Stuck in letting go and worries

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    Hi Anita,

    Hope you are doing well. I highly appreciate the time and effort you make for writing back to me.

    This makes me think more about myself yesterday, and in fact, I wrote a long journal reflecting my anxiety in these past weeks. On how would I approach a highly distressing situation in a better way, rather than acting impulsively.

    Also, Anita, I have a question, ‘For the anxiously attached, it takes personal healing within and without a relationship, so to be at peace.’ – what does personal healing within and without a relationship mean and look like?

    On a side note, I think I’m generally feeling better with the breakup. Although the longing for him to come back is still actually there, I’m not anxious anymore. I suppose this breakup is a lesson for me from the universe and if he is meant to be, it will be.

    Thank you.



    Hi TeaK,

    I used to have low self-confidence that I could not do anything without my parents, but ever since I started university in another country, I believe in myself more as I am more conscious about my study habit, expenditure, and living overall.

    Alright, I’m going to discuss this with my therapist in the upcoming session.

    Thank you and hope you have a good day.


    Dear Felis:

    You are welcome, I am fine and thank you for your appreciation and kindness. I am glad to read that you are feeling better regarding the breakup.

    You asked me regarding my statement that for the anxiously attached person, it takes personal healing within and without a relationship: “what does personal healing within and without a relationship mean and look like?”

    I am able to answer your question because I went though years of such healing within and without a relationship and I made significant progress. I will first attend to what you shared recently about your earlier life: “I think I knew where my abandonment issue coming from, this is due to the trauma left behind when my parents were busy working and providing necessities since we were not rich, I felt emotionally neglected. Also, when I was still in primary school, my mom would make a mock exam a day before the real test and I had to get a high score from her. There were a number of times when I could not answer my mom’s tests and she would throw a fit, e.g. yelling, throwing the book to my face. She would apologize after this by giving treatment or cooking some warm meals”-

    – (1) this is where I do not see your trauma: in that your parents were not rich, (2) this is also where I do not see your trauma: that your parents were busy working to provide you with necessities- this is definitely a disadvantage except for one context: when your mother was away working, you were safe from the possibility of her throwing a fit at you, yelling, throwing a book to your face, etc.

    (3) This is where I see your trauma: in those anger fits she threw at you. I personally know this trauma because my mother threw fits at me too, yelling etc. And from personal experience, I know that the “treatment or cooking some warm meals” afterwards, although very tasty,  did not undo the fear that took hold in me as a result of her fits of anger/ aggression.

    Humans, like other mammals, are greatly affected by fear, way more than by food or anything else- this is why the moment a deer senses danger, it will stop whatever it was doing beforehand, including eating, and all its attention is placed on the possible danger. We are born to react first to danger because safety/ survival is every animal’s top priority.

    When someone expresses anger at us, we perceive danger because an angry person (like an angry dog/ other animal) is motivated to harm the object of his/her anger.

    Living in a wooded area I see young deer (fawns) following their mothers (does). I have never seen a doe turning around and attacking her fawn, biting it, or kicking it with her legs. It does not happen in nature. But it sure happens in human society: mothers turning against their children aggressively. Imagine the fawn, having been fed and protected by her mother day in and day out and during the night, trusting her mother to be nothing but what she has been all along- being attacked by her mother: what a surprise, what a shock.. what a trauma.

    The fawn no longer trusts her mother, especially when she turns aggressively against her fawn a second time, and a third: the fawn is still drawn to her mother for the food and protection she still needs, but she is also afraid of the doe. The fawn used to be secure in her relationship with her mother, but after the trauma- she is anxious and ambivalent, often feeling distressed, afraid of the next time that her mother will turn aggressively against her, wanting to harm her.

    And now, to your question about healing: because you are human/ a social animal, and because your early-life trauma happened in the context of a relationship (the one with your mother), your healing has to happen in the same context: a relationship. Often it happens in the context of a relationship with a quality, honest, empathetic and trustworthy psychotherapist. As you work hard and long with your psychotherapist, over time, you evaluate existing relationships in your life and make the changes needed in those.

    For healing to be promoted in the context of a romantic relationship, it requires that you get involved with a decent man who cares about your well-being as well as his own, a man who communicates well enough, one who is honest and respectful of you as you are of him. It has to be a man who is willing to work with you as a team for the good of the relationship. It needs to be a win-win relationship: he wins, you win, no one loses.

    It is impossible to adequately heal before entering a romantic relationship: some of the healing has to be done in the context of a romantic relationship because of the challenges that occur only in this context. Starting the relationship with a few visits to the same psychotherapist you’ve been seeing before, or another, as couple therapy- can help a whole lot.

    Healing feels/ looks like .. significantly less distress than before, living less in your head (in the there and then), and more in the here-and-now. It feels to me like being like other people, not the separate, alien entity I used to feel that I was.

    There is more, of course, and if you want to, we can communicate further on the topic.


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