Don't you think that if we could master the cat and mouse game, we'd master relationships? Aren't relationships simply combinations of time together and time apart? Do you know ANYONE who doesn't have issues regarding being intimate and being alone, navigating the whole push/pull dynamic. Yeh, me neither....
What if you could get super close to someone and experience complete trust, unconditional love, and a feeling of security and safety AND not take their boundaries personally and be able to communicate directly and openly about your needs, and encourage the ones you love to take care of themselves too and realize their goals? What an idea!
That, my friends, is called "secure attachment". I don't know anyone who has all of that. Some of it, yes, but not all. Want to know why? We're going to have to dive deep to answer that.
You've heard of attachment patterns but what you might not realize is that these patterns are established very early on so they run deep and might very well be unknown to you. You may find yourself in a relationship and you might notice patterns that pop up again and again and you might get frustrated wondering why you can't seem to change the pattern. You will fight it out or leave it. You will only truly change the pattern when you go to the source of it.
So here we go. A dependent person only wants 2 things: to be loved and to be safe. We feel safe when our needs are met and when we come home accepted and loved no matter what. We also want to feel supported and encouraged to leave home and to live our lives. We want to know where the line is, when we have together time and when we have apart time.
But what we sometimes get instead is inconsistent messages: not acknowledged at home or treated badly, not encouraged to be independent and care for ourselves, not a clear understanding of structure.
So what we do is find ways to get what we want: safety and love. We may act out to get attention. We may shut down to protect ourselves. We create truths like:
People who love me hurt me.
If I feel love, I will soon feel pain so I will be hyper vigilant and look for warning signs so I can fend it off when I see it coming.
Disconnecting makes me feel safe.
I feel loved only when I get verbal/physical reassurance.
If I don't suppress my needs and meet others' needs, they will leave me.
Being alone is lonely.
And we carry these truths into our adult relationships. Where is the line between you and your partner? How can you be close and have trust and not get hurt? What if you say no to getting together because you need apart time and your partner feels rejected so then you say yes because you don't want to hurt them?
What if you have an expectation that you're either unaware of or maybe ashamed of so you don't verbalize it out loud and then your partner doesn't meet your expectation, you have a reaction, and then your partner is utterly confused trying to meet your needs but not knowing what they are? And what if you try to meet their needs so they don't leave you and then you resent them because you feel compromised? Sound familiar?
Boundaries are healthy lines and difficult to set because we sometimes project our uncommunicated needs and fears onto our partner and our partner sometimes internalizes them. It can get very messy.
There is not one single relationship that doesn't have to navigate this dynamic. Without self awareness and resources to employ, we are doomed to continue swirling around.
Self awareness: the ability to SEE yourself. To create space between feeling emotions and seeing what is really going on, to get out of your head and think clearly.
Resources: to be employed AFTER self awareness. To create more space to think clearly. Like taking a step back, breathing, addressing the resistance in your body, asking yourself questions, and THEN communicating.
Productive communication is directly speaking your truth, how you feel, how you see things, and what you need. It isn't personal. You own your part.
Imagine if we could nail these skills....
Until then, I will continue to seek more knowledge, to practice my skills, and to help you do the same.
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