Blue ticks, no reply.
Panic ensued. Sickness. Tunnel vision. Can't focus on anything.
WHY HASN'T HE REPLIED.
Maybe he lost his phone. Maybe he's in a meeting. Maybe he's got mugged. Maybe I should call all the hospitals to check he hasn't collapsed somewhere and been taken to hospital.
I spent a very long time in my dating life with a very clear case of anxious attachment. I still remember the relief that flooded through me when I found out about attachment styles - an answer, I'm not alone, 40%, possible to heal it.... I'm. Not. Crazy. But then the deeper I went into attachment styles, the more deeply I witnessed myself, the more I started to recognise that in actual fact, I wasn't just anxious.... I was also avoidant.
Not only did I get anxious when there were blue ticks and no reply, but I also felt incredibly suffocated at the idea of someone being in my space all of the time. The idea of actually sharing my life with someone felt... well... terrifying. I assumed that this avoidance came from the same space as the anxiety - some kind of nifty coping mechanism helping me to protect a part of myself which was deeply afraid of being left. (this is the crux of attachment stuff... coping mechanisms we have developed through childhood to avoid the pain of being left - either clinging for dear life so that they cannot physically leave, or not allowing anyone close enough to hurt you if they did leave).
I assumed that the more I worked with my inner child, the more I did the healing around abandonment stuff, the easier it would be for me to move into relationship without the seesawing between clinging on for dear life and pushing the guy so far away that they could only just make out my silhouette in the distance as I ran for freedom.
And yet.... it didn't work.
I did the work to heal the inner child, I did the nervous system work, I did the deep rewiring. I did it. I really did it. A lot. And yet... the avoidance remained.
Almost to a point of repulsion.
So I dug deeper. I dug deeper into the avoidance to understand WHY I was in fact terrified of relationship seeing as it clearly wasn't only linked to attachment styles.
What I found took me deep into the wounds of the collective feminine. The wounds we carry as a population of women trying to make our way through life.
The wound of self abandonment.
It turned out, that the real crux of the issue - and the real reason for the avoidance, didn't lie in a fear of me being left, but in me leaving myself.
It lay in the visceral fear that so many of us hold as women, the deep fear that we will, in fact, be absorbed so deeply into relationship that every single one of our hopes, dreams, wishes and desires will go up in smoke whilst we focus our energy of raising children, dishes, cooking, school runs and supporting our partner in his dreams whilst ours wither and die in the corner along with our failed attempts at keeping a house plant alive.
It was much less about being left by a man, and much more about my tendency to abandon myself and my own needs in order to shape shift into the form of what I assumed would be accepted by a partner.
Sure, it most likely comes from patterns laid down in childhood, but let's be honest, I think it goes deeper.
It goes way back to the years of bridgeton style balls where women desperately moulded themselves into the perfect shapes for the perfect suitor.
Back to the days where in order to survive, a women needed a husband.
Back to the days where we had a lot fewer rights than we do now.
And so, it seems to me that the increasing number of single women in their 30s isn't only a representation of attachment stuff playing out, but a reaction to a visceral fear that we, like our ancestors, will be swallowed up by relationship and that the dreams we were taught to dream will turn to dust.
I sat with this for a while, I breathed with it, I worked with it.
Consumed, in part, by a fear of a whole new angle to why I struggled to move into relationship.. and then, something moved in me.
As I moved directly into the depth of the avoidance, right into the lump in my throat, the repulsion in my belly, the anger bubbling up through my chest...something broke down.
The avoidance crumbled around me and a peace fell over me.
A peace which was accompanied by a deep sense of freedom, but not solo freedom, freedom in partnership.
A depth of freedom which I actually couldn't tap into in solo existence.
A freedom anchored by a depth of masculine holding that gave permission for the feminine wildness within me to express through me.
It dawned on me in that moment... that perhaps the deepest freedom of all can actually come from a place of partnership and not from a space of aloneness.
That in learning to not self abandon, to not forget every single one of my desires and wants and needs as soon as a man replies to a WhatsApp, that I could, in fact, deepen into a space of freedom which would be impossible to access alone.
A space of freedom anchored by a container of masculine safety.
So maybe our work, as women, is less around our fear of being abandoned by another and more around our fear of abandoning ourselves.
P.S. If you resonate with this and have found yourself in a similar space of self abandonment in relationships... or just generally in life and are really ready to let go of that pattern so that you can stop having to pretzel yourself into shapes for other people, come and say hello... I'd love to explore how I could support you
Everything felt infused with irritation. I was doing all the things for everyone else that I thought I should be doing. I was doing all the acts of service. I was, technically, loving those people. And yet. It felt like every act I did, rather than being infused with love, was infused with a shards of glass shooting out of every plate I stacked.
It was a Thursday back in February 2018. The rain hadn’t stopped for months and London was right in the depths of what felt like the longest winter we’d ever had. The dark, damp days had started to getting to me so I’d taken refuge in a hot yoga class to warm up. The scent of palo santo blended with the sweat of 50 people pervaded the room. It was bonus day at work. They’d told us it had been a bad year and not to expect much. I peaked into the envelope, hopeful, as soon as they slid it across the table: £130k. But there I lay, in savasana, with hot, salty tears streaming down my face: I’d never felt emptier.
I always thought it was down to my mildly intense anxious attachment stuff playing out... that and just low key hating dating apps. But then as I started to date a little bit more than I usually do... I was faced with some of the real reasons I'd been avoiding it for so long... and here they are..
It’s been 2.5 years since I hop, skipped and jumped out of the trading floor and into self employed life. In all honesty, I never thought I’d have the courage to do it - I used to wake up in the middle of the night at times in a cold sweat, equally panicked about the prospect of leaving as I was about the prospect of never fully claiming my life.