Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Avoiding the Avoidance

For years, I was the master of avoidance. I was, for so long, mired in depression and isolation and built a wall around my psyche. A wall to protect me from the inevitable fear that I would feel when approached with conflict, decisions or dissonance. I avoided everything. Social engagements, classes, bills, phone messages, people. It was the only way I knew how to protect myself from managing emotional and personal situations that would threaten my little sliver of solace I had built in my various apartments, where I would stow away from life and hide, silent, amongst the needlepoint projects, television and a phone I would rarely answer.

Avoidance became my spoon to China. Intellectually, I always knew that I would never make it there with this maladjusted approach – the problems would never be solved, the issues never resolved. But I really knew no other way. This was all I carried around in my emotional tool box, so the approach became battered and scuffed with many uses, as well as trusty and reliable.

It’s also a hard habit to reject. I’ve become worlds better at identifying when I begin to feel overwhelmed and fearful. I’ve learned to “identify” that feeling and cognitively determine my response. It's almost amusing to watch the process, here the little conversations I have. "Well, I'm feeling a bit ___ about this. But instead of doing ____, I think I'm going to bite the bullet and ... ." The amusing part is I can be caught doing it out loud. Often on runs and bike rides. And it works -- it has served me so much better than my blunt little spoon, but sometimes I forget and fall into old habits. Which I have now done.

We traveled this weekend, Mighty M and me. Almost 13 hours in the car in under two days will certainly give you time to think and reflect. And in between the NPR programs we could find through Baltimore and DC, and the two football games we listened to on AM radio on the way home, there was ample time for reflection on my part.

It seems, in my estimation, that I’m being avoidant. Of my race report. I know…it sounds silly, and perhaps it is. But this blog is the place where my silly resides. And for all of the time that has passed – and even taking into account those things that pull my attention elsewhere – I should have easily written about Wisconsin.

But I haven’t.

And it practically gives me hives each time I think about it.

I’ve been avoidant. Again. I have managed to remember vividly the worst parts of that day, while allowing the wonderful moments to linger, forgotten, in the larger shadows. And in doing so, I've managed to create this hurdle where there was none before. Here I am digging to China with a spoon again – knowing that writing about the race and turning the details over in the sunlight is the answer and, instead, distracting myself. The mind is a complicated thing. A fascinating thing. A frustrating thing.

One thing that I do know, is that I am no longer that same person who wants to tuck away from the world because of my fear of what will happen if I ventured forth – felt the emotions, faced the conflict, worked through the challenge. So enough with the indulgence… it’s time to write the race report. Remember in detail all the great and awful parts of that day, so I am free to be excited about next year.



Spandex King said...

And I look forward to reading it. Great post!!

21stCenturyMom said...

Just remember that your swam 2.4 miles and rode 56 miles - while puking. That, my dear, is the stuff of legends. I can't wait to read yours.

Laurie said...

Amen sister.

Avoidance doesn't solve the problem. It must be an active process. I've been there too. Writing about it will definitely help you move on, happier and healthier. I have been looking forward to reading it since Sept 10th and I am still eager!

Bolder said...

i have a post in me, that i've been trying not to write for two years, i wrote it yesterday, i'll publish it next week...

i hear you.

j. said...

i was just ranting to my girlfriend, beating up on myself not for things i have done, but for the things i have continually avoided. the little things that when brushed under the carpet, miraculously grow into menacing monsters that eat me from within.

"did you read IMAble's most recent post?" my girlfriend asked me.


"read it," she said. "it might help."

i did.
it did.

thank you.