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Connection is a Beacon

September 5, 2017

Advances in the relational neurosciences are making many things so much more clear.  But my favorite thing that has emerged as a truth is that our systems are always driven toward coherence.  Always driven toward healing.  Always driven toward relationship.  Always.  The drive is innate.  The drive cannot be taken away.  It can certainly be covered up.  It can be buried for 60, 70, 90 years.  It can be buried beneath what feels like an infinite amount of protectors.  But it’s there.

beacon

Photo by matthaeus on Unsplash

In fact we can be sure that the intensity of a person’s protectors- the parts of themselves that keep everyone else from seeing that true part of them that is seeking connection- is directly proportionate to the intensity of their pain.  To the intensity of the hurt they experienced inside relationship- or the intensity of the hurt they experienced without a relationship to organize and buffer the pain.

The work of Jaak Panksepp shows us how humans react when our seeking system (innate) isn’t met.  We first experience separation panic and grief.  If we still aren’t met it moves to fear.  If we STILL aren’t met we move into rage.

It’s reallllly hard to meet someone who is moving toward us in rage.  In fact, it’s scary.

Our raging little people (and big people too) need connection.  Boundaries, of course.  But ultimately what they need is connection.  I promise you they are longing for it.  Desperate for it.  And they struggle to receive it.  When connection seems like it might be available, they could have another protector come up to reject it.  Because receiving connection NOW reminds them of the unendurable deep grief that arose when they longed for connection before and it never came.

But rest assured then even if 10000000000 protectors come up to push away the connection, there is still a part of their system that is yearning for, seeking, and believing that the connection is there.  It’s possible.

Being met with the thing you’ve been longing for your whole life is filled with tremendous grief.  A grief that the system cannot take all at once.  Our bodies are so smart to titrate the amount of connection we can take so that it titrates the amount of grief we can manage.

Hang in there.  Believe in the inevitability of connection.  It is an absolute truth.  It’s a beacon in the dark distance that we are inherently driven to move toward.

~

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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Amberlee Johns permalink
    September 5, 2017 9:26 am

    Wow, thank you for the post. What a fantastic reminder that our body’s job is to move toward connection/healing and to stay safe simultaneously. The back and forth limits exposure to what can overpower, grief over unmet needs. Once again, thanks.

  2. Amanda Porter permalink
    September 5, 2017 2:15 pm

    Robyn,

    Somehow you seem to post exactly what I need to hear at exactly the right time. You explain things in a way no one else can. You make me think of things in ways I never have.

    ” Being met with the thing you’ve been longing for your whole life is filled with tremendous grief. A grief that the system cannot take all at once. Our bodies are so smart to titrate the amount of connection we can take so that it titrates the amount of grief we can manage.”

    Thank you for all you do to help kids and their families.

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