After leaving a toxic relationship with a drug addict, I have found that I can get anxiously attached to people. It does not happen with every relationship. For me, it tends to happen with newer friendships where I feel a deeper connection. I came across an article yesterday that really explains what it’s like and offers some ways to cope with it. I recommend taking a moment to read about it. It is my hope that this reaches others who go through this as well as those who are in relationships with those who go through this.
Please note that I am speaking from my own personal experience. I don’t experience the jealousy that this article mentions, but everything else hits very close to home. For me, being anxiously attached is a phase that I can and have overcome. It takes a great deal of time and an extraordinary amount of patience from the other person to help me move toward a healthy, secure attachment. I think that most people might think that I’m only talking about a significant other type of relationship, but I’m not. I’m talking about all types of relationships.
Last year, I had two friendships that did not start out as anxious attachments. We had been friends, or at least known each other, for years. I got closer and reconnected with each of them after my break up. Within a couple of months, I became anxiously attached to both of them. Thankfully, I was able to be completely honest about what I was feeling with both of them. It took months of consistency and reassurance for me to move to a secure attachment.
I thought that because I had been through it already, that just maybe I was prepared for it. At the beginning of this year, I went through it again with a new friend. This person still has no idea what I went through. Why? Because I refused to say anything about it. I didn’t want to be so open and raw with someone who was just getting to know me. Then, so many things happened that I just didn’t feel I should add my problems to the table, so I backed off and confided in others who helped me move on.
After that experience, I was surely stronger and definitely more prepared to avoid getting anxiously attached. Turns out, I’m not. I’m going through it all over again. I’d like to believe that most days, I’m okay and making progress toward secure attachment. Unfortunately, this is 2020 and stress, depression, and anxiety are never far away. Internal and external triggers can throw me right back into it.
So, what is it? What happens? Again, this is my personal experience and one size does not fit all. When my anxiety crashes down on me, it tells me that my friends might not really like me, that maybe they don’t really want to spend time with me. It tells me that they shouldn’t have to put up with someone who is so broken. It tells me that I’m too needy and no one should have to put up with so much baggage. It stops me from reaching out because saying how much you love and miss them so often will surely drive them away. They’re too busy for you. You don’t need to bug them. Just pull yourself together and back off. All of this overthinking leads to such excruciating heartache. It makes you feel like you’re too hard to love AND that you shouldn’t love people so hard. It literally tears you apart. You are fighting everything that makes you who you are. …and at the end of the day…who cares? What does it matter that you feel any of this? It’s not that important. It’s certainly not anyone else’s fault or problem. You aren’t good enough and should just get used to being alone. Maybe you should just let them go. Fear of losing them. Panic that you’ll push them away. Pain that this is all your fault.
How do I deal with this? Not well. If asked outright, I try to be honest, but it is very hard to be so raw and vulnerable and explain this part of myself that I am ashamed is there (because I should be stronger than this). It’s so much easier to say that I’m fine, except…that method of hiding and deflecting doesn’t work anymore. Why? Because I can’t hold on to the heartache for long, but also because I have a handful of friends who have seen all of me. They no longer settle for “I’m fine.” For me, the best way to handle it is to be honest with the person I’m anxiously attached to. I said that that is the best way, but it isn’t always the easiest way. I’m still struggling with reaching out and sometimes I have no idea what to say or how to explain what’s going on. This is where their patience and consistency make all of the difference.
For those who are struggling with anxious attachment and the reason behind why you are anxiously attached, please know you are NOT alone. Not everyone you meet will be like the person who hurt you. What you feel matters. You are not hard to love, and how you love is beautiful. I see you.