Updated: Jan 20, 2022
This year has shown me myself more clearly than ever.
I see the patterns I’ve played out for decades.
I see my coping mechanisms. My fears. My automatic responses. My conditioning from early experiences that can be brought to life in an instant of familiarity.
I remember what it was like before it all.
I also remember what it’s like to be steeped in anxiety, in self-doubt, in shame and guilt and fear and insecurity at various levels through the stages of this life.
I see how my number one protective mechanism has been to withdraw.
To withdraw from people, from relationships, from life, from the world at large. To avoid that which is hurtful, dangerous, difficult, uncomfortable, or threatening.
Sometimes this has been a sound choice. And sometimes this has been a simple iteration, a sick song stuck on repeat because I haven’t known what else to play instead.
For me, this year has centered around finding my balance.
Balance between opposite extremes. Balance in my approach, my perspectives, my emotions. Balance between the new and beautiful that is coming in, and the old faithful that continues to serve me.
Balance is central for me.
I read somewhere recently that Pisces’ key tension to navigate is learning the difference between introversion and stonewalling.
This hit me in the gut.
My most basic reaction to feeling unsafe, disrespected, harmed or misunderstood has been to simply go silent and remove myself.
There are places in my life where this has been a healthy response. This action saved me many times in my young life.
The thing about survival mechanisms is — when they’ve worked in the past, when they’ve done their part to protect you when you needed it most, it’s harder to drop them when they actually become harmful.
It can feel easier to default back to this choice over and over again, without even being conscious of it.
Many, many times I have become silent and withdrawn. While this can be a way to survive in difficult circumstances, it can also be an avoidance tactic.
As much as I believed I had stopped leaning into avoidance, I see it so clearly now.
I’ve still been avoiding. I’ve been carrying this heavy baggage, these wounds, this fear of rejection and the strong urge to protect myself.
While it can be adaptive, it has shifted to the point where it is not.
I’m no longer in unsafe spaces or relationships. I don’t self-sacrifice or over-extend myself anymore. I’ve learned to set healthy boundaries. I know how to honor myself and practice active self-respect and self-love.
The protective mechanisms that were once so essential have shifted into burdens of their own. In seeing this, I choose to release them.
It is safe for me to be seen. It is safe for me to speak. It is safe to open up.
It’s okay to experience conflict, and hardship. It’s okay to disagree. It’s okay not to always be understood.
It’s time to do something different. I'm ready.
For anyone who resonates with this and would like to share:
What was your coping mechanism / means of survival growing up?
How did you protect yourself, and what was the catalyst?
How do these remnants show up now? What do you see in yourself today?
What are you ready to release and embrace as we move into a brand new year?