Attached

I am driving back from the airport under the night sky, cutting through the silence, and the smell of warm pastures. As I go over a pass, the city lights appear, nestled between two quiet giants which blot out the stars. The beginning of a sense of belonging shoots through me, I am nearly home.

Two years ago, I moved to the French Alps to join my husband, and having never lived in the area before, I worried about feeling claustrophobic because there’s a mountain blocking the horizon pretty much at the end of every street here. In fact, I have become attached to their massive and ever-changing beauty.

Moving on to a different kind of attachment, I have been dipping my toes into a self-help-ish book about relationships this weekend. Some of you may remember my innate skepticism towards self-help literature, but somehow, this book managed to hold my attention.

Its premise is that people fall within three broad styles of attachment, described as anxious, avoidant and secure. Anxious people are often preoccupied with their relationships and tend to worry about their partner’s ability to love them back. Avoidant people equate intimacy with a loss of independence and constantly try to minimise closeness. Secure people feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.

That’s what it says on the cover anyway. What this book did for me, was to help analyse my relationship with T in terms of attachment dynamics. For example,  I was quite anxious when T and I got together, but also reasonably secure in the sense that I was able to clearly state what I needed ie. reassurance from T. Meanwhile, T was secure enough to accept that I needed the reassurance without feeling overwhelmed by my apparent neediness. After a couple of months, I stopped being anxious, and we both became secure in the relationship. Do you see where this is going?

Then the next stage came during my pregnancy and shortly after our daughter was born, when I felt pretty overwhelmed and clearly fell within the avoidant category,  which despite some reassurance on my part, triggered an anxious response in T. Roles were brutally reversed after a big blow-up about a year ago, before we found another balance and both became secure again… Or so I thought. In reality, it is possible that despite some efforts, T never fully became secure again, and that meeting the New Ms T tipped him into full-blown avoidance to the bitter end.

In light of this,  I found the book’s idea that each person has one attachment style over-simplistic, because in reality, people are complex, react to their environment and are bound to not go through life on just one style. Still, it provided a useful bit of post-mortem on my relationship with T.

But the real test will come when I am ready to take the plunge and meet someone new: Will this new-found awareness actually help me make the right choices?

If you’re intrigued, you can test your attachment style, as well as your and your partner’s compatibility on the book’s website.

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8 thoughts on “Attached

  1. I’ve always been a bit sceptical about self- help books, but that may be a failing in myself. I have never been in your situation so it is hard to grasp the degree to which it asks you questions about yourself. In the circumstances anything which helps you come to terms with that has to be good. I love unimpeeded views and mountains so I am with you on that one. Your Blog is a pleasure to read if that is any comfort.

    • Aaaw thank you for the compliment counting ducks! In a funny way, it is a comfort actually… 🙂
      I guess there are useful and useless self-help books, and even that notion is probably entirely dependent on the person reading them! This book offered an interesting bit of perspective, and as you said, anything which helps me along the path of grieving for my relationship is good…I posted a view from my flat a couple of months ago, it changes all the time and I don’t tire of it.

  2. I happen to share the same train of thought conting ducks has mentioned…self help books mean i’d actually have to read opinions of someone who thinks in terms of answers that might be prescribed for the masses.

    For me, i share the damaged love of a broken heart….never figured this would be me, but I’m here…and the pain is more real than i ever imagined…i’m 42 and nearly over the entire process…there are days when the final 2% seems to grow to 80% still in my thoughts, in my heart, in the stream of my conscient thought…. however, i am stronger…not only stronger, but more flexible to be that man I was before with a new set of defense mechanisms to guide my next set of choices. I am reading your words feeling the flavor and thoughts that you’ve tried to convey… i feel such strain in thought…so much hurt….so much of a yearning to return who you once were…

    maybe better than that, the next adventure without him haunting your past or your future for that matter… the best of wishes come your way… I’ll keep reading your stuff…and i’ll keep sending solid hope life will make some amazing turn around for you….and your pain…

    T.

    • Hello T ! (feels a bit weird typing that actually ;))
      And thanks for the well-wishes… How I hope you’re right and great adventures are in stores for me somewhere (probably on buy-one-get-one-free at Tesco’s)!
      Funny how I had you down as a carefree island playboy, rather than someone nursing a broken heart 🙂
      It blinking well smarts doesn’t it? Still, I’ll take heart in the fact that you came out on the other side and feel stronger for it. Out of interest, how long did it take you to get this far? And what helped most?
      You’re right, I yearn to be the person I was before, full of life and joy. I’ll get there…Meanwhile, I’ll just look at your island pictures and day-dream. Take care

  3. Lady E, It has taken me 9 long months to finally be where I am…there are slip-ups but I don’t contact her no matter what now…

    As far as what helped the most? Well I fed my psyche everything bad to a relationship….tons and tons of beautiful women… and I was pretty vicious to move through them the way I did, but I needed it ….I needed to feel healed, wanted, amazing, extraordinary… I was a destructive tour de force… now I’m calm, very respectful and sweet….with moments of being the old me…

    I’ve redeveloped portions of myself to fit a better version of balance… there are days/times when I’m in a really foul mood that I normally would never be… it’s the one by-product that remains… But I’m a big boy, I’ll get over it… =) I’ve escaped… the ONE thing that really healed me was taking everything and simply removing it out of my live..I threw stuff away that I could not belive that I did, but in the end, it was the best decision ever!

    Big love!

    T.

    • Wow, 9 months doesn’t seem long at all really. Lucky you having beautiful women on tap!
      Sadly, when you’re a working-mum with 2 kiddos, gorgeous men don’t come beating down your door. Which is a shame really, because I quite like your prescription.
      As for removing everything that could possibly remind me of T, mmmm, difficult as I have his daughter who looks uncannily like him,and need to keep some memories of our time together as they’re her history basically. Oh well…I’ll see what I can do.
      Thanks for the tips & enjoy your new-found calm!
      Lady E

  4. As a result you cross-referencing this post elsewhere, I just read this again and decided to try the quiz. Interesting.

    I wonder though. “Secure” and “Avoidant” seem to be independent styles. However “Anxious” seems to be derivative at least some of the time. As in, if your partner does things that worry you, you might score as “Anxious”. As in, if you have a history of poor choices, you might score as “Anxious” walking into a new relationship even as you want to be “Secure”.

    There are two types of people: People that use quizzes like this to determine their Type. And people that think that Types are more continuous than categorical. 🙂

  5. Pingback: The Lady E guide to advice on heartbreak « Laughing cow in France

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