Avoidant personality disorder: "Long-standing feelings of inadequacy, extremely sensitive to what others think."
I do a lot of thinking, frequently at my own peril. I guess I am a bit masochistic in that regard.
In a fit of personal assessment and soul-searching in recent days, I have been thinking about how much of a pretender I have been most of my life. As an impressionable youngster growing up in the 1940`s, I fantasized about being a cowboy, an army hero, a great athlete and a Hollywood movie star...Nothing really unnatural or wrong about that, only problem is -- I never stopped pretending to be things that I was not.
The older I got, the more I began to emulate certain characteristics and personae that I thought others expected of me. The end result being that I imposed undue pressure on myself, trying to be and pretending to be things that I was not. I will not elaborate on the ways in which I evolved into a living, breathing contradiction of my true self, but believe me when I say that there have been many, the spectrum running through professional endeavors, intellect, writing, sports activities, personal relationships and religious beliefs. Perhaps in most cases I was compensating for shortcomings and mere adequacy, always striving for favourable reception and ultimate impact.
Suffice to say, I have not always been as idealistically committed and adept as I may have appeared on the surface. A Mr. Perfect on one hand, but a suppressed doubting Thomas on the other.
In retrospect I have passed myself off as being, and representing, many things that were quite unnatural for me and I have had to work very hard at keeping up a false pretence in most cases. When I could no longer cope with the pretend situations that I had created for myself, I would not be beyond abruptly walking away from them (call it "quitting" if you want) and in the process many times leaving others scratching their heads in wonderment over what had prompted my impulsive actions. As one who struggles with an avoidant personality disorder, I more often than not blamed everything and everybody but myself for what had transpired. Sadly, in the process, I damaged relationships and forever tarnished people's impressions of me.
It has taken almost 77 years to come to grips with my self-damaging personality traits and I am just now starting to learn to stop worrying about what other people think, or expect, of me. The reality that I no longer have to pretend to be what I am not, has relieved me of a great weight. Almost too little too late, my task now is to be true only to myself and to capture the genuine happiness and personal acceptance that has eluded me for so long.
In many respects, it is almost like starting all over again and discovering who and what I really am. At this point, I am still not sure...It will be a personal day-to-day process, peeling off the many layers of pretence and not subjecting myself to situations that I may eventually be compelled to escape from...Subsequent discovery should be fun and self-fulfilling.
I have come to understand that there is a fine and dangerous line between imaging and pretending, if you know what I mean. There is an equally narrow divide between believing and pretending to believe and we must have the wisdom to know the difference, particularly when dealing with people and matters of the soul.
A fellow by the name of Andre Malraux once said: “Man is not what he thinks he is, he is what he hides.” I believe that to be true.
So sorry folks, but it turns out that I am what I am. No more pretending otherwise. There is also a very good possibility that I am not what you expected me to be. Perhaps this self admission comes as a disappointment and you have the option of accepting it or rejecting it. Either way, I will not allow myself to worry about it. Gone are the days when I sought to win 'em all! Gone also are the times when I had something to hide!
Hopefully and more importantly, I will be more comfortable with the simple, less compromised, what-you- see-is-what-you-get ME that is emerging. After all, I am stuck with that guy for the duration -- for better or worse...Warts and wrinkles notwithstanding.
I am now at a stage in life where with each passing day I accept the fact that I have become a little less capable, and a lot more forgetful. Unlike in the past, I am not losing sleep over any of that either. While I do not advocate it, in a way I'm kind of glad that pretending got me this far. Ultimately, I fooled only myself.
To repeat: I am what I am...And it is what it is!