Throughout my healing journey and spending more time alone, I have found great happiness and a beautiful inner-peace that I can regularly tap into. I’ve done a lot of introspection in the form of journaling, therapy, meditation and this has meant I have also done a lot of sitting alone and being with my uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. I have taken a huge leap in terms of my recovery from alcohol and drugs and it has been wonderfully rewarding.
Obviously, there are a lot more things I am still learning and I do not claim to be fully healed, I am just more grounded and calm now. But, despite having created greater mental toughness and more emotional stability, I want to explore a thought that keeps cropping up and looming over me, which is this:
“What’s the point in doing all of this work and creating a beautiful life for myself if I have no one to share it with?”
When I first had these thoughts, I was ashamed of them. What I really felt was that I wanted a partner and this made me think I hadn’t done enough work on myself or that I wasn’t independent enough. I thought that wanting to share my life with someone romantically was an indication that I needed to do more healing work around codependency. I thought I had to learn to become so fiercely independent that I no longer felt a desire to be with anyone. I battled with these thoughts and feelings, I remained alone and stayed within, but still, the desire to share my life with someone persisted.
What I realised is that having a desire for connection and love is something innate and completely human (it is a fundamental need to want community and belonging and that includes romantic relationships) but having existed in unhealthy relationship dynamics before, I had a fear of being close to anyone. However, I still desperately desired to be with someone and share my happiness with them despite being scared of closeness – confusing as fuck.
Previously, I believed that if only I could become fiercely independent, I needn’t bother with romance again, but what that belief really encompassed was my fear of intimacy. I became scared of dating, which flung me back to ex partners who I knew to be unsuitable, but it was an unsuitable that I could predict, it’s safe to say those encounters didn’t end well. I believed that I had so many unsuccessful relationships and so I begun to associate being in a relationship with fear, I wanted a relationship but that also brought back horrific memories and scared me so much that I felt I couldn’t have it. I thought that because I had participated in unhealthy dynamics that I need to punish myself by shaming any thought or feeling of desire for relationship and treating it as though it was something that needed ‘healing’ out of me.
Luckily, I also worked through those moments of fear and shame (which still show up now). I came to the conclusion that I don’t need to keep trying to “fix” myself and sometimes I can just be messy and flawed and that’s okay, but, I also discovered something way more important: we are not lone creatures and should not seek to be so fiercely independent, it’s in our nature to want to love and be loved. We need love. The most valuable lesson I have learnt this year is that: we need to connect with other people just as much as we need to connect with ourselves. It becomes so glaringly obvious to me now; I know that I need people more than I have ever needed them before and because of the inner work I have done, I am more able than I ever have been to give and receive love. I need love and I am no longer ashamed to admit that. I am also proud to say that I have created so many beautiful connections through allowing myself to be open to love, and I don’t mean just romantic love, the love I have for my close friends is just as, if not more, important.
I’m still working on being more comfortable within romantic connections and because of my past trauma, feel that this is the next step along my healing journey for me to take, and albeit uncomfortable and daunting, I feel I have reached a place where I am strong enough to face it head on.
Having said this, I took a few attachment style questionnaires online recently and each one came back with secure attachment, which is bizarre because I know there’s a lot of anxiety surrounding this area of my life but I think it’s also really important to remember, before diagnosing or overly identifying with any attachment label, is how we are being treated within our relationships. I find it always really helpful to answer three important questions:
1. Do I have an attachment issue or is this a normal human reaction?
2. Do I have an attachment issue or am I not communicating my needs?
3. Do I have an attachment issue or is my partner being a dick?
I definitely have some traits of all of the attachment styles and whilst I think they are useful at identifying issues, sometimes the thoughts and feelings that we possess are not our responsibility alone and cannot be put into such rigid boxes. I hope this inspires you to seek out connection, do the inner work and communicate your needs with the people you love xxxxxx