Confessions of Avoidant Attachment Personality

Confessions of Avoidant Attachment Personality

I’ve been more comfortable being alone for most of my life.

With the exception of a five-year marriage and the two years we dated prior to that, my longest relationship was six months. I had three of those, all before the age of 20, and then I was steadfastly single until I met my ex-husband at age 26.

Looking back, I can see how I mostly only allowed myself to be attached to people that it wouldn’t hurt to lose. The longest I can remember being upset about a breakup was two days when I was 17.

I was always the one who ended the relationships, and typically it was only after I’d let my unhappiness fester for so long that I couldn’t even stand for the other person to touch me anymore. I felt like I had to have a reason—the fact that I just wasn’t into the relationship anymore wasn’t good enough.

When I was 19 and had been with my boyfriend at the time for about six months, he asked me, point blank: “Where do you see our relationship in two years?”

Me, being the complete commitment phobe that I was, replied, “I have no idea. I don’t plan that far ahead. Where do you see our relationship in two years?”

He told me he hoped we’d be engaged. I broke up with him a week later, and never dated anyone longer than three weeks for the next six years.

At 28, I came into my marriage (with a once-divorced man who was 12 years older than me) having no real relationship experience. In retrospect, the fact that either of us thought this was going to work is somewhat absurd, but I suppose we were both still living in the fairytale fantasy that you meet someone who is perfectly compatible with you and live happily ever after—and we were highly compatible people, but compatibility is not synonymous with intimacy.

Up to that point, my M.O. was to avoid conflict for as long as possible, withhold my feelings, and ignore my needs. The truth is, I didn’t even know what my needs were, much less what I wanted in a relationship. Much like anyone in their twenties, I didn’t even know who the fuck I was.

In addition to having no real depth of understanding of myself, I never learned conflict resolution skills. I assumed my unhappiness was due to some fatal personality conflict, and ending the relationship and starting over with someone else seemed easier.

This, of course, led to a cyclical repetition of the same relationship scenario over and over, always with the same person wearing a different face, because I never took the time to stop reflect on myself or why it kept happening.

I would enter into a safe relationship with someone who accommodated my fear of intimacy and attachment, then I’d become dissatisfied with the lack of intimacy and attachment, then wait for an excuse—any excuse—to end said relationship. Lather, rinse, repeat.

 

 

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It wasn’t until I was 33 that I began to recognize my need for connection and intimacy, or how my own fear of it had led me to choose partners who couldn’t give it to me. This was also the same timeframe in which I began to see that I had no idea who I really was, culminating in the realization that the life I was living felt like it didn’t belong to me.

The last two years have been spent deconstructing anything about myself that didn’t feel authentic and patiently seeking that which was. You can’t possibly have a successful relationship with another person until you have achieved a successful relationship with yourself.

That’s what real personal development looks like: digging below the surface level interactions between you and your partner and uncovering the underlying subconscious motivations that drive your behavior—then working to heal it at the core, instead of continuing to apply bandaids.

Your twenties are for fucking up your life and your thirties are for seeing how fucked up your life is and committing to changing it—if, that is, you’re willing to do the hard work instead of continuing to repeat the cycle.


Note: This post originally appeared on my Instagram. I’ve been writing a lot over there and I’ll be sharing some of those posts here in the coming weeks. If you’re on Instagram, I’d love it if you’d pop over and hang out with me >>>click here<<< or on the embedded photo up there.

An Open Letter To All The Men Who Have Failed Me

An Open Letter To All The Men Who Have Failed Me

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day, an annual reminder of all of love’s disappointments. A day that I spent recalling all of the ways you’ve failed to show up for me.

Every time one of you disappeared after I poured my pain on the floor for you to see, it opened the gaping wound in my heart just a little wider.

You knew my history. Or at least, you should have. If you’d paid any attention, you’d realize that I told you, many times in a number of ways, directly and indirectly.

But I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and say maybe you didn’t know. Or at least, you most likely don’t immediately remember some of the things I told you. You didn’t know about my first love who crushed my soul into a thousand shattered pieces in a myriad of ways, not the least of which was refusing to acknowledge or respond to no less than 8 emails I sent him over the course of 2 years, absolutely laying my soul bare.

And maybe you didn’t know about how my own father avoided talking to me for an entire year because he, “thought I was mad at him or something.”

And maybe you didn’t know about my best friend. How much I loved him. And that he abruptly blocked me from every possible way of contacting him and hasn’t spoken to me three years. Maybe you didn’t know that it was the most painful, sudden loss I’ve ever experienced or that it triggered a year long depression during which my health failed and my marriage fell apart.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with the sense of panic one feels when you know it’s about to happen again, after having already happened again and again and again. You tell yourself that the feeling of impending doom, it’s all in your head. They’re not going to do this to you AGAIN. They love you. They’d never want to hurt you. And then they do.

Maybe you aren’t familiar with the aching feeling the creeps up in your heart and starts to radiate outward into your whole upper body. The contraction in your chest. The tightness in your throat. The heaviness that sets in in your stomach. The numbness that takes over as you sit there in a haze asking yourself why. Why are you doing this to me? And why does this. Keep. HAPPENING?

“Was it something I said? Was it something I did?” I think of 30,000 ways that this is my fault. “Did I hurt your feelings? Maybe I shouldn’t have told you how I felt? I probably should have worded it differently. Maybe I just have shitty taste in humans? Maybe I love all the wrong people? Maybe there are no good people? Maybe I’m a masochist? Maybe I’m fucking delusional and you never cared about me the way I thought you did? Maybe you never cared about me at all? Why am I here again? What’s the point if it all? I don’t want to feel this anymore. Maybe I should just walk out in front of a car and put myself out of my misery because anything is better than this old and ever familiar pain.”

I choked back tears on my entire walk home, watching all the people meandering through the streets, juggling their bouquets of red roses, cliché symbols of affection meant for people who are certainly far more lovable and deserving than I.

I felt the ache trying to claw its way out of my chest and into my throat, the tightness therein keeping it trapped squarely half way between a sob and a gasp for air. Quite possibly, I felt the greatest pain I’ve ever felt in the entirety of my existence.

And yet somehow—while standing on the corner of Hope Street, teetering on the edge of losing faith in myself, along with everything I’ve ever believed in, just before I reached the stairs…I still managed to forgive you.

Sincerely,
All Women, Everywhere

For the women whose hearts continue rising from the ashes.

Recognizing and Breaking Negative Relationship Patterns

Recognizing and Breaking Negative Relationship Patterns

Question from a reader:

If we meet our partners as a way to see ourselves through them and learn, how is it that you break up with someone because you don’t feel like being with them anymore?

Of course there are still things I haven’t learned so I am going to meet another person that is still going to teach me what the other person couldn’t. Should I keep trying to learn things from the first person? Why do they seem to always appear again? Does that mean something?

All relationships reflect back to us parts of ourselves. Sometimes ugly parts. Sometimes beautiful parts. Sometimes it brings out aspects of yourself you never knew existed. They’re all opportunities to know ourselves a little more, reflected through another.

Some relationships – karmic ones – are meant to give you very specific experiences that you’ve been working to heal through across lifetimes with that same soul. Others are just reflecting back to you patterns that were created in this lifetime.

You’ll always know a karmic relationship, because it’s not something you’re going to be able to shake easily. The allure will be irresistible. The chemistry palpable. It’ll be really, really good, or really, really bad. There’s no in between, you’re going to have strong emotions in one direction or the other – maybe even both.

Karmic Patterns

With karmic relationships, we often attract partners who feed our imbalances. For example, a person with a history of codependent care-taking will be drawn to partners who “need” them in some way. For men, it’s typically partners who require financial support or otherwise look to them as someone who can provide. For women, it’s often wounded men. The allure of the relationship is that, at least initially, it feels good to give. It validates a need within both partners – for the caretaker, the need to feel needed. For the one being taken care of, the filling of the void.

Eventually, the caretakers often give more than they receive in the relationship and end up feeling drained and resentful of their less capable partners. This pattern plays out over and over until one or both parties recognizes that their habits are not the result of love, but rather, a lack of self-love and seeking validation from an outside source.

Sometimes you break up because you learn all the lessons that relationship has to offer you – you recognize your karmic patterns and step into your true power. Sometimes you break up because one of you outgrows the lesson and one of you doesn’t, and needs to keep repeating it. Another person will come along to fill that role while you move on to something new and your partner remains trapped in a karmic feedback loop with the universe serving them the same shit sandwich they ate the day before, repeating the same mistakes over and over with a new person who holds the same fundamental energetic framework as the last person, but with a pretty new face and storyline.

Breaking The Repetition 

Becoming aware of your patterns is one thing – actively working to maintain that awareness in any given situation, understand what it’s showing you about yourself, and healing that is wholly another.

The biggest mistake I often see people make is thinking that simply because they became aware of the pattern that they won’t repeat it, or that they can somehow work through that pattern while maintaining a relationship with another person who is reflective of it.

The reality of the situation is that either both of you choose to grow, or you go your separate ways. There’s no in between, and the longer you cling to the attachment, the more suffering it creates. Eventually the universe bulldozes obstacles out of your life, one way or another.

Never stick around in a stagnant relationship. You’re going to know, in your heart, when it’s time to go. The tricky part is that sometimes “leaving” is a part of our pattern and we do it because we fear intimacy or commitment, or some other aspect of the relationship. Other times, clinging to it is part of our pattern. In either case, it’s going to keep happening again and again until you confront it and choose something different. Same story, different character.

The Universe is likes to give us little tests to see if we’re really committed to ourselves, our healing, and are ready to move forward. Will you slip back into old patterns? Or will you choose something different?

A Year Without Sex

A Year Without Sex

You don’t realize how much energy we, as human beings, put into sex – thinking about having it, thinking about how to get it, the actual pursuit of it, and then the glorious seven minutes of actually experiencing it – until you’re not chasing it anymore.

I stopped chasing it one year ago this week.

*Cue Record Scratch* Wait – But Why?

I didn’t consciously tell myself, “I’m not going to have sex for a year.” It was more so that after my divorce and subsequent reintroduction to human mating rituals after seven years of being in a long term relationship, I was confronted with the stark reality of what it was like to be back in the dating pool.

I was initially excited about the prospect of being able to date again, but when older, wiser, and with a much healthier perspective on myself and where I was in life. Then I realized that while I had grown tremendously, both emotionally and spiritually since the last time I dated, the vast majority of single people on planet earth were, unfortunately, mostly the same unconscious neanderthals they were when I was 26.

I wanted a real man. A conscious man. One that wasn’t afraid of depth, but more importantly, one that wasn’t afraid of me, my scars, my mess, or my insatiable desire to know and express myself as authentically as possible.

I realized I had no inclination to engage in sex without the kind of deep emotional intimacy that I knew was possible, and deep emotional intimacy is not something readily available on the market.

New York City is a lot of things, but a place where people take the time to connect with one another, it is not. It isn’t just that, though – I’m a high-functioning intellectual individual. Intellectually stimulating conversation is easy to come by here. Everybody thinks they’re a sapiosexual. But I also have an extremely high emotional intelligence, and that is not something many people on the planet have, much less a steely place like New York City. The type of emotional and spiritual depth I require to feel satisfied is a rarity to find anywhere.

I stopped having sex because I became disillusioned with the inevitable disappointment of being starved for the kind of connection I needed by men who were too afraid to be vulnerable.

I decided that the Universe would find a way to bring me into the path of the right person, and I didn’t have to deal with an onslaught of frivolous Bumble and Tinder chats to find them. I wanted to be truly seen. I wanted to be felt. I wanted the deepest parts of myself to be known – but how can I show that to someone if I don’t even know it, myself?

I stopped going to bars. I stopped spending hours on dating apps. I stopped settling for surface level bullshit. I stopped seeking something from outside myself to fill a void within me. I quit. And instead, I took all of the energy I would have normally spent in the pursuit of sex and some “other” to validate my self-worth and existence, and put it to use in the pursuit of finding myself, my own inner-worth, and understanding how that changed the dynamic of the types of people I attracted into my life. Through that process, I became crystal clear about what I wanted out of an intimate relationship, what I valued, and most importantly – who I was and what I was worth.

The result was that I consciously chose to never be with another man who didn’t truly see me. Who couldn’t meet me on my level. Who couldn’t show up with intimacy and vulnerability that set my soul on fire – the same kind that I am capable of offering.

I would rather live the rest of my life alone than let one more person touch my body without touching my soul.

Your body is your temple. You don’t let just anyone inside. I finally grew spiritually mature enough to fully revere it with the respect it deserves.

The thought of having a one-night stand, or even sleeping with someone that I’ve only been on a couple of dates with used to be an afterthought, but it is utterly repulsive to me now. I’ve realized that sex feels like meaningless, barely-enjoyable, animalistic copulation without the spiritual component of genuine love and spiritual connection.

Most people on this planet completely miss the full breadth and depth of what sex can be. They connect on a purely physical level. The quality of sex is measured by the number of orgasms had, how many positions you tried, and how many orifices were penetrated.

Sex is not merely an avenue for physical pleasure and procreation, but rather, a doorway to the divine. A way to commune with our highest selves and the greater creative force of the universe, and I do not mean that metaphorically. Sex is a legitimate spiritual practice.

Followers of various sects of Eastern religions have practiced sex as a meditation for thousands of years. Sexual energy is considered to be the essence of our life force and maintaining a prolonged state of heightened sexual arousal can induce a state of heightened psychic awareness, bliss, and oneness with the Universe. Sex literally becomes a shared spiritual experience.

In yogic traditions, the energy that is responsible for this is called kundalini, or shakti. Kundalini awakenings can happen spontaneously or during meditation and result in all of the things I mentioned earlier. Ask me how I know!

I’ve experienced kundalini awakenings during meditation a handful of times. It feels like the universe is making love to you from the inside out.

Imagine connecting with your partner physically, emotionally, mentally, energetically, spiritually, and psychically in a state of total surrender while simultaneously experiencing the psychedelic highs of an LSD trip, merging so deeply that they intuitively know your every emotion and desire without you ever speaking a word, and your goal is not to orgasm, but rather, prolong that state as long as is humanly possible.

I think about what it would be like to experience that and – well, once you’ve had unicorn sex, everything else is just… vanilla.

Collective Feminine Rage

Collective Feminine Rage

I had a fantastic conversation with one of my best friends a few weeks ago about the current political climate around sexual assault.

A larger collective theme that has been going on since this time last year when #MeToo first broke the silence is the core wounding of women and the feminine. Globally, for centuries, women have been violently raped, murdered, suppressed, controlled, burned as witches and enslaved as sex servants. We’ve never been truly safe. I’ve written about this on multiple occasions which you can find here and here.

I think a lot of women are beginning to feel the collective rage of hundreds of generations worth of suppressed trauma and fear bubbling up from beneath the surface, and that’s been building since this time last year.

Naturally, women are taught to suppress their anger because we are supposed to be pleasing, not assertive. It’s not helpful that many men have yet to accept responsibility for that core wounding.

What we, as women, have to recognize as this anger arises is that the men who have wounded us are also wounded. We are bathing in our trauma together. The only way the masculine will ever heal is to feel truly loved by the feminine. And the only way the feminine can collectively do that is to forgive.

In order to forgive, however, the pain must be acknowledged. And that is all every woman on this planet has been waiting for, asking for, and is now demanding. That’s right, and it’s fair. But we have our own healing to do as well.

We also have to accept our own role in perpetuating toxic masculinity through the way we raise the boys we birth. Here’s a link to a great article by Bethany Webster on how the mother wound is the missing link in understanding misogyny, and it’s worth the read.

The Success Trap

The Success Trap

Twice over the last two weeks, the topic of job satisfaction has come up with friends. In both instances, said friends were feeling unhappy with their jobs. Unchallenged, as it were; unsuccessful, as though they should be doing more.

In both cases, I reminded them that having a job like that frees up a lot of time and energy for things that are, ultimately, more important – like healing, self-improvement, and service.

I realized a while ago that material success is an ego trap. A shiny distraction from what really matters.

I fell into that trap early in my life. I felt like I needed to make something of myself, career-wise, in order to matter. To be seen as successful by others. To prove to myself that I’d made something of myself (by placing that designation in the hands of what other people thought of me and my life choices). I set out to become successful at everything I did. And boy, did I do things.

I sat as Vice President of the Board for a nonprofit and helped scale it from a small organization taking in $75k a year in donations to half a million.

I started three businesses – one doing branding, graphic and web design; another one doing all of that, as well as messaging, SEO, UX/UI design, lead generation, content creation, scaling operations, pitching and funding, revenue models, and whatever the fuck else a client wanted to throw at me. I grew that second business 400% from year one to year two. (The third was simply adding readings to this little blog here.)

I gave keynote presentations on digital storytelling. Workshops on social media. Sat as a panelist on digital marketing. I gave seminars on digital fundraising for nonprofits. I did photo shoots with professional athletes and wrote and directed PSA commercials.

I ran a fashion tech startup and launched a national brand ambassador program. I coached young entrepreneurs on how to communicate their vision and make their business goals a reality.

I was…am…a very accomplished human by earth standards. I came. I saw. I did (really cool) shit. And at the age of 33, I realized that none of it mattered.

When I moved here, I knew I didn’t care what kind of job I had. I have a journalism degree from the top school in the country and had spent four years running my own consulting business and I was fully prepared to wait tables because I just didn’t care anymore about anything except finding myself and being of service to others.

I didn’t want to help people make more money or plan their next exit strategy. I wanted to help people feel comfortable in their own skin. I wasn’t going to make the world a better place by [insert stupid tech company mission here], because you can’t change something from the outside in. The way for me to make the greatest impact was by helping people heal from the inside out – and there’s no dollar signs attached to that because it’s invaluable.

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