Security Blanket of Coping Methods ~ My Survival Mode

Darlene at 21

Everywhere I go I have the privilege of meeting people and impacting their lives. Usually I can plant a few seeds that take root and grow the desire for wholeness and freedom from things that hold people back from being all they can be and all of who they are.  

While I was in Mexico last month, I met an interesting man in his late twenties, who by his own admission, was not quite ready to let go. He reminded me so much of myself when I was younger that my heart was touched. Even though I found myself intently listening to his story, on another level I found myself reminded of things I had not thought of for a long time. He triggered intense memories about my resistance to recovery and how frightening it was to think of giving up my coping methods. I recalled the fear that I had of living in freedom and even where I still struggle in a few areas. I was reminded of the absolute terror of learning to trust myself, the fear I had of finding out who I really am and what it took for me to learn to live in that wholeness.

In the two weeks since I have been home, I’ve realized a deeper understanding of how scared that I was to get healthy; to face and deal with my issues and live a whole life in freedom from the chronic depression and dissociation that I lived with for so long.  My dissociative identity, constant depressions and my obsession with my weight and body image had become like a blanket of comfort for me. They were the spin that I lived in. They were me; my identity. They were my survival mode and they made me feel safe. I believed that that these coping methods were the solution; how could they ever be the problem? Every time I tried to let go of the cozy blanket of survival, even to let go of one small piece of it, I felt naked, exposed, freezing, scared and way too vulnerable. I felt out of control. Control was essential if I was to feel safe. Deep down inside in my subconscious, I felt sure that I would die without the security blanket of coping methods that I had developed over the years.

It is necessary to develop these coping methods especially when we are children however a huge part of my recovery process was about realizing that I was no longer a child, and that so many of my coping methods were developed to protect myself as a child. They did evolve into adult coping methods, but the problem was that they were based in childlike thinking. I had to recognize that these problems were indeed coping methods, recognize the lies I believed which gave them their basis, replace those lies with the truth, and then realize so much of the protection I developed was no longer necessary.  Then I had to re-parent myself with my new grid of understanding.

It wasn’t that the abuse or that I was so devalued was a lie; it was that I thought I had some control over it or that I should have been able to have some control over it; that I thought I deserved it and  that I brought it on myself ~ that was the lie. I developed my survival methods for protection in two ways. The first one was to be able to deal with and live with the abuse itself. The second was to protect myself from further abuse.

In my process through therapy, on my journey to wholeness, I threw off the security blanket of coping methods one layer at a time and learned a new way to live. Some days I do feel exposed and sometimes I still get scared, but I find that as time goes by, I get more and more comfortable with my new life.

~Darlene Ouimet

13 response to "Security Blanket of Coping Methods ~ My Survival Mode"

  1. By: sahitha Posted: 22nd July

    Hi Darlene, you were a stunner in your photo at 21 and I think that’s the reason your mum told you that you were responsible for the sexual assault.

    She must have been jealous.

  2. By: Drained Posted: 20th May

    Wow, good for you, Diane! That’s awesome. My revelations have really opened my eyes, but feeling better about myself on so many levels will take lots of work. What’s holding me back is that it wasn’t only my mother that had those N attitudes and treatment of me. I got it from my Golden Child brother, some of my classmates and friends, boyfriend, teachers, co-workers… I was so deeply convinced that I was stupid, worthless, weak, overly-sensitive, inept and without value. I think my lack of esteem and zero self-confidence drew these N types to me and reinforced my feelings of inadequacy. My self-hatred caused me to set myself up for failure and when I did, it was like saying to myself and others… Yes, you’re right. I’m such a loser… So on one level, I’m thinking I attracted all these types and so their (and my) opinion of myself was inaccurate. But on another level I’m thinking, so many people disregarded me so they must be right. :/ I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I reach that state of inner peace, acceptance and freedom.

  3. By: diane Posted: 17th May

    I found the archives! I didnt know there were archives, so now I have so much more to read and learn and grow from! Yay! I went through something so life changing last week and weekend and I have spent this week simply allowing the reality of it and the joy of it soak in. I became healed and free at the core of my being from the abuse of my parents..from caring about them and what they used to think of me…from wondering WHY did they abuse me…from excusing them from abusing me…from hating myself to loving and liking myself…and the list goes on! This is what I have been hoping, praying, searching , crying and desperate for! Last week the puzzle pieces to my childhood all fell into place for the very first time in my life and I was able to let all of the blame and shame and hatred and dislike and rejection of myself GO forever. I now feel WHOLE as a person for the very first time…I dont even feel damaged! I was crushed like a bug and now I am not. Now I feel compassion for myself…which I have never felt before. I want to heal more and more the bad habits I developed in trying to cope with abuse and neglect and move forward away from everyting unhealthy. It is like a miracle has happened to me and I am so grateful and happy and the most important thing to me is that I can just BE MYSELF. I am able to just BE. No sense that something or someone is looming over me in disgust at how I act or what I say or how I do or dont do things….no guilt and shame that I am less than ANYONE else. All of those feelings have disappeared. I dont have to pretend or wear a mask in order to please someone. I really dont have words to describe this new freedom, but I can say this: I WANT to learn now how to care for ME in new ways…I want to get rid of anything and everything that has held ME back. I am now able to see when I need to question why I respond in different situations like I do. My next biggest “level” of healing is going to be with my husband. We definitely love each other in a healthy way, but there are also old patterns that just wont work anymore. His silences…and me trying to fill them. It is amazing how silence can be controlling of someone else…deliberately. So I want to tackle this in our marriage..and I know he is trying to heal and change too, so I am looking forward to this process over time. I am really enjoying that now there is going to be a new process to change and living. I look forward to not trying to escape my life…but to BE IN IT and living it in the present. I always felt like I was waiting for my life or something big to happen in the future, but really I was running away from myself and my life to a huge degree because I didnt feel worthy of anything good for myself. I was the biggest cheerleader for everyone else, but I always only pretended that I was secure and motivated and full of self esteem…I wanted my daughter to have that as a mother and not how I really and truly felt on the inside. Now I dont have to pretend and it isnt because of anything other than I now believe it. My parents were so wrong in what they did and what they said and how they treated me…..and it was not love. I can now accept all that and I am not sad to let them go…I am more than happy not to have that in my life anymore! Yay! So…I just wanted to say that my summer is going to be spent in loving myself and learning to self care and self soothe and find out what I want to DO now. Anytime I might feel the old emptiness or loneliness or voids, I am going to begin to ask myself WHAT DO I NEED right now! Thank you Darlene….many many hugs and thanks to YOU!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 19th May

      Hi Diane
      Yes! there are over 350 articles in this site and over 300 of them are written by me. (and 17,000 comments in discussions)
      I love your comments here! I would love to use this comment in a blog post! it is so full of hope and so full of healing! Will you give me permission to re print it?
      I will only use your first name or I can just use “a commenter shared”.
      Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Jeanette Posted: 11th February

    The urge to run away, to seek some kind of shelter, comes just about everyday, sometimes a great battle throughout a given day, and can often seem more powerful than the urge to stay and push through. But it seems that if I can just get through that moment, that one moment that may seem like eternity but it’s not, then I’ve won that battle. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and get through it and then it’s gone. Not for good!!! Not yet! But I’ve learned these are only moments and can be worked through, and there’s a great sense of victory each time, it’s one more victory that I have that I didn’t before. And that is empowering!

    Having said all this strikes me as the same kind of battle people have with addictions, and I guess it is. We become addicted to our coping skills even if they have proven to be disastrous. They have that kind of hold on us. And letting go of them is really an emotional withdrawal that has to be endured and finally beat. And I would have to think there will always be that temptation even after having beat the addiction. I’ll have to look out for that one!!! lol

  5. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th February


    You make a very powerful statement here when you write:
    “There has to be a core desire inside a person to want to find the answers and a core determination to stay the course even when it gets overwhelming and terribly painful.”

    and I have to say that this is huge and profoundly true. Every morning I type a one page doc. listing all the things that I am grateful for, and everyday the fact that I had that desire and persistence to stay the course, makes it onto that list.

    There is much overwhelm and pain in the process however it the outcome is far greater then the pain. Thank you so much for your most insightful comments and I love the imagery that you use here to compare a stormy blizzard to the journey to wholeness! YES!

  6. By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 11th February

    I love how you use words like “adore”. It’s so great to have impact, to be understood, to make an impression, to have people tell me that they “GET ME”. Thanks so much for your comments! Don’t give up, those coping methods and survival modes can be disarmed!

    Hugs, Darlene

  7. By: Carla Dippel Posted: 11th February

    Darlene, I love how you say that you threw the coping blanket off one layer at a time. I love the imagery and truth in that phrase!

    Jeanette, you’re reminding me of the power of not running away. I think that’s a huge sign of growth, to be able to even just stand still and face the struggle without running away. Coming to that place may be even more difficult than moving forward to the other side of the struggle itself and conquering it! I guess I can’t speak for everyone on that point… but to me it feels like one of the most heroic steps. Thanks Jeanette!

  8. By: Jeanette Posted: 11th February

    As I read your post here Darlene, I thought about one major flaw that takes place when the coping skills we adapted as children follow us into adulthood, and that is the inability to heal. Because we still live our life with old gaping wounds kept at a far distance from our minds and emotional selves, we can’t identify where they are, how they came to be, and how to heal from them. And without healing, we can’t even begin to take on new ways to live in wholeness, we are spinning in circles, chasing our tales with each effort.

    There has to be a core desire inside a person to want to find the answers and a core determination to stay the course even when it gets overwhelming and terribly painful.

    These back to back blizzards we just came through here on the East Coast kind of remind me of what it feels like to be on the road to wholeness. There are times when it seems the elements are fighting so hard against us and we wonder if we have the sheer inner strength to stay the course. But the sun does eventually come out again. Keeping the courage and continuing forward even in the face of the fiercest winds is worth it when you are able to look back at every step gained in the end.

    Hugs to you and Carla, you are both awesome and very inspiring!

  9. By: Splinteredones Posted: 10th February

    Wow we adore the things you say! So practical honest and true. As we fight with the Beast of Shame it’s a roller-coaster fight. The addiction to the defenses (lies) keeps finding new and ever more ingenius ways to fight back. But, with the help of a brilliant T, we’re just now beginning to see them for what they are. Just obfuscation. Taking their power away? Well, hum, certainly going back to Therapy tomorrow. ;). Thanks so much for this.

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