7.3 Editor's Pick
March 10, 2022

We Deserve more than a Drunken Text: how our Fear of Abandonment makes us Seek Temporary Highs.

Ping.

I picked up my phone and my heart skipped a little.

I’d just woken up, settled down with my fresh morning coffee, and turned my phone on, ready to interact with the world. And there it was.

“Hey, you…”

Sent at 1:53 a.m.

This was not an ex-boyfriend by any means. He’d been to a few of my band’s gigs and we’d caught each other’s eye, chatted, exchanged numbers but never got round to physically dating.

It became a text relationship; we’d engage in late-night naughty texts and the occasional intimate phone call. It continued for a few years—even after he’d met his partner, during which he would pretty much treat me like some kind of ‘horny chat’ phone line whenever he felt like it.

Such was my low sense of self-worth back then that I allowed this to go on for quite some time before it naturally fizzled out.

The last time I’d heard from him was exactly two years ago when he texted me out of the blue, wanting to know what I was up to and whether I was still single.

And now, here he was again.

I obviously knew what this was. The classic “I’m bored, drunk, and away from home, checking that you’re still available to me” text. A weak attempt at starting a conversation without actually starting one, so the other person has to make the effort to keep it going. I rolled my eyes. Such a cliché.

And yet…

I felt a familiar flutter of excitement—substantially more diminished than it would have been a few years ago, but it was undeniably there. My heart quickened and my stomach flipped a little as I picked up my phone again ready to start typing.

Immediately, my logical mind kicked in, reminding me that I was genuinely not interested in this guy, that I barely knew him, and that he hadn’t even been on my radar for the past two years. Plus the fact that I’m actually in a happy relationship. But I couldn’t help noticing that for a split second, I’d almost considered replying to him.

Why?

I sat with myself and observed my physical reaction.

The symptoms of anxiety that I had felt for that moment had happened without me realising it. I’d picked up my phone again instinctively, worried that this person might lose interest. I dug deep, and tried to analyse what exactly had gone on here.

I realised that the little voice in my head had been giving me a signal, a warning. It had said, “Hey! Someone paid you some attention. Therefore that person must care about you, want you, feel something for you, love you. Respond quickly! Otherwise, it’ll be taken away from you”

I had often experienced this anxiety as a child. It was my survival mechanism.

 

Hearted by

 

My father had never been emotionally present, even more so after he’d walked out on us. I’d go for weeks without hearing from him. If I called him, he’d never have much desire to talk and would often cut the conversation short. That’s if he answered at all.

It was the same temporary high I’d feel as an adult when a guy who wasn’t that into me suddenly called after ghosting me for weeks. The same temporary high I was feeling right now.

I had continued this pattern for years, tolerating shabby treatment due to my fear of abandonment, until I finally had my “aha!” moment and learned to let go of those people who had always taken advantage of my love and kindness, but never given anything back.

I was no longer a crumb-taking queen. Or was I?

That part of myself that I thought I’d erased popped right back up this morning when I got that text. The younger version of me that just wanted to be admired, desired, chosen, loved at all costs had panicked in case a “guy” I barely knew might abandon me.

What the hell was I thinking?

I took a breath, checked in with myself, and remembered exactly who I was—right now in this moment.

I’m a human being with thoughts and feelings. I’m not a lamp that you can switch on and off at your leisure. I’m not your clown, put here for your entertainment or to fulfil your desperate need for attention.

And I’m definitely worth more than a half-assed drunken text when you’re horny.

I am no longer just an option.

So no, honey, I won’t be replying. Ever.

 

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Jayne Lambert  |  Contribution: 9,895

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Editor: Rasha Al Jabi