Avoidance and Self-Sabotage

So it seems I need to deviate from the general theme and title of this blog a little bit. I will be periodically going from experiential stories of my past to more recent processes and experiences. Hopefully you can bear with me as the evolution of this blog continues.

I awaken with that familiar feeling of heartache but in a way it is comforting. It is a feeling I seemed to have used in the past to drive me forward, a kind of feeling of rejection and pain from reaching for love but not fully getting there. Feelings of self-pity and loss come up requiring the need to plow through the day or whatever is ahead of me. Using these deep emotions as a catalyst for self-improvement in what form I have yet to determine.

There was an attachment theory experiment done in the 70’s where children were brought into a room to play and when fully distracted the mother would leave the room without their knowledge. There was much more to this laboratory procedure referred to as the strange situation (Mary Ainsworth) than I will not get into here but from the data collected four different types of patterns emerged which are used to show a pattern of behavior that often seems to continue into adulthood: secure, anxious-avoidant, anxious-resistant, and disorganized.

For me I have come to realize that my pattern could be closest to the pattern of avoidant. I wouldn’t go all the way into an anxious avoidant disorder label but for ease of communication I find the avoidant pattern a close representation of my experiences. Just like all “generalized labels” this isn’t very cut and dry as it plays out in very creative ways for me. Deep inside there is a longing to connect with others and to find love but another part of me wants to push it away or find any excuse to reject the love given. There seems to be a threshold I will reach, especially in romantic relationships, at which point some kind of defense mechanism will kick in and I will self-sabotage the relationship in order to protect my heart. It is the vulnerability I feel in those instances that is probably the most distressing.

Luckily, I am a little more familiar with this defense mechanism these days, but apparently I have not fully removed the pattern. It seems to be centered on the belief that love will not last, that it could be taken away or destroyed at any moment. So there is this strong impulse to sabotage it for at least then it will be on my terms and not blind side me at some unforeseen later date. I had unknowingly done this for many years before I finally caught glimpses of it while dating a woman who would continue to be with me despite how emotionally abusive I was to her.

There is a lot more to this. At that time I was very abusive to myself and so just being around me after a while I would see the person I was dating as an extension of myself and I would start to treat them the same way. But this situation was different. I was really pushing the limits and actually caught myself wondering why she wasn’t going away.

So being aware of this pattern I am able to witness the process a little more. With that being said, I will share that I recently chose to really open up and love someone more. A person I have kept at a distance for some time now. They had wanted to have a romantic relationship with me for a while but I didn’t want to go there because it didn’t feel right. I made all kinds of excuses but yet this person keeps popping into my life and we have a lot in common. So I figured it would be good to let go of my grocery list type mentality of what I want in a woman and participate with what is right in front of me.

No longer wanting to be alone, I decided that I would simply be present with this person and not judge or project into how the future would be with them. Ultimately, to allow myself to be more “vulnerable” to love and see what happens.

I realized after expressing this leap of courage to open my heart more that it was actually still “protected” since this person is now more interested in another man who is in a relationship with someone else. So to break it down, it is a situation where I now want to be with her but she loves some other guy who is in love with someone else. I knew of this other guy prior to my decision to proceed, so for me it is the realization that I had only made that leap of allowing someone to deeply connect and surrender to being with them when I knew they would be less likely to want a long term relationship.

On some level it must have made me feel safe that I did not have to commit to anything. Or perhaps I would now be able to see what happens and who she chooses if this other guy changes his mind. For then I would have put her through a test to see if she really loved me or just the idea of me. This testing of others is also another pattern I am working with balancing. As the testing can become a self-fulfilling prophesy of rejection.

I also wonder if my change of heart might be the result of desperation. Is the slight heartache because I am truly in love with this person or am I simply longing for the love and security I started to reach for. In this reaching, inadvertently scratching at the deep human wound of feeling unloved and abandoned. I know these things are not true in a spiritual sense but we are more than just spiritual beings.

This does not change the sadistic type pattern of finally opening up to a person who really cares about me but not until they had moved on to another. It is a pretty clever pattern to avoid something while believing on some level that “I tried and yet again I got rejected. It wasn’t my fault”. This is a victimization program which I seemed to embrace a lot in the past. Lots of heartache and pain at not finding love. Throwing myself at all the wrong women that on some level I knew would hurt me and sabotaging the relationships that could possible work out.

Well like so many things, I guess time will tell how this plays out. As always the inner work continues while I work to find balance in how that is expressed in the world. To stay present in order to catch and move beyond harmful defense mechanisms, false programming, and victim victimizer patterns.

May you always feel love and security,

Jason