Dec 112007

I spent the last weeks or months or so in one of my favorite old pastimes: escapism. My whole life felt meh, not bad, not good, just grey and boring. Not depressingly so, only I had this feeling that I wanted to do nothing but stay in bed, read, watch TV, knit, and do nothing. I have been used to periods like this for my whole life I think. I retreat into myself, escape into books, or the internet, or lately knitting again, into food. I try to flee from life. Not entirely but numbing everything. I’m very experienced in this, I can turn almost everything into a mans of escape, a means of shutting out feeling and awareness. Only I had thought I was past this by now. Only I had thought I knew how to be happy and mindful by now.

Well, I still don’t know. And, as always, I felt what I was doing and couldn’t bring myself to stop. Like when I was still in the grip of compulsive overeating. And I didn’t want to admit it or to write or talk about it, I just wanted it to go away. Now. Without me having to do anything. As a result of all this, the house looks like a disaster area, I found that I literally hadn’t mopped the floors in about half a year, I gained 4 kilos back of the 14 I lost over the past three years ever so slowly. And in a way I didn’t care. My poor husband stood beside me, not able to intervene in any way, as I told myself that today would be the day I’d go to bed on time over and over again.

By now I have given up on the sleep-issue. I don’t think it will happen that I sleep enough in this decade. For every night where I get enough sleep there are at least four or five where it isn’t enough and by now my mind is suffering tremendously.

This doesn’t feel like depression by the way it just feels like the familiar kind of life that I have lived for decades. This giving up, thinking, “I won’t change, no matter how hard I try.” and then fleeing into a book, a computer game, sleep deprivation, alcohol, the internet, whatever. Shutting out my family, not asking for help. Because I know what to do when I feel like this. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Of course I’m writing about it now because I feel like I’m starting to dig my way out of it again. Last week I forced myself to clean the house, I started tidying my room, exercising, and taking showers more often. Like healing from the outside in. Because that has been one of my major mistakes in past years, I waited to feel right to change anything. Nowadays I know that I just have to be gentle but firm with myself. “I know you don’t feel like it but you only get to surf the internet after you have done the dishes!” “So what if you hadn’t had time to work out. Take a shower now. – Yes, you will get wet. I don’t care.”

This all started after I gave up the illusion of having a plan for my life as a whole. After I told myself just to acknowledge what is and see where it would lead me. Promptly my inner teenager pouted her lips, shouted, “Life sucks! Leave me alone!” slammed the door and refused to come out of her room again.

Well, she’s still in there. But slowly I’m opening the door, dusting the surfaces of her cluttered room, and bringing the vacuum in.

Seems like I have to accept that becoming mindful doesn’t come easy to me and at times feels very, very uncomfortable. But then the old ways aren’t working. They never were. Stuffing yourself with food doesn’t make the feelings go away. Submerging yourself in stories only works for a short amount of time. In the end you have to live your real life the way it is.

And mine’s not a bad life at all. That’s one of the weirder things about this. My life is almost perfect as it is. But the dissonance between “almost” and “perfect” drives me crazy every single day.

And while I’m writing this I hesitate again because I know that you will be worrying about me. That you will get the impression that I need help. And really, I don’t. That’s part of the problem, I have to change my behavior myself. Unfortunately nobody else can do this for me. That would be great by the way since my dear husband is much better than me at changing behavior. If he could change my behavior for me I would never again find myself sitting in the kitchen wondering who on earth just took a bag of chips and put them all in my mouth.

On the other hand I really don’t like to be told what to do. So I have to be the one who has to get a grip on my life. And maybe it’s good to write about it since I often convey the impression of super-woman with my stories of novels written and housework done and bags sewn, songs written and elephants knit. And I know that I want to read about the up- and downsides of your lives as well. So, please don’t worry, I’m on my way up again.

Oh, and by the way, the elephant only lacks a second ear and eyes. I’ll post a picture as soon as it is finished.

  8 Responses to “Escape”

  1. I read here every day although I don’t comment (sorry). Today I feel compelled, which feels awkward because this is so personal and here I am first time out, getting personal.

    May I ask…why is the escapism such a bad thing?

    It sounds like from how you describe it that you find it Not Acceptable and I wonder why.

    As an Introvert, I accept I need what I call Cave Time. Watch TV, read, internet, write, paint a room, do some artwork…be alone, quiet, with myself and my thoughts. I need this time every single day. If I don’t get it, I feel frenzied. In times of stress or high need or demand, times of turmoil or challenge, I need more of it.

    It makes sense to me. I do need to be careful not to burrow too deeply for too long. I do try to pay attention to when I begin that, try to figure out why, how I can balance better, what is troubling me that is holding me back.

    I spent a long time thinking this was terrible to do, that I was a loser or something. I think this is because the way of thinkign is run by extroverts LOL.

    You’re down? Get out and get moving! Goes the rule of thumb. Does not work for all.

    Sometimes it means I let some things fall to the wayside, like housekeeping or errands. I know that when I solve whatever I’ll be rejuvenated and will be very efficient getting back on top of things.

    It’s just…things do chance, life is inconsistent, and so that means my responses might be a bit, too.

    I just got tired of thinking there was a problem with this. In the end, I decided, as long as it’s all moderate, it’s fine.

    So that’s my case.

    And why I wondered about your perception.

    I’ve gone on and on, sorry. I recognized a lot of things in this post, though, and wanted to reply.

    Really great post, IMO.

    Using My Words

  2. I’m glad you wrote this for a couple of reasons. One, you mentioned a few weeks ago that you’d been feeling this way and I wondered how you were coping. Not in a desperate way, but a general way. And two, naturally, because you are describing the way i feel very accurately.

    And I’ll have to come back because the kids are having an “emergency” that involves a spill. Otherwise, I probably would not tear myself away!

  3. There seems to be a bit of this in me as well. It used to be much worse and go on much longer, but i have learned to force myself to do a few thing (exercise being the main one) and now i know what to expect and have made peace with these times.

    Best to you.

  4. Thanks for writing about this. I think many women can relate.

  5. i can so relate to this. my almost refusal to be mindful. but here you are acknowledging it, sister. it’s this movement that matters.

  6. ah. prone to melancholia. this sounds very like me. i spent october and parts of november in bed with abject failure to do anything but sleep. ugh. so glad that’s over.

  7. Oh, how I recognize these feelings. Thank you for describing them so well. I fear them more than anything else. Whenever they start I am always so afraid that they will suck up my new life until there is nothing left yet I also fear having to get up and do something that is [shudder] meaningful.

    I’m trying to make peace with them and to trust that they are a part of who I am but not all.

    I would like to share this beautiful poem I found today:

  8. Thanks for sharing this! A lot of women can definately relate – nice to know I am not the only one who feels this way sometimes.

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