PERSONAL ESSAY | MENTAL HEALTH

Inherited Behavior

Essay response to Spooktober — Week 1

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

My dad was the expert. He had avoidance down to a perfect science. He was a no drama llama long before the term was even coined. Who would have thought something that should have been positive and peaceful would turn into such a negative behavior?

Do you know how frustrating it is to be unable to engage someone in a conversation only to have them avoid it because it could lead to conflict? How do you air your grievances? How do you enact change?

And yet, while I found this avoidant behavior frustrating with my dad, it was somehow passed along to me. Should I call this Divine Karma at work? Probably so because I am sure when I avoid things, it frustrates the hell out of the people around me too.

Of course, I didn’t recognize this avoidant behavior in myself until I was discussing my dad’s behavior with my therapist. She helped me to understand that my dad didn’t purposefully avoid conflict. In fact, it is probably one of his best traits because people felt at ease with him. He was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy most of the time. Give him a fishing pole and a cooler full of RC Cola and he’d go off to the riverbank and soak in Nature’s positivity. It would be the return home to my mom and us kids that would turn his best trait into a negative one. Any conflicts that had arisen while he was engaged with Nature, he would wave them off and tune us out. I think he wanted to remain in that zen-like world instead of listening to all of us bicker. My dad was an extroverted introvert. He didn’t mind being around people and he never met a stranger. However, he also needed his downtime and avoiding conflict, I believe, afforded him that.

My own avoidant behavior is far worse and more negative than my dad’s was. Because of my social anxiety issues, I cannot be around large crowds of people. Everyone is a stranger to me because I don’t interact with many people. I like my quiet and solitude because there are already enough voices in my head. If I am in the flow of writing, arting, reading or researching, I don’t like interruptions and I will wave them off so I don’t lose my flow, but this also signals to the person who is trying to engage with me that they aren’t important — a feeling I know all too well. And if someone dares to drag me into a conflict, I will shut them out, shut me in and ignore the conflict like it is literally a plague. And I know I mainly do this because I am prone to panic attacks, but that, I’ve come to realize, is no excuse for avoiding life.

I am thankful that I never had kids. Just the thought of saddling a child with avoidant behavior terrifies me. I know first hand how crippling it can be for those on the receiving end of that behavior and I know how destructive my own behavior has been for family, friends and my spouse. This is a behavior that I am actively seeking to squelch with the help of therapy and admitting that it is indeed a negative behavior.

©2021 Lori Carlson. All Rights Reserved.

Personal essay response to Diana C.’s Spooktober Week 1 prompt — Which behavior that I know has negative effects do I repeat over and over again?

Lori Carlson writes Poetry, Fiction, Articles, Creative Non-Fiction and Personal Essays. Most of her topics are centered around Relationships, Spirituality, Life Lessons, Mental Health, Nature, Loss, Death, and the LGBTQ+ community. Check out her personal Medium blog here.

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𝘈𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘷𝘶𝘭𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘣𝘪𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘺, 𝘢𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴 & 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩 𝘵𝘩𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘴𝘵𝘰𝘳𝘺𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘴𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘰𝘧 𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘭𝘦𝘥𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘯 𝘴𝘱𝘪𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴.

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Ravyne Hawke

Ravyne Hawke

Writing Coach, Poet, Fiction Writer, Essayist, Artist, Dreamer | “Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the Ocean” ~Thich Nhat Hanh