Ambivalent attachment is what our brains do when the person we were closest to as a tiny infant was lost in their own anxiety instead of being able to see us and respond to us from a sense of groundedness and peace.
Would you say that any of these statements are true for you?
- I am always wanting something, and I rarely feel satisfied.
- I lose myself in relationships.
- I’m always worried about the people I love.
- I worry more about what someone else is going to do than I worry about myself.
- It is difficult for me to say no.
- It’s hard for me to be alone. It increases my desperation and despair.
- I often force myself to reach out for connection, even pushing past my own comfort zone.
- People let me down and then I feel angry or sad.
- I doubt that anyone could ever be enough for me.
- I am afraid of rejection, failure and loss.
- I doubt my own worth.
- My negative thoughts run over and over in my head.
- I have trouble making decisions.
- I feel hopeless about reaching my goals.
- It seems like if I reach for one thing, it will compromise something else I want.
- Trying to reach my goals is dangerous and way too hard.
These statements are part of the story of ambivalent attachment.
One of the most heartening discoveries of modern science is the understanding that we can heal our insecure attachment patterns. We are not stuck in the original brain architecture that we might have inherited from our well-meaning but perhaps wounded parents. Our deep predictions of whether or not we matter in this world, and whether or not others can be depended upon, can change.
We do matter.
We can be satisfied.
We can be grounded and present.
We can let ourselves be loved by humans.
This last point is an invitation I have made to myself to let go of the idea that other people are supposed to hit perfect marks for knowing me, for showing up, or for being attentive. It contains the radical wonderings:
“What if people love me even if their behavior isn’t everything I might long for?” and
“What if I can feel their love even when I feel disappointed?”
As I have begun to ask myself these questions, I have become more wiling to let myself be accompanied on this trip through life – more willing to let myself feel loved.