In the spirit of calling out my own bullshit, here’s a silly trigger I’ve noticed in myself that I’m attempting to reprogram:
I noticed I feel an abandonment trigger when a partner or love interest experiences happiness or success that has nothing to do with me. Of course I want my partners to be happy, but for years what I really meant by that was that I wanted to be the one making them happy! If they could source their happiness outside me, then what the hell would they need me for? I felt like they were moving past me, like I was stuck in a Jewel song, standing still with the scenery flying by.
In my defense, I attracted a lot of avoidant partners in the past, people who would use any excuse to abandon me, happiness included. Let’s face it, when people are embroiled in toxic notions of how their worth is measured, they will absolutely use their happiness and success to signal how much they don’t need you in order to gain the imaginary upper hand in relationship. When my ex signed on to do a sequel to his film, it sucked reading about it online before he told me. So… I see where I was going with this.
Also in my defense, I would never in a million years consider sabotaging a partner’s happiness, both because that is a shitty thing to do that would make me feel bad and because I’m too smart to risk anchoring myself to an experience of disappointment. If anything, I would try to compete with their outside happiness by making them even happier – but while trying to make a partner happy is great, competing with the rest of their lives is not.
Meanwhile, if I experienced any success or happiness on my own, I would unconsciously use it to raise my own value so that my partner would desire me more, or, more benevolently, at least be proud of me. Success in myself seemed so fundamentally less harmful than success in my partner, further reinforcing the unconscious dynamic of competition, even if I hoped my success and happiness would result in bringing them closer to me.
In theory, I understand that happier people with fulfilling lives make for better partners, which makes for better relationships. But unconsciously, I still feel that abandonment anxiety flare up in me when I sense that someone I want in my life is thriving without me. And sure, ultimately I want to manifest a relationship where I get to be the first person a partner shares their news of success with so that I feel included, and ultimately I also want a partner to be proud of my own successes in a way that makes me feel loved and appreciated.
But I’d like to deprogram this dumbass trigger that makes me feel like I’m going to be abandoned anytime someone does something cool that doesn’t involve me, because it’s stupid and dumb and totally counterproductive to establishing any kind of healthy relationship, and because it makes me feel bad in a way that’s totally unnecessary and counterproductive to my own happiness, and I’m tired of logicking my brain into feeling okay whenever it flares up. And perhaps most importantly because that fear of abandonment wasn’t at all about my partners’ successes – it was about my choosing shitty partners who abandoned me.