It’s just over a year since I ended my last relationship. It took me a few months of misery before the end to work out that I was abandoning myself for fear of being unconnected, alone. I was terrified of being alone, I didn’t think I could manage alone, I was scared I’d never be chosen again.
I forgot to choose myself! Then one day, I couldn’t take any more of the bullshit and I picked me! It hurt to start with but, I am so very grateful I did.
I wrote this in my journal not long after:
✨*Little Gifts To Me*✨
No one else is responsible
for your happiness,
That means showing up for yourself.
Being there for yourself
The way you wish someone else would be!
I was lucky enough to spend this past weekend with special girlfriends and I was reminded how we can feel just as lonely inside in a relationship as we do when physically alone. Partnership does not guarantee connection.
Connection is a huge part of being human. We all want to feel connected. It’s part of how we have survived as a species, creating communities and societies that offer support and protection. 2020 has been the year of alone, of separation, of staying home and social distancing. It hasn’t been easy on us.
Our nervous system is continually on alert, judging how safe we are in any given situation/moment to offer ourselves up for connection. Fight/flight/freeze reactions are there in the back ground ready to kick in to ensure our survival.
What I’ve learned is trauma, especially childhood trauma, makes us more susceptible to flipping into these survival responses. We often have a go to state (e.g. rage, silence, depression, irritation, running away in some way), which for me was freeze, I’d sleep and shut myself down, or drink, or eat. This came with feelings of hopelessness and depression.
When we are disconnected from ourselves, we become really good at ignoring the messages from our body, and tell ourselves we are overreacting and being emotional (or someone else tells us we are and we buy it). Making it easier than you’d think for the strongest of women (and men) to end up in an abusive relationship. In our attempts to connect to others we abandon ourselves. Sometimes over and over.
Whether you are in a relationship or not, if you want to experience real connection, it’s really important that you start by reconnecting with yourself. Existentialists teach us that coming to terms with being alone in this life is crucial to our well-being. Only then can we stop searching outside of ourselves for a solution.
You can work on your connection to self a number of ways but one method I’ve used is Trauma Release Exercises (TRE). I also love to dance, do yoga, swim in the ocean and I meditate daily.
Take the time to be the person you wish for in a partner or friend. We are so used to putting ourselves down, it takes practice. But it’s worth the effort.
If you fear you may be in any kind of abusive relationship, because not all situations involve violence, please reach out for support, from me, another counsellor/therapist or friend.