I am a naturally avoidant person — but I’m trying really hard not to be.
A door into an alternate universe has been opened in front of me and I am staring — skeptical and scared — straight into it. I have to walk in… right?
After a few months of living life’s lovely turbulences and riding the consequential waves of upheaval and confusion, my girlfriend brought a book to my attention. At the time, I was self-diagnosing on psychologytoday.com (not a smart idea, BTW) and my head was spinning — I didn’t know which way was up. The last thing I needed was a book. Or so I thought. She was trying to make sense of a recent break-up when her therapist recommended Attached. No thanks, I thought as she explained it to me… I got this, I’m good, I’m fiiiiine. Meanwhile, I was silently picking apart my life, wondering how I got to be where I am.
A few more weeks passed, and she still spoke highly of the book and its positive difference in her perspective. Me, on the other hand… I continued to silently question past decisions, and feel apprehensive about the future. “OKAAAAY,” I groaned at her as I reluctantly pulled out my phone to download the book. Little did I know that I was turning the key to unlock a door I never knew existed.
Attached, in the most general way, is about how we relate to people. Essentially, due to the combination of our life experiences, background and genetic code, we all fall into a category of anxious, avoidant, secure or a mixture of the three, attachment style. I don’t want to dive into the book, necessarily — though I highly recommend it to anyone interested in human connectedness. I’d rather share my experience, my learnings (my avoidant self-discoveries)… because, guys, I feel like my eyes have been opened. I was raised by loving but avoidant parents, and have learned the same behavior over the course of my life through that and failed relationships, et cetera. What do I mean by avoidant exactly? According to Attached, “avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimize closeness.” Ouch. (But, true.) Looking back at previous relationships, I can connect the dots and realize it all makes sense. In the beginning stages of getting to know someone, the more we share, the more we start to feel vulnerable. However, in my experiences, I am quick to pull back to a place where I feel comfortable, which is usually somewhere around arm’s length. True partnership is tough for me, connecting is even harder. And when I have to share something about myself it comes out an inarticulate grumble of random words mixed with a lot of staring at the ground. The funny thing is, though, is that I actually love connecting with people — it’s just hard, and sometimes avoiding the entire situation is an easier option.
So why am I sharing this with you now? Well, I don’t really know… but, learning this about myself has opened up a new door in my life and I just can’t stop thinking about it. And I want to share it — oh crap, is this vulnerability?! I’ve realized that I can’t keep people at arm’s length if I truly desire close relationships with them. I need to keep being intentional about my relationships, to sometimes go out of my way, or outside of my comfort zone (scaaaary), to connect with people. I take pride in my independence, but I’m also learning that life is a journey (man), and finding a balance between holding on to my beloved space and truly connecting with people is a process. But one I am excitedly willing to work on!
So here I stand on the other side of this newfound open door, albeit wary and cautious. But if true intimacy, friendship or partnership is on the other side of that door, then (gosh darnit) I’m walking through.
+Does this resonate with anyone else? I’d love to hear your thoughts… you too, fellow avoidants!
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