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Defense Mechanism

20 August 2008

I know I have a lot to tell everyone about – Singapore, Mike’s trip, watching the Olympics in India, etc. – but I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that has been on my mind a lot lately. Namely, leaving and the way I react to people leaving me or my leaving people. My reaction can be summed up in two words – extreme annoyance. (By the way, this will be a serious blog post, so if you’re hoping for snarky comments, there really won’t be any.)

Basically, here is the situation: When I know that either I or someone else will be departing soon, I begin to let the little, mildly annoying things about those people become frickin’ huge irritating problems that I can’t seem to get myself over. These are usually the little things – chewing with the mouth open or the need to always give advice or the way of starting every sentence with “Well…” – that for the sake of friendship, I find it easy to ignore when I know that we’ll be sticking around each other for a while. But as soon as I know that they are leaving or that I am leaving, it becomes a big deal, something I can’t overlook. (To all the friends and family reading this blog post right now, please rest assured that I’m not talking about YOU… really, I’m not; you all are fabulous, could never annoy me ever… It’s all those other people.) (You know what also can be kind of annoying? The overuse of ellipses…)

So anyway, you’re probably wondering why this is a big deal to me. After all, if I will soon be bidding adieu to the people who are annoying me, then why should I care? The irritation will soon be over. Well, see, the problem is that letting these little annoyances become major irritations affects the way I interact with people at the end of our time together. There is no more quality time, just time with grating moments in between. And then when we finally do part ways and I get over myself, I miss the times we had together and wish that I hadn’t let my defense mechanism get in the way.

Because that’s what it is – a defense mechanism. Some people never let others get close to them in the hopes that they won’t be hurt when the others inevitably leave. I just push people away by shoving a wedge of aggravation between us.

I became acutely aware of this last week, when Mike left here after his final trip this year to far-flung places to see his wife. (And nothing I say in this blog should make anyone think that I am not grateful for how much and how far he has traveled this year to be with me – I might be in India, but at least I get to stay put and don’t have to get over jetlag on both ends!) Mike often makes the joke, when people marvel at our being away from each other for so long, that he just tries to be as annoying as possible before he leaves so that I don’t miss him as much. This really isn’t true, but you’d think it was by my internal reactions to the stupidest little things. And it is stupid – I have to think up things to get annoyed at, like “Ew! My room smells like boy!”

And I get even more annoyed when, after Mike leaves, people come up, put their hand on my shoulder and ask with a tortured look on their face, “How are you?” You’d think my dog had died (which, I’m telling you, would be tragic for me, so don’t die, Chili!) I always say, “I’m fine” with a slightly snippy voice. But really, maybe I’m not, because, as soon as he leaves, I’m up at 3 a.m., can’t get back to sleep, and wondering why I was so annoyed by the socks on the floor.

However, because of Mike leaving this last time and my realizing what a silly reaction I have, I feel like I’ve had a breakthrough. Since I have identified my defense mechanism, I may actually have a chance of stopping myself from using it at the end of my time in India. Maybe this time, as I come closer to the end of my year away, I can deliberately break down those walls I’m so used to building and actually enjoy the rest of the time I have here in India.

Except for those auto drivers – they will receive their fair share of my exasperation when the time comes (crazy-white-lady face soon to be perfected). Oh and those cows – oh how I hate the cows…

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Unity permalink
    20 August 2008 11:50 pm

    Oh my goodness Christine–I can totally relate to what you just posted. It is really hard for me to see people leave & I think for me–I am just mad at them for leaving & thus get more & more annoyed. Thanks for posting this–it is real & honest–2 things I appreciate about you.

  2. 21 August 2008 8:01 am

    Poor Christine…she misses her Mike. I both empathize and sympathize with you. I too find myself inventing reasons to not get my emotions too attached when I know it will just make it harder to leave them (or be left). Sigh. Good for you for seeing it and working on it! Personal growth rocks.

  3. D.A.D. permalink
    25 August 2008 5:35 am

    Will you stop writing with your mouth open!! You’re not even leaving and it annoys me!

    Just come home when you’re done. ;>)

  4. Dana permalink
    25 August 2008 6:40 am

    how can you not like the cows? they have such pretty big eyelashes 🙂

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  1. Random Thoughts on Leaving India: Stream of Consciousness « Christine Wandering

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