Avoidance – Part 1

There seems to be two ways of coping with difficult life events.  We either confront head on, or avoid them.  For me, avoidance is a coping mechanism.  It might not be a positive or helpful one, but it is a deliberate self-protecting strategy to control or escape calamitous consequences.

All human beings have moments of pain and suffering.  The paradox of avoiding it, only serves to increase the distress and can interfere with the pleasure of being fully involved in all of life.  It can also make whatever we avoid, more problematic.  Often it feels like feeding the monster within.

It has been three days since my last MBT assessment.  The message that comes through loud and clear, is the extreme avoidance tactics that I apply to almost every aspect of my life – past, present, and the future.

The Therapist that Bugged me’ specifically targeted the avoidance of the present by my persistently reverting to childhood.  Of course, ordinarily, this is a positive process.  However, as she rightly points out, if I cannot address the ‘here and now’ because childhood trauma overwhelms me – trauma that I am unable to talk about – then it appears to be chronic avoidance to the extreme.

To have someone threaten my emotional stability means I am bound to enter into a full-blown BPD Splitting episode.  My sarcastic, maybe unkind comments about the Robotic-Therapist are my ‘splitting-black’.  I imagine she might expect this response.  I am also insightful enough to recognise this is another avoidance tactic.  “If I don’t feel comfortable, how can I open up”

With fear and trepidation, I am on the threshold of revealing who and what I am.  I am fearful of what people might think of such a sad and tragic existence.  There is absolutely no pride of what/who I have become.  My instinct to show the best of this past life is fighting against my pride and vulnerability.  The humiliation is suffocating.

I live in a carefully constructed bubble – a life I could never have envisaged.  The days roll into weeks and months and I have no awareness of where the years go.  It gives a sense of chronic disassociation.  Without doubt, 13 years ago, probably during my first mental breakdown, I have evidently made the decision to opt out of life.  Despite living in London, I might as well be on a deserted island.

One of the first pieces of information I read on Borderline Personality Disorder, had a statement from someone living with a BPD, “I feel like a child trying to live in an adult world”.  There was always considerable shame and bewilderment as to why I find life so difficult to live.  Learning about BPD is helpful for understanding why, but it is not the entire picture.

I fight against temptation to give background information of the person I used to be, the jobs I had, the things I owned, even the friendships and relationships I once treasured.

About 18-months ago, I went to see my Psychiatrist, feeling rather distressed.  I had suddenly come to the realisation that I did not want to get any better.  Not if it meant having to opt into life again; meet new people, form relationships, find interests and hobbies that take me away from home for more than 2 hours, or retrain for future employment and have enough money to buy all the nice things that I miss.  My mood might have seen improvements from medication, but my attitude to life needs to change.

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20 thoughts on “Avoidance – Part 1

  1. Grace

    I think there is a fine line though… a line between seeing “How can I open up if I don’t feel comfortable” as an avoidance strategy or seeing it as something normal. No one would like to open up to someone they don’t like and I would not necessarily classify this as avoidance.

    But of course it is an issue if there is absolutely no one one feels able to open up to… then it’s not so much about the other but about oneself again… and that would be talking about avoidance again… I feel I’m running in circles here and maybe I’m just stating the obvious.

    Realizing that there are avoidance strategies is the first step to change them and this attitude though.

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  3. Lauren

    Reading this felt like looking into my own mirror in a lot of ways; it hits way too close to home. My mom and I have started referring to my “chronological age” as a way to differentiate between my actual age and my “behavior age.” I know people look at me and see a grown adult, but inside I’m quaking because I truly don’t know to function as one. (this is scary right now because I’ve never admitted this out loud to anyone except my mom and my pdoc and former therapist.) And I completely get avoidance as a coping mechanism. I have many (unhealthy ones) including chronic avoidance and dissociation (a biggie for me). But back to YOU, which is the important part. =) All I can say is that you are very, very brave to address so much so honestly. I admire you.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Lauren, that’s kind of you. Opening up is always scary, but I am hopeful it will get easier in time. I hope this is true for you.

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  4. Ellen

    Sometimes avoidance is the best we can do, at least for a time. I really don’t think a reluctance to open up to a T you don’t like could be called ‘avoidance’. I’d say that’s more like common sense. Therapy is painful enough if you are fond of your T.

    It’s good to start to notice coping mechanisms, but they are there for good reasons. Anyhow, just wanted to show support. You are opening up in your writing and that’s a great first step I’d say. I’m the queen of avoiders, so I know the struggle well.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thank you Ellen… By all accounts, avoidance is very common. It is a coping mechanism but perhaps not always a healthy one.

      I agree what you say about the therapist, but I usually feel like this with all Therapists. Therefore, in my case, I think avoidance is playing central roll, which I plan on writing more about!

      I appreciate you showing support.

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  5. Tilda

    We stop avoiding when we are ready, and feel safe enough to do so.
    You opened up here, revealed a great deal of yourself ~ perhaps you are ready.
    I wish you strength in this hard process.

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    1. Cat Post author

      You are very right Tilda and this is something I am pondering for part 2. Avoidance is a coping mechanism. Whether it swings positive or negative is really dependant on the individual. I am beginning to open up, but only just a little bit. I need my avoidance to get me through it

      Thank you for reading and commenting

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  6. releasing lunacy

    Cat, Avoidance is something many of us struggle with for various reasons. Seems so much easier sometimes… but likely in the long run just sets us up for more work! lol You’re doing lots of great thinking and writing! rl

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  7. survivor55

    I SO get that about time. It takes on such a weird shape and definition that it never had before. I used to know the exact date, the day of the week, the month, the year and the time, too, since I always wore a watch. That’s when I was able to exist in the real world — the world I used to inhabit. Since I’ve become more and more homebound, isolated, alone, the hours roll into days which roll into weeks which roll in years. I can no longer say with accuracy, “This happened last Wednesday,” because it might have been on a Wednesday, but that Wednesday might have been two weeks ago or two months ago. So very weird. So difficult to explain to those who still live in the real world.

    –Kathy

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    1. Cat Post author

      Kathy…. Thanks for your comment. I love it when people can relate to something I’ve said – it reminds me that I’m not such an oddity after all. ;0)

      I never remember dates and only know what day I’m on by radio and tv programmes. A couple of weeks ago, I turned 50….WHAT? It was only last year I was turning 40!!! Throughout my 40’s, I regularly had to calculate my age by subtracting the years….so weird. My carefully constructed bubble has many blind spots – something I might write more on later.

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