Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things. Arthur Schopenhauer
I figured that it’d be appropriate to start off my blog with a post about attachment since that has been on my mind for the past few months. Attachment is something that I have struggled with in the past and am to this day, at 34 years of age, still trying to figure out how to cope with it. Frankly, this post is mainly for me to consolidate and reflect on my thoughts but hopefully it’s helpful to you too.
Is it a problem?
Is attachment really a problem? It certainly seems to have its usefulness. Imagine a new born baby, unattached to their mother. Off they’d go, exploring the world on their own. They’d probably die in an instant. Eaten by a tiger, flattened by falling, or dead from hunger. In this case, attachment is necessary for safety and growth. Both the mother and baby are attached to each other.
But attachment is also certainly useless. It becomes problematic when it’s like the attachment I have. The type where I can’t let go of something even when it provides no more safety, growth, or positivity.
I’ve been really attached to a girl recently. I’m not sure whether it’s just to the thought of a wonderful future together or to the girl itself. It probably doesn’t matter. What does matter is that recently it became extremely clear that it wouldn’t work out between us. The fantasy of how well I wanted to treat her and all the fun times we could have together would never ever come true. Even now, I’m still in denial and am constantly telling myself that the timing just isn’t right and maybe there’s a possibility in the future. But I know I’m just setting myself up for failure. I can’t deal with loss very well.
Sadly, all I keep doing is replaying thoughts in my head. My brain micromanages every single interaction that led up to that loss — tweaking each parameter and envisioning a different virtual outcome. I think about what I could have done, and said. What I could have worn, how I could have talked, sat, and walked. What I can still do and say. I spend all my cycles on hyper-analyzing the past and future. So much so that in the present, I’m just an empty shell. All I want to do is panic, scream, hit things, and cry. But I know that’s not going to solve any issues. I’m also mad at myself for getting so attached. Surely there must be a way out?
What do I do?
The answer is obvious – just don’t be attached! But it’s hard to get there. Maybe if we started from the very beginning, we’d get some insight. The first question to be asked then is what causes attachment?
A friend told me that when you get attached to something, it’s a sign that you put in a lot of effort and that you cared. Some people get attached to their new jobs, their new cars, their new partners. Then when they lose it, their whole world feels like it’s crumbling. I understand that completely. These things represent all of the hard work and progress they put in. To have the physical embodiment of that disappear or get damaged is both heartbreaking and heartwrenching.
Given that, it seems logical to try to disassociate my self worth with the thing that I’m attached to. In this particular incident, I left with the overwhelming feeling that I will be forever alone and that I’m not a good person. I needed the girl to tell me that she wanted to be with me and that I am a good person and not a loser. And yet, when I think deeply about it, I don’t have a good reason why. There are family, friends, and strangers who care and love me just as I am. I don’t need this validation from her.
As simple as that sounds, I know it’ll take some time for my emotional self to catch up with my logical self. It’ll be a long healing process and I need to remind myself of the following:
- there are times when attachment is okay. This type of healthy attachment will provide you the environment you need to grow and develop as a human.
- feeling attached is normal. It probably means that you cared deeply for something or someone.
- losing that something or someone isn’t a reflection of who you are or who you’ll be. Find examples to the contrary.
- attachment is unhealthy when it turns into rumination.
- detachment is a good learning experience.