Why We End Things Before They Even Begin

During a camping trip with my best friends, I got completely stoned. We were in the middle of nowhere in picturesque Lake Tahoe, where only large, tall trees, creeks, and mountains were in sight. That night, we were talking about the upcoming last episode of the season of Game of Thrones. I made the proclamation that I did not want either Jamie f*cking Lannister or Jon Snow to die by any means. We then proceeded, inevitably of course, to a serious deliberation as to who we thought would die in the last episode (boy, were we all wrong lol).

It was all fun and games until one of my best friends played her Spotify playlist. As I was reeling in from the joy of being high, a song that was playing in the background struck a nerve with me. “…if this is love, I don’t want it.”

I couldn’t believe how good the beat was and at the same time, how much that line resonated with me that I pled to her hilariously, “I am too high right now, please find that song for me!” In that moment, while that song was playing, it made me jump back, like an instant time machine in my head, to flashbacks of all the people I’ve loved and cared about. This line from the movie, Before Sunset, perfectly describes it:

“I mean, I always feel like a freak, because I’m never able to move on like… this! You know. People just have an affair or even entire relationships… they break up and they forget! They move on like they would have changed brands of cereals! I feel I was never able to forget anyone I’ve been with. Because each person has… their own, specific qualities. You can never replace anyone. What is lost is lost. Each relationship, when it ends, really damages me. I never fully recover. That’s why I’m very careful with getting involved, because… It hurts too much! Even getting laid! I actually don’t do that… I will miss on the other person the most mundane things. I see in them little details, so specific to each of them, that move me, and that I miss, and.. will always miss. You can never replace anyone because everyone is made of such beautiful specific details.”

I, too, don’t forget. I can jump back to selected moments with someone as if I was in that exact moment in time with them. The conversation we were having, the city we were in, the way they held my hand, their scent, or maybe how they kissed me for the first time, and then I briefly miss them. And then I am reminded how every moment with people from my past were abrupt, fleeting moments because I had a tendency to end them. It then made me wonder, why did I always feel the need to end things before they even began? The answer I’ve been seeking to find finally revealed itself to me through an introductory class to marriage and family therapy.

I recently discovered the attachment theory, and it finally gave me somewhat of an answer. The simple truth, not just for me, but for everyone is universal: history repeats itself. There is a link to why we withdraw from potential love interests or partners to how we were reared as children. The way we were cared for by our parents makes a crazy, significant impact on how our relationships play out in our adult lives. In turn, we pass on our attachment styles to our children. If your parents were lacking in providing you emotional support growing up or were just plain absent, your tendency later on in your adult life would be to either demand affection, or to become ambivalent and withdraw because it’s as if you don’t know where you stand. You become withdrawn, ironically, in the hopes of actually becoming closer to them. To quote the textbook, “they become detached, to limit the possibility of being hurt even further from one’s departure.” Vulnerability is much too strong of a feeling to bear for the individuals who have the ambivalent attachment pattern, so they push back, in the hopes that you would pull them back. The equation was as simple as that, and yet, I never quite understood it, until now.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to fall under the shadows of the “sins” of my parents. I want to be the trailblazer of my own life; no one else has the right to that at this point in my life. I do realize, in the end, the moral of the lesson is, you can transcend through whatever wiring or programming you have because you owe it to yourself to give a fair shot to whatever it is you are searching for and seeking to find.

So that one day, if you ever find yourself high up in the mountains with your friends (in every sense of the word), you won’t have to get struck by some heartbreaking line from a song. Instead, you would just be in the moment, laughing your ass off with your best friends, knowing you are damn well capable of transcending through the cards you were dealt with while realizing to yourself that there is absolutely nothing wrong with letting people stay, too.

Featured Image via brandonwoelfel

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