The Secret About Attachment
Here is the secret that I wish someone had let me know early in recovery --- attachment styles can change. The bizarre things that I believed signified the strength of my relationships with others back then (keeping secrets, lying to keep someone else out of trouble, codependence, never being separate, or having individual hobbies) made sense from the perspective of where I had been during my early childhood and then time spent in trafficking. The actions I was taking back then made sense because I was following the only model I knew for how to have relationships with others. At the same time, they were deeply unhealthy and I had to make the choice for them to change.
What helped me to change how I bonded with others was taking a step back and listening when other people pointed out that I was asking for something unhealthy. Beyond that, it was the presence of others in my life who were looking for healthy relationships with me. It was new people in my life who wanted for us to have healthy friendships that were based on equality and mutual respect. It was my therapist who set and enforced healthy boundaries, all the while teaching me how to set and enforce my own. It was having other people there who did not respond in the ways I was used to, who did not reinforce my unhealthy ways of trying to bond with others. Instead, these safe people responded to me the most when I was engaging with them in a healthy way. I was able to see others who had healthy relationships and verbally identify what made those different from the patterns I was used to. I was taught explicitly that relationships that weren’t based on mutual care and empathy and understanding were not safe for me. I drank all of this in, and over time, things changed.
Sarah Hall is an emerging leader in the field of human trafficking and began consulting with The Wild Hope in 2020. As a trafficking survivor herself, Sarah is passionate about equipping anti-trafficking organizations to provide quality care and develop best practices through consulting, writing, and training. Sarah’s degrees include an M.A. in Professional Counseling, a B.Sc. in Mathematics, a B.A. in Anthropology, and a B.A. in Government. She is currently a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate in the State of Texas. In her spare time, Sarah is an avid reader, a compassionate animal enthusiast, and a food science devotee.