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Covert Depression

By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

Escape & Avoid is covert depression--especially for Replayers--in which MLCers attempt to avoid the physical and emotional pain of overt depression which forces them to face their shadow and integrate their buried fragments. It is not a subconscious denial; the behavior is a direct reaction to something acknowledged. It is rather an avoidance which may facilitate additional subconscious denial as initial Replay behavior produces emotional highs, which the MLCer interprets as success in their attempt to reverse aging or avoid other issues. Escape & Avoid behavior needs the other characteristics--Rejection & Refusal and Resentment--for functioning; they fuel of Escape & Avoid.

Men often handle depression in the opposite way that is expected--by acting out rather than turning inward; they seek to blame. Male MLCers are more likely than female MLCers to be High-Energy Replayers; though most MLCers--especially male MLCers--begin Escape & Avoid with an attempt at High-Energy Replay; the alienator, alcohol, drugs, youthful running etc. are forms of avoidance. Like an addict, they need the Replay fix to keep them from the Liminality where overt depression sets in.

Escape & Avoid brings on the fog. This fog serves a purpose. A person in their right mind would not behave this way, thus the fog buries their guilt until they can handle it. But they are not insane and are thus accountable for their actions. They are confused; sometimes they will be aware of this and others not, but the existence of a reason for bad behavior does not make it excusable.

Escape & Avoid behavior is an angry avoidance manifested as an attempt to prove sustaining youth. It is a backlash, an I'll show you reaction to God and anyone who stands in their way. They are still resentful, and continue to reject and refuse.

Bargaining is a 3-page chapter in Elisabeth Kübler Ross's book On Death and Dying; as an emotional stage in dying it is an attempt to bargain with God for more time. A realization and fear of death is an issue in MLC, but unlike those who are dying, this is usually an emotional fear that is not in process; the MLCer has time to dwell on the idea of death and dying, whereas the person who is dying is having a direct experience--a realization of the fear--with less time for dwelling. Often the MLCer is experiencing doubt in a God who is now failing them, thus bargaining would be futile. Instead the MLCer tries to postpone the inevitable without God's help or blessing--sometimes as a rebellion directed against God.

Bargaining is also short-lived for a terminally ill person as death looms close and their condition continues to deteriorate. But for the Replayer the emotional high feels successful. A crash follows, but not for months or years and those who crash sooner use Replay as a drug to create and maintain their high. The dying person hopes to buy more time, possibly with promises to accept the inevitable (death) after a specific event or accomplishment; ex. the birth of an expected grandchild. Bargaining sets a self-imposed deadline, whereas the MLCer refuses to bargain, instead attempting to cheat time through evasive tactics. The dying person attempts to postpone; the deadline for the MLCer is never.

  • I'm never going to die.
  • I'm never coming back/home.
  • I'm never going to grow up.
  • I'm never going to be older.

Like a teenager, they want to test and push the boundaries. The MLCer is faced with their own mortality and fears the loss of their vitality; risky behavior in which a person tempts death or security can facilitate a feeling of aliveness. Blame and projection toward the spouse is natural as the spouse tries to stop them from Escape & Avoid.

Escape & Avoid will continue until they not only realizes that it is not making them happy, but also that it is making them feel even more lost--that their life is becoming worse. Like an object requiring external force to alter its course of motion, the unpleasant patterns in their life will continue until challenged either externally or internally. When each quick fix they try fails and they run out of quick fixes, they can go into Liminality. But even then they may jump or climb out of the pit to attempt additional quick fixes. They will run until they are too tired to keep running and too battered to pick themself up when they fall.

The length of Escape & Avoid is a function of multiple factors.

  • Real or a Fantasy Alienator
  • Affair Dynamics
    In-fatuative addiction
    Mental health & stability of an alienator
    Pressure and manipulation
  • Changing Life Circumstances
    Any additional crises may change the course of the MLC; ex. sudden death of someone close.
  • Shadow Issues
  • The success or failure of Replay antics in avoiding
  • History of clinical depression

Do Wallowers take longer to progress through Escape & Avoid? Probably, but some High-Energy MLCers will take longer if they have more significant shadow work. Think about energy, what is it? Energy is a reference to the speed of motion, higher speed or more motion has more energy. So a Low-Energy Wallowerer moves slower. High-Energy Replay functions like a fire, burning through issues. That doesn't mean it is fast according to what a left behind spouse thinks should be fast, it means it's faster than an alternative. MLCers in Escape & Avoid are running away, but Replay behaviors can be an indirect manner of bringing those issues to the surface, whereas Wallowers may be better at keeping issues buried. Both types of MLCers are motivated to prevent the surfacing of the issues, but the Replayer's behaviors are often indirectly counter-productive.

It's the Law of Inertia.
An object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest, unless the object is acted upon by an outside force.

High-Energy MLCers are in motion, thus they have more opportunities to progress. Also consider the nature of a public in-fatuative affair versus a fantasy or a clandestine affair. In a public affair the fantasy bubble bursts as the reality of a real, though extra-marital, relationship sets in. These MLC affairs last longer than average affairs, but they force the shadow to the surface; without such a force, a Wallower may progress slower. Wallowers withdraw and seem complacent with in their hopelessness; Replayers keep moving to avoid the feeling of hopelessness.

But it in truth, the MLCer is running away from their Self--the shadow-self revealed beneath the crumbling façade. They fear the shadow; they want to escape it and are yet simultaneously intrigued. What would happen if I...

  • Slept with so-and-so?
  • Experiment with drugs?
  • Drink until I forget?
  • Climb Mt. Everest?
  • Learn to rock climb?
  • Ski out of bounds?
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  • Once a cheater always a cheater?
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