John Bowlby, the psychologist who led the work on attachment theory, said the way we view the world is based on our early experience with our caregivers.
We build up a picture of how the world of relationships works from the way they respond to our needs. We then use that template to interpret new relationships. We start to make assumptions about what we can expect from others, and even what we deserve.
The good news is that once we become aware of our default patterns, we can take action to change our behavior and move toward forming more secure attachments.
In discussion with my therapist SF yesterday focussed my frustration at not getting responses to people and contacting others. It's an old issue, but one that, living here in my hermitude, i feel i ought to be even better about. (It's unlikely i will bump into someone and catch up by accident.)
On thing we discussed is that i have an element of rebelling against the "ought." SF directed me to my mother, and yes, my mother's interactions with people are all very "ought" and duty driven. Despite her great desire to create lovely holidays and festive meals, i don't recall her ever being present and engaged with a gathering much past where she has to sit down and also eat, or the ritual of passing out gifts at Christmas. She and dad had their own coffee drinking ritual, and in the immediate family, i saw her present in that time with him (and in the inevitable arguments). But no model for communication and connection being anything other than a duty.
We also discussed how i feel when forgotten. There's a delight, a sweetness when i am remembered. I hate hate hate the Facebook birthday thing, where Facebook alerts everyone that it's your birthday and there is a cascade of "happy birthdays". Why that is different from someone having a calendar reminder, i'm not honestly sure. I have pretty mixed feelings about the cash or gift card gift, but in a way that's all tied up in the duty bit: if i give you a $25 gift certificate and you give me a $25 gift certificate.... Anyhow there's a generosity that i think i am missing, that i think echoes back to lessons such as my mother's lecture about what we had to provide guests at a wedding reception in compensation for the gifts received. (I'm sure this was no different than earlier lessons.) And here i've digressed from what i feel when forgotten, which is -- i don't remember any pain or hurt around that. What i remember is the complex calculus of what being remembered obligates me to.
Where i'm going to try to focus now is on how the other person *feels*. I will dismiss my inclination to try to be focused and centered in giving the attention i want to give, because that focuses again on me. I'm going to take what i've learned from Christine and from friends here: most people feel bad when they aren't acknowledged and replied to. They probably appreciate the acknowledgement and are less likely to be engaging in some judgmental calculus. So respond in a way that lets them know (clumsily, maybe! casually!) that i care for them and appreciate them. On my reminders and todo lists, i'll change the entry from something that makes me focus on a task and instead on my intention.
I described myself as self-centered in therapy, thinking about how i view interactions. I appreciated how SF let me sit with that without steering me away, despite our work on trying to get me not to beat myself up over not getting things done (right). There's a different quality to that insight.
I'm not sure how to balance this with feeling overwhelmed. Maybe i won't let ... well, i was going to say, "obligations pile up," but that then looks at interactions as a duty.