One of the most ironic things that people with depression and anxiety do is push people away when they need them most. It is one of the hardest cycles to break. This doesn’t seem to make any sense. Why do we act this way? What triggers this defensive mode? I am currently right in the middle of trying to break this cycle and allow myself to be loved. It starts with learning to love yourself and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. I thought that this was a relevant and great follow up to my previous post “Letting Go of the Past“.
I think we are all afraid of being hurt. It’s a vicious cycle of feeling alone and pushing people away. Then we feel lonely and are upset that there is no one there for us (makes sense doesn’t it?) You don’t want anyone to see you when you’re hurting, so your natural instinct is to go into protective mode and isolate yourself.
How do we break this cycle?
1) When you start to feel like you are pushing someone away, remind yourself that this is a trigger and that you need to let down your guard. (Even if just a little bit at a time. It will eventually get a bit easier to do).
2) Remember what I had said previously about letting go of the past. The events that occurred in your past have happened, but you are no longer living in the past. I am not saying to go into every situation trusting everyone. Just don’t be so quick to assume the worst in people.
As I child I grew up surrounded by alcoholism. My mother and step-father were both alcoholics and being around alcohol to this day can be a major trigger for me. Don’t get me wrong. I will on occasion have a couple drinks. The real trigger for me is the classic “drunk bully” that wants to corner you and tell you at the very moment they have taken their 5th fireball shot, every occasion you have disappointed them or made them angry since the time you took away their Barbie in Grade 1.
My mother would always save all her best insults for after she had downed a bottle of vodka. This fear of the “drunk bully” has dramatically effected my ability to be socially interactive or present, if I know a gathering or event will include excessive drinking. If you have experienced trauma as a child from interactions with adults or parents, this can, and likely will, have an effect on your ability to build healthy adult relationships. A friend or family member that makes a slighted comment or says the wrong thing, can trick you into feeling that they don’t truly care for you.
Trust me when I say, that those of us who push people away are the loneliest people of all. Although we long to be close to someone, we tend to push people away and break off relationships at the slightest hint of trouble. There are going to be times when friends or family disappoint us. Just like we will also dissapoint them from time to time. We all are facing our own challenges and it is difficult at times to know what is happening to others outside the walls of our own truths.
The biggest reason that I tend to push people away is that I don’t want to feel like I am an inconvenience to others. This often makes it difficult to talk to people and then I end up feeling isolated. The last thing I want to do is bring other people down.
If you have stumbled across this post and you are dealing with someone who pushes you away. I have a few suggestions-
1) Reassure your loved one that they’re not a burden to you. Remind them that you aren’t going anywhere and when they feel comfortable you are ready to talk or even better listen.
2) Don’t take it personally. Please don’t try the “guilt” method if someone has been absent. This will push them away further and they will isolate themselves even more. We don’t want to dissapoint you, we are trying to save you from dealing with our depression.
“Because at the end of the day, we’re all lost. We’re all cracked. We’re all scarred. We’re all broken. We’re all just trying to figure out this thing called life, you know? Sometimes it feels so lonely, but then you remember your core tribe. The people who sometimes hate you, but never stop loving you. The people who always show up, no matter how many times you’ve fucked up and pushed them away. That’s your tribe. These people, these struggles, this is my tribe. So yeah, we fall apart, but we’ll fall together. We’ll stand up—together. Then, at the end of all the bullshit, all of the tears, all of the hurt, we’ll take a few steps at a time. Then we’ll take a few deep breaths, and we’ll walk each other home.”
― Brittainy C. Cherry, The Fire Between High & Lo