Skip to main content.
Personal as Opposed to Herding -- Notes For Western Women
Kris Rosenberg
Apr 2002

What's wrong with me that I am crying?

Bonding is natural; breaking a bond is "horriful."

In our necessary efforts to avoid being used and abused, we women have come to a place that, when we start to give ourselves to the point of risk, our antennae go up and we wonder if we are being co-dependent, martyrs, love addicts, or any of the other popular terms for 'women who love too much.'

It is myth that we are sick to be too attached:

Commonly we are told that attachment to someone who mistreats us means we are emotionally sick. To persist [we are told] in down-putting relationships is not in our best interest. Rather bonding tightly is an evolutionary advantage programmed into our genes.

It isn't just masochism, addiction, or martyrdom compelling us to stay in relationships. Sometimes it is not knowing where forgiveness leaves off and being a fool begins. We're so afraid we will give up too soon not help enough that we are wrong and have caused the situation.

The incredibly potent fusion experienced by normal people has been misinterpreted as co-dependency.... In truth, terror of separation emanates from our instinctual need to belong, not from sickness and not from anything which could be even remotely defined as love experienced by normal people.

It has also been misinterpreted as love, as in: "Those battered children love their natural parents so much that they should stay with them" or "Those battering parents really love their children they are fighting to keep them." Or "That woman loves her husband; look what she puts up with." Instincts can be extinguished, but they are not learned in the first place; they are primal biological urges.

Whatever we relate to becomes part of us. We invest ourselves in our companions, animals, our work, the houses we live in, our clothes, our possessions, cities with memories. When the house burns down no insurance can replace what was uniquely our own: pictures, collections, mementos. When our kitten is lost, it doesn't help to know there are prettier ones at the shelter.

Your child is sick. Your husband is leaving. Who cares that there are smarter, better-behaved children or richer, handsomer, more thoughtful men? "What does she see in him?" it is asked. What does she see? She sees herself.

To an extent we have replaced the old 'if only I were more beautiful,' with 'what's wrong with me that I am so upset about leaving a jerk?' In either case you are designated as the one at fault. Do you suppose that the agony a baby suffers when his mother leaves is an emotion which is totally obliterated by maturity? The current trendy thinking in how-to books and in some styles of feminist therapy is that a woman's craving for attachment is symptomatic of pathology (a notion promoted by advocates of the co-dependency model). On the contrary, women are not 'sick' to feel bonded to men who treat them badly; attachment is instinctive. Such bonds have incredible strength evolutionary survivors must have been just those who bonded most tenaciously.

You certainly need to break away from anyone who abuses you, but it is nature not sickness that makes tearing an abusive bond so agonizing and complex. The emotional depth of the bond, not the value judgment of it, determines the difficulty of separation.

(This stigma on heavy attachment was placed on {American} males long ago and they consequently learned to fear commitment while females have been subject to it only recently.)


No comments yet

To be able to post comments, please register on the site.