AVOIDANCE: MY UNHELPFUL COPING SKILL

Authenticity. Vulnerability. Honesty. Ugh.

I’ve been trying my best to be gentle towards myself for struggling immensely with tackling these concepts in my every day life, but the truth is it’s really fucking difficult. Trying to get out of the habit of unconsciously (and consciously) filtering myself by recognizing and calling myself out whenever I do it, feels like a never-ending game of “tug-of-war” that is incredibly exhausting to play.

When it comes to blogging, part of my brain is like, “This is your space to write about whatever you want, so write!” and the other part of my brain is like, “No one needs/wants to hear about the constant negative shit that is/has been going on in your life so its better to not write anything at all.”

Needless to say, my depressive and anxious thoughts have been getting the best of me these days. I haven’t felt like sharing what’s been going on in my life because I have a strong tendency towards avoidance. I’m still learning how to manage, work through/challenge, and embrace those (helpful and unhelpful) negative emotions, such as: shame, guilt, anger, hurt, sadness, disappointment, and anxiety that are currently consuming me.

I spend a lot of my time in both individual and group therapies. This year, I have been in, or am currently in a combination of therapies such as: CBT, EMDR, DBT, and TTED (I made up this last acronym, although it is essentially just another type of CBT-based therapy). I’m grateful that I currently have access to these therapies but going through them often feels like a “Catch 22” situation. It’s a situation where “I have to feel worse before I can feel better” – Except I already feel pretty fucking terrible to begin with… and I’m supposed to feel this even more? It’s hard.

Understanding the basics of how emotions work, then learning to recognize them, sit with them and feel them, instead of repressing or avoiding them is still challenging for me. Avoidance has always been my go-to unhelpful coping skill; whether I’ve repressed or avoided my emotions through overworking or overscheduling myself, taking care of others instead of taking care of myself, doing school work or procrastinating doing school work, procrastinating tasks in general, over-exercising, controlling food, substance use, withdrawing myself from events, situations, activities… As you can see, my list isn’t exhaustive by any means, and I have definitely mastered the unhelpful coping skill of avoidance. But I’m actively working on challenging my avoidant tendencies, even if it’s uncomfortable. “No (emotional) pain, no (emotional) gain” can be my newest saying, I guess?

I try my best to stay positive and optimistic about my healing journey, but it’s honestly been nothing short of an uphill battle. I feel exhausted battling my brain all day, every day; trying to notice, challenge, change, or accept my thoughts and emotions for what they are – just thoughts and emotions – without feeling the need to act based on them. More often than not, I succeed and can manage and go about my day. But sometimes, usually when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed, I’m not as successful at challenging my thoughts and then my “Fuck this. I’m tired. Repress. Avoid” mindset wins. I’m human – a work in progress – and that’s okay. At least I’m still trying, and I’m attempting to blog about my feelings rather than continuing to avoid them.

“Healing isn’t a linear process and change takes time.”

Linla