“My preferred method of dealing with things is avoidance and hoping it goes away.”
When I wrote this down the other day as an upcoming blog topic, I originally thought it was going to be funny. The punchline was something along the lines of “I am not a mature adult.” It was going to be another way for me to prove to everyone that I am a hot mess, and people really need to stop asking me for life advice or to give presentations to their high school classes (because yes, I do that now).
I was going to share stories of how I’ve been ghosted in the past, and have also ghosted people without seeing the issue that so many other people my age see. I was going to recount my best petty and passive-aggressive messages, posts, and comments. You were going to read it, laugh, and then think “my god she’s a mess. I’m glad I don’t actually know her.”
But then, like many things in my life (and yours too probably, idk. I don’t know your life) it got serious.
I started working on the anxiety section for my therapy today, and lo-and-behold the first sentence in my handbook was: “There are two types of behaviours that characterize our anxiety: avoidance and safety behaviours. We avoid and seek safety when we are anxious, because these behaviours help us feel better in the short run” (Greenberger and Padesky, 225) (Yes, I cited that in proper MLA form; I’m an English graduate – what did you expect?)
When I read that sentence, everything sort of clicked, and I no longer thought my post about avoidance could be funny and harmless.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an idiot. I know what I’m doing when I’m avoiding confrontation, situations, certain discussions, people, etc. I know that I am avoiding them to remove myself and my anxiety from the situation. I know that it’s not making anything better. I just hope that things will be solved without confrontation. I hope that “closure” isn’t a real thing that people need.
I knew I was avoiding things. I’ve been avoiding things my entire life. I’m good at it. What I didn’t know was how much I relied on avoidance, or how it contributed to my anxiety to make it worse.
I’m not perfect, and I don’t pretend to be. I say that often enough, but I feel like I need that disclaimer.
Obviously I still don’t love confrontation. I don’t think I can promise that I will never avoid a situation ever again. I can tell you that I know firsthand that it just prolongs and increases anxiety. I can tell you that avoidance is easy, but not really worth it.
Ultimately, it comes down to what you’re avoiding. Are you avoiding something for your personal safety? Maybe keep doing that. Are you avoiding an uncomfortable conversation? Maybe you should just get it over with nice and quick.
And maybe you should stop taking advice from someone who calls herself Red Hot Mess (though please keep reading my blog)!