You may remember one of my pain behaviours was to avoid the people from my old life. It didn't take me long to generalize this avoidance to almost everyone in my life. I avoided many things in my life because of my pain and by doing this I also isolated myself. I not only isolated myself from people, I isolated myself from just about every aspect of my life. I was overwhelmed by my emotions, my physical pain and my mental pain.
Avoidance and isolation seem to go hand in hand and both can be very hard behaviours to break, but it can be done with understanding and patience. When deciding to address this pain behaviour please be gentle with yourself. Take the time to understand why you avoid your world, your life and the people you share it with.
Please take a look at the following information regarding avoidance behaviours. Do you notice anything about you and your life within the entry? If you do, please be gentle with yourself. This information is not being provided to encourage you to continue the avoidance behaviours but to help you understand why you are doing what you are doing so you can make the changes you want for you moving forward.
Please take good care of you
Avoidance can be an escape from your "outer world" for example, avoiding public places or social gatherings due to generalized fears. This avoidance can lead to isolation and withdrawal from important relationships/supports in your community.
Avoidance can also be an escape from your "inner experiences" such as painful emotions, thoughts and or memories.
Is avoidance always a problematic response to trauma?
No: Sometimes you may want or need to avoid certain situations/people that are threatening or abusive in the present. Also, some circumstances or intense feelings may be too triggering or overwhelming and you may not have sufficient coping skills yet to deal with that situation or even in a healthy way.
However, avoidance is problematic when it leads to frequent numbing, shutting down or dissociating and/or leads to isolating and withdrawing from supports/relationships in the community.
Avoidance can also be problematic when it contributes to you not being able to adequately experience feelings or body responses associated with understanding yourself and your response to the world. Self-care, safety and important relationships may be compromised.
Avoidance based on fear/shame around past trauma can continue to rob you of your self-worth, self-understanding and can often lead to a life based on distortions and misconceptions versus the truth.
This information comes to you from the PTSD support group I attended through the London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC). This information has been retyped as provided to me in the handouts.