I’ve been reading a lot on Medium lately and they often recommend the work of a writer whose work I’ve grown to love -Kris Gage, she’s a software engineer who writes a lot about healthy relationships and love without attachment. I recently stumbled upon one of her pieces about toxic relationships which brought me to a shocking revelation about myself: I am an anxious-avoidant.
I take full ownership of that; to be fair though I haven’t always been this way. Human beings are creatures of adaptivity and proximity, it’s how we’ve been able to learn all we’ve needed to know in order to adapt to the times, procreate and survive. It is this intrinsic human trait I feel has been my Achilles heel. My natural instinct is to coddle. Making sure the people I care about are safe, happy and comfortable when I have the capacity to control either one of those things is my love language. My anxious-avoidant nature is a behavioural attachment I adopted in my formative young-adult years from a toxic relationship with an older man that went on for far longer than it ought to have.
Immediately when I tell you he was older -significantly older, you should already know there was most probably an unhealthy power dynamic there. I was with this man for 5 years and in that time, I learnt how to be thee most toxic partner I never knew I could be and furthermore I was the most toxic version of myself. At first, I behaved that way because I believed that’s what love was supposed to look like. Up until that point, I had never been in a serious relationship, so I had no other points of relativity. The only thing I had was everything he was willing to put in and rom-com movies where everything always works out in the end and there are none of the complexities of human emotions and how they affect relationships in a real sense -which is understandable because who could cram that into 90 minutes? So, this was it for me. I was a toxic partner because I thought that was what my partner needed from me in order to feel loved. My love with nonattachment always came across to him as blasé and complacent. I just didn’t care enough if I was comfortable in our silences and wasn’t nagging him for attention or to text me every 5 seconds. I just didn’t seem serious enough about the relationship because I respected him enough to give him his own space as an individual with a life outside of me and outside of the relationship. I just wasn’t doing enough because I chose to trust him if he said he was out somewhere instead of stalking him and calling constantly save for checking if he got home okay. So, he became withdrawn and shady; I became obsessive and co-dependent. If I didn’t seek his approval and validation about things that I needed to do for my development as an individual that was me shutting him out, so I grew to need it. I sacrificed all self-knowledge to make that relationship work and it still failed. I found myself giving when I no longer had anything left to give. Apologising for things I didn’t even know I had done wrong. I singlehandedly shouldered the failure of the relationship as a personal failing on my part.
Eventually, it wasn’t even because that’s what he wanted from me, the relationship just got so bad, so toxic that everything I did was out of spite and retaliation (classic anxious-avoidant trait) to protect myself because in my then seriously damaged mindset I figured by inflicting that same pain on the person who had caused me that pain, they’d realise how shitty the whole thing was and be better. Obviously, that was the dumbest thing ever and eventually I resolved to be the way I was as a means of survival since I wasn’t getting treated any better, I may as well not bother to try at all because irrespective of whether I was a wonderful person to him or not he would still treat me the same. I had been the best version of myself and that had not been enough for him. I had also been the worst and that had the same results (negative perception of self added into the mix with my already tainted perception of others -hello).
I have since been able to remove myself from that situation Insh’Allah and let me tell you, it is not easy at all. It is never easy saying goodbye to someone you still care about greatly despite how horrible the relationship is, but it was necessary for my mental health and sanity. Which is a step towards the right direction I suppose. I’ve still got a lot of work to do on my journey towards healing and I am seeking professional help so I can unlearn and relearn. I am learning to be more vocal again about what I need instead of being manipulative in order to get it. I am learning to say no when I am not crazy about something. I am learning that it is okay to disappoint people sometimes if it means I am not being coerced into doing something I am not comfortable with. I am learning that it is impossible to please everybody all of the time and that it is okay to choose myself. I am learning that apologising for my mistakes doesn’t make me any less of a person. I am learning to communicate my dissatisfaction in healthier ways as opposed to being vindictive and spiteful. I am learning to be less reactionary and to refrain from making decisions out of anger. I am slowly but surely working myself out of being a being an anxious-avoidant to get to a place where I am secure with myself again and secure enough to share myself with somebody else. I am open and receptive to the universe and for the first time in a long time it feels like I can breathe just a little bit easy.
If you would like to read those Kris Gage articles, you can find them here: