We have a lucky reader who took the time to comment on Kat Martin's Real Setting blog. Writers in the Storm is pleased to announce that random.org picked comment #3 as the winner of Kat's new release AGAINST THE EDGE. Lorna Lee (of Lorna's Voice)--that's you! Congratulations!
And all of you really stepped up the comment love for Margie Lawson's Stellar Writing Sells -- maybe because the kind words you had for Margie served as your ticket in a drawing for a free course. Cover your ears, because Patricia Yager Delagrange is screaming now that she knows she's won Margie's free online class. Congratulations to both of our winners. Kat and Margie will be in touch with you soon.
This is the third in a series of five posts by Fae Rowen of Writers in the Storm. In the first, the Secure Attachment style--the gold standard of human interaction--showed how easy it can be to fall in love. The second focused on the Avoidant Attachment style. Today she's back with more characteristics and another style, and we'll see why our characters can desperately yearn for love but are afraid to embrace it.
by Fae Rowen
The third attachment style is the Ambivalent/Anxious Model. A character with this attachment style grew up with parents who intruded their own mental/emotional state on their child. There was a lack of boundaries in the home. The caregiver had unresolved past issues that caused her to be distracted even when the child clearly needed help. Inconsistent availability, perceptiveness, sensitivity or effectiveness sometimes made the child angry. Instead of flowing communication which continually enhances a secure attachment style, unpredictable disruptions contribute to the Ambivalent/Anxious style.
As a child, your character was uncertain whether their own emotional needs would be met. This caused insecurity, worry, anxiety, and anger. Separations provoked interpersonal stress. Insecurity and unpredictability in life fueled desire for external relief, causing an urgent need to rely on and seek comfort from external interactions. (I bet you're seeing how this can play out in one of your characters!) Unnecessary caution, uncertainty and insecurity begins to manifest in relationships.
As an adult, the child's perception and expectation of "the worst" shifts real emotional connection to ambivalence. A relationship can end up with little chance of being accurately perceived.
Possible ramifications of Ambivalent Attachment in Adult Relationships
Yes, those of us--and our characters--who grew up with caregivers that fostered the Ambivalent Attachment Style have a lot of obstacles to overcome in our adult lives to get to the happily-ever-after ending. You can use these "tells" of the Ambivalent style to lead up to the black moment, and your black moment will not only be believable but will carry more emotional power.
What kind of a partner, what kind of "repair messages" help the Ambivalent/Anxious character to cross the bridge to secure attachment? Through words and actions, let the partner demonstrate the messages that "say":
I'm sure you can figure out ways to show these feelings to your Ambivalent character. I'm going to let you in on a secret here. Remember back in Part 1 of this series, I said that during this class I finally figured out why my husband fell in love with me? Well, when I heard this list, I knew why.
I tucked little notes where he would find them when I wasn't around. Notes that said: Bad News--I'm not here. Good news: See you soon. Thinking about you. Wish I was there. You're the best.
You get the idea. None of the notes were "hot." But every one of them reaffirmed that he was loveable. And that I wasn't leaving. I didn't call him or ask where he'd been when we weren't together. I gave him his space and privacy. He knew I was a little fussier about appearances than he was, but I never griped when he wore his cowboy boots to a fancy restaurant. I didn't try to change him. (Looking back, maybe he may have been testing me.)
And guess what? I didn't do any of these things to try to "catch" him. I didn't even want to get married, and at thirty, I thought he was a confirmed bachelor. But he got the consistent repair messages he needed to get to a secure attachment style. And he was able to recognize the caring, loving, and nurturing behaviors without minimizing or overlooking them. The rest is, well, years of wonderful history.
How can you drive this character crazy?
The secret for the black moment with this character? When love truly presents itself, it may be rejected because it feels unfamiliar and disorienting. A reader with this style will connect with this moment. Any human will recognize the character's behavior from their own interactions with the loved ones in their lives. And they'll believe, based on their experience.
So, how can you use the Ambivalent/Anxious Attachment Style in your writing? What characteristics can make your writing fresh and hook into the emotions of your readers?
Part Four in the series will post Monday, May 20.
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