By Javinne J. McCoy
Throughout my former “career” in dealing with EUPs, Unavailables, Jerks, Narcs (Narcissists), in friendship context or romantic paring context, I have been absolutely fascinated by the level of avoidance, and downright denial of reality, these folk roll on through life with. If you’re a person that likes to deal in reality, people who avoid will frustrate the Frick out of you.
One of the many things that has always stuck in my craw about folk (especially EUPs), is when they pull out The Red Carpet of Their Crappy Behavior on you- mistreat you, perpetually disappoint you, treat you like an option and sideline you (while they seem to make time for everybody else), and then expect you to walk down their carpet of mistreatment, sashay, strike a fierce pose, smile for the camera lights, and then chaperon you off to your seat at The Let’s Pretend it Didn’t Happen Awards (but they know, that you know, that It did).
What I’ve come to realize is that there are a very ‘special’ species of folk out there that will traverse great mountains, cross great seas, and basically do anything (even distort reality to cater to their delusions) to avoid having light shed on their less than desirable, often full of foolery, shoddy character traits and behaviors. These ‘wonderful’ folk are what I like to coin Chronic Avoiders or The Chronic Avoider.
Avoidance is one of the personality trademarks of emotionally unavailable folk, commitphobic people, and all those with strong proclivities toward the cluster B personality disorders in the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) – the narcissist, the anti-social, the borderline etc.
The Chronic Avoider, is right up there on the spectrum with the Cluster B’s- you get the drift. Nuff’ said.
The Chronic Avoider, and people who avoid in general, are emotionally unavailable.
They’ve carefully constructed their life and relationships with escape routes, and easy exit strategies, purposed to avoid accountability, responsibility, reality, other people’s feelings, their own feelings. These folk will basically avoid anything that will require them to ‘show up’, make healthy connections, communicate effectively, and be an available person, available for a mutual relationship (or friendship), based in REALITY (you and them interacting together with facts, honesty, and truth as the foundation).
When you deal with The Chronic Avoider, you will know, because you will often have any variation of the following responses (from you or them):
1.Complete shock and confusion about what just happened between you and them, and how they handled, or rather didn’t handle the situation (you may actually feel like a Martian from the planet Mars in an alternate reality).
2. Baffled that they seem totally checked out, disconnected, and unaffected by the impact of their actions on you or others. If you are face-to-face with a Chronic Avoider you might notice their facial expression will give you ‘Deer in Headlights’.
3. You become scared to ‘rock the boat’ and discuss ‘the offense’ in fear of incurring their You’re Too Sensitive, You Take Things Too Personal Wrath.
4. You have to totally wind off REALITY, pretend hurtful things didn’t happen (when they did), wipe your memory clean, stuff down your feelings, and Mums the Word it all, in order to ‘keep the peace’.
5. You get silence from them. So silent you can hear crickets mating. They won’t budge and have a “discussion” about the pink, yellow, green, purple, or orange elephant in the room
6. They make it clear directly, or passively aggressively, that in order to move forward with them, you have to do so on their terms, avoid what just happened, and pick up where you left off at a previous point in the relationship, where this didn’t happen, but you find it hard to do that, when it DID happen. Confusing right?
7. The Chronic Avoider will liberally introduce you to their version of events by Gaslighting-a form of covert abuse and manipulation. Gaslighting is a subtle form of abuse that seeks to alter your perception of events so that you question your own judgement (also known as crazy making). In short, this avoidance tactic is all about avoiding and deflecting the reality of what is really going down in a relationship. Here is a clue you are being Gaslighted- if you feel like you are being prepped to be admitted to Bellevue Hospital for psych treatment (total psychological warfare going on) , you are being, yup, Gaslighted.
In the 1994 movie Gaslight with Ingrid Bergman, a young woman moves back into a house with her new husband who has a secret to protect at all costs. He begins to tactically distort her reality by manipulating her, causing her to doubt herself, question her own memory, perception, and sanity. His wife, the target, begins to ‘hook in’ and stays because she doubts herself. He continues to profess and feign his love for her yet this doesn’t match the times he is cruel to her. She therefore doubts her version of events and the reality of him being bat ISH CRAY CRAY.
8. Chronic Avoiders will pull boundary violating behavior, then withdraw. It might be days until you hear from them, maybe weeks, and more likely than not, you are initiator, and call them up first, to discuss the issue (doing all the ‘relationship work’ again).
Once you get them on the phone, or attempt to to speak with them to address an issue (a boundary violation, something done that hurt your feelings, a misunderstanding) , they can’t connect, discuss, or address it or you. If you have a conversation in an attempt to confront them, it may sound something like this:
You: “Hi , How are you? I was wondering if we can speak about what happened? ”
Chronic Avoider: (They sound all happy go lucky, without a care, then reply )“I am greeeeeat! Things are great…hold on….Okay, wait I am back. Did you watch that episode of………..last night?
9. Or…they may initiate with you first, call you, or meet up, but insist you match their Easy Breezy Twirling About the Meadows mood.
10. Will ironically become hyper-sensitive about your ‘sensitivity’ issues, accuse you of ‘going too deep’, insist that you lighten up, easy street it, and other rubbish from the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of Avoidance.
Of course this is not a comprehensive list of what The Chronic Avoider will do to play responsibility dodge ball. However, it’s intended to serve as a spring board to sharpen your discernment, so you can stop doubting you, and cease letting people run trickery and perform three ring circuses around you.
Avoidance is a barrier to emotional availability and intimacy. It keeps people out and keeps reality out. It withdraws. It withholds the truth. It disregards. It pushes away. It denies.
If we are to start cultivating healthier relationships, self-awareness, and awareness of others’ shadiness is key.
The Chronic Avoider, and people who avoid, are people that need your boundaries the most, so you can protect you from getting caught out there, end an unhealthy relationship more quickly, and decline talking a vacation to Fantasy Island.
If you want real relationships, where real people show up, to do the real ‘relationship work’, and real ‘honestly communicating work’, you must stay in reality yourself.
Say to yourself, “I choose to stay in reality no matter how much I like him/her, no matter how horny I am for him/her, no matter how much I admire him/her, no matter what I think I can get from him/her, no matter what I think I can give him/her, no matter how much attention they give me, no matter how I can get promoted by him/her/them, no matter how much they profess to love me….I will remain in REALITY. I will acknowledge the facts of WHAT DID happen , even when they pretend it didn’t happen.”
It’s been said “Game recognizes game“. Well, real recognizes real. Don’t let people pull the wool over your entire experience and existence.
Stay tuned for more insights and tips in the near future about The Chronic Avoider, and how to deal with them (or not deal with them).
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