Do you have abandonment issues? Are you in a relationship with someone who does? What are some ways to cope and work through these issues? Alone? With a partner? Private Abandonment Issues Intensive
Cathy: I’m Cathy Vartuli from TheIntimacyDojo.com and I’m here with someone that I’m really proud to interview about this. This Reid Mihalko from ReidAboutSex.com and he has insights into a relationships, the ways of dealing with relationships that are really powerful and they’re outside the normal box. If even what he suggest when I talk to you or when I’m asking him these questions, even if it seems a little bit outside what you would do or really outside what you do, I would like you to listen. I invite you to kind of explore with us and try it on because a lot of things he suggested when I first started working with him, I was like, “This guy is crazy. I’ll never do that.”
Reid: Yet here we are all these years later.
Cathy: I know.
Reid: I’m still crazy.
Cathy: Well most of the things he suggested when I actually went out and did them worked really brilliantly for me and the ones that didn’t, I have to admit, it might be operator error because it was so far outside what I had ever learned, what I have ever been taught but I want to bring this to you because it is really powerful. It’s a way to step outside of the old hamster wheel and see something different. We’re going to be talking about how you can deal with a partner who may have abandonment issues.
One thing I have notice, I just been going through … I moved across country, I started a new job.
Reid: Congratulations by the way.
Cathy: Thank you, I love.
Reid: A job so secret she can’t tell you who she is working for.
Cathy: I’m in a temporary housing in a strange city and I have been tired. It’s a lot to start new job and figure out where the gas station is, I’m on empty.
Reid: Well they say moving is one of the most … Second most stressful things that happens in most people’s lives. The first thing being the loss of a loved one.
Reid: We’re dealing with something close to death.
Cathy: It felt like a times because my normal pattern was just completely disrupted and I notice that old patterns that I did a lot of work on, I have healed a lot of my old traumas and fears and insecurities. My tanks kind of got low. My emotional tanks, my resources were low and I was tired. All of sudden those hamsters as we call them, those voices that tell you, you’re not good enough or no one will love you or no one is ever going to be there for you. They came back and they rough their buddies.
Reid: They were like in prison doing pushups and lifting weights and they came back like, “We’re ready for you now.”
Cathy: Yes. Things that I hadn’t been insure about in years, all of sudden were right in front of my face and I realize that … Well this was … I called it a dip. My tank level dipped because I was going through so much. I had less resources that I normally did. I was more exhausted. I didn’t have a full tank and that was letting those hamsters be really loud. I realize that well it was temporary dip and it’s already getting a little bit better. I know where the gas station, I know what my boss’ name is and where he sits in the office. Things are starting to fall into place.
There people that are stuck in the dip all the time. People have the traumas they haven’t heal which leave holes in the tank. No matter how much pour in love, support, caring, it’s really hard to keep that tank full when there are holes. Old traumas that haven’t been healed, old wounds. The things is, people fall in love with who they fall in love with. I know you don’t agree. We’ll let him… We’ll let Reid…
Reid: Waiting my turn.
Cathy: Unless you have different resources, people fall in love with who they fall in love with.
Cathy: He is turning red for waiting his time so I want to fix that but you maybe are already in love with someone who has abandonment issues or maybe the person that has abandonment issues in love with someone who doesn’t know how to be there for you. I know you advocate getting into relationships with consciousness but a lot of people may already be in a relationship and if someone loves someone who has abandonment issues or is feeling very insecure, what are some ways that can take care of themselves. Because it’s not just about pouring everything into the other person and drying your own tank up because that doesn’t work.
What are some ways you can set some boundaries and still support that person if you choose to?
Reid: Well take whatever advice I have that’s useful and use it and then chuck the rest of it. These things are just my opinions, they seem to work for a lot of people that I coach and work with. There are areas of psychology and therapy that seem to agree with my thoughts but I do want to say the way you preference it, like my approach to relationships is not inside the box of what most people grew up with in culture. Old narrative is that, if you love somebody you sacrifice…
Cathy: You put your entire tank into them to try and bring them up.
Reid: Yeah which is a very heroic kind of medic Christianity based thing and it’s been romanticized a lot.
Cathy: It has. I actually tried it, it’s not very romantic of the inside actually.
Reid: One of the most important things for people with abandonment issues to understand is that that narrative is running them and the other piece for people who are partnered to people with abandonment issues to understand is that, that narrative is running them as well.
Cathy: If their partner really loved them they would sacrifice for them.
Reid: Yeah. In certain situations, even doing little things to not upset your partner which seems like kind of common on relationship sense; “I’ll not do that thing because it upsets my partner.” There is a difference between which way the toilet paper roll goes on and creating baby steps of enablement that end up having your partner using you to fill their tanks.
Cathy: Can you explain enable a bit. I like the concept very much can you explain the other one?
Reid: Yeah, it’s you, you are the one who fills their tank. It’s just half a cup, what’s half a cup today, it’s a Monday, you’re having a bad Monday. I’ll do that thing or they don’t want me to go away for the weekend with my buddies from high school. Whether it’s guy’s weekend or girl’s weekend, it doesn’t matter. Well I’ll come back early on Sunday, so that they don’t feel like I was away too long.
Reid: The thing that’s tricky that we don’t often realize is, you unconsciously setting presidents in order to make your partner feel better and those accommodations can snow ball over time or when your partner is going through particularly rough time, you end up making a lot of shifts for them which are probably shifts away from what make you happier. What you need for your tanks.
Cathy: Sometimes they are. Sometimes its okay… Sometimes it’s okay… It might be a yes. One thing we’re distinguishing here, correct me if I’m wrong.
Cathy: There is times when it’s an absolute yes, like it’s no problem to come back early. I really didn’t want to spend the whole weekend there anyway and I know you’re going through a rough time or there is, “I really, really wanted to be there with my friends. I’ve committed to being there and I’m making a sacrifice, I’m going against what’s in my best interest to be there you.”
Reid: The explain is I’m going to go away with my brother and his wife and his wife drives me crazy, so you needing me to come back Sunday morning. Oh my goodness, that’s actually very convenient, let’s do that. Versus, my brother’s daughter’s play is on Sunday night and I really want to see it and if I go see the play, I have to stay the next night because the flight back does leave until Monday morning and “yada yada yada” . Whatever that is and so now I have to miss the play because you need me home or else you’re going to have a breakdown.
Cathy: One of the things I have noticed and this is my experience and I would love to hear what different people think. Is when I’m in that low tank spot, if there is hole in my tank, there is a trauma or some believe that’s not letting my tank fill up versus, okay it’s a temporary move, once I get settled things will be better, a constant believe partner. Some sacrificing would help me feel better temporarily but the next time if they did make the same sacrifice, the insecurities will come back. They proved that they loved me that time, how are they going to prove to me. I need a bigger hit so to speak.
Reid: Yeah, that’s exactly what… That’s a really great way of looking at that and we don’t know what that noise is. If you hear a noise, we don’t know what it is either. When it’s that kind of situation, there is no win, win. Your best way to help them is to let them go through it and you’ll be there on the other side for them. That’s hard advice and other thing to look for, if you’re the only resource for your partner and then that…
Cathy: It’s almost impossible.
Reid: That wouldn’t work. If you have somebody that has a lot of abandonment issues or is going through particular tough time that’s when they should go get a therapist and have somebody else to talk to so that you can cheer them on for getting support. That can be difficult for some people because they may not have money for a therapist but you can do research, there is probably free therapy or types of counseling available maybe at YMCA.
Cathy: There is 12 step groups. There are different groups you can go to be a part of.
Reid: There are a lot of those things that are available if you do the leg work and now with the internet, there is a lot more access to resources.
Cathy: Just to give you an insight, this one of the reasons people will tend to focus on one person, the primitive part of our brain when were small children, we were really taught in our society now to rely on one or two people. Our mom and our dad. Usually, at least when I was brought up, my mom was the one that was there for me. My dad was teaching, he wasn’t there at the house. Tribal societies, a lot of them anyway there was a grandmother, an uncle; there was a whole bunch people that could be there for us.
When we are very young and impressionable we’re taught that there is one person that we must turn to, that strangers are dangerous and that…
Reid: If you love me, you do this for me and not doing that or not wanting to take an action that will leave me feeling less upset can only mean you don’t love me and if you won’t to sacrifice for me then you’ll leave me because you do not care. If that’s plugged into any mom and dad issues from childhood, like that’s the maltal of cocktail of emotions and a lot of stuff happens and your primitive brain is just lit up and you’re now being controlled by a reptile.
Cathy: Yes, that just wants to feel safe, who wants to feel loved. There is nothing wrong with wanting to feel safe and wanting to feel loved. One of the biggest insights… You told me I should check out Landmark Education and it’s not for everybody but I got a lot out of there.
Reid: There are organizations like Landmark, Living Spring or Spring Well and a bunch of other kind of Landmarkie organizations that deal with how we look at the world and how we make up meaning and set our beliefs.
Cathy: Right, one of the things I got most out of the forum which is their first class you take, it was… I heard it before, if you want to get this game alive, you’re never going to win. Like survival will never be successful because we’re all going to crock at the end of our lives but they really… The way they taught it really sunk in for me. It’s like our primitive brains are geared to try to survive. It’s, like that’s what it’s there for but survival is not going to get us… We’re not going to survive this world.
Reid: Well in the way we measure survival from that primitive brain perspective is, do I feel completely safe which usually means that I don’t feel upset at all. Your choices are extreme joy or feeling nothing. That’s why so many people numb out because they do not know to access joy and to actually feel extreme joy, you also need to develop the ability or it gets developed for you because you can’t feel joy without feeling low when you’re low or feeling pain when you’re feeling pain.
Cathy: Right and people that have had a lot of trauma have felt a lot of pain and don’t necessarily know how to access like you said. The primitive brain is looking for survival. It’s like stay with me, keep me happy, prove that you love and then, I’ll finally feel safe. That part of our brain knows that’s a lie too. If you were relying on one person, that person could go out and they could… Something could happen. There is insecurity even then. Even if that person is doing exactly what you tell them you need them to help.
Reid: Basically there is no security ever, it’s a myth and the world is much safer for most of us than our primitive brain wants us to believe and once you start to be able to wrap your mind around that and then through practice rewire and reframe how the world occurs to you, then you actually get more of a grip on your nervous system. Some people because of chemical imbalances and things like that because of genetically or however, may need a little pharmaceutical augmentation to kind of get things back in a certain balance.
Other people, a lot of different kind of therapy. Whether it’s cognitive or semantic. I’m a big proponent of making sure that people have community because all of us have probably experienced a good friends of ours falling in love and then, they’re gone. They’re in love again. Where did they go? Well, I guess I’ll hear back from them when they break up. What is happening is unconsciously people get into relationships, lose whatever community support they had because they were getting social needs met from friends and family and then, all these pipes or all these streams that feed into this river, now it’s just this one stream. It’s the romantic relationship.
Now I have to get all my needs met from that.
Cathy: You’re pulling on that river. It’s not balanced. If you’re any one balancing on a single point is not as steady as if you have 12 friends that you can balance on and you can support that in return.
Cathy: I also like… I love talking, I found it really, really helpful for healing those old wounds and one thing I have noticed more and more as I clear up the big noisy things as we get noise in the background again.
Reid: Yeah, keep talking, I’m going to close the door to see if that helps but pay attention to Cathy because what she is going to say is brilliant.
Cathy: Okay. One thing I have noticed is that when my tanks are lower, like I’m tired, just the old simple HATOL thing. Hungry, Angry, Tired Or Lonely. Ask yourself have you gotten those needs met and that can really… Sometimes I would be talking with someone, I will feel we’re way out of sync, we’re having this huge fight and we say, “Okay we’re going to leave it for a little bit.” I go sleep, get a good night sleep and I wake up the next morning I’m like, “Wow, that’s really 10% of what I was feeling last night.” It’s so much less overwhelming. Suggesting let me leave for someone to go take a nap or get some dinner can be really a good way into kind of soothe some of the rough edges and making sure you’re dealing with someone who is in their adult brain.
Reid: There is nothing wrong, that’s the thing and it’s kind of… A similar situation to when you see parents who have their first kid and the kid falls down the stairs and they freak out and then it’s like their second and third kid, you know and they just kind of look and like…
Cathy: He bounced pretty well.
Reid: “Are you bleeding, can you feel your legs?”
Cathy: “Honey, he made it all the way to the bottom this time.”
Reid: It’s not that they don’t care.
Cathy: It’s normalized for them.
Reid: They know how resilient kids are and when it’s appropriate to actually panic because there is actually an emergency.
Cathy: The response to that can make a big difference too. If you freak out, if your partner gets upset and you freak out, you’re telling them that there is something really wrong in the time where they may not be really cognitive.
Reid: They also may get upset that you’re not upset. That trap is the… If you actually took this seriously and cared, you would be as upset as I am. That’s a conversation you should have with your therapist. I’m so here for you and it’s probably a good idea for me to remain calm so I can support you better.
Cathy: Yes and you can condition that, I remember when I was… I love using analogy because it increases for me. My sister is ten years younger than me and she was in little kiddie pool and she slipped and fell under and there was only like this much water but I was like, “Oh my God.” Because I was never been around a little kid like that before and I run over and pulled her up and I’m like, “Are you okay?” Then was like, it’s okay, make a fuss because she is going to think there something really wrong and I was that made a lot of sense. If you can let them have their feelings and you’re brilliant at that. Let them have their experience. You can remind them to tap or use whatever skills they have and be present.
That’s a yes for you because that is a really powerful way. A lot of the primitive brains stuff is about… If we’re alone that’s even scarier. It doesn’t have to be you, you can remind them of their friend but few you’re willing to be there for them while they tap or do whatever resources and skills they have and not freak out. That helps me normalize and calm down.
Reid: The goal for all of us… Excuse me. Is just like with the kid falling out of the… Your sister falling into the pool, can you develop the ability to be you to your own little sister inside you. As your reptile brain is freaking out… Its like having a yapping little puppy, even though it can feel like it’s a big bad dangerous dog…
Cathy: They make a lot of noise.
Reid: The dog is freaking out, your reptile brain is freaking out. You’re a human being, you can look around and be like, oh there is actually no danger is just that my reptile brain tends to do this. You can give your reptile brain a cookie or a biscuit which brings us to self-care. What are the self-soothing, modalities and things that you know about yourself that you can do to yourself rather than having to come from your loved one? Because when they can only come from your loved one that is actually when it’s unhealthy because if you actually… Like there are certain things, kind of touches and what not that maybe really good for you for self-soothing but they’re not the only things.
It’s very hard to massage yourself and can see…
Cathy: Yeah having someone put their arms around you is really soothing.
Reid: Is like hugging yourself. Can be done but much better when somebody you like is hugging and that makes you feel safe because who they are in the world is hugging you. That’s… I can guarantee you that is not the only thing that will calm you down and you should figure out what those things are for yourself so that you know, you can do that.
Cathy: Yeah and we have on Thrivingnow.com there is a list on Thrivingnow.com/grounding G-R-O-U-N-D-I-N-G and that is a list of things that will help you step out of primitive brain into cognitive brain and it can be very soothing and we recommend for anyone we’re working with if they’re likely to get triggered to take copies of it. Several places, on their refrigerator, next to the bed, wherever they’re likely to get triggered so they can see it when they’re triggered because you’re not going to remember to go pull it up out of your computer.
Reid: The common mistake that people make or some people make, not everybody is that they have collapsed being self-sufficient with I am condemning myself to being alone. If I can get all my needs met then I will be alone which I still can’t understand how that logic happens so…
Cathy: I would love to… at least from my perspective and again please comments below we would love to know. For me because being left has been so painful, it’s been so hurtful, if I can meet all my needs it’s easier to say self-contain, is like a shell and I forget sometimes to reach out and ask people to help me. If I don’t absolutely need to reach out, it’s much easier to… Especially when my tanks are low and I’m not remember it can be fun to reach out to people, it’s just easier to shut down and withdraw and try to irk by with what I have.
Reid: Inking by means you’re not good at what you need to know because they’re inking.
Cathy: Well yeah but even anytime I can get it done myself and after relying on a person who might let me down or have…
Reid: That I understand growing up as a child of an alcoholic.
Cathy: To my brain especially when I’m busy, it occurs to me as easier to just stay inside of myself and take care of myself. If I know how to get everything done, there’s not that draw of, “Well I really need to go out and ask a person for help.” Because I don’t know how to do it.
Reid: You leave a couple of things that you can only get from people not that you can’t self-supply for yourself as a means of staying connected to the human world?
Cathy: Yeah I think that’s been my logic.
Reid: Got it. How old is that conversation? Is like what age…
Cathy: Yeah this is a really good thing. Anytime you’re having a discussion with yourself or your partner, you can ask, how old are you when you think about this with the type of work we do because we make decisions when we’re very young. They’re not necessarily logical but we hold them very tight. I just think it was always easier when I was younger. Like all through childhood, it felt easier to just not ask for stuff.
Reid: If you had to give that conversation or that decision an age?
Cathy: Maybe six or seven.
Cathy: Yeah, it’s like uh, I can handle this myself even though it’s really hard and I feel depilated when I do it all by myself, is easier than trying to reach out for someone?
Reid: Are you six? I can tease her better than I can tease you guys because we’re not friends yet.
Cathy: Just so you know he does this a lot.
Reid: I can be a little rougher with her, compassionate and loving rougher.
Cathy: Thank you.
Reid: Do you get that you’re not six?
Cathy: I get that I’m not six and I still do especially when I’m tired, I’ll still fall back into old patterns sometimes and much less than I ever used to. In my recovery time was better but it’s still very when I’m tired and not wanting to deal with… If you ask somebody to help you with something, you may not get exactly what you asked for, they may want something in return, you have to set boundaries and there is enough to do. When your tanks are kind of low, it’s like, it seems like a lot of work.
Reid: I know there are people that have kids that are like… When you have kids, you think you’re tensional now, when you have kids and you have to help them because they can’t peep and poop yet, no they can it’s just everywhere.
Cathy: Everywhere. Yes I do understand those people that are really stuck in the low tank mode almost all the time.
Reid: That resolve that people… Some people can tap into around children and just having to put on their grown up pants not that I’m saying you’re not but whenever that switches that allows you be like this sucks but that still needs to get done. That’s the piece that I’m really curious about for folks. Can you find that switch for yourself that allows you to be, “Oh, I’m not six. I made that decision when I was six and I am the parents of myself.” I’m flipping that switch and I’m putting myself into this larger space. For me it’s more like, you know here is me having my tantrum because I believe that no one is dependable because my mom being an alcoholic but can I pull the camera back to see the guy with microphone and the light people and the makeup person. Can I realize that my tantrum that I am having is a scene that I’m replying from childhood and I’m the actor and then when I pull back, what I realize is.
It’s real but that was filmed 40 years ago now.
Cathy: I think that is what we do a lot with the inner tapping work we do and we have information on that with this program but one thing we do is we imagine that the adult self is going back in time and working with the younger self. I think that unless the cognitive brain come into play and work with the child, the stuck aspect.
Reid: The reason I bring this up because some of you are like, “But I’m not the one with the abandonment but it may bring us back together.” here it comes, what we do as partners is we go in and be the parents and that’s not what you do. What our job is to remind our partner, they’re the parent and the best way we can support them is by not panicking and by reminding… Telling them it’s going to be okay…
Cathy: Being the cheerleader but not the head coach.
Reid: You feel like you’re drowning…
Cathy: Stand up.
Reid: You’re in the shallow end of the pool. You’re in the kiddie pool so find your legs and stand. While that can sometimes be hard to do… For me if my reserves are low, then I don’t have the patients to be as cuddling and as compassionate and then I’m encored with being like stand up, this is not an actual emergency. Emergency is your frenulum artery is bleeding and you have five minutes of consciousness left.
Cathy: When you’re activated, I know for myself, when I feel activated, everything hurts so someone being more encouraging with me would be… They would just push me further into that perhaps.
Reid: What you can’t do in your relationships is build-in ways, like listen, “If I need to remind and I don’t have the resources, how do I remind you?” Do we have a special teddy bear of parenting reminder that I pull out of the closet and set on the bed and then I just walk away like this. Can you guys make it fun and actually build in some kind of ritual or symbol or be able to tap out or a safe word out knowing that, I cannot do this right now?
Reid: We give our loved ones room. Like you were having… Your partner is having a meltdown but you were in bed with pneumonia, they would be treating you, I would hope, very differently around their expectations. That is, “If you really love me, you’d get out of bed, empty out the garage-“ That kind of thing. I mean help me find my tennis racket but instead you’re like, “They’re not capable so I’ll have a different meltdown.” I think we need to build, weave into our relationships when our partner says they can’t, that you treat them as if they’ve got pneumonia.
You just shift your perspective, “You’re like, okay. So I can’t use you for this right now.”
Cathy: Yeah and Reed has a really amazing program, Relationships and Ex that we just came off a three day weekend doing that. Is really powerful. He talks about knowing your relationship intentions and knowing what your own bottom lines are and needs are and that’s powerful because a lot of the time… If you’re aware of your own needs and your partners is like, “Please can I have half cup of juice from the tank?” it’s hard to say no. You don’t even know where your own problem… Where your gauge is.
Reid: This is another really heavy on the parenting analogy. I wish I wasn’t as much but it’s like if… There is a difference between your eight year old sound asking for $10 and your 28 year old son or daughter or whatever asking you for $10. You giving somebody ten bucks every time they need it, they don’t have a problem. They get their ten bucks.
Cathy: It’s great; they don’t have to go to the ATM or…
Reid: They’re getting their tanks full and that will create resentment unless you’re Mother Teresa or you’re made of money and it’s not a big deal but being in a relationship that is helping you and your partner, your loved ones to grow to where they can create or earn or make their version of $10 so that they’re filling their tank. Then the next piece is my tank has holes. Got it, let me know how therapy goes. I’m not here… My love will never fix your holes. It just won’t because even if it could, with those kinds of issues usually you’ll make other holes.
Cathy: If you get help, I think you can kill them beautifully.
Reid: Yeah but if my love actually completes you that is a limited time offer.
Cathy: Yeah and there is, “You looked at someone else or come back away.”
Reid: The hole came from whatever but the rust is just going to get bigger. You have to fix the rust and the rust is coming from… The rust is something you only can fix through self-work modality workshops all that stuff. My love cannot complete that.
Cathy: One of the things, I think relationships are kind like of recipes where people get to choose how much flower they put in and how much butter and how many eggs and there is a certain perimeters that normally create something really good to eat and if you’re out of balance it can be kind of a mess but everybody gets to choose what kind of relationship they want to create together and I really love that you’re very conscious about it. You make it a conscious choice what we’re going to create. One couple may decide that they’re going to be more supportive, that they’re filling each other’s tanks. I’m still not advocating that you treat your partner as therapist of coach but you get to decide how much you want to support each other in terms of tanking each other up because some people like doing that more than others.
Reid: I think you and I have a different idea of what that actually means.
Cathy: Can you explain.
Reid: Me doing stuff that is fun for me like access services is my main love language, so doing things for people just makes me feel good. It’s more fulfilling if they… If I know I can’t do that thing for them, that they can get it done for themselves.
Cathy: Yeah, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t, I always advocate having backup plans, having other resources to get things filled with and I don’t think anyone person should be the main… It can be the person that you’re in romantic relationship if you choose maybe someone that you rely on a lot. I do realize I need a lot, that’s a type of relationship you can build but I’m not saying you should not ever have other access to resources.
Reid: No, no, no. I think the way… I again maybe misinterpreting how you… What you mean but let’s say I enjoy comforting you and that makes you feel really good. The way you say some people like to do things and they design their relationship. Me designing a relationship where I’m the main person that comforts you, when I do the actual math, let’s say we’re going to be together for 10, 20, 30 years, that has a really high potential that for that thing that I love doing for you to turn into a chore and then be the very thing that used to bring me joy is what has me end up resenting you.
The way I look at… I don’t care how long people stay together in relationships as long as you’re in a healthy relationship stay together as long as you want but if you do that kind of… When I make it me what you mean and people actually want to spend their lives together, that’s the danger.
Cathy: I think if someone starts doing out of obligation it can be a danger. I also think people naturally evolve and grow. Hopefully as a couple if you would like to stay together, maybe you’re growing in the same way but something tha … I know in relationship 15 years ago, I wanted something different than what I want now and I think people do evolve and change over time. Being really conscious about it and making sure you’re both doing it for the right reasons can be really healthy.
Reid: If you knew at 15 what you know now, do you think that would alter what you wanted then?
Cathy: Certainly. My tank had lots of holes back then and I had no idea how to fill them or heal them. I just think human evolve over time to a certain extent and things that are really delicious right now may not be really delicious five or ten years from now. I don’t think that just because you’re doing something right now that feels delicious means that you’re stuck doing it for the rest of natural born days.
Reid: No, especially if the thing that you love doing for your partner, they can get done on their own. You really have choice that’s… I mean this is the whole premise of how I look at relationships. You liking, doing something, if they can only get that hit from you only and then if they don’t get it, the bottom falls out of the world for them, those are things how you measure or the way I would say, scan the relationship. You’re like, “All right, this is a potential disaster area and we can look at it now. I just bought this new house, this new relationship and the assessment is that the plumbing is about to go at any time. How about … We love the house let’s fix the plumbing right now.” We get to work on it. Don’t put it off until the whole thing goes pooey.
Cathy: Right, again I think we’re very similar but have slightly different views on it because I think each person I get love from, it has its own unique flavor from that person and I can’t get that particular type of love from somebody else but I can… If they went away it would be really sad for me. I would grieve but I’ll still be okay, like I would survive and I don’t feel like I need to solve the problem how I’m going to get that flavor of love because I don’t think I can get it from someone else.
Reid: Well I would argue the flavor please get attached to flavors and really if you need it… I’m going in the ice-cream direction, I apologize. First time we’re trying this. If the flavor thing is the only flavor… I’m going to say that flavor is not actually essential for life.
Cathy: Right but we associate it… I love chocolate. Chocolate ice-cream to me is just like soothing and reminds me of a lot of good times and if I could never have it again, I would probably be sad but I would still exist and I would probably eat other ice-cream but…
Reid: That seems like grieving the loss… Silent moment for chocolate. Grieving is healthy, that’s not the problem, is the if you leave me, my world fall apart and when my tanks are low I then am so resource-less that that I’m on constant state of high alter that you’re going to leave. Those are the tricky pieces and we all have our versions of them but the question is “how much are they actually ruling you?”
Cathy: Being conscious about it and being aware of how much your controlled… If I had to have chocolate all the time and I was mapping my route home and going out of my way to always have chocolate nearby so I could feel safe. At that point becomes an addiction. It becomes something that’s controlling me versus something that can add joy and fun to my life and it’s fine to have those good memories.
Reid: I would say… To bring back to other things we’re talking about. Your fear that if you get all of your needs met you’ll withdraw from humanity. That decision was built on top the first decision which is, “I can’t get all my needs from everybody.” There two different things.
Cathy: Yea often though, the opposites side of the coin.
Reid: The, “I will withdraw.” That’s a decision, you can change that decision. If I can get all my needs met, then I have all this room to invite all the people I like to come hang out with me and do the things that are fun or having this room to go help that person do that thing that I like doing for them.
Cathy: Yeah and you can use some of those resources to get through any fears or blocks that might be holding you back from that.
Reid: That decision is a little wiser of the decision and not… You have to be a really precocious a six year old to have to come up with that conclusion or to be like at six, “Which decisions actually kind of serve me better for my life trajectory? Oh yeah, I can totally source all my needs, be completely self-sufficient and then I have all these reserves to just hang out with people and have fun and party and celebrate.” That would be great if at six well did that but no. I’m sitting here going, if I rely on people they’re going to be drunk at home and I’m going to wait at school until 8:00 o’ clock at night until somebody comes to and picks me up.
Cathy: I’m sorry. One thing I have noticed is that, when people are trying to health the partner in their relationship. If they have been in a relationship where it has been… They have been struggling to deal with abandonment issues on one or both… Because sometimes it is both partners that have it. One or both partner sides. There could be a habit, a pattern of jumping to when there is a crisis and rewarding that behavior by giving it a lot of attention and focus and not necessarily being there in the positive time or the good times. That’s something to just kind of watch out for.
Am I being can be really present and focused and there for them when things are really rotten and not really there for them when things are good or just they’re neutral. I’m tuning in more negative times and not really a partner to them in other times.
Reid: Yeah and again be clear when you’re creating your relationships or even revisiting the relationships you have… What are the patterns that you want to encourage, what are the partners that you guys need to be aware of that aren’t serving you. What are actually you’re agreements and this is where it’s useful to kind of look back and this even applies to friendships. Like what does friendship mean? What does a relationship mean and did you guys unwilling agree to things that actually is either a cultural narrative that so no one really had choice because you just checked off all the boxes because culture told you to .
Cathy: You are a man therefore you must be…
Reid: I have to be this way, I have to… yada yada yada. Where are things happening that are unconscious and you guys are just playing these roles that probably don’t or may have very little to do with actually what makes you happy because when people are being the people that make them happiest all these stuff starts to kind of fit together because you just being you, starts getting your needs back. I know this is going to be tough for some people who are neurologically diverse. They maybe… Somewhere on the asparagus spectrum where they’re… They just interact with culture, humanity a little bit differently or people that are shy.
You can be, “I want to be extra devoted.” Well, that’s going to take a little bit more work but it can be done. You are the only one who can do that work.
Cathy: It’s really wonderful if you have friends or a partner that are cheering you on and encouraging you. Maybe going to that scary event with you to helping you take baby steps.
Reid: Yeah or and at some point if they need to go and do it themselves too. You can be like, “No, you get to go this time on your own, I know you can and I’ll be right here cheering you. You can text me from whatever it is. I’ll cheer you, cheer, cheer you.”
Cathy: With people that have abandon issues one of the things that could be really helpful, is rather than say go do something because that tends to bring up something like, “Oh go away.” Versus, “I can’t wait for you to come home so I can hear all about it.” There is a close… You’re going to do something but you’re not saying go do something. You’re saying, “I can’t wait to hear what your experience, I want to sit down and have the two of us…” If that’s a yes for you. Rather than talk about the going, talk about the sharing afterwards.
Reid: Yeah, do what she says. It is better, better languaging.
Cathy: If you’re talking to someone who is already in a relationship. They’re in a committed relationship, they want to be together but they kind of had not clear boundaries and the partner who has been supporting might be feeling a little bit depilated and the ones that’s dealing with the abandonment stuff and… Things could be really hard when you’re in that situation. Do you have a couple of suggestions you would give to the partner who has been supportive and might have the tankers pretty low.
Reid: Well they… I mean you have to figure out what fills your tankers and in those situations, the person that you ultimately want your partner to be, that would fill your tankers, they’re not capable of being so that usually means you need to fill your tanks away from your partner which irony of ironies is probably going to trigger their abandonment issues.
Cathy: It can help if you choose, if you feel like it, I want to get filled up so that I can be here for you. Again like you get back to the return if that’s the answer. Letting them know that you’re doing it for the relationship also for yourself because when someone is depilated, they can get resentful, they can get more sleepy, it can trigger more of the reaction and it’s just a cycle.
Reid: Yeah and it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and then you’re going to get diminishing returns and… Sit down and watch this video a couple of times together and discuss it but I have done the math on this, there is no miracle. There no thing that happens and then all of a sudden, everything is great the next day. Like you have to go and take care of yourselves and sometimes you have to do that separately and that’s going to feel weird and understand that nothing is wrong, you guys just didn’t know a better way to do it and where you arrived at is you fought the good fight and you’re both collapsing.
Cathy: Using the pyridines we were talk we were talk as a relationship, were you pour everything and you pour nothing maybe you’ll get a little out, you can get depilated really bad.
Reid: You’re not that wine flask from that Greek myth…
Cathy: Just keep pouring.
Reid: Where they kept pouring because they let Archimedes in or whoever it was Apollo and the what, “Oh my God, the wine flask is not emptying this is a miracle.” No one is that person, no one.
Cathy: Yeah so it’s really good to get your tanks filled. Help your partner realize you’re doing it so that you’re not escaping and you want to be there for them if that’s true for you. A lot of people don’t have the beginnings of boundaries, they don’t know how to say no to each other, they don’t know how to hear no in a way that won’t be triggering, it could feel like rejection. If you’re in anyway near cuddle parties which we’ve…
Reid: It’s great.
Cathy: With Masha Pasinski, they’re amazing. Even though you don’t want to cuddle with other people you can just do the workshop.
Reid: Yea, just the rules of cuddle party as crazy as cuddle party sounds as a name for something. The rules are the reason to go, come for the rules, stay for the cuddling if you want but the rules are really useful and are great beginning tools for you to learn how to start speaking up and how to create your boundaries. Again people mistake boundaries mean these walls that then I’ll never to reach my partner again and I would never be able to reach my partner again and I’ll never be able to climb these walls and that’s actually not what boundaries are. We create these walls because we don’t know how do boundaries and then we have to protect ourselves because we’re resource-less, we’re so empty.
As you get good at boundaries, is actually you get more access to everybody and then the better you get at saying yes and no and asking for what you want and getting clear about setting your boundaries and creating agreements. The people around you learn how to do that for themselves.
Cathy: You will model it.
Reid: Then they get better at it and now you… It’s like this life becomes this great dance, we have all this access to people, you’re getting your tanks filled, you know you can get them filled, you rewired all these believes that we all made when were five or seven or six and then get like… Even if I’m shy, I get to be in the world as much I want in a healthy way and you know how to navigate the world in a way that most of us didn’t get when were kids because our parents didn’t know how to do it either and they were exhausted.
Cathy: Yeah, for people are not near a cuddle party and you can look at meet up usually or Facebook and you can find them but if there is nothing near you, I have had some clients practicing… They had their whole family involved in it and it was just a blast. They said, “For the next day, I’m going to practice whatever you ask me and it’s going be a no …” The first I did this with she was a major yes to everything and she was like, “I wish I hadn’t said that.” Her rule is from 24 hours, anyone asked her she was going to say no and then they were going to reply, “Thank you for taking care of yourself.”
Which is a cuddle party thing because it tricks brain to go, “Oh maybe I shouldn’t be upset.” She said she was allowed to change her mind later but she had to wait at least five minutes.
Reid: That’s awesome.
Cathy: Yeah and it evolved …
Reid: That’s a great exercise.
Cathy: The whole family started doing it.
Reid: You should try this exercise tonight or tomorrow.
Cathy: Make it playful. You can ask… Can I dye your hair purple?
Cathy: Thank you for taking care of yourself.
Reid: Don’t play this at work unless you get your boss to sign off on this and everybody else.
Reid: Well, Cathy, I want you to file that report for me.
Reid: Thank you for taking of yourself. Why did I hire you?
Cathy: Yeah. But just getting to exercise the word no in the way where you’re not ashamed or ridiculed or put down, it can give you a lot of power and knowing you have brakes on your car will let you drive a lot more places.
Reid: Yeah, I mean the brakes part is a great analogy. If you don’t know, if your car had no brakes you’d have to go so slow and avoid all of these areas that can be really amazing in life.
Reid: Boundaries allow you to be able to tap the brakes or slum them on if you need to but if you’re a good driver and know how to navigate and negotiate, you don’t really have to slam your brakes on unless it’s an emergency.
Cathy: Right, you can just slow down a little bit before you get there.
Reid: Yeah and when you’re surrounded by other people who are good drivers then usually we only have to slam our brakes on when something unexpected happens. For the most part, everyone is kind of driving and having fun and getting to where they want to go.
Cathy: If you have been dealing with someone who has a lot of abandonment issues, they may have taken as rejection and you may have learned not to say no anything. If you’re starting that up in a relationship, it can be really gentle. A gentle way to step into it is to play this game and be really silly. Can I tattoo my name on your forehead?
Reid: Do you think it would look nice?
Reid: No, no.
Cathy: Thank you for taking care of yourself.
Cathy: You can be silly about it and let your primitive brain go, “Oh that wasn’t so bad.” Then start with gentle things, start with small things. You don’t necessary have to go. “All right, I’m a no to everything, right now.” That could be very confusing and stressful for everybody. I know you’re a more an advocate of jump off the cliff and see how you land but…
Reid: You can do baby steps, I’m fine with that.
Cathy: Okay, good. Trying that out and knowing what your needs are and getting them at, if I’m repeating you correctly and taking care of yourself and doing lots of yes, getting other resources.
Reid: Yeah and this is a journey. This is not something you’ll transform overnight but even little bits and pieces like this, like you could be watching videos like this and exposing yourself to this information and doing the homework and the assignments in a course like this. This stuff over time will allow you to rewire your experience with life and with other human beings, re-parent yourself and be truly a grown up without losing your kids, your inner child and then you actually get to be actualized in life in a way that most people never get the opportunity to.
You can rewire and move through you abandonment issues and un-trigger them, you can diffuse those bombs. You can support your loved ones and being able to triumph and celebrate and be more empowered and have more self-esteem and more self-love and then get to shower that all over you guys. That stuff is exciting and it doesn’t happen overnight and it will feel scary but most people that I have worked with… I have never lost anybody. None of the people I have ever worked with died from dealing with their abandonment issues.
Cathy: No, there were moments were it felt like it because I was scared but…
Reid: Well that’s usually that… When you look at some certain philosophies and poems and stuff where they talk the… It’s just the phoenix effect. Your old version of yourself dies and then you’re reborn. Your mileage may vary as to how fun that journey is or not.
Cathy: I really encourage those of you who that… There are some other calls in the series about tapping down this, it can be a really powerful technique for a lot of people and if it’s not for you there is other ways you can approach this but that can be a really good way to clear this out.
Reid: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Cathy: Thanks so much, yeah.
Reid: You’re welcome. Good luck and you’re doing awesome. That you’re watching this, I mean that you can put with me for an hour. You know Cathy I understand why you keep watching, you’re doing a great job and I really… I applaud you and your efforts. Don’t give up.
Cathy: It takes courage to look at this issue so congratulations.