When I was growing up my father was an alcoholic. Our home life was stressful and unpredictable so I developed a coping mechanism to escape the painful reality of my daily life. My personal escape mechanism was fantasy. I created invisible friends who kept me company when lonely and scared. Fantasy served me well in my childhood but later as an adult it became an unhealthy escape.
Though fantasy escape is no longer a issue for me, I still struggle with wanting to avoid the painful realities of daily life. In the last 50+ years I’ve made the rounds of the common addictive substances/behaviors: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, sexual addiction, gambling, shopping, television, and food.
In this most recent season of recovery I’m giving up something that I have to witness someone else using on a regular basis. At first this was extremely difficult and maddening. It’s getting easier as time goes by, but some days are still hard. At the same time I was getting sober from this substance both of my elderly dogs died within a few weeks of each other. The emotional pain was so intense I wanted to run away. But I couldn’t.
Most of my life I’ve avoided feeling anything really. The bad was numbed with some substance. And the good was also numbed with a celebratory substance. So I grew up not knowing how to feel. Now in my late 50’s I’m in one of the most difficult seasons of life and facing it completely sober.
To be honest, I’ve cried a lot and I’ve yelled at God. But ultimately what has helped me the most has been just sitting quietly in God’s presence. I’m learning how to accept this moment, one moment at a time.
Life may not get any easier, but I’m learning new ways to cope with my pain. I’m avoiding television programing that highlights escapist lifestyles and replacing them with encouraging audio books and podcasts, listening to liturgical prayers, reading scripture, journaling, and writing this blog. It’s vital to have a creative outlet to help process feelings.
When we escape this moment we are running from the only life we have.
Are you always seeking escape? Do you often want to fly far, far away?
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