In Defense of Defense Mechanisms
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
About six months ago, I had an awakening, an epiphany if you will. I had a not too pleasant encounter with an angry person and I was completely unaware of my part in the situation. They called me a name…a name I’ve never been called before and immediately I was insulted and afraid at the same time. The name…well, it’s absolutely the worst thing to be called if you are an Empath, especially a Highly Sensitive and Intuitive Empath…they said, “you’re a FAKE!”
I was so shocked! My responses were immediate tears, which I held back so they couldn’t see the arrow piercing my soul, and silence as I stood dumbfounded and confused. As they stormed off, I immediately apologized to the person with whom I was speaking with, who was equally dumbfounded and confused as I, and for days I tried to push the rejecting remark out of my consciousness. I just couldn’t do it.
As the weeks went by, I softened and began the internal inquiry that I have become accustomed to in my personal reflection practice. I have learned how not to beat myself up over the years and instead to stop and pause when someone or something is disturbing me. This is a practice that has helped me through tremendous growth and change over the years and once again, I pulled out my journal and started noting some of my behaviors. This is what I discovered. I really was fake.
Fakeness, as I now see it, is the inability to be vulnerable and honest about who you are and what you stand for, with no apologies for your individuality or personhood. Fakeness is looking good on the outside but feeling terrible on the inside. Fakeness is the good show you put on for others while you secretly dislike yourself on the inside or secretly hold yourself as better than “those people”. Fakeness is insecurity, impostor syndrome, grandiosity, low self-worth and low self-esteem, and I had it…I had it bad.
What I soon discovered is what has now become a list of defense mechanisms that I hide behind which cause this “fakeness” in my personality. I am trying with all of my faith and strength to break free of these now. Maybe some of you can relate:
· Knowing stuff – facts, dates, names, inconsequential bits of useless information
· Becoming and Expert - which presents on the outside like being a “know it all” being “above others” or “superior” having to be right all the time
· Being an Authority Figure – ability to exert power over people
· Critical or Shaming of others
· Pushing others away
· Rejecting of others
· Abandoning of others
· Hurting or attacking verbally/physically/emotionally
· Disassociating/checking out/daydreaming/video watching marathons and gaming
· Seeking safety in unsafe relationships so one always has someone else to blame
As I ponder this list of undesirable behaviors that I have discovered in myself, I realize that they are exactly what I am trying to escape from with other people. I recognize that I am doing the very behaviors that I am trying to avoid or dislike in others!
I’m tired…tired of not feeling connected with people…tired of not being “seen” or “understood”. But, at the same time, I’m afraid of people. I’m afraid that people will “see the real me” that, “if people really knew me” they would turn away or reject me. I am terribly afraid of rejection and at this point, it doesn’t even matter where that comes from in my past, in my childhood or in my lineage. It really does not matter. What matters is now, today, how can I break free from this crushing isolation, this inevitable “aloneness” that permeates my heart and my soul?
Is it possible to be gentle with ourselves when we discover a maladaptive behavior pattern? As this awakening and growth continues to unravel my Egoic masterful mind, I pause and in awesome reverence, and I give credit to my beautiful mind for helping me get this far. I say “Thank you” for showing me the next thing in line to heal. Thank you for using me to be an example for others who are in pain and suffering the loneliness I feel also. Thank you for the courage to expose my tender parts for all the world to see and to pick apart. Thank you for being fake because it has truly awakened me to find my true Self. And lastly, thank you to that brave soul who gave me this direct and precise feedback I didn’t know that I needed. Thank you indeed!