When you’ve been heavily traumatised, no matter how much therapy, coaching, healing or somatic work you do, you’ll find it difficult to trust people. What I’ve found ironic on my journey to deeper intimacy with myself and others is that I will still choose the obviously unsafe, emotionally unavailable person over the sound, level headed and secure person. Even in friendships. Why? Because the unconscious attachment patterns run deep. I find myself bored out of my brains if someone is exhibiting ‘normal’ behaviour. Yet, if someone is playing hard to get, ignoring me, being the life of the party or is someone out of the ordinary, I’m intrigued. One of my deepest desires is to experience safe, open and vulnerable intimacy in partnership, it’s also, at a visceral level, something I am most afraid of.
I’ve spent most of my adult life avoiding intimacy. I never really understood the extent of this avoidance until 2022, when I uncovered complex childhood manipulation and sexual abuse. I was in a relationship group coaching program late last year and I couldn’t understand why I had such a fear of dating when other people didn’t. Their fears were more around rejection, embarrassment and not being enough. My fears just felt like a hard no that I couldn’t label. I uncovered that I wasn’t just avoidant, or anxious (if you’re familiar with the book Attached) I’d been fearful-avoidant/disorganised. I’m grateful I’m leaning toward secure now after a lot of therapy but different scenarios can still tip me into these overwhelming attachment styles.
Fearful-Avoidant Attachment is defined as: one of four adult attachment styles. Those with this insecure style of attachment have a strong desire for close relationships, but distrust others and fear intimacy. This leads people with a fearful-avoidant attachment to avoid the very relationships they crave.
Signs of disorganised attachment: Chaotic, unpredictable, or intense relationship patterns and behaviours. Extreme fear of rejection, coupled with difficulty connecting to and trusting others. Extreme need for closeness, coupled with the tendency to avoid closeness and push others away. Most attachment specialists believe that the disorganised attachment style is the most difficult of the three insecure attachment styles to treat because it incorporates both the anxious and the avoidant styles.
I don’t like to describe things in absolutes or put myself or others in a black or white box. Aspects of these theories absolutely resonate but they’re not the answer to everything. The more I’ve leaned into my fears, learned what boundaries actually are, lived a sober life and felt my emotions, the safer I have become in my decision making and the relationships I allow into my life. When you’ve experienced complex trauma, you’re always waiting for the penny to drop or for someone to show you their ‘true colours’ or for a relationship to not work out until you realise that is an old program that is running the show, you’re an adult now and it’s safe to trust and be open with others.
Therapy and/or a good coach will save your life. Sharing your fears, insecurities and overwhelm will set you free. Finding your people who are equally as doubtful and bewildered by this thing we call life will help you feel less alone. We’re not here to diagnose ourselves with a million different things so we can then feel in control of a label, we’re here to share more, heal more, love more and be more of ourselves so we can stop passing on these fucked up cycles to our children and the people we interact with.
I love this quote by Sharon Salzberg “We don’t meditate to get better at meditating, we meditate to get better at life.” We don’t heal to get better at healing, we heal to get better at relationships, intimacy, love and life. Love, care and kindness are accessible, always, we’ve just gotta overcome the fears, blocks, walls and barricades that stop us from accessing our true nature.
You are not crazy, damaged, broken or unlovable, you’ve just been through some fucked up times and those fucked up times have made the outside world and other people feel a bit more difficult to navigate. If I can conquer this attachment stuff piece by piece, you absolutely can too 🏼.