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- Short animated explanation of attachment theory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjOowWxOXCg
- The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
- Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson child development books, especially The Whole Brain Child
Resources referenced in this episode:
Kate: [00:00:00] if you’re listening, insecurely attached person feel at home, we’re all insecurely attached.
Kate: We’re still alive. We’re functioning. We have children and hopefully not scarring them.
Kate: So yes, we should talk about that some more.
Kate: Welcome to model minority moms, where we talk about the complicated meaning of success in career, family and life.
Kate: I’m Kate Wong,
Susan: Jeanette park, and Susan.
Kate: Harvard classmates and Asian-American working moms to Little’s who get real about the pressures of fitting in while standing out.
Susan: Hey, what’s up welcome to model minority moms podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about attachment theory and how it impacts us as parents and how we actually parents and how we were freaked out about parenting.
Susan: So Jeanette, you just sent out this awesome clip that gives us an overview about attachment theory , but can you give me like the download for someone who does not know what attachment theory is? What is it? [00:01:00]
Jeanette: Hmm. So maybe we can post the link in the description or something.
Jeanette: But it’s kind of like this, it says, the quality of your attachment to your primary caregivers, usually your parents from a very young age, into, you know, maybe your early teenage years has a huge impact on how you’re able to form relationships as an adult and how you see yourself.
Jeanette: You know, what’s like your perspective on the world. Is it optimistic? Is it more pessimistic? And even things like your educational attainment Your a level of confidence, your health whether you suffer from chronic health disease, like so it’s, it’s kind of, you know, the theory is that early, especially like very early, like first couple of years of life, the quality of your attachments to your primary caregivers is extremely important.
Jeanette: And there’s a bunch of other things we could talk about it, which I’m sure we’ll go into some of right. But a lot of studies have been done on how this impacts various [00:02:00] outcomes for, for people.
Susan: Yeah. So I first heard about this idea when I saw a friend at a coffee shop in New York city, and he’s reading this book called attached and it’s about theories around how we attach to people or don’t.
Susan: And it was because he just got dumped you just got broken up with, and so he’s reading this and I’m asking him about it. And that’s the first time I heard about it, which was two years ago. So I’m curious, how do you to already look this up? Cause I didn’t even think this is brilliant. I didn’t even think to look it up in terms of through parenting lens but like why, why did you guys already know what this was before?
Susan: Like I had no idea.
Kate: Let’s see. I was a psychology under concentrators. I think that’s probably how I read about it. So that’s a little unfair edge and I think every therapist I’ve been with is more or less kind of mentioned that at some point,
Susan: wait, so small, smallest aside at Harvard, we don’t have [00:03:00] majors.
Susan: We have concentrations because we’re that nerdy. So instead of like, hell what, what’s your major? You say, oh, what’s your concentration? That’s a secret Harvard lingo there. Okay. So you already knew about a Kate
Kate: like yes, but their unfair advantage. Correct.
Susan: And, and did you look it up when you were. When, when you’re pregnant or did you to look it up and then like when you’re breastfeeding at midnight, like w w when did this, like, come back to the surface where you’re like, okay, this is going to be okay.
Kate: Only, I think recently when my daughter started having her, I guess they call them big feeling the phase. You’re not supposed to say other things it’s not politically correct, I guess, but but yeah one of our friends mutual friends recommended a few books and it’s, you know, this author, Daniel Siegel, who I’m sure many people have heard of and Tina Payne, Bryson, I think they’re co-authors this is sort of the crux of what they talk about in their child development meets neuroscience books.
Kate: So yeah, it’s definitely, [00:04:00] you know, revisiting this in the light of how my attachment, as you know, that I formed as a child impacts how I react to my daughter when she is going through a hard time. So that’s, yeah, it definitely the most personal, you know, this time around, before I, you know, I’d read about it, I was like, yeah, I’m probably not very well attached.
Kate: Well, I already knew I wasn’t, you know, securely attached, but you know, whatever, move on, work on your work, on your issues, but this is sort of like crunch time, so to speak. Yeah. Yeah.
Kate: But I actually want to know
Kate: after having all three of us have been watched the video before this recording there, any one of us that’s securely attached or considers themselves securely
Jeanette: No, I’m not securely attached, but I think Jake is my husband.
Jeanette: I just got the whole brain child, which is written by the same authors that Kate just mentioned.
Jeanette: And I’ve read other books in this space. And I think what’s motivating to me is, like Kate mentioned, you know just having a kid and [00:05:00] knowing that this is going to influence them in such a profound way is really motivating for me to try to do it better.
Jeanette: And then I think a part of it is also introspective for myself. Right. I actually feel like some of these books helped me understand why I struggle with the things that I do. And you know, they don’t automatically solve it, but just being aware of it, I feel like as a first step towards mitigating some of the impacts, especially on my kids and so that’s what motivated me.
Jeanette: I think my first exposure to it wasn’t until my mid to late twenties when a therapist was talking about my quality of attachment to various people in my life.
Susan: Yeah. So there are four forms of attachment. One is the one
Kate: you didn’t answer my question almost securely attached.
Kate: Okay, good. Makes us all feel better.
Susan: These refugees, like there was nothing secure about, about being refugees, but like, I’m kind of [00:06:00] wondering now I’m curious, like let’s just talk about America. Caucasians. What percent of Caucasians are securely attached? If we were just to segment it. By race case by case basis immigrants versus first, second, third generation, all that.
Susan: I mean, is, is the clear hypothesis, like, oh, if you’re white and you’re middle-class or upper-class, you are just like, way more secure than not. I wonder what the percentages are.
Jeanette: I haven’t seen anything like that that breaks it out by race, but I mean, I, I think that poverty and being in an unstable environment, definitely contributes, to a higher likelihood of trauma, which then is more likely to lead to a insecure attachment. So I, I would imagine social economic factors do play a big role in it, and that is largely driven by by race in America. But I don’t think it’s universal. Like I think just because you’re white and let’s say even upper middle class, that [00:07:00] doesn’t guarantee you by any means that you’re going to have a secure attachment to your parents, right.
Jeanette: This is not really about money. It’s about if you feel like your parents, you can count on your parents and that they’re going to be predictable and safe and a warm and supporting person in your life. I mean, it’s more difficult to do it, I think without money, but I think there’s plenty of people who grew up in more well-to-do families
Jeanette: who still don’t get it.
Kate: Last weekend I was at dinner. We were 10 people, 10 adults, mostly children of either. We were first generation immigrants or children of first generation immigrants. And we’ll be talking about attachment theory and no one was securely attached. I just like to repeat.
Kate: And they were like, do you know anyone who is? And then everybody was like and then I was like, I know two people. And then I gave the example on them. Wow. That’s so crazy. And then people are like, well, we don’t think I know anybody who’s securely attached. And I think that goes to show that, [00:08:00] you know kind of just Jeanette’s point it’s less about money or about ethnicity, but just sort of situational, right?
Kate: Like a lot of our parents, I mean our own parents, I think in their separate ways grew up in a time of trauma right. Or we were born into a time where there was a lot of trauma either in the family or in the larger environment, you know, from my parents, with the cultural revolution you know, for boats, that’s your parents and various other things.
Kate: And so I think a lot of these things will also impact to a certain extent how parents behave towards their children. Right. And you know, obviously as immigrants to the United States, why do you immigrate to United States ostensibly in search of a quote unquote, better life, right. And generally speaking, if you’re in search of a better life where you’re coming from, at least from our parents’ generation was probably not quote unquote, that, not that great.
Kate: Right. Relatively speaking. So I wasn’t that surprised to find out that from, you know, Immigrant first gen second gen immigrant peer. Is it not securely attached? So if you’re listening, insecurely attached person feel at home, we’re all insecurely attached. [00:09:00]
Kate: We’re still alive. We’re functioning. We have children and hopefully not scarring them.
Kate: So yes, we should talk about that some more.
Susan: Yeah. Okay. So there’s four types of attachment. Okay. One is the secure person. Then there’s three other ones, avoidant, ambivalent, disorganized. And this is how folks will react with their relationships or conflict. Okay. So just, just so people understand that there are four.
Susan: Okay. Jeanette, I love your Korean Proverbs girlfriend. I love them. And I think you had a Korean proverb related to tires. Or disappearing. Can you bring up one of the Korean sayings and how it plants a seed of being insecure?
Jeanette: Yeah. I don’t think this is a Korean proverb. It’s just something that my parents, it’s just something my parents said.
Jeanette: And you know, just talking to other Korean [00:10:00] Americans of similar generation, I’ve heard other people say, oh yeah, my parents used to say that to me too. So I know it’s not just my parents. Right. My parents used to joke that they had picked me up under a bridge with an old set of tires.
Jeanette: That was more of a joke. Like not when we were angry at each other, there was a lot of tension. I don’t know why that was a joke, but, it was, you know, you, you look back at it as an adult, and you’re just like, that’s kind of a messed up thing to say. But, you know, when you’re blind or whatever, you’re like 6, 7, 8, 9.
Jeanette: You’re just like, ha ha. That’s funny. And then the other thing that you’re referring to is, you know, and this is something that my mom would say, when she was just stressed, stressed out to the max and she felt like my brother and I were acting up and then, you know, she would, she would be angry with us and she would just say like which was that she felt like she was at her limit.
Jeanette: She was like, you know, if you guys don’t start behaving, then I’m just going to disappear. You know, that’s something that she would say [00:11:00] sometimes.
Susan: And, and then when she, when she said that, what would, what would go through your mind or how would you feel when she said that?
Jeanette: I don’t even remember. I think the idea of attachment is also closely related to. Trauma and you know, one of the characteristics of trauma is that neurologically, you don’t process that memory. It’s not the same kind of memory as your other memories.
Jeanette: You only retain the image and the sounds, the sensory elements of it. And it doesn’t actually get processed into a narrative and then stored into a different part of the brain. I don’t want to go into that into much. In-depth it’s also not my area of expertise, but I think it’s interesting that there’s like an interesting side note about trauma.
Jeanette: So I, I mentioned that because , I remember feeling nothing in response to that. That’s my short answer. Right? Like, I don’t remember feeling any. And I think it’s just one of these things it’s like, you know, as a kid, if you feel like your parents are going to disappear and leave you, , what is the emotional reaction to that?
Jeanette: It’s so [00:12:00] overwhelming. You feel nothing. Or at least my reaction was to feel nothing. And and I don’t want to make this necessarily about blaming our parents. I mean, I don’t want to say that that’s completely illegitimate, right? Like it’s okay. In my view, it’s okay to have complaints about your parents and to explore that because that’s just sometimes the truth.
Jeanette: But I also want to just acknowledge that, you know, I think all of our parents, like Kate mentioned before, you know, they also probably had, at least my parents, they had very poor quality attachments with their parents. Their parents were in many ways, far more abusive towards them. And they also were born in the post-war period.
Jeanette: My mom was born four or five years after the Korean war. Right. Like the country was totally devastated. Everybody was living in poverty. And you know, my grandfather was an alcoholic, you know? And so I just want to acknowledge that, you know, I want to feel like my parents in most cases tried to do their best.
Jeanette: Right. [00:13:00] But that can still be true with the fact that I felt like I didn’t get what I needed from my childhood. And that it, that resulted in issues that I’m still working through.
Susan: And that’s the definition of intergenerational trauma, right? Like, yeah. How about you, Kate? Do you have any initial memories of when you were.
Susan: Now looking back as an adult, you’re like, oh, that’s the beginning of my insecure attachment issues came from.
Kate: Oh yeah. I don’t even have to have a memory to tell you. I think, you know, I might’ve mentioned at some point to all of you that I didn’t spend most of my childhood, my early like zero to five years with my parents.
Kate: I was, I had a nanny. I live with my grandparents for the first year and a half or so. And then my parents sent me to a boarding preschool which, you know, every time I say this for like, what is that? So it is, I was actually a military, a boarding preschool for [00:14:00] children of the mill of military personnel.
Kate: My parents bribed somebody to get in or something to open the back door, so to speak in China. Right. Cause they are not military. And I was there I’ve stayed overnight. I came home, I think like one, one or two nights a week. So that was like from around age three to five. So just telling you that you can already tell that it was not attached to either of my parents particularly well.
Kate: And then of course at that boarding preschool you know, it’s, it was very like Confucian style, right. So very top down you know, teachers would yell at you and like hit your hand with a ruler, you know, that kind of old school Physical discipline. And then also at night you know, they’d make us get up every night.
Kate: it was like little orphan Annie style. Like we like slept in a giant room with beds, like pushed up next to each other. And then every night these village girls who they hired to be like the night monitors would wake us all up and force us to pee because they didn’t want us to wet our beds.
Kate: So we’d literally line up in front of a, it was like a, you know, one of [00:15:00] those squat toilets and then the, the village girls and I don’t, you can’t blame them. They’re like ignorant, you know, teenage twenty-something girls were like, if you don’t pee right now, I’m gonna flush you
Kate: down this toilet. I mean, imagine
Kate: you’re like three, four or five years old and you hear this, like every night it’s pretty traumatic.
Kate: Right. So I’m a hundred percent very not securely attached. In fact, I would probably, I think I’m probably like the anxious attachment type. So yeah. That’s.
Jeanette: Yeah, I know you. I don’t think you had shared that actually, so.
Kate: Oh really? Okay. I feel like, oh, I thought I might’ve shared it at some point. I think I told this story last weekend to a bunch of friends, but yes, that was my childhood and less people think my parents are awful.
Kate: I think at the time, you know, people are like, why did you end up in that situation? I was like, well, you know, honestly, like my, both my parents had really demanding jobs. My dad was studying for the GRE to come to the U S for his PhD. My mom was like, is this like very this [00:16:00] great job? Or she traveled, like, she was like power woman, you know, like Chinese style.
Kate: And so they just put me in a boarding preschool because that after my nanny went back to her village, because that’s just all they knew. Right. Kind of to what Jeanette said, like, I think after enough therapy and self-reflection, I don’t blame my parents. I think it’s just in that time they did what they thought was a good thing to do.
Kate: And they did what worked for them. And they didn’t know anything about child development. Right? Like they didn’t, they didn’t know anything about attachment or early childhood education or anything like that. So, you know, I can’t, I feel like it’s not reasonable to blame them, but like also Jeanette said it at the same time.
Kate: I think it’s important to recognize that that’s not an unhealthy, that is not a healthy environment for any young child to grow up in. Right. So, yeah.
Susan: Hmm. Yeah.
Susan: You know, I’m confused because [00:17:00] I watched that video clip, you sent over Jeanette and they had this , pretend family of four kids and after the dad passed away, then the kid who’s six.
Susan: He previously had felt very attached to his mom. And even though she worked a lot, she was kind of available. Not as much. He’s still. Great self esteem growing up and I’m sitting here going like, well, I mean, we, we had a stable ish home. Most of my upbringing, my parents weren’t around that much because they were working.
Susan: So my brothers were the disciplinarians, which was always kind of halfway scary. And then my grandparents and my aunts came to live with us. They came from Vietnam. And then when I was 11, my mom passed away and then everyone moved down to the house and it became a very lonely place. And we didn’t talk about the loss, but I was 11.
Susan: So I’m comparing myself to this kid in the video who’s six and is like very secure the rest of his life. And I’m like, you know, I was 11 and I was like, and I definitely don’t feel like I have it together. You know? So
Jeanette: yeah. I don’t think that [00:18:00] the the whole age cutoff is I don’t know if that’s scientifically based.
Jeanette: I think the, the point is, when you’re very young, from birth to one, that seems to be very critical. But then , that doesn’t mean , you know, ages one through 10, , and beyond aren’t important or not important, they still are. But I think that there is more of a weight on the earlier years.
Kate: Also One of my therapists, former therapist had said that every person, a child is different. The same set of circumstances can happen to different children and the children emotionally, and their attachment may come out differently. Of course, excluding cases of like Frank abuse, et cetera.
Kate: So you could imagine, cause you know, I was talking about my childhood as I just outlined to you too. And she said, you know, for some people they could have gone through the same thing and it may have been different, but she was like, that’s sort of the point is you kind of have to keep that in mind too, that it’s not just like one size fits, all right.
Kate: Like this kid six year old kid in this example, it [00:19:00] was like, oh, it turned out just fine. And then, so this isn’t you feel bad? Cause you’re like, dude, I was 11. Like shouldn’t have turned out fine. The thing is like, we’re all very different. We have very different personalities. You know, nature. And so, and you shouldn’t feel bad that somehow you still feel like not quote unquote securely attached to this hypothetical child fam or whatever is fine.
Kate: Right. So I think that’s just something, just give us a little grace for is that we’re just all quite different.
Susan: Yeah. Yeah, no, I’m just trying to analyze like my entire childhood right now thinking like, like I’m writing a memoir right now. So I’m thinking about my childhood all the time right now. But like I think about my mom and my dad having four kids and that, and I’m actually trying to think about the number of times I had one-on-one time with my parents.
Susan: And it was not very often, the times that we did have it, I almost felt nervous that I had one-on-one time with them. So I’m just thinking about that and going like, huh. And then I’m trying to like, translate [00:20:00] like, okay, now that I know I’m very insecure, how do I, what’s my 12 step program.
Susan: Having a really healthy son, you know, like now what do I do different, you know, like what do we do now?
Kate: Self-help books and have an accountable partner. I mean, I think it’s good. So actually, hold on, because I remember Jeanette said at the beginning that Jake, her husband is securely attached.
Kate: Right. So let’s talk real quick because I feel like that is important in this discussion because there are co-parents with us. Right. So, Susan, what do you think about Marvin? Just diagnose Marvins attachment
Susan: you know, they’ll have their responses. But here and then half and then maybe a quarter avoidant in a quarter ambivalent maybe, or no, like maybe half secure, half ambivalent.
Susan: If I was to be like, if you’re like, okay, you got to tell me what he is right now. I don’t know if you can be
Susan: halfsies yeah.
Susan: So, yeah. Yeah. [00:21:00]
Kate: I would say Susan Nirav is a little bit like that. I think he’s half, so he’s definitely more secure than me, but I think he has some aspects of the avoided
Susan: I just guys are more secure in his heterosexual situation.
Kate: No, I’ve had guy friends who I could tell were like, I feel like maybe guys might be more on like avoidant types. I don’t know. This is just my very non-scientific theory. I’m just trying to think of all my guy, friends who are like insecurely attached and I feel like they tend to be more avoidant.
Jeanette: And then I also think, you know, there’s your parent dynamic, but I do think when you have a trauma or just ongoing trauma whether it’s inflicted by or through your parents or not. That obviously affects your quality of attachment.
Jeanette: And I just think that women overall, we’re on the receiving end of more trauma than men. I think that that’s one reason why we might just broadly see , maybe not for these individual men we’re [00:22:00] talking about. Right. But , that’s one reason why I think that women just might have more insecure attachments then maybe their brothers or, you know, other men who have similar demographics.
Susan: Okay. Wait, can I let’s talk about your unicorn husband. Who’s secure. Like you don’t have to answer all these questions, but like, so if he’s secure and you’re insecure, Does he pull, does he understand when you’re triggered by things and he like really gets it or he just doesn’t get why that would be a big deal to you?
Susan: Does he feel like super exhausted when you have another cycle of trigger? Like, what is it like to be married to a secure person? I know. Tell us all.
Jeanette: Yeah, and it’s not like all of his [00:23:00] relationships are perfect, but I think he would agree with me in saying that his attachment to his parents are pretty secure.
Jeanette: I think especially to his mom and that’s actually one of these things that we were working on in the early years of our relationship. And when I say working on it feels intentional, but it really wasn’t. I mean, what it looked like was just me. Fucking freaking out, every two weeks,
Jeanette: like avoiding him, like just like, honestly
Jeanette: Yelling at him and just being like, we need to break up, , you know, because you don’t understand X or you did why, and , didn’t, you know, like I just, I was just triggered, left and right.
Jeanette: And I would literally want to break up every two weeks or a month, every month. And that went on for two years.
Susan: Oh my God. Yeah. And I
Kate: needed him a securely attached guy like him [00:24:00] to wear you down, right?
Jeanette: Yeah. I think that if I was with another person who was insecurely attached, it would have been a disaster because we would have just triggered each other and we wouldn’t have lasted.
Jeanette: Right. Because I think I. It felt like all this stuff that the relationship was bringing up for me. , I just couldn’t deal with it. I just want to run away really. And I think the, if I had been in a relationship with somebody who was also insecurely attached, like they would have also wanted to run away, so it wouldn’t have worked.
Jeanette: But I think subconsciously, I wonder now if a part of it as this sounds also terrible, but I was kind of testing him. I was kind of like, this is me being fucking crazy. Like I couldn’t be with my parents really. I told you before that, I really feel like I never, I don’t have any recollection of throwing a tantrum with my parents or being super difficult with them.
Jeanette: [00:25:00] And you know, this is like me, being that crazy person that I could never be. And , how are you going to respond?
Susan: Like, are you really, do you really love me unconditionally? Do you really love all of me?
Jeanette: Yeah. Do you really love me? But like, are you somebody who will stay safe as I go through all those shit?
Jeanette: Right. , because I think for me, the reason I couldn’t express negative emotions growing up is because my parents had so much baggage and triggers that if I acted out, they would become emotionally out of control. Right. And so
Jeanette: I think this is all totally not conscious at all. And this is just really , with the benefit of whatever, like 17 years of this being together right now, looking back, I think those two years were really about my subconscious saying , okay, like, you really want to do this.
Jeanette: This is what it’s really fucking like, you know, , so are you going to, are you ready to stick with me through it and also be a safe person throughout this whole thing?
Jeanette: And I think that, [00:26:00] that, I think it’s probably, he probably never met somebody so fucking crazy. And I think it was not easy for him.
Jeanette: Right. But I really, I mean, obviously it’s it’s been a huge gift to have somebody who can be there like that. Sorry. Now I feel like, kind of emotional about it.
Kate: We only ever hear Jeanette’s perspective about how she was crazy, et cetera. But obviously I wish, like I knew what was going on in Jake’s head because obviously his view was not the same as Jeanette’s view is right. Of herself even describing this. Now I wonder if we asked Jake, like, you know, what did you see in Jeanette?
Kate: He wouldn’t say she was crazy saying I’m crazy, right?
Susan: Admiring. Cause y’all start dating when you’re both 18.
Jeanette: Yeah. He was 19, I think. Yeah,
Susan: yeah, yeah. You guys are
Susan: babies and for him to be 19 and then to 21 of like [00:27:00] of the height of you showing, Hey, this is my darkness, you know, this is my shadow stuff. Like, are you going to stick with me for him to like at 19 to 21 to experience that and work with it.
Susan: And like, and you are having a family now. Like, that’s very interesting.
Susan: Right. If you were like a 20 year old guy, when you bounce and be like, no, thanks. Yeah. That’s fascinating. That’s fascinating. Then he had this level of emotional maturity to work with it, but not yet.
Kate: I still think there’s something in Jeanette.
Kate: He saw that obviously Jeanette is either won’t tell us or can’t tell us or something. You know what I mean? Like as a dude. 1920 year old dude. I mean, there was something there he saw here. I’m going to pretend to be Jake.
Kate: Like he must be the channel him 10, I’m going to channel Jake. It was just like the most sublime, fascinating intellectual stimulating [00:28:00] person. The only person in the world who would give me a book called the history of bombing for my birthday. That was just such a turn on. I’m just kidding.
Susan: never done or
Kate: downplaying herself in this situation. I just, I just, you know what I mean? Like beauty is in the eye, the home of the holder, and there was definitely a fucking lot of beauty in Jake. I be holding of you, whatever. Anyway, my point is so, so don’t, you know, I’m just going to represent Jake today and say, It wasn’t just the St you know, cause we’re like talking about him, like, he’s all this like amazing 19 year old male, like boy Saint who is securely attached.
Kate: But come on. Let’s let’s, let’s give it up for Jeanette was so hot. Yeah. So awesome. She, she caught a unicorn, a securely attached male.
Susan: I mean, so she got his, I mean, it’s not like we don’t have conflicts in our relationships and we don’t have to work on them, but then I’m like, [00:29:00] wait a minute. So that’s great for you. But then what about me and Kate? Like too insecure?
Susan: I mean, I don’t know. I feel like there should be a questionnaire or something that each person takes. Self identify which one they are, because I don’t want to label Marvin if he’s fully secure or not, like,
Kate: just make them take the test after there’s some, there a bunch of links,
Susan: you know, once when we signed up for couples counseling, there’s this quiz that you have to fill out and and it’s basically determining how many issues you have and out of like 16 things, I think I had like 13 issues that were things I could work on.
Susan: And he had like zero or one. He was like, I guess I don’t have any issues.
Kate: Like you were pressing them. Right?
Susan: Yeah. This self-reporting stuff is so interesting. Okay. All right. So we all have pain in our lives. Okay. And then now we have babies. [00:30:00] So what, like now we’re just, we’re just more aware and I mean, yeah.
Susan: Help me out here, like how now that, like, if I’m a parent, I know, okay. That there’s four categories now, what do we do as parents?
Jeanette: For me, I’m still very much working through my issues and I still have triggers. They’re still around. I would say they’re a lot better, but my approach is kind of twofold.
Jeanette: Which is work on excavating, doing the deeper work and therapy of trying to understand my issues. Like, you know, I’ve been doing this thing called renegotiation with my therapist, which is like, kind of reimagining those issues, but then also giving yourself the experience of it having gone differently.
Jeanette: . So kind of imagining , almost a different way that that scenario could have played out. That that’s, I feel like that’s not maybe for attachment issues, but that’s more for like, things that were more traumatic that happened. So that’s one angle.
Jeanette: And then I think the other angle is to try to honestly like paper over best. I can my [00:31:00] triggers and create a safe environment for my child. Right. Despite my triggers, try to take care of myself physically and emotionally. So that I’m in the best place not to be triggered.
Jeanette: And then also when I do feel triggered to be able to even step away for a couple of minutes to gather myself, . Because I think that I don’t want to unload on my kid. . That’s what I’m trying not to do.
Kate: Yeah. I think Jeanette’s right. You, you have to really identify what triggers you. You know, like when my daughter started having her, these big feelings and the first few times I’m a doer, like I want to fixing this something wrong.
Kate: I want to find the reason and then I’m going to fix it. Right. And so I was really frustrated because nothing I did would stop her crying or being upset. And it was like, oh no, I can’t fix this quote unquote problem because I was seeing her the problem. And then of course, like a couple of times I got really upset and I yelled at her.
Kate: Right. And then I felt really [00:32:00] awful afterwards. Anyway, I started reading about this, you know, how your own attachment can impact you know, how you respond to your child. And I was like, wow. You know, there are all these trigger things. And I think it was one of our friends who said that, you know, you need to step away.
Kate: Like it’s actually safe and good for you to step away. You just tell your kid, mommy doesn’t feel well. I can just step away for a little bit. You know, and so I’ve started doing that and also realizing what my trigger points are. So I. I tend to get like dizzy basically if I don’t eat for awhile and it just completely drains me. So if I’m like very low on energy, haven’t eaten. And I have a lot of stuff on my plate. That’s sort of when my well runs dry. Right. So I know that if my daughter has like, you know, he’s going through something during that time, I need to kind of step away and have my husband takeover.
Kate: So the thing that I feel really actually kind of angry about, I’m going to tell you, ladies, you haven’t really talked about this with other moms, because I feel like I would be judged is that there’s just like predominant narrative, right. On social media and in general, about moms, how we need to be, to always be like loving and like, [00:33:00] how could you yell at your child?
Kate: Like, you know, you know, kind of were talking about before, like, you know, your children are just like little angels and you have to have infinite amount of patients with them. I’m unlike. No, actually, because we are human beings who we’ve, you know, three of us and our families, we’ve gone through a lot of crazy ass shit.
Kate: That may be a lot of the people who are saying this, like, you know, have infinite patience with your angels. They haven’t gone through that fucking shit. Okay. Have you gone have your parents on the cultural revolution? No. Do your parents survive like, you know, go through the suffering at the end of the Korean war?
Kate: No. Did your, are your parents like boat people from Vietnam? No. So don’t tell us to like, you know, be like the perfect mom. I really hate that narrative because it, it it’s poisonous and it makes me feel like somehow I’m like the worst person ever. If I run out of energy and I like, you know, snap once at my daughter.
Kate: Right. It doesn’t help you. It doesn’t help us as parents realize that we need to address some of these things that we have from our [00:34:00] childhood. And it just makes us feel dirty. You know? I don’t feel like, you know, people talk about that. Yeah. It makes me mad actually, when I think about it, cause it’s like, who are you to judge me?
Susan: Right. Well, it goes back to who’s controlling the narrative who gets a lot of attention.
Jeanette: Yeah. There’s like two, the two things what you said it makes me think about right. One is okay. In the context of trying to foster secure attachment, is there any room for anger?
Jeanette: Like how do you express displeasure and anger towards your child? I want to believe that there is room for that, right? I want to be able to tell my kid, , I really don’t like you doing that. But it’s just how. And you know, sometimes I do kind of look, I feel to other parents that I know, other parents of our peers, even Jake’s parents about , not to say , any of these models are perfect, but you know, I’m just looking because I feel like what I grew up with is not good.
Jeanette: Right? Like how do you express displeasure and anger with your kids without making them feel unsafe? And, and I, [00:35:00] I don’t have a clear cut answer here. Right. What I’m trying is to say, , I feel angry, but then not in a way where I’m going to lose control or make them feel unsafe. Physically or emotionally unsafe, but it’s, it’s hard. . And I just don’t know where’s the line. I feel like there’s not like a clear bright line. And then the other thing that it makes me think about is, you know, you were talking about, you know, these other folks might not really understand.
Jeanette: I do think that there was this in that two years when I was going through this whole, , tumultuous, initial dating period with Jake, there was an aspect of it where I didn’t feel like he really understood all the time. I think he could see that I was struggling, but yeah.
Jeanette: There was a part of me that really craved that camaraderie and that deep, understanding of somebody who had gone through something similar. And sometimes I didn’t feel like I w I could get that because he didn’t go through that experience. And he didn’t really understand. And and that’s something that, and I feel like [00:36:00] has deepened over time, like, as he’s seen multiple iterations of different things happening in my family, I think every time it helped him understand a little bit more like on an intuitive level, what that is.
Jeanette: But, you know, I will just say like one hard thing is I feel like some of these experiences, it’s hard to have truly deep compassion, unless you’ve also gone through something that’s similar or as intense. And that’s really scary actually with everything happening in our world and like inequality and all of that, right.
Jeanette: Just that. That level of compassion is hard and how are we going to help each other if we can’t really understand each other and w why we are the way we are.
Kate: Yeah. I think of this friend, actually, both of you probably know this friend, so I won’t mention this person’s name really love him. He’s great. Known him for a long time. Oops. I shouldn’t give away too many details. So securely attached, you know, one of the few people, actually, I know who’s really securely [00:37:00] attached.
Kate: His partner is also securely attached and, even though we’ve known each other for a long time since college you know, I always wondered why we weren’t closer emotionally. And I think it’s exactly what Jeanette just mentioned, which is that because he’s so securely attached, even though he’s like, I mean, such a generous, compassionate person.
Kate: I don’t think he’s ever well, okay. I don’t want to speak for him, but to my knowledge, I don’t think he’s been through the same kind of mental and emotional distress and trauma that some of our friends have. And so to a certain extent, it’s not even his fault, but he can’t understand it without that understanding, how can you be fully empathetic?
Kate: Right. And so it was felt that there was only recently last few years where I realized that was the cause of some of the emotional distance, maybe between us, because, and I think maybe a few times I kind of tried to explain a little bit more about my background, but [00:38:00] unlike with you and Jake Jeanette, I felt that this friend.
Kate: Didn’t. I mean, it would just kind of like totally went over his head, you know, and I just, it was too much of a struggle for me to try to explain it to him. Does that makes sense? Like, I did not want to spend all this mental energy kind of trying to prove to him or show to him how certain things had been traumatic.
Kate: And so I actually find myself weirdly enough, like it’s actually maybe harder for me to be emotionally close to people who haven’t undergone similar emotional or psychological trauma. Right. I think Jeanette makes a really good point because like, it’s just too tiring to kind of explain myself to them.
Kate: I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m just being overly dramatic here. I’m not saying I don’t like, well, it’s securely attached people. I do. I do a lot. They’re great to have some great securely attached people, but sometimes I just find there is this, like there is this almost unbridgeable distance. It feels.
Jeanette: Yeah, no, I get that Yeah. It’s also [00:39:00] just that you don’t want to,
Jeanette: I dunno, at least for me, right. It’s not like I’m not asking for sympathy. I’m fine. But it is also like, if you really want to understand me then you have to understand this part of me. Right. And I, I understand this kind of Teflon thing. Right. You’re like showing them but.
Jeanette: It’s like, it doesn’t feel like it’s really sinking in.
Kate: Yeah. Well, and I think also what you said about, I don’t want sympathy either. I think people always assume that if you have some like sad story to tell about yourself, like you want them to like give you a giant hug and a big kiss and like a sticker and a brownie and to say you’ll be
Kate: okay. And I actually think I don’t want that actually. That’s kind of gross. I know. I don’t really want your pity
Susan: really. I was like, that sounds great. I would love to
Kate: give you a pity in your brownies. Susan, I don’t want brownie if I don’t want pity, I don’t want a little sticker. I just want to be seen and understood like, oh, Kate has, you know, as much more complex than what she gives off because I think it comes back to this, right?
Kate: Like I, and I think both of you too, [00:40:00] there’s a certain projection that we all have. And maybe it’s a coping mechanism for our lack of secure attachment, where it just looks like from the outside that, you know, we have all our shit together. And we talked about this last time with regard to how it Susan and I both thought Janette had all her shit together in college because she was that smart ass bitch in gov 20 doing, you know what I mean?
Kate: But, but then it goes to show you right. That all of us are kind of just projecting this thing because we’re hiding behind this mask. And I think, you know, instead of pity, I just want somebody to be like, wow, you’re complicated. Thanks for sharing that. I really appreciate it. You know, I just want to be acknowledged, but anyway, it just looked like almost too much effort.
Kate: I feel like what’s the point sometimes.
Susan: Well, Martin thinks I penalize people when they’re not vulnerable with me. You know, like if, if we hang out,
Kate: when I asked you to fill out the Instagram post, that was like your biggest pet peeve is people who aren’t vulnerable with you in a conversation.
Susan: Yeah. And I was like, am I penalizing secure people?
Jeanette: Because [00:41:00] they have nothing to be vulnerable about?
Susan: I’m sure they have something to be vulnerable about. Okay. I want to go back to what Jeanette was talking about, which is about words and how do we use words about damaging our children?
Susan: Okay. And I started thinking about conditional and unconditional love, the phrases that I received as a kid growing up. And I’m curious about you two. But for, for me growing up, it was, if you don’t finish all your food, no, one’s gonna love you. If you don’t lose weight. No, one’s gonna love you. If you don’t get straight, A’s no, one’s going to love you.
Susan: Like the love was this, this like form of discipline to keep things in order. And I think I just really took it literally as a kid. I really did. You know, like now thinking about it, like if I’m the adult. And if I said this to a kid and I saw it worked, I would use it. Right. So I D I guess I’m trying to sit here going like, wow, that didn’t work because they didn’t give [00:42:00] one.
Susan: You shouldn’t say those things to a kid, but two it’s very, I felt like a lot of my childhood there, wasn’t a lot of explanation about things. Like moments would just kind of happen. And we wouldn’t like debrief as a family and like go around the dinner table and talk about how we failed that day and how we were kind and what we learned, you know, like we just, that was not a part of my upbringing.
Susan: So I think the first part is, okay, don’t make blanket statements that love can be taken away. And, you know, we would disappear things like that. Like those blanket statements scare kids, but two, if we can still say our feelings and have explanations about it, is that okay? Like, would, would the younger Susan have found that to be maybe hurtful?
Susan: Like, oh, I don’t like it when you’re mad, but okay. But, but what is the reason? Because I felt like my parents just never had explanations for anything. And I think that living in that silence and that mystery was actually more than painful.
Kate: Well, I think that goes back to what Jeanette was saying earlier about what are ways in which, you know you can teach your child to [00:43:00] express negative emotion or anger and w you know, there’s room for that.
Kate: Right. And I think this is something that I’m, I’m learning too. There’s a whole spectrum of emotion in a human being, and you don’t want someone to only express the positive emotions. Cause they’ll obviously have negative ones. They just won’t express them in front of you because they don’t feel safe.
Kate: Right. And you know coming back to, you know, like my SOS text to the two of you in our chat or our text group the other day about how my daughter is hitting me recently and how do I deal with that? And I think some of the responses I got from various friends with young kids were like, you know, one that’s totally normal behavior, two they’re testing the boundaries, right. They don’t have any, they don’t understand boundaries. Young children don’t understand that like what they shouldn’t do or they should do. Right. They don’t understand that you shouldn’t, they shouldn’t drink caffeine. So they want to like drink whatever you’re drinking, even though it’s coffee.
Kate: And same thing with like negative emotion. And so and also they, they act out in front of you because currently, I mean, they feel safe, right? You are a safe space for them to have an emotional [00:44:00] meltdown and to even potentially hit you. But the important thing that my, one of my other friends was saying is that, you know, it’s the most important thing to kind of establish boundaries specific to you.
Kate: So her, her advice was, you know, don’t just say, don’t hit, you can’t hit. Right. Her advice was, you know, from this, Janet Landsbury actually one of Jeanette’s favorite early childhood parenting experts. As you should say, specifically, Mommy doesn’t like it, when you hit me, it hurts.
Kate: Right. That’s setting a boundary that mommy I person don’t like it when you hit me, because it hurts as opposed to just don’t hit. Right. Which is just too general and vague. So there’s like a lot of things that you can learn to, you know, say. But taking a step back, the biggest thing to realize is that when children are upset too, it’s, it’s actually good because it means they’re going undergoing normal development.
Kate: Right. And that you know, we, we need to just make sure that we kind of start teaching them the boundaries. That it’s fine and totally good to express negative [00:45:00] emotion, but there’s a good way to do it. And there’s like a not good way to do it. And I feel like I never learned that. Right. So for me you know, I have very anxious disordered attachment.
Kate: So unlike Jeanette, who I think responded to her childhood with like just kind of stonewalling more or less emotional, like, you know, except that one time. She yelled at Mrs. Park in third grade. Right. That one incident. Whereas I I’m like the opposite of turned out to be like I would have outbursts right.
Kate: As a kid, I would be like really well behaved then occasionally have like these outbursts to have attention. Cause I was you know, anxious and even today, like that happened, I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine. And then like just something really small sets me off and it just like explodes. Right. Because I never really learned how to channel my negative emotions .
Jeanette: Yeah. When I see securely attached people deal with conflict, I feel like I have a lot to learn there. And I think that’s part of what motivates me to try to work on these things for myself, but also for my kids, because these you know, [00:46:00] one person thinking of is Jake, right?
Jeanette: But at work, if somebody gives him negative feedback, he thinks about it and then he will change his behavior, but then he doesn’t ruminate on it. Susan, where you were talking about a little bit earlier, you know, something happened on a podcast and you were wondering, you know, how we were feeling about it and was taking up a lot of your emotional energy.
Jeanette: Right. The securely attached people that I know. Tend to do a lot, lot, lot less of that. And so, so they have more energy for other things. And that’s actually something I really want to be able to give to my kids. Yes. There’s conflict. Yes. You can have negative emotions.
Jeanette: Other people can have it, but the stress associated with it doesn’t have to be debilitating.
Kate: Totally. I feel like Nirav is like Jake and that well, okay. So he generally takes negative feedback a lot better than me. Like he doesn’t take it as personally as me. He takes certain feedback more personally, but like, I just take everything so personally, and it’s totally, it just is so [00:47:00] exhausting.
Susan: Yeah, yeah. Feedback, judgment, worthiness enoughness.
Kate: And part of it is maybe because we’re women part of it.
Kate: I’m not going to deny that it’s it also might be a gender lens there too. Probably it’s actually not maybe definitely, but then also exacerbated by, you know, our need for affirmation right related to attachment.
Jeanette: Oh yeah. And I think also if, as a child, your experience with conflict is that then the people around you were , kind of crazy and scary, right.
Jeanette: Then , at least for me, every time there’s even a little bit of a conflict. I, my, my adrenaline already starts going up. My body, , even physiologically, is just like getting ready for a fight or flight response.
Kate: The body keeps score.
Kate: Didn’t it? Didn’t we talk about that book. Yeah. People, if you have gone through trauma and you want to understand more of how it can impact your body, Jeanette and I recommend this [00:48:00] book. Well, actually I don’t know Jeanette would you recommend it? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. It’s this book by this he’s psychiatrist
Kate: called Bessel VanDerKolk yeah. Called the body, keeps the score and it kind of talks about how the effects of trauma impact are just really in your body. And it’s interesting. Cause like I heard about him a few years ago with my first therapist here in Seattle because she specialized in EMDR, which is a very sort of controversial form of trauma healing therapy.
Kate: And when we went through it, you know, it was really strange. Cause I could feel like when she was guiding me, I could definitely feel things in my body, which you know, I normally don’t pay attention to because I’m probably trying to ignore it on purpose, but it was definitely very real. I could feel certain like a lot of tightness in my body when I was recounting certain like traumatic events.
Kate: So it’s real it. And that’s why I remember it in the YouTube video you sent Jeanette. It also talks about how people who have disordered attachments tend to have poorer health [00:49:00] outcomes. Yeah. Over the course of their life.
Jeanette: Yeah. And can I also just say at least, I don’t know, I would be interested to hear how you guys feel.
Jeanette: Right. But like a part of me kind of hates talking about this topic, especially in a public forum, because I don’t really want it to sound like, oh, these are all the excuses in my life. I don’t want it to be like that. Maybe I shouldn’t even feel like, you know, that kind of
Jeanette: I dunno, what’s the right word. . Like self-consciousness about it. But because I feel like for a long time, ? Definitely through college, it was just grit your teeth and get through it. Right. That’s like my mantra. But
Jeanette: The majority of me feels like, oh, no, this is an important topic. It’s something I talk about with a lot of different women, one-on-one, but I feel like it’s not really talked about publicly and we carry so much. . And [00:50:00] sometimes we feel alone because we don’t hear enough about other people having similar experience.
Kate: I agree, you know, Jeanette I don’t think any of us are here to like get pity or to excuse ourselves or say, it’s okay to yell at your child because you were not well attached. That’s not the point. I think the point is that just like you said, shed light on something that’s really not commonly talked about in the public space.
Kate: What I see more in public spaces are people who have been like, I have overcome all this trauma and all this. Like you don’t think I’m really awesome now, you know, and you can do it too. Like the RA, like, you know, That narrative. And I think that’s great. I think they’re all, a lot of people who are inspired by that and who have been able to, you know, like, I don’t know how they do it, but they are able to, and everyone’s different.
Kate: Right. But I feel like there’s not enough narrative about the gray, which is that, you know, people who like us reasonably successful, seemingly well adjusted from the outside, but are still wrestling with a lot of things inside. Right. But then we’re kind of [00:51:00] expected to just sort of like wear the mask and say everything is fine.
Kate: And I don’t know, it gets really tiring.
Kate: It can be like,
Susan: I really hate it when somebody. You’re you’re okay. You’re going to be okay.
Susan: I hate that. It makes me rageful. Okay. So I want to wrap up this conversation with saying like, okay, we’re insecurely attached, spend a lot of pain in our lives. We’re trying to be conscious, all that stuff and be great parents
Susan: I’m just curious. What do each of you do to soothe yourself? Like earlier Jeanette you were talking about self-care you were alluding to self-care of like, there are times when I really need to take care of me so I can be a better parent, like what do y’all do. Cause I used to think the whole bubble bath thing was like such a cliche, such a trope.
Susan: And then I took a few bubble bath and I was like, oh my God, I love onsens. I love [00:52:00] hot Springs. I love, I love how I can’t hold my phone in the water. You know, like I can’t look at anything else. I’m just lying there and I can kind of relax. But the idea of. Turning on a bubble bath, seems like it’ll take too much effort or do too much time.
Susan: And like, I rarely do it, but when I do it, it’s really great. And so now I’m very pro bubble bath, but I’m curious, how do you two create space for you to to renourish yourself or like come to a place where your cup is full, so that you can practice being a, a very conscientious parent?
Jeanette: just like the foundational stuff. Right? I mean, now I don’t really stay up very late, I’m usually in bed by 10 30. I used to be much more of a night owl. But you know, I just try to make sure I get at least seven hours of sleep a night, if not more,
Susan: your self-care sleeping.
Jeanette: I mean, it’s just, it’s just basic stuff like that. Right. Like making sure I’m not eating junk, [00:53:00] and I try to do yoga. It’s not really a aerobic exercise, but it helped me, calm down and be present and just helps me get discomfort out of my body. So I try to make time for yoga.
Jeanette: But yeah, I mean, honestly, like there’s just not, there’s not that much time for other things. But you know, those are the things that I do. I take like 15 to 30 minutes every night to eat dark chocolate and watch TV. And that’s just my downtime. Right. I just, I really need that to just wind down at the end of the day.
Jeanette: Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like there’s no magic bullet because sometimes I do feel like I’m running too close to zero. But I also to be completely honest, like there are days when I’m like, I don’t really know what I could take out. Yeah. And I’m sure, you know, you guys can relate. I’m sure every mom out there can relate.
Jeanette: So yeah, that’s kind of my short answer. Short. I feel like insufficient answer. [00:54:00]
Kate: I guess there are functional things I do like, you know, I also do acupuncture. I try to do yoga at home a couple of times a week. I tried to be consistent about exercise to keep my, you know mood up. You know, and then I’ll indulge in some things too, which I’m going to admit.
Kate: Okay. So we, we putting my daughter in daycare soon, but currently we have babysitters who come like my mom helps her out, helps out too sometimes. I’m not working when they’re here sitting in my bedroom,
Kate: a book or flipping through Instagram or hiding out in the toilet, sometimes slipping through Instagram.
Kate: And you know what, at first I felt kind of bad and I was like paying people so that I can get my private time. You know, that’s like a little indulgence and I kinda, you know, why should I feel guilty about it? If I pay somebody to take care of my kid, I can do whatever the fuck I want with my time. Even if it’s unproductive, sometimes
Susan: that’s so funny.
Susan: Like we’re so wired to be productive all [00:55:00] the time. We’re so wired.
Jeanette: And what do you do?
Susan: First thing I gotta say is I love group workout class. I love it. Orange theory has saved my life. I’m so glad it’s back open. You don’t have to wear masks if you’re vaccinated. I don’t work out so I can look good. I work out so I can feel stable, like to feel like, okay, today’s going to be a good day.
Susan: I can do things. I am competent. You know, like I love listening to Gwen Stefani and Lizzo in the morning. I really do. So that, I feel like that really helps a lot. Journaling. I listened to like meditation podcasts by Tara Brock. I love her. I love I’ve loved socializing. I love having lunch with people.
Susan: I love it. I love people. I love people fill me up. And I just love food. I love eating food and making [00:56:00] food. Like I just, that is newness. I love newness. It’s like, I’ve never been here before, or like, do you know, like, let’s go discover something. I, that never gets old for me.
Kate: you’ve just listened to a confessional of model minority moms. If you loved this episode, please give us a rating. Follow us on Instagram at model minority moms and tell a friend about us. If you have a suggestion for a future episode or questions, send us an email@example.com