• jess

Embarrassment time: My terrible romantic relationships and insecure attachments

My trauma mind has a tendency to focus intensely on one thing at a time. I'm an obsessive person by nature. I get pulled into mental traps quite often. Gotta stay vigilant or pay the price, right?


Besides, I tell myself obsession can be good or bad.


In the context of appearing functional and achievement, obsession has taken me a long way. I can hammer out an assignment in no time flat. I can study for tests for weekends at a time. I can sit down and write for hours without realizing that time has passed. I can get through days of work in one sitting if the conditions allow.


In short, my anxiety is great for enabling "high achiever" syndrome.


The problem arises when my thoughts are directed at the wrong destination, too many “emergencies,” or I have a generalized focus on how shitty my life is. When I can't shake the thought, that’s when complications emerge. Moving forward in any direction becomes difficult.


And the biggest problem I have is redirecting my attention from personal relationships.


Over and over again, I fall into the same trap. Trauma history on repeat, I'm a sucker for a life-halting romantic relationship thanks to my insecure attachment.


Anyone else?





For me, relationships mean constant wheel-turning


My thinking often gets completely consumed by one majorly disturbing issue… I don’t think this is unrelated to trauma and anxiety. I think I'm trained to be too aware of the "risks" to my safety. Cutting power to the closed circuit loop isn't easy.


I say this because my head doesn’t necessarily choose the most logical or pressing issue to obsess over. There is a hierarchy in my brain that isn't based in practical reality. If I have a massive work project or life decision to make, my thoughts aren’t always tied up 100% in resolving those issues. Instead, my brain can get trapped in some personal problem or more minor annoyance that strikes a familiar, fearsome, chord.


Usually, this magnetic obsession is going to be my closest relationships.


Relationships and perceived social problems majorly muck up my thinking. I crave connection so deeply that it tends to push me off-balance when things feel out of order. And I have a hell of a time trying to calm down when there's ambiguity.


Relationships and perceived social problems majorly muck up my thinking. I crave connection so deeply that it tends to push me off-balance when things feel out of order. And I have a hell of a time trying to calm down when there's ambiguity.

The emotional nature of my insecure attachment style takes precedence over my logical and intellectual priorities. I’m struck with familiar fears of abandonment and failure.


Once this thinking starts, I can’t push the panicky feelings out of my body or bring myself back towards other tasks.


I find myself spiraling. Everything else in my world disappears.





Ambiguity: Gray connections with a black and white brain


I have awful black and white thinking when it comes to social matters.


I either want to be totally alone, with no expectation of human connection whatsoever, or I want to be deeply supported, desired, and cared for. Either way, I don’t want to worry about other people... because I easily over-worry about other people.


Leave me alone or be there, without fail. Those are the only options. In my traumatized brain, there’s no other way to operate. My relationships need to be cut and dry; it’s too unstable and mentally disturbing for me to consider half-measures.


There is no room for ambiguity in my personal world.

This is why romantic relationships are so, so dangerous for me. New partnerships (romantic or otherwise) are untested. Communication patterns haven’t been established. Boundaries haven’t been laid out. Loyalty is unknown. The future is unplanned. Assumptions of abandonment are extremely high.


This is why romantic relationships are so, so dangerous for me. New partnerships (romantic or otherwise) are untested. Communication patterns haven’t been established. Boundaries haven’t been laid out. Loyalty is unknown. The future is unplanned. Assumptions of abandonment are extremely high.

This ambiguity is no good for trauma. Always waiting for the other shoe, as they say, rapidly breaks my head. I have no idea what to do with this new, unfamiliar dynamic, and I can't stop thinking about it in a bad way.


Other people herald the “exciting early stages” of relationships. Personally, NAH. I don’t enjoy the early tensions of wondering if you’ll receive a text back, if you’re hanging out this weekend, if you accidentally said the wrong thing.


This period of shifting understanding truly freaks me out. It makes my brain run in circles. It makes me into an unfocused, needy, unhappy person. Exciting? I guess. In the way that waiting for a cancer biopsy is exciting.


Let’s say I’m dealing with something as simple as an unanswered text message with a partner. I can be calm… at first. I’ll keep a level head and reason through the logical possibilities. They’re busy, they fell asleep, they forgot to hit “send.”


Eventually though, I get compositely stuck in feelings of generalized annoyance, agitation, and worry. And then it's a rapid decline.


When I'm waiting for a reply, I beat myself up and spiral down the list of self-complaints. I catastrophize every last word. I blame myself for being something - being wrong, being weird looking, being socially inept. I quickly tell myself that I’m difficult, confusing, and overly emotional on repeat.


When I'm waiting for a reply, I beat myself up and spiral down the list of self-complaints. I catastrophize every last word. I blame myself for being something - being wrong, being weird looking, being socially inept. I quickly tell myself that I’m difficult, confusing, and overly emotional on repeat.

While I'm busy telling myself all the ways I'm doomed to be alone, I can’t stop checking my phone. I can’t shake the gnawing, tight, sickening feeling in my stomach that comes with disappointment, embarrassment, and loneliness. I have trouble focusing my attention on all the goals I have for the day. My brain is already hurriedly running through a shit-list of paranoias and nasty self-degrading insults.


Soon, in this mindspace, I’m overstimulated and filled with tension, like a rubber band ready to snap.


With relationship stress under the surface, I get worked up about anything that goes wrong in my life. I have no tolerance for other people. I’m agitated at the world. I try to cope with distractions. I eat snack foods for comfort. I overindulge in screen time. I lie awake at night.


Weird, why do I hate romantic relationships so much?





My pattern: Shine bright until love snuffs out my light


These days, I’m working really hard to keep these negative patterns at bay. I'm hopeful. Partially because I’m actually aware of this rise and fall pattern now.


Confession: I flourish until I get swept up into sick peoples' worlds and completely abandon my own.


Each time I fall into a relationship, I'm at a very busy and positive point in my life. I'm always making progress with my mental health. I'm being creative. I'm taking care of myself. I'm feeling positive. I'm looking great. I'm chasing my aspirations and moving forwards towards a better life.


And then… I get sucked under.


It's like men can sense when I'm succeeding. It must be the aura around me when I'm not completely destitute with depression and hopelessness - it brings them in like moths to a candle that they must destroy.


It's like men can sense when I'm succeeding. It must be the aura around me when I'm not completely destitute with depression and hopelessness - it brings them in like moths to a candle that they must destroy.

The problem is, my positive streak won't last as soon as we become involved. I'll be dragged down until my mental health goes haywire, I'll stop my mental health management practices, and I start acting like a different person under the pressure of the relationship.


It feels like I'm sought out as a beacon of hope, just so that my light can be snuffed out.


When I fall for someone, suddenly a new, powerful, connection emerges and I quickly orient away from my own goals. The attention, the stability, and the security of a potential new boo is so intoxicating that I throw everything else to the wind.


I feel like I find some hidden gem in the rough; everything else seems less important all of a sudden.


Within weeks or months, I'm so wrapped up in the dreamy quality of my new relationship that I change my life to be closer to theirs. That's when the shit starts. I'm definitely not skilled at pickin' em. I choose people who present continual challenges, their own mental health issues, and plenty of deeply buried secrets.


Within weeks or months, I'm so wrapped up in the dreamy quality of my new relationship that I change my life to be closer to theirs. That's when the shit starts. I'm definitely not skilled at pickin' em. I choose people who present continual challenges, their own mental health issues, and plenty of deeply buried secrets.

Suddenly, I'm "needed" for this, that, or the other thing. I'm playing a support role where I fear the ramifications of taking any time or space for myself. I'm the only thing keeping them afloat - but they aren't playing lifeguard when I start struggling.


When you're endlessly worrying, giving, and putting all your effort into supporting someone (practically or personally) and they're nowhere to be found when you have a hard time... it catches up fast.


It doesn't take long before I fall off my positive mental health trajectory. I feel crazy for my problems and responsible for keeping theirs at bay. It's all-consuming. It doubles down my insecure attachment and anxiety.


I give up on my hobbies. I stop pursuing my goals. I stop caring for myself.


I'm too busy trying to care for someone else.






Is it worth trying again?


Unclear. I know a lot of traumatized folks who swear by staying alone.


For years, I didn't understand the appeal. I always wanted to seek new connections, to give things another chance, and to find my partner in crime. What's the point in life if you don't open yourself up and keep trying?


Well... it's a nice thought, but...


These days, I feel like I just have too much other shit to worry about. I love my freedom. I enjoy working with complete focus. I thrive having a schedule that's determined entirely by my own wants and needs.


In the difficult past years of personal growth, acknowledgement of abuse, and sudden exit from bad relationships, I’ve learned some lessons that can’t be forgotten easily. Frankly, I’ve put in too much work into myself to be knocked off balance by some butthead again. And, further, I realize I don't need anyone else. No matter how hard they try to convince me I do.


In the difficult past years of personal growth, acknowledgement of abuse, and sudden exit from bad relationships, I’ve learned some lessons that can’t be forgotten easily. Frankly, I’ve put in too much work into myself to be knocked off balance by some butthead again. And, further, I realize I don't need anyone else. No matter how hard they try to convince me I do.

When it comes to the potential of a new person entering my life, a big part of me says, "the world can git fucked if it tries." Another part of me knows, I can't be too rigid if something promising shows up.


New connections are energizing and perspective-shifting... and surely, a great person has to be out there somewhere.


However, I know it's not what I'm looking for.





Settling up with my inner critic


Realizing the difference between my mental clarity in a relationship and out of one... of course I have some anger and self-hate. It's hard to forgive myself for all the times I sold myself short and followed someone else into the dark, assuming they had a map and flashlight.


I admit, the voice in between my ears is a dick about it.


It's easy to beat myself up for being a "dumb girl," but at the root of it, that isn't the problem. I don't seek out relationships. I don't need a man to be happy, at all. I've spent a lot of time being single. I'm not desperate just to be with someone. Just lose my heart to that 'special, misunderstood one.'


I have to be fair; I grew up with dangerous, insecure relationships all around me. I never knew what it was like to be unconditionally loved, or to reliably count on the people who "love me." I had a lot of people enter and exit my life without explanation. I've felt incredibly close to people, only to have them dip without even a conversation. And I've always craved the feeling of being purely understood and accepted, so I try to it to offer my love interests.


I have to be fair; I grew up with dangerous, insecure relationships all around me. I never knew what it was like to be unconditionally loved, or to reliably count on the people who "love me." I had a lot of people enter and exit my life without explanation. I've felt incredibly close to people, only to have them dip without even a conversation. And I've always craved the feeling of being purely understood and accepted, so I try to it to offer my love interests.

When I can integrate all this knowledge, I feel sympathy for the younger Jess who felt so alone and isolated all the time to the extent that personal connections became an addictive escapist substance.


I can eventually forgive myself for the times I emerged from total isolation and obsessively sought out relationships of all kinds… and often shipwrecked myself trying to escape my lonely island.


I can eventually forgive myself for the times I emerged from total isolation and obsessively sought out relationships of all kinds… and often shipwrecked myself trying to escape my lonely island.

Plus, it deserves to be stated again... I fall for messy humans with their own problems.


My trauma isn't the only mental health issue involved when I'm left to choose my own partner. I like wounded animals, what can I say? I don't know what normal people do all day; I don't understand just "being happy." When it comes to complicated boys, I feel like we get each other. We can bond over our shared struggles. We can talk about dark times.


That is... until theirs start fucking with my own mental health.


I try my best. I have a big heart. I get sucked into "helping" people. And my insecure attachment makes me feel like I need to be the backbone of their lives, but meanwhile, I lose my own.





Wrapping up relationships


Will I continue repeating this pattern? I sure motherfucking hope not.


With any luck, everyone with a penis will leave me alone for the foreseeable future, and I'll keep hammering away at my other efforts in the world. I'm in a good place right now, so it can be assumed that the tests are going to start rolling in.


Shining too bright. My dedication to living for myself will be tried.


Every time I think I "found one who's different" - I'm wrong. I admit it, I'm a terrible judge of character when it comes to boys who soften my heart with their problems.


Don't let me forget. Don't let me give up on everything for another sick puppy.


I have too much meaningful work to do.





Relate? Do you attract losers too? Do you give up your shit for the sake of someone else's? Let's rap! Share your experience (or just bitch about the idiots swarming your flame) @ traumatizedmotherfxckers@gmail.com



Traumatized Motherfxckers

Not doomed. Not damaged.

Not dead yet.

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