Most relationships are characterized by certain pattern – you have the puller and the pusher. For some reason it is always easier to understand what is driving the pusher – the abandonment fear seems somehow relatable. However, I myself, have spent long time trying to deny the opposite drive in me – enmeshment fear.
A lot of negative assumptions are made about someone who pulls away, maybe because a lot literature is geared towards women and ‘traditionally’ it is males who pull away. However, I am slowly starting to get and not judge my wish to withdraw. As I am in the midst of understanding my own urge, I will also share my realizations here, in the hopes that maybe someone else can relate.
Something that has become more visible to me is that my life has always been about what other people want me to do and be. It started with me trying to anticipate all the needs of my mother as she went around telling me what a disappointment I still was. I grew up constantly being afraid of disappointing her and being abandoned or punished by her. So to me, being in a relationship, has always meant trying to somehow become what the other person wants me to be.
I have come to realization that naturally I also have tended to pick guys who are somewhat controlling. Interestingly my boyfriend has been in the habit of telling me how he is doing all the favors in the relationship and how I somehow owe him. I am starting to understand now, that in fact it has been mostly me who has tried to compromise and not make him angry. I have spent years trying to become what he wants me to be and blamed myself for feeling so strangled in the process. Naturally it is both on me and on him; I could have fought back, but because of my history the only thing I knew was to be obedient.
So my fear of enmeshment has to do with my desperate unconscious outcry for something of my own. For finally thinking of my own needs. It is quite funny though, because as I am going through the process, I am realizing that in the midst of all the accusations my boyfriend has thrown to me about how I am not fulfilling his needs and standards, I never asked what about my standards. What about if I am having fun and am content. Pushing aside your own needs and wishes becomes a lifestyle and the only thing reminding you that you are doing it is this inconvenient feeling you get when you think about spending your free time with a person who mostly prioritizes their own needs. If you are like me however, you try to control this feeling and tell to yourself – there is something wrong with me.