AvoiDANCE

Allow me to introduce to you to my close friend, protector & social deflector…. Avoidance.

Avoidance has been my fire blanket for as long as I can remember, so much so that I don’t want to fold it up, pack it away, or even consider it not being my ‘go-to’ comforter.

I think I learnt this skill early on in life as growing up we had many people coming in & out of our home due to the job my parents had. We often had people sitting at a dinner table not knowing each other & sometimes not knowing us either. We were ‘briefed’ beforehand & given a rundown on how this person landed up in our home & at our table & were also provided topics to avoid due to it’s sensitivity or inappropriateness towards our visitor. Hence, the dinner dance I grew up with was created – the very essence of avoidance & masking uncomfortableness. There were times I recall my brother & I almost performing for these people to break the silence, encourage conversation & topics of interest or just talking amongst each other in the hope that the deafening silence & awkward social situation would be drowned out by our banter. We actually used to call each other ‘social lubricators’ & it became instinctual when our services were required.

Over the years, I perfected avoidance so much so that performing became a breeze & it also manifested itself into a mask. I hoped as my confidence grew & as my strived to achieve my hopes & dreams socially & professionally, that I would be better confronting people & situations. However, it wasn’t to be. And sadly, as my depression increased in it’s frequency this was just something that I just didn’t have the energy or room to work on. My avoidance isn’t prejudiced either as it involves both situations & individuals so all my bases are covered in terms of any potential conflicts.

I don’t know what my issue with avoidance is & how I’ve become so resistant to confrontation. What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? Isn’t confrontation just standing up for myself? I’m not a weak person, nor a pushover, so surely this should come easily! Am I just wilfully ignorant?

I want to get to the bottom of this. I really do as I feel it holding me back to the person I want to be for myself & for my family. So, what is my issue exactly? Is it feeling overwhelmed at the time of confrontations & not saying what I want to say? Is it that I think of things to say after the fact & get angry with myself for not thinking of them at the time? Is that my excuse for not even starting the conversation that needs to be had? Am I scared what the other person will think of me? If they’re my good friends I shouldn’t care & the friendship is supposed to strengthen. And If we’re not good friends, then I shouldn’t even bother, so it’s not avoidance rather disinterest. Am I scared about the unknown outcome therefore not even wanting to find out? Is it a control thing – that I can’t control the outcome, my feelings etc?

And then I start thinking: what lesson I am teaching my kids by all this avoidance? Is this the kind of role model I want to be to my children? If I want people or my kids to have respect for me then surely I need to be able to genuinely respect myself & be content with my life’s decisions. Is my avoidance a form of self-respect sabotage?  Is my fear born out of self-preservation? How do I go about & what do I need to do to give myself permission to be vulnerable enough to stop this tango of avoidance? If I want to be the best version of myself, then surely something needs to change in my thinking.

Like my realisation that the word ‘forgiveness’ had the word ‘give’ in it, the word avoidance has the word ‘dance’ in it. This is perfect for me as I actually see myself dancing around topics & hop stepping about in order to deflect from the real issue. In actual fact, I would rather dance instead of facing a confronting, uncomfortable or excruciating event.

At the beginning of this post, I called avoidance my ‘fire’ blanket as opposed to a safety blanket. Is there really going to be a wall of fire thrown at me for standing up for myself? Do I really have to snuff it out before it starts to sting? Is this how I view confrontation – that the consequence is me being told off, questioned or hurt? Are all confrontations going to be an attack on my character? Is that how I see confrontation – as personal attacks? At the end of the day confrontations & arguments are just words. They’re just noises that come out of peoples mouths & form things called words which we use to communicate to each other. It’s all it is. I can make these words bounce off me or go right over me depending on the level of value I hold in the relationship with the person in conversation with. Surely this is nothing to be fearful of!?

I’m sure there are some people that see & view my avoidance as a weakness & an area in which they can exploit & take advantage of. Surely this alone should give me the motivation & impetus to make a change & stop dancing around the real issues. And I need to be honest too & admit that I’m not proud of this personality trait, so this together with my feelings of exploitation just have to be the architects of change.

I really don’t know the answer here, but I hope that exploring my thoughts & feelings in this space will provide me with some insights & in time possible paths of exploration.

Does anyone else have issues with confrontation? Have you managed to overcome your fears? What have been your strategies? I’d love some tips.