Daily Archives: August 20, 2011

My Mechanisms for Self-Preservation

I have been thinking about the things I do to try to protect myself. Here are several of them that I thought through. I am sure I have more but this is what I came up with so far.

Constantly looking for data and patterns: I have gathered a lifetime of data, and in my mind, any behavior that closely resembles or relates to past experiences of hurt will trigger and tell me to be on guard and be prepared to be hurt.

Constantly analyzing myself: I analyze everything about myself, every negative or perceived negative comment about me has been stored and can be pulled up at any point in time. I use this to help me prepare for possible rejection or abandonment. If I know what is wrong with me, no one can surprise me, and then I will know why they are leaving or rejecting me.

Combing over words: I look up words and definitions and have since I was a child. Because I do not understand what people mean by body language and other cues, I have relied on their words and actions to be my source of understanding. The problem is that people still do not use words with their “proper” definition, and it is based on interpretation. A lot of the times, their actions do not align with their words, and this has caused me a lifetime of confusion. It also brought about the constant feeling of being wrong. I finally get it! There are always exceptions to the rules! Also, people give themselves license to do the exception when it’s convenient, but often judge others for breaking the same rules. I don’t understand it, but I get it.

Making rules: I have given myself strict rules to follow to protect myself. An example is when I became a Christian, I revamped my life completely. I stopped drinking, smoking, cussing, dancing (for a while, until I found churches with dance ministries), listening to secular music, and watching R-rated movies. I got rid of TV, I read nothing but the bible and Christian books. I stripped  myself of me completely so that I could stop myself from feeling. Movies, music, literature, books about science, poetry, and biographies that I read often made me feel. They made me think, they made me question and in order to protect myself from operating out of my perceived past identity of “Wrong Angel,” I adopted what I thought was “Right Angel”. The truth? I thought I could “fit in” if I could just pull it off. But I could not pull it off, so then I felt like a failure and went into more self-preservation.

Having rituals: Another form of trying to protect myself was creating a home with no chaos. I kept my apartment spotless and everything was perfect. Once I had kids, that was impossible and it made me a nervous wreck. It was the only thing I could control and it was out of control and was a constant reminder of failing. If the house was not cleaned and organized, I had failed at being a good housewife. I nearly drove myself to a nervous breakdown in our last house trying to keep it perfect. Let me just say having three toddlers, one on the autism spectrum who was not talking or feeding himself and having meltdowns all day, taking him to therapy, serving in three ministries, writing bible curriculum, and being emotional support to my mom, my husband and people at church nearly caused me to lose my mind. Not to mention no one listening to me about Daniel being autistic. AND my biggest worry was keeping a clean house? Yes, it was the only thing I could control. A clean and orderly house gives me peace of mind. However, I have learned that it just cannot happen right now. :-)

Saying it before anyone else can: My way of dealing was constantly pointing out what was wrong with me and how I failed before someone else could. This recently came to mind when a friend told me to stop with my “crazy” talk. I had called myself crazy quite a few times in an email and didn’t even realize it. That interaction made me realize how often I say negative things about myself that I don’t really even believe but I just say them so that no one else can. I am trying to protect myself from them saying it first. David has asked me throughout the years why I say certain things like that, but I have not had answers. I know that other people often say things negative about themselves to get positive reinforcement, like “Oh, I look so ugly” – they may just feel that way for the day and want someone to make them feel better. I do not say it for someone to make me feel better, I say it so they can’t say it to me! Because I can’t read them, I am unsure as to what they are going to say. So I automatically assume it will be negative. I then go over all the possible negatives and then say them out of protection. I don’t even feel that way about myself, I just don’t want to be surprised!!

I am gaining a lot of freedom here, and I sure hope others can relate to this as well.

My “Fix Me” story is not me directly at this time, it was the feeling of wanting to understand. I captured the desperation of giving up because the world was just too hard to understand. I did pray that often throughout my life but I believe I am receiving the answers to my prayers by making the choice to face this stuff. I believe I am being fixed by getting a whole new perspective on what “fixing” means. Being fixed is operating in your whole self. It also means dealing with all of the past hurts that have caused parts of you to hide away out of fear, build boundaries and rules out of fear, and form your own cage. It is a cage that locks away all of the greatness hidden inside of you that can help others and help them to walk in their wholeness too. We are not alone in our fears and we do not have to live in our own personal cages. We are free to face these hard fears and deal with the hurt in order to gain true pleasure.

If we are not willing to face the real hurt inside of us, how will we really know what joy is?


 

 

 

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Self-Preservation:Unlocking My Cage

I have a post in my drafts waiting, I am not sure I will ever share it but it helped me to see my patterns of protection. The title of the post is Fear of Abandonment. I would like to share the difference between fear of abandonment and fear of rejection.

Definition: The fear of abandonment is the persistent dread and extreme anxiety of the loss of someone or a group that is extremely valued and important to the individual.

Definition: The phobia and fear of rejection is defined as an irrational and abnormal anxiety about the possibility of being made to feel rejected. This might be feared during a variety of situations such as social gatherings or relationships. This phobia often affects individuals who have low self-confidence or low self-esteem.

The first one seems to manifest the latter. Being abandoned in any form, physically or emotionally, whether it was real or perceived, a root gets dug deep into the fears of one’s heart and mind. After a lifetime of having people continue to abandon you, it definitely will give just cause for fear of rejection, especially when you have no clue whatsoever as to why you are being abandoned or rejected. A person will begin to protect their true selves at all cost. The concrete slabs begin to fall with loud thunks at each moment of hurt. Gradually, the person you once were no longer exists and fear and the need for protection are your only source of survival.

For a very long time, I felt as though I was the only one feeling the fears.

Now I am seeing that many people all live with some sort of constant fear of something and a lot of them have the fear of abandonment. It is not isolated in humanity, it is not only the weak or fragile that have this fear. The difference is how the self-preservation manifests. We all operate out of fear differently, we all interpret differently. So here I am facing my fear of abandonment and in order to do so I have to unlock the cage of self-preservation that I have been surrounding myself with since I was a child. You know, I never lost myself – I only locked me away and several years ago it was the final straw that caused me to shut down memories of who I was and all that I enjoyed. I lost all hope in people. I lost trust completely and I could no longer allow it to happen again.

I was careful with my trust always.

Though, when I accepted someone I completely accepted them and would share freely…well, up to a point. Year after year and hurt after hurt, I still managed to have the walls surround. It is funny how this “fear facing” has manifested. I recently had an email interaction with my dad, and for the first time I realized that I was not wrong. He loves me, this I know, but he does not know me and he has never taken the time to get to know me. I do not know if this is out of the guilt or shame he has carried my whole life because of the things he has done or not done, or possibly how he feels in how he treated my mother. I don’t know if it is because I am a constant reminder of the woman that he loved and still loves but was unable to stop destructive behavior to be with her.

I don’t know. There could be a million reasons, but it doesn’t matter.

I am not bound to someone else’s rejection or abandonment. That is what I am working through, understanding that I do not need to fear that. It is not gone. I feel it, I fear it, but now I see it and I am understanding my triggers. My mind has collected every pattern and situation that actually was or perceived as abandonment. I have been abandoned and betrayed by family, friends, in relationships, and churches. And I know that others have been too and may not even realize why they have this fear. It could stem from a heartbreak, loss of a family member, even  by words, such as those suffering from depression having someone say “Well, others have it worse than you, so get over it,” or “Just focus on the good, it will all work out.” That is emotional abandonment, someone you are trusting and value has just devalued you and left you alone in your hurt.

For me, in order to understand all of this I have to process through writing.

I write stories and poems to process. In the last few months I have written quite a few and the other day I shared two of them that I have been sitting on and processing. I find it so funny when I start to process something and then connections just start to manifest. I want to share my process because possibly it could help someone – I hope it can. I wrote a story called Soon. The word soon for me has deep-rooted triggers from my childhood. My dad would say that to me and then would not fulfill the ever promised soon. It also represents  the constant promise from my mom, except her version is “We’ll see.” The majority of the time “We’ll see” meant “no” and “soon” meant “never.” Both of these statements can have the veiled hope of a promise or the lingering threat of never. There is no way to discern what it means. It is not concrete and therefore can leave someone with a pattern-thinking mind to start to gather evidence and data to see if it is yes or no.

It is so funny that the word has popped up several times for me lately.

I was already pondering the word “soon” when I watched a movie in which the main character used the word soon with a “friend with benefits.” It was clear that soon meant never. Also in the movie there was a scene where the main character’s love interest used “We’ll talk soon,” and it implied never because later you discover that they never saw each other again. It seemed to confirm my feelings of soon being another word for an evasive “No.” This for an Aspie mind can be very difficult to grasp. There is nothing concrete or understandable in words like that. I say that because a child on the autism spectrum may get upset with you if you use words like “soon”, “in a few minutes”, “in a little bit”, “later”, “we’ll see”…all of these are evasive and do not give clear, concrete time frames. These words and phrases cause anxiety in both adults on the spectrum and children.

I did not truly understand all of this until I wrote it out though.

The story helped me to process and face my fear of the word and the past scenarios. The same thing happened with the story Fix Me I have been writing that off and on for about a month. It is a culmination of various events in my life but I captured the feeling. In order for me to capture the feeling and face it, I have to understand what it is and why I feel it. I have had myself locked away for so long that I have forgotten how to feel. I stopped writing what I was feeling for a while and in 2009 when I started this blog I didn’t realize that I was trying to regain myself. This is the place where I have felt the freedom to be myself. I have shared more on this blog than I have with most people. I have slowly been working through things and expressing myself, and it is no wonder that I worked my way to having to face all of the things that I have written, but not fully understood emotionally.

When I wrote them before I had no true connection to it.

I have been writing to connect with me again, find out who I am and where I went and I didn’t even realize it. I preserved myself with the physical but gave freely here. My actual fear is fear of abandoning myself. If I face myself, what will I see? Well, you have been reading it. I have been afraid to feel and process all of this, and I have been associating my fear to others. Their rejection of me has been a lifetime of rejecting myself, abandoning who I am. I have used various means to protect myself, but when I thought I was protecting myself, I was actually causing me more harm and forming false opinions and ideas about myself. These are all falling away and I am starting to see through each new memory of my past through new eyes, what has been causing me fear. When we realize our fears, we have a choice, we can face it and conquer it or we can continue to allow it rule and reign.

Once I see it and realize my fear, I cannot let it reign no matter how painful it may be. I am a fighter. :-)


 

 

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