I have been writing about each of the attachment theory types. Today is the one that I was–avoidant. I don’t avoid true intimacy today. Having always preferred the company of a few deeper relationships, I have been able to allow myself to be that most dreaded feeling to me–vulnerable. It feels good.
Beginning Friday, 9/17, I will be posting about healing each of the types.
From Avoidance was my drug:
While G called the shots, I followed blindly. And when he withdrew, I felt endangered, like a free-floating, ungrounded entity heading perilously past the ozone layer into the dark nothingness of space.
I ended up quitting G. It wasn’t “a matter of time” and I didn’t just “get over him.” I quit him right along with my two-pack a day cigarette habit and the acknowledgment that I was indeed an addict. One hit at a time. One broken-hearted day at a time. Heeding the laws of physics, a loose thread unravels only when it’s pulled. It was time. And the determining factor of what made me finally leave him wasn’t exactly that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of bad relationships. It was that I was sick and tired of me.
I sat for about 15 hours a day, for a month straight, brainwashing myself with self-help books, love addict forums and feverishly writing my own blog. Once dirty, sick and rundown, I soon learned that my body and mind were temples. I learned not to let substances and people defile my sacredness. I learn that I wasn’t just “unlucky,” but rather that I was operating at the only level I knew how — a very low one — and that the power was in me to change. I then quit all the other guys and relationships I was addicted to and, well, you get the picture.
Johann Hari wrote a book that came out in 2015 called Chasing the Scream, The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. His point was that addicts were addicts not because of addictive substances, rather because they were sad and unhappy people. What a great rationalization for us love addicts! And yet, he fell seriously short. He also believed that “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is human connection.”
I ask myself, where does that leave the love addict? The very sobriety we crave — human connection — is what we’ve become addicted to.
In my own personal search for answers I too tried to figure out the opposite of addiction. Surprisingly, I didn’t conclude that it was sobriety or human connection. I had human connection. I had a warm, loving home, a great mother, supportive brothers, an entire village that loved me. I had two sons that adored me. Many substance abusers do. Heck, my own father was well loved and came from a wonderfully loving home.
My search, instead lead me to understand that the real opposite of addiction was avoidance. My addiction to G, and all others was my way of running away. Avoidance was my drug. My way of protecting myself from having to grow up. From having to be responsible. From having to face my fears of raising my children on my own, getting an education, working, and whatever else scared the hell out of me. Human connection was probably the last thing I needed in my sobriety. I needed to work.
I remember reading that meditation and mindfulness practices that call us to “detach” are often very appealing for this particular attachment style. That is because dissociating — disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, and sense of self — is a common way for those with an avoidant attachment style to feel calm.
You might notice that your partner has habits that create space between you. Maybe it is playing video games, checking their phone, or overworking in the evenings. Transitioning from isolation to connection can be difficult for them as well, so you may find a request for connection while they are engaged in their inner world to be met in a cold response.