I’ve been thinking recently about just how far my demand avoidance actually reaches, and the answers have astonished me, to be honest. Certain things that I do in certain ways, and ways in which I react, I have always before considered to be unrelated oddities of my personality, but viewing them now through the lense of demand avoidance they make a lot more sense and are more cohesive.
So I suppose for this blog post it’s probably best to just relate examples.
What first got me thinking about this in the past few weeks was when I was thinking about self-help books. I was thinking about parenting, and different styles of parenting, the names given to those different styles, and the books first initiating and then expanding upon / marketing those different styles. It occurred to me that, bar a few baby care and conception books, I have never fully read through a parenting book. I have bought quite a few along the way, always with the intention of reading them, but I have never actually read more than a paragraph here and there. Bearing in mind here that my primary hobby is reading – it’s something I do at least daily – and I read primarily non-fiction, this complete omission of parenting books is quite striking. Especially scene as parenting is something that I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about and theorising about. Of course, I know exactly why I don’t read them – I DO NOT LIKE PEOPLE TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!! I do not like demands, I do not like suggestions, I do not like expectations, I do not like even reading about methods, because to me these feel like something that could become expectations. Even though I have discovered that my parenting style is similar to certain ‘known’ styles, the thought of categorising myself or aligning myself with something with INSTRUCTIONS or GUIDELINES (read: demands / expectations) totally flips me out. I insist on doing things entirely my own way. No matter how difficult or troublesome that may be, and no matter if I need to reinvent the wheel for myself in doing that.
More self help: exercise routines. Recently I devised a get fit routine for myself. I briefly considered buying a book, or searching online for a suitable routine, but decided almost immediately (even before searching for anything) that that was NOT a good idea and that I would make up the exercise plan myself, as I normally have in the past with most forms of exercise I have done. I had to see my gp a couple of weeks ago, and it occurred to me afterwards the intense need I felt to make sure that she knew that my exercise plan was self-made. I remember telling her, and how I hurriedly told her that it was a self-made plan, as if this fact somehow made the whole idea of having an exercise regime more palatable. (Which it does, to me. The idea of somebody else telling me what to do with my body enrages me, to be honest.)
That’s reminded me of the rather tricky situation I found myself in when I was attending physio sessions after breaking my ankle. I desperately wanted to heal everything properly, but I encountered a problem during the sessions. First, she told me to warm up on the exercise bike while she went off to do something, and, I’m afraid, I simply couldn’t. I tried, I really did, but I could not get myself to do it. She wanted me to do something with my body, and I simply was not ABLE to force myself to follow through. (I was well able to do it physically, but psychologically, I just couldn’t make myself.) Then came practising the actual exercises with her – I struggled to force myself to do each one – I did most of them deliberately slowly and sulkily, and I ended up ‘taking back control’ by telling her that I would do a certain amount (always different to the amount she told me to do) and by doing them in different orders! I ended up being so appalled by the whole performance, by being told what to do, that I only attended two sessions and quickly rather taught myself to walk at home, on my own. I know it was silly and counter productive, but it is what it is. I couldn’t do it.
More ‘self-help’ – (really stretching the meaning of ‘self-help’ here I’m afraid…) Diets! Every single time I have ever undertaken a diet, including when I was anorexic, it has been ENTIRELY devised by myself. Seriously, don’t fuck with my food!!! 😉 I assume this is partially the reason that the idea of deliberately eating healthily makes me so angry too… (Although a lot of that has to do with anorexia, rejecting societies’ weight prejudice, and the injustice of it all, as well.) It’s a no-go area. Demand avoidance reigns supreme here for me! 😉
Another instance in which I prefer to do things myself: face creams. I make my own. With no recipe or instructions. I feel far more comfortable using something that I’ve made myself. Same goes for health care, and herbal remedies. I’d write out my own prescriptions if I was legally able to. 😉 I feel far better about things if I can work out for myself what I need and go to the gp and ask them for a prescription for that particular thing (instead of having them decide for me), but I’ve learnt over time that that often doesn’t go down very well!!! 😉 So I manage to control this urge (mostly!) these days!!! I prefer to make my own tea – even if I have teabags I will usually add something to them so I can change the tea and ‘control’ it a bit.
Stuff. Stuff that I buy. Apart from general groceries, I would estimate that about 50% of the ‘things’ that I buy I buy with a different usage in mind that what is intended for that product. Seriously – don’t tell me how to use something!!! 😉
Societal expectations. Oh wow, a huge topic – how to break it down?
Basically – I hate them. Don’t expect anything of me, in any way. I find myself deliberately doing things that I know I am expected not to, because it makes me feel better. Like swearing. Swearing when it’s inappropriate. I do it deliberately to make myself feel less controlled. I often use language that I know isn’t expected, because I don’t like to feel that I am expected to speak in a certain way. For example academic language – I would be well able to speak in an academic style if I put my mind to it, but I tend to deliberately ‘dumb down’ my language because I hate being expected to speak in a certain way. One of the things I used to enjoy about smoking was the fact that it was socially unacceptable.
Social conventions, such as forced smiling, forced eye contact, having to answer ‘fine’ when someone says ‘how are you’. No, no, no, no, no!!!! I remember as a child, when people told me to smile I would bare my teeth at them. THAT is how I feel about social conventions.
Fashion. Any form of following a set of conventions or norms. It always used to amaze me, with goth friends, how they thought they were original. Original in what way? They had simply replaced one set of norms for another.
Religion? Nooooo!!! I’ve always been spiritual, but I simply could not follow the rules of a church or a tradition. Quite possibly, I could only ‘follow’ a religion if I had made up the religion myself… 😉
And that is me. Fiercely, fucking-offly, demand avoidant.