Until I started therapy recently, I had no idea that this was even a thing. I explained my situation and various bits and bobs and my therapist told me she thinks I could be suffering from attachment anxiety. I’m like ‘what?’ Often you hear people talking about attachment and becoming easily attached to people and I think it’s become something that’s seen as quite ‘normal’. We get attached to people, they leave us and it breaks our hearts. But for me, attachment anxiety is something altogether different.
Let me explain. For me, attachment anxiety isn’t about thinking that people are going to leave me, forget about me, reject me – although in my personal circumstances, this would make more sense – it’s more about people’s wellbeing. Have you ever thought to yourself that you really, really don’t know what you’d do without somebody? If so, times that by ten and add it to your subconscious as a permanent fixture.
Generally, when I’m suffering badly from anxiety, I find that the physical symptoms are most prominent. When it comes to the attachment side of things, it’s the thoughts. Endless, negative, panicked thoughts. For me, it’s particularly apparent with one particular person. Since my boyfriend started working in London I’ve found myself going to bed at night, him snoring next to me, and thinking, what if something awful happens? What if he doesn’t come home tomorrow? Does he know that I love him? When he leaves in the morning at silly o’clock I’m fast asleep, but often the sound of him pottering about wakes me up – though not fully. In my half-asleep-half-awake state, it is absolutely vital that I tell him I love him before he leaves and I fall back to sleep until my alarm. This is the first thing that I think of.
When people get ill I enter a brief state of panic. What is it? I must know what it is. I must research it. I must know that they’re going to be alright. When people get really drunk, I’m secretly full of worry. As, generally, the symptoms of this – for me – aren’t physical, it’s quite easy to hide. I think my family and boyfriend will read this and not have a clue that this goes on for me. Maybe they shouldn’t find out like this but hey, I’ve always expressed things better in writing.
I’m not doubting for a second that in general life, people get easily attached to others and hearts get broken. I do genuinely believe that that’s true. But attachment anxiety is different. It’s panic. It’s being overly-sensible. It’s expecting others to be overly-sensible. It’s heartbreaking. It’s a complete and utter lack of control. To worry about yourself is one thing, but to rely on the heart of another to continue beating, well that’s something altogether different.