors and systems including genes, biology, environment (stress and trauma), and psychology (inner thoughts and views of self, perception and sense of purpose and meaning). Many illnesses, including thyroid disorders, cause depressive symptoms.
Until recently, nobody really considered the impact our relationships have on our mood and maybe even our brains. This is changing. Researchers such as Jim Coan, Ph.D., Sue Johnson, Ed.D, Wayne Denton, M.D., and others are all looking into this. It appears that relationships and attachments can greatly affect our moods and life, and improving them may help decrease depression. It is exciting to me to know that we have one more option (traditional options are medication and/or individual counseling) to offer people as part of the basic treatment plan for those suffering from depression: family, couple, or relationship counseling.
For more information check out this great article by Russell Collins: Are Relationships the New Prozac?
Good relationships and social support are nature's antidepressants. Who knew? Deep down inside, I think we all did . . . and do.
Stuff in the News You May Find Interesting Relating to Mental Health, Family, and Relationships from our FB page . . .
NPR report on new Mental Health Diagnostic Bible.
Those with alcohol dependence may be more sensitive.
Long Term Relationships.
Mindfulness and cancer recovery.
Early Relationships key to happiness in life.
Just this past weekend I attended a training conference on using emotionally focused therapy with families. It was awesome. At the conference, they showed this YouTube video. It looks at families going through the teens plus years. Very moving. More on Emotionally Focused Family Therapy later. For now I will say it is a great model based on healing the attachment and care giving systems in families.
Content: Virginia Nielsen MA LPC NCC; Ben Taussig MA LPC NCC; Vanessa Wray Williams MA LPC NCC
Video: Steve Nielsen, Metropolitan MultiMedia
Music: Brandi Carlisle, "Pride and Joy" (Give Up the Ghost, 2009)
As therapists, we are trained to look for and focus upon family dysfunction. Sometimes though we are so caught up trying to find the maladaptive aspects of our clients that we fail to see the adaptive or healthy characteristics they possess. Perhaps, we inherited this from the medical or disease model of treatment.
Evelyn Schmechtig -Cochran