Written by Victor Stanley Jr.
I grew up in a Christian home, my dad is currently the senior pastor of my home church, and was raised in an explicitly Christian community, which contributed greatly to who I currently am as a person. Today I would say that my Attachment Style is secure with some avoidant tendencies. However up to this point in my life I would say that I have just about, for an extended time, displayed each of the attachment styles. There are two major events in my life thus far that completely turned my world upside down, and veered the course of my personal, spiritual, and psychological development down a dark road. Thankfully those events and all that accompanied them built me into a man that desires nothing more than to pursue Christ endlessly.
A brief biography will, I believe, provide the best insight into my development of various attachment styles, and how I have arrived where I now find myself.
As stated I was raised in a Christian home and community, all of my parents’ brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers are professing Christians, as well as most of my cousins. My dad did not go to college upon graduating high school, but was able to find substantial work in order to support himself, and later a family. My mom did go to college, graduated with a degree in education, and taught deaf children for sixteen years. My dad would eventually become the regional manager of a trucking company in the Chicago/Northwestern Indiana area; he would then be offered a corporate position at the company headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona. He would eventually decide to turn down this position and instead enroll full-time in Bible College, specifically Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
All of this happened from the time of my birth until I was about eight years old, which is when my dad graduated with a degree in Christian education, and we would eventually move to Virginia. This would mark the first major event in my life that I spoke of earlier.
Now let me back up just a little bit. From the age of 3 years old until I was eight and a half I attended a private school on the north side of Chicago, Ravenswood Baptist Christian School. I was raised in a very culturally diverse environment, when I was born we attended a four thousand member church in downtown Chicago that was racially diverse, from there my parents planted a church with a group of white men and women, and following that my dad took a position on staff at a Swedish church. All this to say that I never staked my identity in my ethnicity or culture as a black person, which is common practice among people of all ethnic groups, but rather I staked it in how people treated me as a person because it seemed that we never quite stayed amongst the same group of people for very long. It was during these years that I think I began to develop both an ambivalent and avoidant attachment style.
My ambivalent style stemmed from how I was treated by my family, specifically my extended family on my father’s side. My parents were more conservative than their brothers and sisters, and this resulted in me not being able to watch all the same things that my cousins could, not being able to listen to the same music that they could, and being treated as an outsider, at least in my mind at the time. I began to believe that there was something wrong with me, and that because of that people were unwilling to treat me how I wanted to be treated. This feeling would reach its peak during my middle school years, and resulted in violent outbursts at home and in school.
Upon my dad graduating from Moody, he took a position as an associate pastor in Northern Virginia, and so we moved to Woodbridge, Virginia where I would, for the first time, be placed in the public school system. It must be noted that my mom and her whole family were born, raised, and resided in Chicago, and that my dad’s family all lived 3 hours southeast of Chicago in rural Indiana with the exception of his two sisters, who lived an hour north in Milwaukee. My whole childhood I had been surrounded, literally, by hundreds of relatives and family friends who my parents had known since their childhood and teenage years.
So, moving to Virginia removed me very much from all of my family, least of which was my grandmother on my mom’s side. For the sake of brevity I will simply say that once in Virginia and the public school system I faced a very extreme, at least for a sheltered Christian kid, affront on my identity, faith, and worldview. I was constantly picked on, beat up, ridiculed, in trouble in school, and all the like. I must however state that I had always excelled in school, I learned how to read when I was four, and by the time I was in third grade I was testing on 12th grade and even college levels of reading comprehension. This however was not in my eyes a benefit, but rather a curse since the smart kids and geeks got picked on more.
Eventually as I reached high school I began to realize that it was not I who had a problem, but rather it was everyone else. It was at this point that I shifted from ambivalent to avoidant while making a stop off at disorganized for a stretch of time through eighth and ninth grade. Toward the end of my sophomore year I was very much avoidant, and really could not careless about God or anyone else. Upon graduating high school I skipped college, justifying it by saying that my dad had done the same thing, and continued to live in vain for a number of years. It was at the beginning of my junior year of high school that the second major event mentioned would take place, and this event would ultimately lead to my death and subsequent rebirth in Christ.
From about 2005 to 2011 I worked my way up from a high school weed dealer to a low-level drug trafficker, going from town to town, state to state selling and transporting, weed, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, prescription pills, and using women to manipulate my competition and sell drugs for me. I didn’t get into the drug game because I wanted to be popular or have money or be cool; it was to solve my self-esteem issues. The drug dealers had power, respect, and people feared them. I had money, influence, and access; it was like a movie or one of those fake rap videos. I had everything yet I had nothing. I was trapped, and the more I got, the more I wanted; there was never any fulfillment. I mean I smoked close to an ounce of weed a day for years just to escape my despair, but it was still there.
I was a prisoner to my hate, anger, lies, self-loathing, crimes, and the lifestyle that I thought would set me free. So I found myself sitting on the couch in this hotel room and in all those years I had never once truly considered leaving the drug game, I mean never, and in that moment the Spirit of God reached out and gripped me and everything I had known, my whole perspective, my whole way of life changed forever. I remember clear as day the Holy Spirit speaking to my mind, and telling me, “You’re going to die.” I had always known that my lifestyle put me in a position of constant life-threatening circumstances, but in that moment I truly understood that not only was I facing physical death, but that I was spiritually dead, and furthermore, that I was headed towards an eternal spiritual death. I immediately left that hotel room and drove 18 hours across the country to my parents’ house. The next morning I spoke with my dad and just poured out my heart to him. After that moment I resolved to dedicate my life to Christ.
I soon became involved with my church’s AV department, and eventually went to technical school for audio engineering, and graduated in June 2013. I became involved in studying theology under the mentorship of some of the elders and deacons at our church, and decided that I wanted to become formally educated in theology and apologetics so that I can minister to those caught up in the lifestyle in which I was once trapped. I am currently a student at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA working on my undergraduate in Theology & Apologetics; my dad is also finishing up his second Masters here at Liberty.
It was my experience in the seedy underworld of society where I truly began to understand and develop a secure attachment style. Within that life I had to not only trust and have confidence in myself, but I also had to trust and have confidence in those around me because everything we did was, for all intents and purposes, a matter of life and death. Of course it also contributed greatly to my avoidant style because as the old adage goes, there is no honor among thieves.
When I finally surrendered my life to Christ, and placed my identity in him, I truly became secure in who I was, in who I am. Being in such corrupt and depraved situations, and experiencing indescribable evil, despair, and hopelessness really puts life in perspective. Not only that, but being rescued from such a situation by a savior who loved me even while I despised and hated him reveals to me that I have worth not because of who I am or what others think of me, but simply because Christ says that I have worth. It also has helped me to view people in light of my own redemption, for if I was where I was at, and Christ chose to save me, then I have to view others as potential objects of God’s love and affection. I understand people’s pain, despair, fear, hopelessness, and why they resort to doing evil and hurting others, and I do not hold it against them. I now believe and understand that I am worthy of love, because Christ has said so; that I am capable of getting the love I need, and that others are willing to love me if given the opportunity.