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goldenduck
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Hello,

I'm going through a process at the moment of trying to understand myself. Basically, through my own research I believe I have avoidant personality disorder and I'm trying to learn about this in order to understand myself a bit better. But, my question is actually about my Mother's behavior.

One example of this common behavior is one day I went out with some people I could loosely call friends and someone said something quite nasty and I got quite upset. I got home very late and I cried, my Mum heard me and came downstairs. She asked me why I was crying and I said it was nothing, she said "Well, something must be wrong". I said again it didn't matter and suddenly she "Suit yourself", went back to bed and turned the light off and left me in the dark crying. If that wasn't bad enough, the next day she cooked everyone except me a meal and left me to sort my own food out. And she didn't speak to me for a couple of days.

That was probably one of the more extreme examples but throughout my life if I've ever been upset about something not only does she not want to comfort me but she seems to get angry with me as well. I think this is quite extraordinary behavior to treat a person who already has a problem on their mind (which for all she knows could be anything) in such a harsh way.

I've always wished I just could understand why would someone be like this. Any ideas?

Edited by goldenduck
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Hi Goldenduck, welcome :-)

I was wondering why you did not tell her what was bothering you. She did ask a few times it seems to me, and only left when you were unwilling to share. Is your Mum a nurturing person in general? I know my Mom is a good person, loves us dearly, but in my whole like I have never gone to her for comfort, she's just not that type. Sometimes people just aren't made that way. Do you have other people in your life who do nurture you a little more?

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Hi Goldenduck, welcome :-)

I was wondering why you did not tell her what was bothering you. She did ask a few times it seems to me, and only left when you were unwilling to share. Is your Mum a nurturing person in general? I know my Mom is a good person, loves us dearly, but in my whole like I have never gone to her for comfort, she's just not that type. Sometimes people just aren't made that way. Do you have other people in your life who do nurture you a little more?

Well, the reason I didn't tell her was probably because I was embarrassed and I don't like to give things away unless I'm sure there's no risk of being criticized. This is actually a common behavior for people with AvPD so I suspect that's where it came from.

She did ask what was wrong but it's actually rare for her to do that. If I give another example, she said something that was upset me and I went into another room and cried. She shut the door so she didn't have to listen to me. Another time out as a child I was in my room crying my eyes out, she asked my Dad to go and tell me to shut up, and he did so. If I'm feeling depressed and look depressed never ever ever does she utter the words "is anything wrong?"

So no, she's not really a nurturing person.

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Yep, she sounds like a somewhat impatient person, and perhaps a little stern.... how about your dad, do you have a good relationship with him?

I feel like my relationship was better with my Dad than my Mum, I have few negative memories from my past and probably no more than any other person. But I have just as few good memories as well. The biggest problem I saw/see in my Dad is that he has no backbone, he went along with everything my Mum decided and never stuck up for me when my Mum was a bit harsh.

So I wouldn't say I had a bad or good relationship with him. My therapist has even described him an "absent father" even though he was always physically there.

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I feel that way about my mom. My Dad sounds somewhat like your Mum, more authoritarian, and my dad was even physically abusive. I don't remember my mom in my childhood, it's as if she was not actually there, which is odd because she was and she's a good woman.... but she always stood behind my dad on everything so she was almost invisible to me.... It's good that you have no major trauma to deal with at least ...

Can you tell me a little about avoidant personality disorder, I don't know much about it...

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Can you tell me a little about avoidant personality disorder, I don't know much about it...

A person with Avoidant Personality Disorder (AvPD) will basically avoid interacting with other people because they perceive it as too dangerous. They fear being rejected, shamed or critizised so rather than risk that happening they'll avoid social interaction altogether.

The cruel thing about this disorder is, at the same time as wanting to get away from other humans they actually desire the opposite and want to have relationships with people. So they're in constant conflict with themselves.

I see myself avoiding people all the time. At work I'll even choose my parking spot based on where I think other people might park just so I don't end up bumping into them on the way to/from my car.

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My personal view on that experience is that some social settings are just too much for us cope with and there's nothing wrong with sometimes walking away. There are always opportunities out there to make friends and some things may work better than others.

I'm actually in a job that requires "excellent interpersonal skills"! I may be let go one day if I can't do what they want but I'll tell myself I did what I could and just accept that that job might have been beyond my abilities.

Edited by goldenduck
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I guess we all have our temperaments. I find that in a professional setting I do OK. But when it comes to them seeing <me>, not the professional persona I have, then I get more panicky and I tend to want to run. I think it's because of personal esteem issues, but although I know this well, I can't seem to be able to affect it that much ...

Edited by Symora
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Hello, goldenduck. You might discover that your job is beneficial in this. I have dealt with some social anxieties in the past and also some of what you've described with being around people. The store I work in has changed policies in the past year and now I have to say hello to everyone and also greet them within 15 seconds of their coming in the door. This was hard at first, but the more I've been doing it, the easier it has become. When I am smiling and bright, I find that others often respond in a similar manner to me. This offers me positive reinforcement and I'm actually beginning to like doing it. Years and years of practice of interacting with others at work (along with therapy) is finally beginning to show.

As far as being judged negatively by others, it's good to keep in mind that any and all of us are human. Others aren't focused entirely on us either. They are more than likely considering their own concerns and not judging us. They all wear underwear (well hopefully, anyhow) and put their pants on one leg at a time (borrowed from Malign). It might be helpful to take little steps with this, set some goals and try to move forward with it. There is also the SUDS scale. It involves labeling your anxieties 1-10 for the degree of anxiety each situation causes and challenging yourself with these situations as you move up the scale. I found it to be very helpful as a guideline and in showing that I was making some progress. Everything got easier little by little. I now find that I very much enjoy people, but just need to step back now and then in order to regroup (introverted tendencies). Have you ever talked with a therapist about your concerns, goldenduck?

Your mom. Maybe her response to you is her way of avoidance. It seems to me that sometimes when people don't know how to deal with something (such as your emotional responses), they often condemn it in order to keep it a safe distance away. That is pure speculation on my part, but it is apparent that her behavior has not been supportive of you. It's nice to be nurtured at times. Is there anyone else in your life who listens to your feelings and offers you support?

Edited by IrmaJean
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Everything got easier little by little. I now find that I very much enjoy people, but just need to step back now and then in order to regroup (introverted tendencies). Have you ever talked with a therapist about your concerns, goldenduck?

Yes, I have a therapist at the moment but I feel like we're going round in circles. Although my therapist is giving me good advice on 'getting out there' I've been extremely resistant to change. I've bought a book on AvPD and I'm hoping through understanding myself more and the reasons behind my behavior I might be more likely to change.

Your mom. Maybe her response to you is her way of avoidance. It seems to me that sometimes when people don't know how to deal with something (such as your emotional responses), they often condemn it in order to keep it a safe distance away. That is pure speculation on my part, but it is apparent that her behavior has not been supportive of you. It's nice to be nurtured at times. Is there anyone else in your life who listens to your feelings and offers you support?

Avoidance might be the problem, yes. I don't see myself in her but I know Avoidance can take many forms. I guess I'll never really know for sure though but I'd rather guess than feel like it's a problem with me, which is what I've always done.

Yes, my therapist and my Grandmother are good at both these things. Despite having these people who are always there for me I still have an expectation that my mother will fill this role. But I always end up getting disappointed.

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Hah, now I'm picturing people lining up to borrow my pants, just so they can put them on one leg at a time ... thanks, IrmaJean. :-)

I'm sorry that your mother doesn't make you feel supported, 'duck. And yes, please don't assume it's a problem with you. It just may be useless trying to guess what the problem is with her, or to have any expectation that she'll change.

I married a woman who had two children by previous marriages, one grown and one twelve-year-old. In my opinion, looking back, she had narcissistic traits. She micromanaged her son, was always careful to align herself with one of us against the other, because she was afraid of being ganged up on, and so on. In the name of getting him to control his temper, she'd force him to return to family meetings that he had left in tears.

And where was I in all of that? Fairly useless, to be honest. It was her son, as she would make clear if I attempted to "parent"; I was her husband, if I attempted to comfort him.

I started to be free only when I finally despaired of her ever changing.

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