Growing Up As A Dismissive Avoidant Woman

[Guest] “I do remember my mother telling me that as a child, if you're going to cry, go to your room because you don't want to bother people with your crying. You're going to either make them feel bad because they care or you're going to annoy them because they don't care. So basically she was telling me you can't win by crying in front of someone else because I don't like to hurt people. Subliminally it’s saying your needs are too overwhelming for other people. So try not to overwhelm people. Like go deal with them yourself.”

Hey what's going on my beautiful people, this is your certified life and relationship coach Coach Court. In today's video, I have a conversation with someone who responded to one of my asks to join the channel. She identifies as a dismissive avoidant. I thought this would be a good opportunity to just have an open dialogue with someone who has had an avoidant attachment style.

So I'll bring her on, her name is Jarilyn.

[Coach Court] Hello Jarilyn can you hear me?

[Jarilyn]  Hi coach. Yeah thanks for having me on.

[Coach Court] Thank you for being here. I really appreciate you responding to my, I guess, my invite on to the channel. I feel like it always makes for a better discussion, instead of me just lecturing people, to have dialogue like this. To ask you about your experience growing up and how you think that it affected your relationships in the future and your adulthood. So…

[Jarilyn] Okay sounds good.

[Coach Court] So Jarilyn, how old are you, first off?

[Jarilyn] I am 54 

[Coach Court] 54, okay. Like I said before, when we talked, you responded on one of my videos that I did, you commented actually, and I asked you to come on to the channel. That's what your attachment style is?

[Jarilyn] Well that is, just from listening to videos on YouTube

[Coach Court] Okay 

[Jarilyn] So I'm guessing that I am. I seem to fit all the criteria.

[Coach Court] Okay. Okay, so that's a good segway into my next question.

[Jarilyn] Okay 

[Coach Court] Which is, how did you find my channel?

[Jarilyn] It found me. I was listening to lots of videos on the dismissive avoidant and other attachment styles, and you popped up, just on my feed. YouTube sent you to me.

[Coach Court] The analytics are doing its work then huh?

[Jarilyn] Yes 

[Coach Court] So we're going to jump right into the heavy stuff here. How was your home environment growing up? If you’ve studied enough of my videos and if you’ve seen the comments, a lot of the times, the people that have a dismissive avoidant attachment style is because there was some form of neglect around the house. Some form of having to care for your own needs. Would you be able to explain how you feel you got your attachment style?

[Jarilyn] Yeah that's exactly what happened. Although, if you'd asked me five years ago, I would have said that my childhood was great.

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] I didn't know there was anything wrong with it. 

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] I was told by my mother, that when I was in kindergarten, well no, I must have been like first grade. She said I would get up myself. I got up by my alarm clock and I got myself ready for school. 

[Coach Court] Okay 

[Jarilyn] My mom was very sick, she was pregnant with my brother. 

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] She told me this, that she'd leave a little cup of milk in the fridge and I'd pour the milk on my cereal and I would eat. She said I would go in and kiss mama goodbye.

[Coach Court] Yeah

[Jarilyn] She would tell me if I needed to go and brush my hair, but that's about it. Then I would walk to school and it was quite a walk, but I didn't know it.

[Coach Court] Okay well, so you said you went to kiss your mom, was there a lot of affection around your house growing up?

[Jarilyn] No, no. I think I just say that because I wanted it to be that way. I went in to say bye to Mom, to tell her that I was leaving. I was very highly responsible.

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] I think that was part of the routine. Mom needed to know that I had gotten up and eaten. I would imagine she gave me a checklist: did you eat, did you brush your hair, did you brush your teeth. Then I told her goodbye. So yeah, I mean I don't really remember that, I just know Mom told me, and it resounds as true to me. 

[Coach Court] I would imagine that you took great pride when you were getting older, being a middle schooler or high schooler, and being able to be that independent. Not having to rely on other people.

[Jarilyn] You know, it was my norm. I thought everyone was that independent.

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] I was a senior in high school when I found out that parents can help children with homework. 

[Coach Court] Wow.

[Jarilyn] I thought my friends were CHEATING.

[Coach Court] Okay. Yeah. That's interesting, wow.

[Jarilyn] Yeah that's how independent I was.

[Coach Court] Okay. Wow, that's good insight there. So obviously this has affected your relationships in some way, shape or form. How do you feel it affected your relationships? Meaning, the first question I'm going to ask is what was your longest relationship?

[Jarilyn] 33 years 

[Coach Court] Okay, 33 years.

[Jarilyn] Yes 

[Coach Court] So what does it take for someone to be in a relationship with someone who's a dismissive avoidant for 33 years? How did you last that long?

[Jarilyn] I dismissed my own emotions 

[Coach Court] Okay 

[Jarilyn] A lot 

[Coach Court] What does that mean for you?

[Jarilyn] That meant I focused on my responsibilities, my work, I have to be productive. Those are the main things and being a Christian. I'm a Christian. So I was in a marriage, so I had duties as a wife and as a Christian.

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] So I took my duties and responsibilities very seriously, like too serious in a lot of ways. Yeah, I was married to a man who was the youngest child of five 

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] I liked my privacy and he felt like privacy was being secretive and that I must be doing some kind of sin. So that was one of our biggest conflicts. He would actually unlock the door of the bathroom and walk in on me.

[Coach Court] Wow 

[Jarilyn] Quite often, yeah. I told him I didn't like it. He was like, well what are you doing in here that I can't come in here, we're married, we're “the two shall become one”.

[Coach Court] Right

[Jarilyn] I was like, that's just not how I feel. I just feel like when I go to the bathroom and lock the door, I'm saying, don't come in here.

[Coach Court] So what do you think his attachment style was? If you had to take a stab at it.

[Jarilyn] He was the emotional one. I did tease him about being the girl in the relationship.

[Coach Court] Okay so he was more in his feminine energy and you were more in the masculine energy?

[Jarilyn] Well I just say that because of him being emotional. He would be the one crying in the movie.

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] I would be like, this is a movie, this is made up. Like you should just suppress that, but I didn't preach at him. I'm saying these were my thoughts in my head.

[Coach Court] Yeah yeah yeah.

[Jarilyn] I didn't understand how he could cry at a movie because it wasn't real. 

[Coach Court] Yeah I cry in movies too and maybe that's my anxious attachment coming through. I'm a little bit more of the emotional one. I later found out that I was anxious, but started to lean more fearful. I just feel things on a really deep deep level. 

[Jarilyn] I think I'm seeing there's benefit to that. I'm seeing that more. It's like you're more human in a way, because I did feel like a robot for a long time. I even called myself that. I'm like I'm just a robot. I'm just on autopilot. I don't feel things. 

[Coach Court] Yeah 

[Jarilyn] I just do what I have to do. At the end of the day, I wanted to be productive and responsible, and then I was happy with myself. 

[Coach Court] So who ended that relationship?

[Jarilyn] Well he passed away 

[Coach Court] Okay okay

[Jarilyn] Yeah he passed away in 2020 

[Coach Court] Okay

[Jarilyn] After a surgery. So I thought he would be fine. Most people, 99% of people are fine after this surgery and he wasn't. So yeah, it was just suddenly. They called me from the hospital and said he had passed. He was only 54 and I'm 54.

[Coach Court] How long ago was that again? 

[Jarilyn] Three years, three and a half years. It was in 2020.

[Coach Court] What is your process for grieving, is there a process? Do you feel like you've healed totally from that? I mean, because a lot of the time, some of the relationship grief that people who are more avoidant go through, they tend to repress. Do you feel that you’ve repressed that loss, or do you feel you've been able to really process it and move through those emotions and are able to consider yourself more on the healed side?

[Jarilyn] I'm a little confused about my own grief. I've only cried about three times. I was married to him for 32 years and I would have expected more crying because of that, but my habit was not to cry. I don't cry. I don't cry in front of other people. I do remember my mother telling me that as a child, ‘If you're going to cry go to your room because you don't want to bother people with your crying. You're going to either make them feel bad because they care or you're going to annoy them because they don't care.’ So basically, she was telling me you can't win by crying in front of someone else, because I don't like to hurt people. 

[Coach Court] Yeah okay. 

[Jarilyn] So I would go to my room

[Coach Court] So subliminally saying that your needs are too overwhelming for other people so try not to overwhelm people with them.

[Jarilyn] Yeah, yeah. Like go deal with them yourself and I do, I deal with everything alone and that's what I want. Like when my husband passed and my house was full of people suddenly, that was the worst thing for me because I just needed time to process what was going on and how I felt and I couldn't. I was just dealing with people, making sure they were okay, in my house. It just was really uncomfortable for me. 

[Coach Court] Wow okay, yeah, I'm sorry for your loss.

[Jarilyn] Oh thank you

[Coach Court] Yeah it's got to be tough, especially anytime someone passes away it's tough, but 33 years and your life just completely changing and it's a whole norm. You have to figure out what a new normal is and my condolences.

[Jarilyn] Thank you

[Coach Court] So I'm going to go through some hypothetical questions here.

[Jarilyn] Okay, well I have dated since then

[Coach Court] You have dated since then? 

[Jarilyn] I have dated, yes.

[Coach Court] Well let's get into that. I do a lot of what the process feels like for dismissive avoidants going through a breakup or going into no contact. I'm sure you've watched a little bit of my videos, but do you think that some of the analysis that I've given or some of the advice that I've given has been accurate with the process that you guys go through? Like do you miss people that you've broken up with? Do you tend to repress after a breakup? What does your process look like?

[Jarilyn] I miss him during that, but not right away of course. It takes me time to miss somebody, so I didn't know if I loved him or not, because I didn't know really what love was supposed to feel like. I see it on the movies, what people are supposed to be like when they're in love, and it's like, I don't really feel that. That's why I thought I was a robot, but I have found that I get pain in my body instead of feelings, and I'm trying to connect that now. Just last year I learned about attachment styles and I'm trying to realize that if I have chest pain I don't need to worry about my heart, I need to worry about or look at what happened, what am I going through. Is there a relationship issue going on? So it's almost manual right? I have to go okay, I have this pain in my body.

[Coach Court] It’s a body scan, like it's just stuck, it's blocked energy that is manifested into some type of chest pain.

[Jarilyn] I think you're right, yeah. After my husband had died, I could barely walk, I could barely breathe, I used a walker and I was only 50 at the time. I had been diagnosed with three blockages in my heart arteries.

[Coach Court] Wow 

[Jarilyn] So I thought okay, I'm not getting oxygen to my heart, so I can't breathe. Well they were going to put a stint in my heart. The doctor came out of that procedure and said I couldn't get the stint in, and I freaked out. I usually don't have any emotion at all on my face. I was like what do you mean you couldn't get it in, because I thought, I can't even walk through my house without a walker. I thought this was going to fix everything. I thought this was lack of oxygen. Well as it turned out, it was like a chronic panic attack. I was feeling it in my body in that way instead of having feelings. 

[Coach Court] Yeah yeah 

[Jarilyn] So yeah, that was quite an experience. So eventually, I got to where I was just trying to calm myself down, inside. I deal with everything myself, so I had to deal with my husband passing.

[Coach Court] That's a lot. I actually learned about that when I was taking my trauma informed care training. They did something called ACES (Adverse Childhood Experiences). The more ACES that you have in childhood, the higher the likelihood of you having issues with health, cholesterol, diabetes and heart issues. It's so interesting how they attach it to what happened to you, with later health outcomes. Which could mean that you're just not processing things in a healthy manner.

[Jarilyn] Yeah, and I am finding that I'm feeling better, now that I know about the attachment style series. I'm looking at these pains in my body as emotions that are stuck, and I feel like I'm able to release them more, now that I recognize that it's not just, like lupus symptoms. I was diagnosed with lupus too right after my husband died. I was diagnosed with lupus the same month, and then the heart arteries were clogged 3 months later they found that. I got myself checked out because he died at 54 and I'm like, we have the same diet.

[Coach Court] A little too close to home I would imagine.

[Jarilyn] Yeah, and I knew I had chronic pain. I had had chronic pain since I was 12. I was in an accident, and you might find this interesting, because I do, I understand it more now, but I broke my back, but I did not tell anybody. 

[Coach Court] Wow really.

[Jarilyn] Yes so I went from an active 12-year-old, to just sitting around, laying around, sitting around. I was in a lot of pain and it developed into fibromyalgia. So I had fibromyalgia through high school.

[Coach Court] So you just didn't communicate with your parents about it?

[Jarilyn] I didn't know that I could. I didn't know what parents were for.

[Coach Court] Wow

[Jarilyn] Yeah, I thought they were to provide me with food, shelter and clothes.

[Coach Court] Wow 

[Jarilyn] And that's what they did. So I just really didn't want to bother them. I was afraid if I tell them I'm hurting, because I didn't tell them when I was hurting. I had noticed growing up that if I was sick and I did not get up by my alarm and go to school, that my mom would not even come down and check on me [I lived in the basement] in my room. I would lay in the bed and I sometimes would just be devastated, I remember that feeling. I actually did have feelings, but I was just a child. I was like why isn't my mom checking on me? I could be dead, I could be laying here dead. When I would eventually have to go upstairs to go get some water for myself, my mom would say ‘oh hey, how are you doing, I figured you were sick because you didn't get up and go to school, so I knew you were sick’.

[Coach Court] Wow

[Jarilyn] I'm just like okay…

[Coach Court] And this was normal for you? This is normal interaction for you on a week in/ week out basis?

[Jarilyn] Yeah, yeah. So I was very responsible though. I went to school most of the time, unless I was sick.

[Coach Court] Okay 

[Jarilyn] But, I knew something was wrong with that picture, I knew. I was thinking, if I was a mom, and my kid didn't get up, I would worry. I would at least bring her a glass of water or bring her some food. So I do remember that happening to me. So my attachment style does make sense.

[Coach Court] That's a core memory for you ‘I just remember no one's checking in on me’, interesting. So we're going to go back to, I have one last question here. So you said that you missed the person that was your ex. I don't know what the current status of this person is. Where would you say that you're at today?

[Jarilyn] Well I've had three relationships. They don't last very long. So the one I met in February last year, we dated, and I agreed to be his girlfriend, but I was really nervous about it. I just wasn't comfortable with it, but I need to just live my life. I need to find somebody to just help live my life with them. So I agreed to date him and be his girlfriend. Well I decided that I was going to go on this trip, and I was going to go see a relative. The relative was actually living with my ex-boyfriend, the first one, the first man I had dated, and he was now dating my relative. So I said I'm gonna go up and see her and spend the night there at their house, then go do some other stuff, and the next day move on. My boyfriend said ‘what?! you can't spend the night at your ex-boyfriend's house’. I said ‘oh it'll be fine, I've done it before, it's no big deal’, and I meant it. I didn't even think about it again. and I did that. Then a couple days later my boyfriend was like, ‘well I'm not happy with you’, and I'm like ‘what happened?’ He's like ‘you did not consider my feelings when you were going to go stay at their house, and he's your ex-boyfriend’. I go ‘no, I did not consider your feelings and I don't want to consider your feelings. I have no intention of considering your feelings, I'm a terrible girlfriend and I am breaking up with you’.

[Coach Court] Wow, just like that?

[Jarilyn] Just like that, I was done. 

[Coach Court] How long were you guys dating?

[Jarilyn] Like three weeks, three weeks.

[Coach Court] Oh so it wasn't very long.

[Jarilyn] Then we went back together, because he kept talking to me. So we still talked every day. It's like we're super compatible in how we talk to each other, we have great conversations. We're best friends really, because we still talk every day, but we tried it again two other times and I just can't. I just feel like I lose myself. I feel like I'm not allowed to make my own decisions and I feel like I need to make my own decisions. 

[Coach Court] But there's also a happy medium, this middle ground that you can find. 

[Jarilyn] Well I don't know if I can. Honestly I don't know if I can. I'm too new to this process. Maybe there is a way, but I've heard all my life, and I'm 54, that for someone to change, they have to want to change. I don't see a problem with making my own decisions and not considering someone else when I want to do something that I really want to do. What if I want to buy something, like a big purchase, or I want to go somewhere, like I did when I went to my relatives and there was the ex-boyfriend? It was fine, like I said it would be. It was fine for me, but it wasn't fine for my boyfriend at the time. So I don't know what to do. 

[Coach Court] So Jarilyn, how did you make the relationship with your husband work?

[Jarilyn] Submitting to the Lord, really. I was very close to God. I enjoyed the Bible a lot. So that's how I did it. It was a commitment.

[Coach Court] So, committing to the Lord was submitting to your husband, or just finding that happy medium, that middle ground like I talked about.

[Jarilyn] It was that responsibility thing that I had going, I still do. It's like, I made a promise and my word is important to me, so I'm married, period. I am married. I will act married. I will be married, but it wasn't fun for me. It was very difficult, I felt very caged.

[Coach Court] Okay 

[Jarilyn] Throughout the whole marriage really.

[Coach Court] So what do you say about, and this is the last question I have, then I have to take off, I really do appreciate you coming on here. When you see the comments about the negativity or the negative comments about someone that's a dismissive avoidant, what do you feel about that? Do you feel that it's accurate? Do you feel that their feelings are justified? What are your thoughts around that?

[Jarilyn] I can see their side of it and it's not that I feel so much, as I have thoughts about it. I can totally see their side, because I know how I am, that there are certain things in my life I don't want to consider someone else's feelings. I want people to take care of themselves, their own emotional needs especially, I think that is normal, but in my educating myself the last year I realized that's not really normal. It's probably more normal to co-regulate with someone else, your emotions. So I'm trying to understand that, but I'm very much understanding the dismissive avoidants, what they are doing and why they are doing it. But I feel for the people that are dealing with it and not understanding that we run from relationships, we don't run from that person, it's not personal. It's really not personal, against that person. 

[Coach Court] A lot of people take it personal, they think it's because of them.

[Jarilyn] Yes right. We fear losing ourselves and our autonomy. So it's a very strong fear. We need ourselves. We are the only person we've been able to depend on our whole lives, and we we need ourselves to survive.

[Coach Court] That makes total sense. If anyone understands you, I do, I studied this in and out. It just fascinates me just how human beings behave in general. So, I want to thank you again Jarilyn.

[Jarilyn] Oh thank you for having me this was fun.

[Coach Court] Thank you, it was amazing. Thank you for this conversation, this was something that hopefully people find valuable.

[Jarilyn] Yes, I hope I can help somebody. 

[Coach Court] Good. I think you will, I really do. I hope you enjoy the rest of your day too, thank you for coming on.

[Jarilyn] Thank you, you have a great week.

[Coach Court] Thanks 

[Jarilyn] bye bye. 


So I hope you guys found this discussion valuable. If you want my help personally, reach out to me on my website at I want you guys to always remember when you go be love, you'll never have to find it. Namaste.