Monday, November 26, 2012

“Dee-FENCE! Dee-FENCE!!”

I continue to work on this issue of my defensiveness. It’s a struggle, naturally. Separating out my part in things can be really hard when I feel justified in my actions, thoughts, or emotions. Let’s say someone I know is constantly fucking with me; I feel I’m justified in being pissed off at them and reacting like an asshole. Or maybe I’m feeling on edge, waiting for the other shoe to drop at work because my boss is erratic; then I think I’m justified in adopting a siege mentality—no matter how exhausted and crazy it makes me. Or take an older example, like when my ex-wife would push and push me until I exploded at her. “See? You have anger issues,” she would say.

Well, yes. Yes, I did have anger issues. And yes, yes I have issues with defensiveness. I’m working on it, just back off already! ;-)

It helps to try and laugh at myself. It helps, too, to remember that I didn’t become this way by accident. As it is with other character defects, even the Disease in general, who we are is who we had to become in order to survive. I wasn’t born defensive, I became this way as a result of what I’ve been through in all the different parts of my life.

The head-shrinkers who practice cognitive-behavioral therapy would say that what happened in the past isn’t nearly as important as what our actions are in the present. If you want to change a behavior, you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about why you behave that way. The action is changed first-period. If you change the action, the thinking will change as well. I’ve taken enough psychology classes to know that this is true, thoughts follow action far more easily than the other way around. For myself, though, I still like to know the why behind the what.

For me (and maybe this is because of my spotty memory more than anything else), I like to know why I am how I am. I want to know the reasons behind what I do. That helps me to change. Understanding how I got to where I am, seeing how I developed a character defect—in this case, my defensiveness—helps me to change. I can look at my life now, see how the circumstances are different now than they were before. This defense mechanism I’ve got, which served its purpose and has now outlived its usefulness, is easy for me to deal with the more I know about it.

There’s something in here, too, about feeling caught off-guard. I hadn’t realized to what degree this issue was a problem, and maybe that’s leading me to overreact to the issue. So, I find myself in the absurd place of feeling defensive about the fact that I’m defensive. This Disease of ours is so sick.

And it’s all compounded by some very unclear boundaries. What if someone likes to push other people’s buttons because they’re childish or have poor personal boundaries of their own? Someone’s erraticism might not be a tool to manipulate, but instead is borne out of their own insecurities? And the need to push someone until they explode can come from a discomfort and inability to deal with emotions in general.

So I have my stuff, other people have theirs. But I’m not responsible for other people’s stuff, just my own. Right…

That’s one thing that’s making this difficult. For some reason, the defensiveness is really tightly interwoven with my boundary issues. As in, I’m thinking that I learned to be defensiveness as a coping strategy, and part of that was learning to be acutely observant of those around me. Or maybe they’re even the same thing. To use an analogy, a child who gets abused learns to be hyper vigilant, watching for signs that another round of abuse is coming.

Hrm. It suddenly occurs to me that I’m writing this with the unspoken assumption that I’m going to reach a conclusion of some kind. But I’m not LOL. This is ongoing work. And it’s good to have the opportunity to do it.

1 comment:

  1. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.