The following blog submission has been approved by the Board of the Attachment Network of Manitoba

Living on the Circle

Christina Avino and Alassandra Giovannucci

It was a crisp fall day when our story began. Alassandra and Christina were working as Parent Educators at two different nonprofit organizations when they met at a multi-day professional development. Christina was sure she had met Alassandra before but neither of them could place it. Eventually they realized they had never met but had so much in common they were meant to meet. 

They instantly connected over their Italian heritage and past jobs as Early Childhood Educators. Over the next few weeks, they got to know each other better and realized that they were both looking to move out of their family homes and finding it hard to find a roommate. They joked that they should move in together. 

After the course ended, they kept in touch, meeting up a few times outside of work and actually setting a plan to look for apartments the upcoming fall. A few months later, a position opened up at St. Francis where Christina worked and she knew the perfect person for the job! She encouraged Alassandra to send in her resume and within a few weeks they were co-workers with cubicles next to each other. Everyone joked and called them the twins.

Then the pandemic happened. The staff was sent to work from home. Christina and Alassandra were still planning to move in together. They spent the next few months chatting on the phone and eventually, they met up for a socially distanced coffee date in a gym parking lot. At this point, they had finally found the place they wanted to live. They moved in together in August 2020.

Alassandra had never lived on her own and Christina had some not-so-great roommate experiences in the past, but something was different now. People had said, “Do you really want to live with someone you work with and see them all the time?” Family members and other friends would ask if it was “Really a good idea to have a friend as a roommate after knowing one another for less than a year?” Their connection was different than most because these two could live on the circle. (Mic Drop)

They are both proud of their accomplishments. Christina has an AS in Early Childhood Education and a BS (Bachelor of Science) in Human services and Alassandra has a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Child Studies, a MS in Mental Health and Wellness with an emphasis on family dynamics, a family development credential and infant mental health endorsement. Even though they are educated in their respective fields both had yet to practice the Circle of Security Parenting with children. This was another factor that brought them closer together. 

One of the earliest circle stories in their friendship concerns Alassandra’s fur baby, Hank the Tank. Hank is 5 and Alassandra was unsure that a roommate might not have the same respect and care of her fur child as she did. Some of her main concerns included boundaries, keeping doors closed, and not being bothered by cat food and cat toys. Luckily, Christina was able to see how important Hank was to Alassandra. Christina had pet cats growing up and knew that none of these things would bother her. Christina was able to be “bigger, stronger, wiser and kind” and could meet Alassandra’s needs of comfort at the bottom of the circle. Soon, with continued support and reassurance, fur baby Thackey Binx joined the family!

Recently, while Christina was off on the top of the circle on vacation, she got a call that her grandfather was admitted to the hospital. She knew that she had someone to “fill her cup” and called Alassandra right away. Moments like this are not rare. Both Christina and Alassandra are always there for each other in good times and bad.  They are often checking in with phone calls when anything big happens. When they are both home, they can be found running down the hallway to each other’s rooms for updates.

Christina and Alassandra are both very aware of their own needs and can recognize their “shark music”.  They can catch themselves when something is bothering them and reflect before having hard conversations.  For example, Alassandra cannot cook in a messy kitchen and Christina is very bothered by mutual living spaces being disorganized. Instead of being passive aggressive or having an angry conversation, they are able to check in and say “do you mind filling the dishwasher when you are done cooking?” and “can you please fold the blankets before you leave the living room?”. Knowing their own “shark music” improves their communication and relationship.

What we know from The Circle of Security is that the need for delight is found both at the top and the bottom of the circle. For example, one-night Alassandra found a box of old family VHS tapes.  She recalled beautiful memories of her mother and how hard it was to lose her. Christina reminded Alassandra that her mother would be so proud of the person she had become, “delighting” in the amazing person she had become. Alassandra taught Christina how to cross stitch. It is a hard hobby to learn Christina would often feel like giving up when she made a mistake but Alassandra would “delight” in Christina at the bottom of the circle and remind her how far she had come in her craft.  She was there to help her try a new skill to fix the stitch.

Knowing and living on The Circle of Security has allowed both Christina and Alassandra to live in a way that has supported the day to day of being roommates. They both know that they have someone to be there for them, to meet their needs, hold their emotions and to help “organize their feelings”. Christina and Alassandra’s journey together has only just started and now they talk about sharing their journey on The Circle of Security with their children someday because they have the pleasure of living on the circle.

Christina on the left & Alassandra on the right

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