This “Anxious Attached”

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.

Nothing Means Anything!

What does it mean to live with your mom when you are turning 40 and single?

A few months ago I decided to move in with my mom. I don’t know why exactly. I loved my apartment in MarVista so much. It was my sanctuary. But maybe because I felt like I needed a change and it would help to save some money to be ready for that change. And  I would get to be close to my mom and my favorite furry creature, Hooloo, my mom’s kitten.

So I moved in December. And even though I was worried I may regret it, I have not really missed my former beloved apartment at all. But despite having made this move voluntarily and with really no financial necessity, and despite having actually enjoyed it so far, from the kitchen’s view of these beautiful birch trees where I sit and have my breakfast, to the recent snuggles when Ms. Hooloo allows it, to my mom’s sense of humor and her home cooked meals, to the shorter commute to work, to this adorable room that my feng-shui master of a friend set up for me, despite it all, this move has given my monkey mind a field day whenever it goes in to that self-critical mode, adding to my list of inadequacies how not only am I turning 40 but I am living with my mom. And even when I remind my mind that I have chosen this not because of a lack of career or money but it still insists that none-the-less this living situation leaves much to be desired.
I was having dinner one night with a friend of mine before the move and when I told him I am moving in with my mom, he reminded me of a Seinfeld episode when George is moving in with his parents.  Jerry’s stand-up line was that it is never a good sign when you are moving in with your parents… like you never say: “my career is going great and I am moving in with my parents or I am in a new relationship and I am moving in with my parents, etc”…. It was a funny episode and my friend was merely trying to make me laugh. I know he thinks no less of me for moving in with my mom.
But it reminds me of the book “The Four Agreements”. How we have made these agreements for certain things to mean something and even when it doesn’t mean that, the mind is so fixated on it that it can’t see it clearly any other way. We make everything mean something.
Another night I was at dinner with some new friends and when I told them I moved in with my mom, a few of them voiced their disbelief of how I was even capable of living with my mother at this age. But one new friend who is from Spain actually praised me saying: “This is a great sign that you can live with your mom, most people in this country can’t stand their families.” Clearly what “living with parents” means to him was different than what it means to Jerry Seinfeld, my friends and myself or at least that part of my mind that is saying all of this.
I have had multiple patients of mine in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and even older tell me in such shame that they live with their parents. Many of them have made this choice for financial reasons or other reasons, even to take care of their parents, but this living situation is one more thing they add to their list of failures. I always remind them to not listen to this voice and not make their living arrangements mean anything more than it is. And although I mean what I say to them it with all my heart, but I guess my own mind is still entangled in the same unhealthy agreements.
The agreement that my mind has learned, the one that it uses to subtly torture me is that at every stage in your life, your life has to be in a certain place and have a certain look and if it isn’t there, even if you chose it not to be, then at least it has to be justified by something else more amazing. Like if at 40 you are not married with kids doing DIY projects with your kids and renewing your vows with your husband who dotes on you, then you should be a renowned professor, or have published several books or be traveling the world or be a high-ranking progressive political figure or like my beloved uncle, be involved in many philanthropic, creative projects around the world.
Whaaaaaat? I ask my mind; so you mean that being a physician, even a sub-specialist who sees the most rare cases, treats patients in pain and suffering every day and tries to treat them like her own family is not enough?
How about someone who tries to be honest and say I don’t know when she doesn’t know and to try to look for the answers, who tries to be real, tries to practice mindfulness, tries to do right as best as she can? Isn’t that enough? Isn’t it more than enough? Isn’t as enough as anyone else?
Mindfulness says to watch your thoughts non-judgmentally and to not identify them as you. To basically see them come and go instead of totally being in them. Like you are standing in that space between the water in the waterfall and the rock behind it. And when I watch these thoughts, sometimes I totally see their bullshit. But what really helps me, what actually changes these thoughts to completely different thoughts is remembering and literally tuning in to the voice of that Wise part of my Self, or what I call my Soul.
Soul, who speaks in whispers and I usually hear it best while on a good run or something meditative or maybe after a good cry. This voice that is so incredibly loving and says: oh my love, of course it is enough. Not because you are a doctor and not because of your education or degree or what you are accomplishing or even because you are practicing mindfulness, but because you are you, you are here, you are a living, breathing child of this universe, you are part of the universe and the universe itself. You are enough because you are alive and trying. Waking up every morning and taking another step on this journey.
My Soul’s voice reminds me that nothing means anything, only what you attach to it, only what meaning you give it.
It is not where we live, who we live with, what we do, what we have accomplished and what we haven’t, what we look like, how many friends we have, how many likes we get on our posts. It is not any of these that makes us lovely, lovable, and loved. It is because we are here, we breathe, and we try our bests even when that best is not perfect.
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