I once dated someone who was staying in my home for a couple weeks. He did a load of laundry, and upon hanging his clothes on the drying rack, I was aghast: his clothes, socks, and underwear were hung haphazardly, begging to be horribly wrinkled as they dried.
Before I knew it, I found myself rehanging all of his clothes while he was in the other room.
I didn’t say anything to him about it, and while it was happening, I thought to myself: “Antesa, these are HIS clothes. Why do you fucking care whether they are wrinkled?”
It was a compulsion. I couldn’t help myself.
I used to gauge whether I loved someone by whether or not I had a complete meltdown if I thought about losing them.
What this turned into was the occasional relationship where I would literally obsess over my partner and what he was doing at any given moment while evaluating what I was doing in connection with it, careful to not stir anything up (while never showing it outwardly), controlling everything around our relationship to give it an external appearance of greatness.
Or otherwise, avoiding intimate relationship all together by taking on lovers who were emotionally unavailable, because I simply didn’t have the capacity to get involved with someone and go through that inevitable tornado of cortisol that felt like a default to experiencing love for me.
As it turns out, there are actually just really fantastic symptoms of an anxious attachment system, and serve as real time evidence of poor attachment, instability, and neglect in childhood. And go figure, I had, in my early childhood development, conflated angst and fear with love.
And so I was hyper vigilant in my connections with people whom I got close with, and it would literally drive me crazy.
As it happens, the above incident with the guy I was dating was one of the last straws before I finally hired a coach and started taking self-development courses.
I wanted to figure my shit out once and for all and was clear that I did not possess my own resources in this regard.
So much of my driving force in that first year of explicitly exploring my inner world was “to be unimpacted” by the world around me. I felt like an almost constant nerve ending and I was sick of it, and so I figured if maybe I just built a better shield I’d be fine.
I know now that what I was yearning for was just the opposite side of the same coin: an avoidant attachment system.
And you guys! That doesn’t work either!
The truth is: we ARE impacted. We DO feel. We NEED connection. We CAN (and should be able to) depend on, and rely upon others in order for our needs to be met.
But, if like me, you are part of 50% of the population that haven’t fully integrated that, you have to literally retrain your nervous system, repattern your thoughts and beliefs, and build up resilience (and confidence and self-trust) in order to have that.
This sort of thing DOES take time. A book will not help you do this, no matter how genius the words inside of it are. The most effective way to do this is to create a healthy relationship with someone who is a professional at this sort of thing, that exists in a container of time (rather than via individual sessions). Someone who has healed this part in themselves, and is attuned enough through their own embodied resilience and empathy to guide you into evolving beyond this often life-crippling coping mechanism.
Your relationships will change.
Your energy levels will change.
Your mindset will change.
Your health will change.
Your life will change.
All for the better.
Maybe you’re skeptical. Maybe you’re like, “yeah, that’s great for you Antesa, but there’s no way I can unravel this knot I’m in.”
I know. I thought the same thing for a really long time. And I’m here to tell you that yes you can.
If I did it, trust me, so can you.
Here’s where I am now:
Two key things happen for me in any relationship I engage in (whether platonic or romantic).
- I have zero issue expressing myself, my needs, and how I feel about the other person no matter who it is. I do these things for me, not for them, and don’t concern myself much over whether it’s happening in exact perfect tandem with their own evolution.
- I feel a genuine desire to invest in their growth, because I’m already investing in my own by showing up authentically. I can soberly gauge whether we share values that are important to me because I have well-established values. I choose our connection, even in times where it might feel uncertain and scratchy, and don’t feel even remotely compelled to make it anything other than what it is, but never at the sacrifice of my own needs.
I am still highly attuned to the people I’m close with, a legacy of my anxious attachment style which is also a part of what I now consider a cultivated gift. This makes me attentive, loyal, trustworthy, and with the communication skills I now have, results in relationships that are constantly upleveling toward higher levels of consciousness.
And I create this with everyone, not just with people who are on explicit paths toward consciousness. With my mom, with my friends who have never taken a self-development class in their lives, and with people who have devoted their lives to this work.
No, I did not know this was possible to have 5 years ago. I didn’t even know it was possible two years ago.
But I’m telling you: it is.