Secure Attachment in Practice: Interview with Dr. Ikeranda Smith
I'm excited to bring you an interview this week from a very special person about a very important topic. The practice of secure attachment takes time, attention, and energy--it doesn't "just happen." A high level of awareness and some education can translate to more connection and attunement in relationships, which means more satisfying interactions and a greater sense of support.
I met Dr. Ikeranda Smith in the social media world (you can find her instagram account here--she posts amazing content every day). We began connecting through messaging, learning more about the other's work in the world, our roles in creating healthier communities through anti-racism work, and exploring what it means to be truly authentic. We quickly developed a friendship and I'm thrilled to share this interview with you. Ikeranda is a person who is consciously working to create a healing environment for herself and her family, and she is an inspiration to me on many levels. I'm certain you will feel the same. I am so grateful for her willingness to share openly with all of us.
Can you give us a sense of who you are in the world?
Hello! My name is Dr. Ikeranda Smith and I am a professor + coach dedicating to establishing spaces for authentic yet compassionate cross -racial dialogue while creating safe spaces for women + women who identify as LGBTQ. I am also a wife + mother committed to breaking inter-generational trauma caused by systemic patterns that were never broken.
Can you tell us a bit about your childhood experiences?
I was raised by a single mother who experienced verbal + physical abuse at the hands of my father who was a drug addict. Also, my mother was the oldest of 12 children and responsible for helping her family while being raised by an abusive mother who was verbally + physically abused by her husband (my mother’s father). If you have quickly noticed the generational pathology of abuse that was passed down from one generation to the next. My mother suffered from depression and despite her being a present mom she struggled to be engaged due to her own unresolved issues. My mom often worked a lot to ensure that I never felt "different" despite my mom and dad divorcing when I was 5 years old. However, my mom didn't have the capacity to give me what I needed because she had so much repressed anger and unprocessed hurt and pain. As I child, I was extremely aware of things that I didn't know how to articulate. I understood the world in ways that I internalized and projected out by lashing out. I was a very jovial child yet I carried the anger of several generations because no one was willing to unpack the pain that was being recycled in every generation. All of this lead to an anxious-avoidant or fearful-avoidant attachment style.
I’d love to know what led you to healing. How did you get to the place you are today?
I was always a very introspective child and extremely connected to something higher than myself. I was married before and that union awakened something in me that began a journey of healing. The irony of it all was that I was in a hetero-normative marriage when I was unpacking the reality of being queer. Nevertheless, there is something quite spiritual about marriage whether you enter into it knowingly or unknowingly that awakens a deeper sense of wanting to heal the fractured parts of yourself that have a deep desire to have more meaningful richer + healthier relationships. So that is how my journey began! I made a decision to divorce my then spouse to embark on a journey with myself to prepare for a deeper more fulfilling love with the woman I am with now.
How do you intentionally bring the concept of attachment styles to your parenting and marriage?
Being a psychology nerd, everything in our house is based on healing and truth. Without fail, we are always having dialogue about how we as a family need to heal surrounding different things. We didn't find the work, the work of healing by recognizing our attachment styles found us. It was painful and humbling, earth-shattering and scary all at the same time. It lead us to restructuring our entire dynamic as parents + lovers. It opened up old wounds and healed others. Our relationship became a triage of recycled hurt from childhood and adulthood that needed to be dealt with.
What work do you do to stay on the path of healing with your family?
As a wife, my wife and I stay in constant communication and sometimes the dialogue is passionate and intense but we don't run away from conflict, but rather slowly pull each other into a slow embrace that allows us to see the parts of ourselves that are dying to be free. We surrender daily to ego and we individually and collectively seek Spirit to get a greater understanding. We have gone to counseling in the past and will do it again if we feel like we need to. We intentionally help others through sharing and honest dialogue. Also, I have dedicated a life to doing the work of healing through teaching others professionally by extending services that will benefit others.
As parents, we have tough conversations that allow our children to see the wounded children we are still trying to heal. We create safe spaces for our children to share their pain from our mistakes. We allow our children to be unabashedly honest about their experiences + fears + dreams in an effort to break generational patterns. We create intentional separate spaces so that our children can see love displayed through highly flawed parents navigating real situations. We laugh + cry + share consistently to cleanse the environment we reside in. We allow our children to have a life separate from ours so that they may build their own tribe where they can be seen + affirmed. We build a loving marriage separate from our children so that they may witness love in action without the encumbrance of parenting which I believe is really healthy so that kids may know how to re-create their own version of that later on in life.
You can learn more about Dr. Ikeranda Smith’s work here!