The writer of so many good songs it is challenging to choose one Ed Sheeran number to focus on.
But, as Mothers’ Day approaches this beautifully crafted tribute to his mother appears appropriate.
Ed describes performing various domestic routines. But, like the photos in the album, they speak of a life that was loved. As the scene unfolds we learn that this life belonged to his mum whose illness has succumbed to death and whose love for him is evidenced by his breaking heart.
Ed celebrates his mother’s support of him by singing “Hallelujah” and, against the etiquette of his father, shedding a tear.
Ed continues tidying respectfully, coveting his mum’s view of life that, “A life with love is a life that’s been lived”.
While we are mistaken to think that all angels are good, Ed recognises that his mum’s home is with God. Proclaiming her observation of the person he has become he eulogises her shaping of him.
Attachment theorists suggest that we only need one attachment figure, typically our primary caregiver, who provides secure enough attachment for us to develop from dependence into secure independent, or maybe that should be interdependent, adult human beings.
Knowing we are unconditionally loved offers a strong foundation in life, bringing a sense of identity and purpose and meaning to this journey we call life. From this secure base we have the confidence to explore our environment and the people who inhabit it in safety, enabling us to regulate our emotions and negotiate transition from one phase of life to another successfully, giving scope to developing the full potential of who we are intended to be, as a gift to the rest of humanity.
Where an infant’s experience of their primary carer is either as unattuned, unreliable or even abusive they are likely to develop an insecure attachment style. If left undetected or untreated this will probably become the prevalent way they connect in adulthood.
Where a child experiences inconsistent attention from their carer, perhaps because the carer is preoccupied with meeting their own needs, the child tends to develop an ambivalent attachment style, alternatively clinging anxiously to (even, sometimes, to the extent of a role reversal attempt at seeking to care for the carer) and repelling the perceived intrusiveness of the carer in an attempt to pre-empt anticipated rejection. Unchecked this will likely manifest as self-criticism, manipulation and possessiveness in adulthood, often characterised by a pattern of angry outbursts followed by pleas for forgiveness.
Where a child experiences neglect and abandonment from not having their needs met, they may seek to minimise their needs in an attempt to avoid experiencing the disappointment of not having them met by their carer. But unacknowledged needs often come at a price as they cannot be voiced and so remain unmet by another, leading to the foment of resentment.
Where an infant is betrayed through abuse it is likely to lead to confusion and lack of trust and a disorganised chaotic relational style.
Fortunately, all is not lost. If you think you may be among the 35% or so of the UK population who have an insecure attachment style, working with a registered, accredited therapist can help remedy delayed development through finding secure attachment at any age.
Let us join with Ed in singing “Hallelujah” for his mum who provided him with such secure attachment to enable him to write and perform so many life affirming songs that bring so much blessing to so many people.
David Sinclair is a registered accredited psychotherapist, counsellor and supervisor.
He is the Pastoral Care Director of the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC), a faith- based soul care agency.
David is also the Service Manager of Wessex Psychotherapy and Counselling CIO (WPC), a registered charity dedicated to relieving psychological and emotional distress.