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Codependency Series: Unit One Attachment Styles

Updated: Nov 25, 2022


When talking about codependency it can at times be hard to understand. I take classes almost every week for the past 2.5 years learning about my codependent ways and how to reprogram and dismantle my trauma responses of codependent behavior, and even after 2.5 years I learn something new every single class. I have repeated this container I think about 10 times in total and it is new every time, the people change and the lessons at times can change but the foundation remains the same. The main difference is that I change every time. I open myself up to new revelations, old wounds, expectations, projections, shame, guilt, blame, etc. When doing the inner work/shadow work you are constantly transmuting your old beliefs/behaviors/patterns so you can break free from those cycles and can then reprogram yourself to choose different behaviors.

One of the main issues we tend to overlook when starting to heal our trauma is really learning how we are showing up. Just because you can recognize codependent traits like complaining, people pleasing, rescuing, saving, etc. doesn’t mean you know how you are operating. This took me a while of really going within but mostly having to deal with other people and catch myself on how I was responding and reacting to their behaviors and what they were saying. I realized that there was way more to this than I thought. I started to understand the root causes of where they stemmed from so I could heal the core wounding but I failed to understand the patterning and more importantly the programming. I realized later on that it was an attachment style that was causing me to act in certain ways. This attachment style was created out of trauma and thus would be my coping mechanism.

Attachment styles are directly created from the relationships with people that we have. There are certain traumas in life that don’t always involve other people but most codependent behavior is a byproduct learned as a trauma response between you and another person/people. These codependent and toxic relationships are thus what creates our attachment styles or in many cases highlights our attachment styles and gives us the clues needed to be able to heal ourselves and change our behaviors.

There are 4 main styles broken down as: Secure, Avoidant, Anxious and Disorganized then there are combinations of those except for secure.

Secure style is what we are all aiming for. Within this attachment style you feel fully secure in yourself and your relationships and do not have any issues expressing your needs, being alone, expressing your emotions, good self esteem and so on. The rest of the attachment styles show us where we were unable to get our needs met when we were young and how this created a trauma response as a result and directly impacted our relationships. This style helps you show up fully in your relationships allowing you to be able to trust yourself and others, being able to express emotions and needs easily and allow the other person/people to be fully expressed as well. Freedom for all parties, loving, nurturing, open, honest and positive.

I will only give a short intro on the various styles, please look up further information to learn more about what style you might be and the signs and understand how this can affect your relationships.

Avoidant attachment style, this one is very common and due to it being common many can at times appear to have traits of this style but can also morph or have other attachment styles. If we think about this we might act one way with certain types of relationships than with others. Maybe you act differently around family versus friends, romantic and business so at times you might morph into different styles of attachment.

In this style the main theme is the inability to form and create physical and emotional intimacy with others. The reasons behind the development of this style are due to your caregivers who were either absent, negligent, emotionally unavailable or very strict. Things that could have happened as a trauma in our childhood could have been being made fun of or dismissing your emotions making you feel unsafe to express them, left to fend for yourself, expected to be independent, rejected for your needs, never being able to take care of your own needs first and many more. I personally suffer from this attachment style but also have other styles too in my life that cause emotional unavailability in my relationships where I am emotionally unavailable and thus I attract emotionally unavailable people when I am trying to be vulnerable. Some traits that are common as a response to this style of attachment is hyper-vigilance, highly independent, alone a lot of the time, hard to trust others and so many more. The way this shows up in a relationship with people especially romantic is basically having a wall up, making it impossible for anyone to go deep with you, your relationships remain on the surface level, you may even avoid emotional intimacy all together and keep yourself in only physical relationships. The stereotypical commitment phob, or being very flighty, in and out of people’s lives never allowing anyone to get too close.

This style was mirrored back to me by the people I would pick who were non-committal, emotionally unavailable, not trustworthy, unable to go deep and when we would they would immediately withdraw, in and out behaviors, feeling insecure and so much more. When people hear this they tend to be like it is the other person's fault that they are exhibiting those traits and the answer is no, they are mirroring back to you the parts of yourself that need to be addressed. You keep encountering these people because there are parts of you that are non-committal, that are emotionally unavailable, that tends to avoid emotional intimacy by not being able to fully express yourself, perfectionism, people pleasing behaviors and so much more. When coming into contact with someone who is mirroring this back to you, ask yourself where I am being closed off, where I am not expressing myself fully, where do I feel insecure, where do I withdraw myself, what am I avoiding in my life. Once you start to unpack these areas of your life you realize it is less about the other person and all to do with you. Learning how you are showing up while interacting with others creates an opportunity to learn and grow.

Anxious Attachment style is the embodiment of feeling insecure in your relationships. Very unsure, uncomfortable, uneasy, fearful and so much more. People with this style tend to have a huge fear of rejection, a fear of abandonment, depending on another person/people for emotional validation and emotional regulation. People pleaser and all the traits of a codependent person. Your upbringing was confusing. You could have had parents that over coddled you and then the next minute were aloof and inattentive, or indifferent to you, may have made you feel responsible for the way that they are acting, very overwhelmed and unstable and so much more. This causes the child to feel that it is their responsibility for how others are feeling and thus turn to codependent behavior to regulate their own emotions based upon others'. This in turn can make you come off as overly clingy, highly sensitive to judgment/criticism, needing external validation constantly from others, jealousy, hard time with being alone, low self-esteem, feeling unworthy of love, fear of rejection, fear of abandonment, difficulty trusting others. The list goes on and on.

I personally also suffer from this style also and it manifested into my codependent behaviors. I can be alone no problem but that took a lot of work and in many cases I felt more alone in relationships but I kept them around because I was looking for constant approval and validation in my life. Being able to help others made me feel some sort of love even though these people would never do the same for me. I was constantly afraid of being abandoned and rejected by people that sometimes I wouldn’t even bother trying at all. Even if I knew someone liked me the idea of me having to put myself out there was overwhelming because being rejected just felt horrible. When I was in a relationship I could come off as controlling or clingy because I was looking for validation constantly I was trying to keep them around by controlling the narrative and hoping that I could fix the problems that we were having so they wouldn’t leave, if I changed or fixed myself then surely they will stay but as we know that isn’t healthy. I was so paranoid that people didn’t like me or were constantly criticizing my every movement at times it made it difficult to do anything because the fear of fucking up was so overwhelming. This then caused me many toxic behaviors of self-sabotage because of the pressure. When I couldn’t handle the bumps in the road or people’s strong reactions I would completely shut down. I would try and end the relationship, leave them before they could leave me or do everything possible to help them while abandoning myself all together. I had zero self worth, confidence and so much more that would be mirrored back to me highlighting this attachment style. I didn’t suffer from jealousy because I never learned this behavior growing up but I did suffer from extreme distrust of others and feeling completely unworthy of love that I was meant to be alone my whole life.

I am a mix between avoidant and anxious attachment style and it is at times a very turbulent ride to fully understand when I am in one versus the other or how to heal both of those styles to become more secure in myself and the relationships that I have. There’s no one way only your way but things that really helped me was learning how to become more self aware of my behavior patterns, taking the moment to pause and ask myself how am I feeling or is this really how I feel or is this a trauma response. Taking time away to be alone before reacting helps me a lot to process my feelings and not jump to conclusions. Realizing I can’t take things that other people do personally, I can only be in charge of myself and how I am showing up and knowing it is ok to disappoint people. It is ok to not be liked, it is ok to say no, it is ok to be rejected because that just means there is something better for you out there. Being alone is not a death sentence, it is an opportunity for you to fully meet yourself. Saying no to someone else is a yes for you.

Disorganized style is exactly as it sounds, inconsistent all over the place, unable to trust anyone including yourself. This shows up as inconsistent behaviors with others, hypocrisy, high anxiety, inability to regulate your emotions around others, hot and cold behavior. Symptoms of both anxious and avoidant styles are prevalent in this style. Deep fears of abandonment and rejection, trust issues and mental health issues are more obvious in this style. This can be due to abuse as a child that causes addictive behaviors, personality disorders, mood disorders and self harm.

This shows up in people who appear to be chasing love but at the same time are very fearful of love. They show up almost as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde being very gung ho to jump into love and then rejecting it as soon as it gets too close to them. They deem their partner to be unpredictable and thus become unpredictable themselves. They go back and forth with the need to find security and intimacy while also being completely fearful of it all together.

I don’t identify with this style but I have dated people who have this style where it can be very toxic, over stimulating, chaotic with great highs and really low lows. It is very common with people who suffer from extreme identity crisis of appearing to have it all on the surface going well for them only to find a turbulent underworld that consumes them with toxic and addictive behaviors such as drugs/alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping and many more to extreme mental health disorders, disassociation and schizophrenia are very common.

There are many overlapping elements with all of these styles but understanding how you are showing up in your relationships will help you get to the source of what is really going on with yourself. By understanding yourself better are you able to heal and attract better relationships into yourself or show up in them in a less destructive manner where you can take the time to grow, learn and evolve. This is a very intro piece about understanding attachment styles but allows you to begin going within to see where you might be displaying these styles and how to find security within yourself, what areas can you heal and grow from to let go of toxic codependent behaviors where you can feel whole in your relationships and less affected by others.

Keep shifting your perspectives and finding the delights in everyday moments,


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