I have a love and hate relationship with the beginning of dating, when you meet someone you like. After a long time. someone who all of a sudden activates all that bundle of hope, longing, desire, excitement, anxiety, fear, obsession and shear terror that was filed away somewhere in the archives of my psyche while i’ve been living in my semi-comfort zone.
The comfort zone that I have so ardently clung to for over a year, not wanting anyone to disturb it by bringing out this bundle of emotions.
And now I find myself in it again. From the moment it hits me that I am drawn to someone. It really feels like an instant moment. At first my mind is just evaluating and analyzing “this is good about him and this is not” and then something somehow shifts and I am not even thinking anymore and just liking this person in front of me. Somehow as I find myself feeling drawn and attracted to him and just as I am starting to enjoy the feeling of liking someone, quickly and oh so quickly my thoughts start again and this time they are evaluating and analyzing me “does he like me? Am I interesting to him? Am I still interesting to him? does he still like me?”
And maybe that’s what makes that bundle of emotions. This constant shift of the mind from me to him, from him to me. The mind that constantly and vigilantly discerns every word and every move and attaches a meaning to it. This means he doesn’t like me, this means he does. This means he would be this way or that way. All of this formed by years of learning how things should be. How things look when someone likes you.
How did this bundle come to be? I remember when I met my first boyfriend when I was 18. I remember I had what I guess was called “butterflies”, these little jittery feelings in my solar plexus while I thought of him. Butterflies were not the most comfortable feelings but they were signs of excitement and meant I liked him. The butterflies finally stopped moving around so much and the jittery feeling gave way to ease and comfort when he showed me his vulnerabilities and I realized how much he liked me.
Some years later, I found myself with butterflies again. This time, though, the butterflies couldn’t calm down because the guy, unlike my boyfriend of age 18, didn’t hold my hand, telling me his vulnerabilities and leading me to the shore of ease and safety. He’d shower me with affection and attention, only to withdraw in to his shell and disappear, and then bring his head out briefly enough as the butterflies were disappearing, for them to come pouring in to my chest again. Maybe as this book “Attached” calls it, he had
Avoidant-Attachment where he just wasn’t comfortable with emotional intimacy or maybe he was just confused.
However, more than a few of these encounters with the Avoidant-Attached types through the years, has been enough to take that girl and throw her in to a bundle of emotions that seems to have a life of its own. This bundle that seems like a monster and comes alive with vengeance when I start to like someone, comes alive like a thief of sanity.
How I wish I could get rid of it. Just inject some high dose sedative in to this bundle to go to sleep forever, to not constantly be in fear and wonder what is gonna happen, what does this moment or that mean.
Reading this book, “Attached”, recommended by my friend who also seems to suffer from some relationship anxiety, which I would have never thought given how cool, calm and amazing she always is, until I shared with her about my anxiety, I realized my attachment type is “The Anxious Attached”. Great! That sounds lovely! The other two alternatives in this book are avoidant attached and secure attached.
How I would give anything to switch to that secure attached. But as life has it, this is where I am right now.
But the truth is that at the moments when for whatever reason my anxiety rises up and envelopes me again, knowing my attachment type is of no help whatsoever. It is as if my mind goes in to a seizure, repeating the same mantra over and over.
No amount of trying to talk myself out of it is that helpful. It just spirals down to “look at how anxious you are. you are horrible, he will pick up on your energy and know you are anxious. you are a turn off”
One night, early in this relationship, when I had not heard from him and was particularly feeling anxious and no amount of self-cognitive behavioral therapy was helping, I just felt so desperate about my anxiety and just started begging every deity I have ever known to help me with it; God, universe, my Soul, higher self, divine mother, Guru Ram Das and even my own dad who passed away some years ago, reminding him that my anxious attachment is at least party due to him and if he has any power to help me, to do so.
And somehow in the midst of that surrendering, I started to hear the sane voice, that which I call my Soul’s voice which is the only solace for me, reminding me “It is all good my love. There is nothing to worry about. You are loved and taken care of” which of course the minute I hear this I start to sob. It is like coming home.
That calm, wise voice that reminds me, that no matter what my attachment type is or how anxious I am or how this way or that way I am, I am also a million other things. That I am all of me.
And that the only way out of this bundle of emotions is through it. And that even though it feels at times, like those butterflies have turned in to monstrous birds, clawing inside my chest, that I can get through this and it is worth it.
My Soul, who tells me that my anxiety is not my fault. That the more I forgive myself for it, instead of hating myself for it, and forgive life’s experiences that have led me here, the more this bundle dissolves. That instead of hiding in shame about these anxieties, fears and attachment style, to own it, write about it and accept it.
And that the right man for me will love me for all of me.
That this is life. We come in a package with all our “good” and “bad”. And that real love is not just to love the “good” but also the imperfections of the other person. And that the only way this will happen is to allow all parts of you to unfold as the relationship unfolds and trust. Trust! Trust that wether he will be there tomorrow or not is all in divine unfolding.
That you are carried through it all, the single days, the dating days, the relationship days, the scary days, the exciting days and the anxious days. You are carried even though it doesn’t feel like it.
8 Replies to “This “Anxious Attached””
Amen to this:
“My Soul, who tells me that my anxiety is not my fault. That the more I forgive myself for it, instead of hating myself for it, and forgive life’s experiences that have led me here, the more this bundle dissolves. That instead of hiding in shame about these anxieties, fears and attachment style, to own it, write about it and accept it.
And that the right man for me will love me for all of me.”
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Wow! I actually read that book a few months ago and shared it with a friend of mine. Your words sound familiar, great post!
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Thank you Mireille! I found the book really interesting. Although not sure if it really comes down to the three types or it is more of a spectrum. But definitely helpful.
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It seems more like a spectrum when I observe those around me and myself but it’s a great place to start for sure! It put a lot of things in perspective, focused on personal needs rather than the notions that we learn about dating from others, the ”do this” and ”don’t do that”. It shifts the idea of dating to what we truly need and want rather than what society expects. Real refreshing!
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So true. The “you should be this way” and “men like this”, etc has never ever helped me. I am trying to be me. and trying to figure out who is me also and what does this me want really. haha…. thanks for sharing.
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First off, round of applause, standing ovation— this is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have ever read. You are incredibly strong for sitting down and wiring this, and incredibly brave to have shared it. In this way your work feels in harmony with with the playwright Bertolt Brecht’s piece “Writing the truth Five Difficulties”http://ada.evergreen.edu/~arunc/texts/theater/brecht/fiveDifficulties.pdf
I wish I could annotate this somehow and respond inline to all the parts that get me so excited that I find myself scribbling in a notebook next to me. But for now, here are a list of things from my notebook that raced through my head and heart as I read this gorgeous piece:
# Bigger Thoughts
– The butterflies & bundle visual metaphor/magical realism really resonates with me. I am finding myself wondering if our butterflies are necessarily tied to someone else. I know that it feels like they are at the whim of the person we are starting to date or get to know— but through many years of work and healing I am starting to really feel like my butterflies can be reclaimed as my own (at least I’m doing what I can lol). Lemme see if I can make this make sense in these silly words we have, ok…so recently I have tried to train my butterflies to be nervous/excited/scared of being let down— not at the prospect of ‘someone’- or even this one person in particular that you may be smiling about—- but more just the possibility that I might get to be part of the experience of connecting and alchemizing with someone who is fabulous and wants to become ourselves together and all that butterfly dance music. And what a wonderful potential energy that is for me to get to even prepare for (and manifest?).
– But it definitely takes two to alchemize and play nice butterflies with, so I feel you as you talk in your piece about your ex-boyfriend(s?);I have also experienced how other people manipulate and project(ile vomit) their own butterflies and the butterflies of everyone around them; and whether it be a strategic, or chaotic manipulation, I think it is one of the biggest reasons that our butterflies have been made to feel like monstrous birds— but really (I think )have been butterflies all along. And I just want to reinforce that it makes so much sense that your butterflies would feel like monstrous birds after everything they/you/we have been through (trauma is cccccrrrrazy!). But overall I am just so moved by how your turning yourself inside out to explore. It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job of reminding your butterflies they’re butterflies by putting it into words into the world like this! You’re amazing!
– I feel like a lot of my more recent work (CBT has been incredibly empowering for me in this regard) has been around trying to ‘be curious’ about what is going on in my bundle— whats coming up for me when things are coming up for me. And I am working on separating what butterflies in the bundle are mine, and I have come to recognize them by giving name to my feeling that I might be in the process of truly connecting with someone and of creating something magical and unique and special together. And those butterflies are mine, and maybe they take another person to be activated but that doesn’t mean that person gets to control my butterflies or make me carry what weight is theirs to carry in my bundle— in my stomach— where at least they will be my butterflies nurture and be curious about. And that’s how I try to keep a wide open bundle in my ribcage for all my butterflies to flutter in!
## Smaller Thoughts
– Lol I love the part about Self-cognitive behavioral therapy, I totally practice that all the time, and I see that thread throughout this entire piece, and it’s stunningly woven.
-and I am sure there exists a high dose sedative to put your bundle to sleep— but I think you are already working on some more effective strategies to get at the root 🙂
– And I love this passage:
“That calm, wise voice that reminds me, that no matter what my attachment type is or how anxious I am or how this way or that way I am, I am also a million other things. That I am all of me.”
I feel like that’s somehow CBT mixed with Buddha mixed with Audre Lorde— which is like— the perfect potion!
– And these passages are just everything:
“And somehow in the midst of that surrendering, I started to hear the sane voice, that which I call my Soul’s voice which is the only solace for me, reminding me “It is all good my love. There is nothing to worry about. You are loved and taken care of” which of course the minute I hear this I start to sob. It is like coming home.”
Here, I am called to the connection between your writing and Audre Lorde’s, especially her (mater)piece ‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action’: https://www.csusm.edu/sjs/documents/silenceintoaction.pdf
Especially with this passage of yours too:
“My Soul, who tells me that my anxiety is not my fault. That the more I forgive myself for it, instead of hating myself for it, and forgive life’s experiences that have led me here, the more this bundle dissolves. That instead of hiding in shame about these anxieties, fears and attachment style, to own it, write about it and accept it.”
Out of this world !(and of course very much of it).
Thank you for your courage and brilliance.
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Wow Daniel, Thank you so much for reading and for your comments in such detail. I looked in to Audre Lorde and loved this essay you sent me the link of. I have to look in to her more. And you are so right about the butterflies. it is not really on the other person, but really on myself and hence the work to see them more clearly and change thoughts and beliefs that make them go from butterflies to monsters. Thanks again for all the encouraging words 🙂