Dakota, our Canine Princess, in all her glory (2009). Confident, loyal, but prone to separation anxiety. A confidenty exterior can hide insecurities within.
Meet Dakota, an adorable and extremely adored mutt of a dog that belongs to my nieces in America. She’s about 6 years old and was lovingly selected from a dog rescue shelter and has lived the life of a canine princess ever since.
Everything about her exudes confidence, brashness. Her barking out of the blue when she senses foot-steps approaching the house makes my heart pop out of my chest. She’ll run rings around you if she thinks she can get away with it. And she is so loyal and loving, she literally cuddles up on the sofa with her body pressed against you, watching episodes of Sherlock Holmes and Dexter with the rest of the family.
While she can’t tell us about her previous home, her behaviour under certain triggers suggests a legacy from her past of separation anxiety. But only when left alone in a car.
The first time this happened, by the time my brother and his family got back, her visible distress had attracted a sizeable crowd of sympathisers around the car. Of course, upon seeing her owners approaching, she went from abject misery to elation with her tail wagging so hard, it was in danger of dropping off!
Communication barriers mean that we will never know what befell her as a puppy to make her freak out so easily over the slightest sign of abandonment or rejection. Does being locked in a car remind her of being enclosed in a small space and left for hours … wondering when, if, her previous owners would be back to come for her?
I was reminded about Dakota when watching Life Stories with Piers Morgan featuring Dame Kelly Holmes. She revisited painful child-hood memories that have left an emotional legacy that is common with those that have experienced attachment disruption in childhood. In an age where inter-racial relationships were still frowned upon, Kelly was a mixed race child in the care and foster system. Black and bi-racial children are difficult to place in the 21st century. You can bet it was even harder in the 70s. From her mother, to her absent father (she nicknames The Sperm Donor), to her grandparents, to even strangers, the toddler who would one day meet the Queen, first had to deal with rejection in many forms.
Fostering and adoption are typical events that can sow the seeds for insecurity, anxiety, feelings of rejection or not being good enough, to name a few. Even being sent off to boarding school can be the foundation for later feelings of being abandonment.
People can seem confident on the outside, but be very fragile on the inside. They’ll reject love rather than feel that love has rejected them again. This was what I sensed as I watched Dame Kelly Holmes bravely tell her story that was peppered with self harm, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Fortunately, it did not hold her back from achieving her dreams. But unfortunately, even someone with as many achievements (double Olympic Gold winner, charitable contributions, mentoring and a Damehood) can still experience blockages from the past. Just achieving our dreams isn’t enough to wipe out the misery of a disrupted past and makes the future difficult to contemplate
If you are experiencing separation anxiety or other attachment issues,I am a hypnotherapist that can help you to overcome separation anxiety.. Even if, like Dakota, you can’t articulate the root cause of the feelings, you’ll be amazed how effectively hypnotherapy and Havening can help you overcome these feelings and finally look forward to a more confident future.