One of my favourite movies is Good Will Hunting, that along with The Blind Side and Freedom Writers. Each film, interestingly, shows mature teenagers that come from disordered families and continue to show disordered behaviour when shown love.
You can imagine my disbelief when at 21, I walked into a counsellor’s room and in one session was told that I had an attachment disorder. She gave me a book by Sue Gerhardt, Why Love Matters and sent me off to do my homework. Embarrassingly she could also tell I was a control freak who needed to understand what I didn’t know, so I could beat her at her own game.
I began having one-hour counselling appointments every week for six weeks. I learnt about the four types of attachment disorders and learnt (with great reluctance) how current behaviour correlates to childhood experiences. In doing so I learnt my narrative and how significant the insignificant is to a child’s mind. I always thought that because I was told I had a good childhood and that I was loved, as well as some idyllic stories about the past, that it must be true. However, the words spoken to us must equally be felt by the receiver — otherwise love is but a four-letter word.
The good news is, a person’s style of attachment can be reorganised. It can take hard work, the courage to discuss memories, to cry at the emerging feelings of anger, fear and abandonment … however, in doing so you can be freed from the thoughts that you are unlovable, that you were at fault and that you aren’t enough. The best way to do this is through counselling and making wise decisions about the people you choose to surround yourself with.
It is important to remember that emotional and physical attachments are built far quicker on social media than the time and level of trust it usually takes in reality. You allow people to ‘slide into the DMs’, when perhaps they shouldn’t have even made it past a first date. Remember that the level of intimacy you build online does not protect your heart and mind.
This article isn’t to be taken as an excuse to avoid building relationships with people; that isn’t my intention. Instead, take the time to learn to value relationships, learn to value yourself and become more conscious of the people you invite (passively or actively) into your social media ‘self’ or ‘virtual self’. Above all, educate yourself on why love matters so that even if you don’t currently have an attachment disorder, you are able to spot it and prevent it in others close to you.