Before 2020 I was pretty secure in who I was, I think. Maybe a little avoidant here and there, but who isn’t?
There’s this attachment theory in the field of psychology that proposes that people handle adult relationships by how well attached they were as kids to their primary caregivers. In essence, it asks, did your primary caregiver fuck you up or not?
Mary Ainsworth, a developmental psychologist says, if you were not fucked up as a child and you had a steady kind of upbringing with steady love that wasn’t conditional or flaky, you grow up to be a secure adult. An independent, confident adult, comfortable with intimacy, who ends up in a perfect secure relationship. (One can only hope.)
But if you were fucked up, one way or the other, either by promises not met, or parents that weren’t present (the list is endless), you end up developing an ‘avoidant’ or an ‘anxious’ attachment style. I don’t have to spell it out, that these two are not good. The avoidants avoid intimacy, they are the kind of people who just can’t handle adult relationships, people who turn on their heels at the faintest echo of commitment. And there’s the anxious folks, the ones who want assurances, the clingy ones, the ones that want to move in after 3 dates – I hate them, the millennial dating folklore hates them, we all hate them (although I’m beginning to think they get a bad reputation)
I’m writing this because, in 2020, I find myself in need of assurances – clingy – I’ve become something I despise. I find myself asking for love where there’s none. But like a proper student of psychology, I’ve been psychoanalysing myself, asking, what is it about 2020 that makes me wanna hurdle in a corner and cry, and fling myself at my lover and ask to be loved completely or not at all?
Is it this unprecedented lockdown manifesting these unprecedented symptoms? Is it the many months of imposed solitude that has diffused into this wretched loneliness? What about 2020 has revealed this fatal flaw? What is this mirror of a 2020 that has forced me to look, really look and see this person that I do not recognise?
Has she been there this whole time? this anxiously-attached girl, and according to Mary Ainsworth, obviously fucked up. I find myself asking, will 2021 bring a new normal or perhaps an old familiar one. Or has 2020 revealed the true me – this broken soul, with a broken attachment style, asking to be loved.
But today I’m without a lover and I’m not begging to be loved. Instead, I’m looking outside my window, watching the trees shed their leaves. It’s autumn and 2020 will soon run out. I’m eager for 2020 to go, but not these beautiful leaves. These yellow-orange leaves, shimmering and fighting against the wind, holding on for as long as they can.
I’m wondering why they have to fall. It seems so cruel for such beautiful things to fall and leave the trees vulnerable.
A quick google search tells me that the trees shed their leaves to survive the harshness of winter. By making themselves vulnerable, they save themselves. They shed their leaves knowing, this too will pass, and next year they can grow greener, steadier, and more secure leaves. (One can only hope.)