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People Need People

I’ve been thinking about the concept of co-regulation a lot lately. That as humans, oftentimes our nervous systems need the nervous system of another to regulate/soothe/etc. And how so often in the - what I believe to be - very toxic world of commercialized wellness, we are led to believe that in order to be ready/worthy of a relationship with another, we need to be okay being alone.

I would like to call booshart on that.

From birth, we are nurtured by the presence of others. Whether they are healthy others or not doesn’t matter - our nervous systems regulate to theirs and we learn to source our sense of safety from them. (Which is why, in adulthood we find ourselves in a often maddening loop with people who have similar traits to our early primary caretakers.)

Which is to say, we are hardwired to need others in our lives to be okay. It is a non-negotiable and in many cases, it is proven to be the difference between life and death, sanity and insanity.

The loss of the person or people (or furry family) you are co-regulated to can be an extraordinarily disorienting and frighteningly physical experience. That doesn’t mean you are not okay being alone. That means you are human.

Life and death are inevitable. We don’t need to add to the unavoidable challenges we encounter along the way the imposition of shame for our humanness.

I remember the physical agony I experienced after a particularly difficult breakup many years ago. The way I used to try to explain it was that it felt like I had insulation in my brain and that my skin was peeling off. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, but it is what led me to study trauma and it’s effects on the brain and body.

If you have gone through a big loss - and ONLY YOU get to decide what is a big loss and what isn’t - it is okay to not be okay for a long time. It’s also okay to be not okay for a short time. It’s okay to want and need companionship to get through difficult times. It’s okay to want to start again. It’s okay to never want to start again. It’s all okay.

You are allowed to need what you need.

You can’t think your way out of your nervous systems response to things.

And that’s just how it is.


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