LOVE, TRUST, AND OTHER SUCH ANOMALIES
A developing fetus constantly hears his mother's heartbeat and breathing, and shares her blood and oxygen supply. He learns to recognize and become familiar with her voice, language style, the cadence of her speech and how she uniquely enunciates her words. Add to this, he co-experiences her emotional states right along with her, so everything she feels, he does too. From this, he forms a loving, intimate bond with her in-utero, and believes they are one, and there is no separation between them~ as far as he's concerned, she is him, and he is her.
This of course, has far reaching repercussions for children given away at birth ('adoptees', and imprints them with feelings of abandonment that are almost impossible for them to identify or articulate without sensitive, highly specialized care. Pre-verbal sensations of guilt, unworthiness and shame, which result from having been given up for adoption or abandoned by a mother's untimely death or physical/emotional withholding, make them feel "unwanted, defective and discarded," and drive a deep need to avert this kind of trauma from ever occurring again.
Abandonment issues can inhibit connections that might become more than casual/superficial, or cause one to retain relationships that feel unfulfilling or abusive. Under these conditions, any connection might seem better than no connection at all. Many of these folks compulsively strive for perfection in adulthood, to ameliorate their ever-present terror of rejection, or being left.
Whether physical loss of the mother constitutes part of this core deficit or not, enmeshment issues stemming from emotional abandonment triggers are easily implanted during infancy and early childhood. Again, when a woman's needs are not met by her spouse or partner, they're usually transferred to her child, which fosters an unhealthy, fused/enmeshed bonding that conditions him to feel responsible for her survival and well being.
If the child's attempts to form an autonomous ego are thwarted when he begins to separate and individuate from her as a toddler, he remains fixated on the needs of his mother~ and on every attachment thereafter, to his great detriment. Very early on, he begins to sense that only a modicum of personal need fulfillment is available to him, which undermines his sense of worth and viability.
During this child's impaired post-natal attachment experiences, he acquires a subtle anxiety that cannot help but question, "if something should happen to you, what will become of me?" This deep concern prompts Herculean measures to rescue, fix/repair or normalize his beloved parent and their intera*ctions, to ameliorate his abandonment fears. At his own expense, he may even adopt the mother's depressive or dysfunctional features, to retain some semblance of connection with her. These rescuing impulses are automatically carried into his adult dynamics, and are the root cause of codependency issues.
As previously stated, the basis of this disturbance is intricate, and begins very early. When separation is attempted by a toddler with a core-damaged mother, this necessary aspect of his development virtuallyreactivates the mother's original abandonment trauma (carried over from her infancy), and re-awakens insidious primal rage that's projected onto her child.
Prior to his individuation phase, this infant's mother might have begun experiencing a sense of wholeness, connection and purpose she's never known before, and these richly pleasurable sensations fostered her determined efforts to remain attached. Henceforth, the consistent, underlying message in her facial expressions, verbal tone and behaviors toward him throughout this vital and essential emotional growth period, could convey; "don't you dare separate and cease existing for me and my needs, or I will abandon/annihilate you."
This event echoes her own frustrated efforts to retain affection and approval, while attempting to forge an autonomous, healthy Ego, distinctly separate/apart from her mother as a young child.
Core emptiness can drive a woman's psychic/emotional need to give birth to a lot of babies in very close succession; think of Nadya Suleman ("The Octo-mom", for she literally thrives on their dependency. ABorderline mother may physically harm her children or make them sick in order to keep them dependent, as with Munchhausen's Syndrome by Proxy~ or she might murder them, as they develop beyond their dependency stage. In either case, this child's spirit is killed off, which spawns a sense of despair and deadness or emptiness that without core trauma recovery, can last an entire lifetime.
Unmet/unresolved primal needs (from infancy) will always take precedence over adult needs! Comforting/soothing physical connection and touching can trap people in frustrating relational dynamics that are lacking in adult emotional, cerebral, spiritual and financial need satisfa*ction.
Codependent females often fall prey to relationships with males they think have "potential," only to be disappointed when their practical adult needs cannot be responded to. They remain angry or dissatisfied--yet are unable to leave, if their little girl needs for comfort/closeness are being met. At the heart of this issue is enmeshment ~and grown woman needs are typically forfeited within a romantic interplay that reinforces her dependency.
Deeply buried enmeshment issues are especially common among men who attach to Borderline women. A Borderline's clinginess and neediness can at first feel suffocating and engulfing~ but at the same time, comforting, as they can replicate an adult male's earliest bonding experiences (even before birth) with Mother.
The maternal imprint is potent/heady, and is often retained as a sense memory; the way she smells, the nature of her touch or sound of her voice, etc., make him think that he's unwittingly found what he's truly needed his whole life! The loss of this type of attachment typically sends a man spiraling into perilous pain and longing, which feels unmatched by any other (remembered) life event.
It should be noted, that if a nourishing symbiosis with Mother isn't possible during infancy, and a far more attentive/loving attachment is forged with the father, an emotionally sound adult might eventually emerge. But if the father should leave through divorce, death or remarriage, the abandonment trauma this invokes will significantly impact all future relationships. Anxiety surrounding potential loss of another who might have substantial meaning and value, can exacerbate personality disorder features and inhibit or destroy healthy, gratifying adult connections.
WHEN LOVE HAS BECOME ENTWINED WITH PAIN
The cost of not resolving core wounds is reflected in every decision and life choice we make professionally and personally, and it crucially impacts romantic endeavors. A caring, mutually nurturing and enhancing relational experience is completely foreign to most Caregivers. They've seldom (if ever) received affection, support and positive mirroring from a non-abandoning source, nor have they experienced loving, that's unaccompanied by pain.
The Caregiver repeatedly welcomes relationships that reactivate dramatic/painful sensations associated with maternal attachment difficulties, while routinely rejecting those who are actually equipped to meet his/her emotional needs. There's little capacity to respond passionately to a healthier more rewarding dynamic, because the familiar ache of intense longing and yearning, which has come to be interpreted as "Love," isn't present with an available partner! One's perception of such a relationship is that "something's missing," as it cannot trigger feelings that parallel the disappointing/unrequited attachment experiences he had to endure throughout infancy and childhood.
Restated, a lover who's elusive, cruel, or just emotionally and/or physically unavailable can trigger painful sensations that replicate what the Caregiver experienced as a child, seeking a loving/responsive parent when he needed that attention. This emotionally inadequate, yet dramatically felt kind of episode functions as a powerful catalyst, that inspires a tenacious (and vaguely familiar) pursuit to seduce the object of desire into returning his attention and ardor.
Since the intense feelings that are invoked by such a relationship are compelling and addictive, any individual who awakens them, is presumed to be addictive as well. In the rare event an attachmentis successfully formed, rejection by the lover can set in motion an internal re-creation of his earliest abandonment experience, and drudge up excruciating feelings of inadequacy and shame, which are nearly impossible to tolerate. Punishment of the Self, such as compulsive, addictive reflexes or destructive acting-out behavior, usually accompanies or follows this kind of setback.
Perhaps the most tragic part of this issue, is that core-wounded individuals unwittingly seek lovers who are no more equipped to respond to their needs, than their unavailable parent was! They continue to embrace the notion that they'll one day find someone who excites them, and whom they can train or teach to love them in ways they've always wanted--but this is a child's fantasy that will never be realized. Still, if these inexhaustible efforts should yield even marginal success, they could feel encouraged to remain, and continue striving for that which cannot be gratified.
It's crucial to realize, that if one could become responsive to a partner's needs, he'd be discarded because of other perceived shortcomings or "flaws" that would suddenly seem untenable; again, an emotionallyavailable lover doesn't provoke an intense visceral response.
In truth, the thrill is in pursuit and seduction, which perpetuates an endless re-enactment of a child's most fervent wish for a closer bond with his/her parent, while defending against a more palpable fear of losing a deeply meaningful and nourishing attachment. This often means, that individuals who are actually capable of loving/caring intera*ctions are distanced, punished or rejected, so that anxiety surrounding devastating abandonment, is kept at bay. This is the Borderline's crucible.
The narcissistically injured Caregiver may repeatedly convince herself that she is capable of intimacy, by practicing relationship skills with partners who are incapable of fully responding to her. Thus, she continues to refuel the notion that she is "available" by taking calculated emotional risks--the rewards of which, are false reflections of her actual capacity to bond.
I'm reminded of a colleague who routinely resuscitated discarded relationships. During brief episodes of re-engagement, she was utterly convinced she loved and wanted these men, but always admitted that if the current lover pursued commitment, she'd beat a hasty retreat~ and enumerated his "deficits" to sanction her stance. When one of these former boyfriends finally gained closure and attached to another, this gal pal descended into a severe depression. Unable to re seduce this man, she appeared to re-experience her childhood abandonment despair, in having to surrender this intensely felt, yet under-satisfying connection. My sense was that profound core sensations of loss, shame and unworthiness, paralleled acute, long-denied pain from unhealed archaic wounds perpetrated by her alcoholic, acutely borderline disordered mother.
Childhood abandonment trauma can create a virtual minefield, in context of romantic endeavors. Sadly, the partner of an abandoned (adult) child cannot help but step on emotional land mines that have lain dormant, perhaps for decades. Self-esteem injuries that have existed since the primal rejection experience are reactivated--which triggers intense anguish and rage. It is this mechanism which elicits volatile/violent reactivity from BPD individuals toward anyone who has gotten close to them.
As this early painful material is almost never held on a conscious level in terms of its emotional impact, repercussions from a lover's unwitting slights are very difficult to rebalance from, and often bring about a couple's relational demise.
Many of us grew up observing our parents doing battle, and as children learn from example, this became our definition for what 'marriage' meant. If we're somehow lucky enough to have found a copacetic, nourishing relationship, we might need to upset that balance, just to feel like things are normal. In short, we've gotta throw a monkey wrench into the works, because harmony and peace feel foreign--and therefore, uncomfortable. We could even have become somewhat like the parent we most feared or hated.