I came across a video earlier and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. It was someone sharing something that they learned about themselves on their healing journey. It got me reflecting a lot about myself, and I realized that I could relate to that message.
If you consistently attract people into your life that are emotionally unavailable, you might want to stick around 😉
I think most of us that decide to enter therapy do so because of a specific person(s) or event that we feel has caused us a tremendous amount of pain. I know for me, it was because I kept getting hurt by men I cared about in a similar way. I would get really emotionally invested long before it made logical sense to do so. I poured my all into it waiting for them to see my value and meet me halfway, and I would get ghosted or abandoned every time. I recognized a pattern, and I knew that I needed to break it before I could have a healthy relationship.
The thing that nobody told me before I went into therapy was that in this process, you actually learn a lot about yourself, your thought and behaviour patterns, and where they originated. I honestly don’t know what I thought it was like before, but I didn’t expect it to be as self-reflective as it was. So you know that whole comedy skit often played out in movies about therapy being a joke because all they want to do is talk about your childhood….. yeah that’s not so funny, and it actually holds a lot of weight. Sometimes facing that can be difficult because it forces you to see parts of yourself, what many call the shadow parts, that you don’t really like. In fact, it can be downright painful to acknowledge and accept those parts of yourself.
Therapy helped me realized that I was raised by two emotionally unavailable and unhealed parents, and let’s face it… who hasn’t been these days? It is passed down generation to generation until someone realizes and decides to break the cycle. As I peeled back those layers in my own family history, I uncovered many things about myself and how I interact with others that was learned from the unhealed behaviour patterns of my parents. Some of the things that drove me insane in others were things that I realized that I did myself at times. I was more triggered by those things in others because it would shine light on the shameful shadow part of myself that I couldn’t face.
Now here’s the kicker. I’m warning you now that this might be uncomfortable.
Please don’t shoot the messenger!
When I went into therapy and started my healing journey, I knew I had a pattern of attracting emotionally unavailable men. What I didn’t know was WHY this was happening to me so much. All I knew was that it is extremely frustrating and painful to give so much of yourself to them, opening up to them, being vulnerable with them, sharing your feelings and emotions with them, and getting nothing back FROM them when it comes to those things or being ghosted without a word. With that in mind, it can be easy to blame them and paint them as the problem when you are doing all of those things without reciprocation or if they bail on you out of nowhere. Then therapy has you look inward.
What I have realized when it comes to my situation is that I, too, was emotionally unavailable. Those who are emotionally unavailable often find themselves attracted to one another. That was in part why I was continuously going through that pattern with emotionally unavailable men.
Let me explain.
I learned that emotional unavailability doesn’t always present as a lack of emotion. Instead, it can also present as pouring ourselves endlessly into those who are unwilling or incapable of pouring back into us – OR – avoiding or pushing away the people who might actually treat us well. With that frame of mind, it makes sense how two emotionally unavailable people on opposite sides of the spectrum would end up together. One refuses to open up emotionally or commit, while the other gives and gives while accommodating the lack of reciprocation.
What does this mean for you?
If you relate to that pattern that I was talking about, take a look at your own cycles. Do you give your all emotionally for extended periods of time without getting the reciprocation? Do you fall hard and fast before they’ve actually shown you anything on an emotional level? Do you push away people that you know could be really good for you? If so, you could be emotionally unavailable.
I know that isn’t an easy thing to face. The good news is, it’s not permanent. You CAN become emotionally available. However, it is going to take some work. You have to do some self-reflection and really dig into your patterns and behaviours. Trace them back to their origins. Stop avoiding or distracting yourself from feeling and give yourself permission to actually FEEL your feelings.
Awareness is power.
Understanding is power.
Once you become consciously aware of these patterns that you have that are resulting in self-sabotage, you begin to really understand them. Once you understand them, you can recognize the beginning of a repeated cycle and consciously choose not to repeat it. Finally, when you make that choice you are able to face the potential pain that could come with it because you’ve allowed yourself to feel fully.
THAT is when you know you are truly healing. To be clear, it doesn’t mean the choice will be easy. For example, when I started to heal I had to cut contact with the man I’d poured myself into for 9 months with no emotional reciprocation. It was extremely painful, but it also felt empowering to choose myself for a change. When he came back, I was thrilled to see some changed behaviour and decided to give it another shot. That only lasted for about a week or two. When I insisted that we connect on a deeper level, he became Casper the friendly ghost once again. Insisting on that need was extremely painful too because it meant I had to be ready to live with the outcome… even if that meant never hearing from him again. It was hard, but it was a choice I had to make to prevent myself from repeating the pattern.
It won’t always be easy to walk away, but at least with the new awareness and understanding that you will gain, you’ll have that choice. You’ll start recognizing it much sooner when you’re letting people give you bread crumbs when you’re giving the entire loaf. Then you can make a different choice and set those healthy boundaries. Unlike the advice I often see shared, my advice is not to just cut these people off if you really care about them. Instead, give them a choice and let them make it for themselves. Tell them what you need to continue, and let them decide if they are willing or able to meet that need.
We have to realize that we can’t force people to open up emotionally before they are ready, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue to suffer waiting for something that may never happen. I feel it is also important to share that this advice includes ourselves. This isn’t a linear process, and you may sometimes feel overwhelmed by a discovery that you make. You may even feel a need to take short breaks from time to time. TAKE THEM. Trust your intuition and allow yourself the time you need to work through one thing before continuing on your journey.
If you can relate to any of this, I would love to hear from you! Drop a comment or send me a note in the contact area.
With love and light,