Like that photo? That’s me boxing. I look like a badass, right? And I am. Tough as nails. I birthed two babies without meds. I never admitted that I was in labor at all until shortly before they were born. I don’t take drugs when I have a cold. I am never sick and when I am I rarely admit it. I admit illness only when it is so bad that I cannot physically function. Otherwise, I just keep moving forward, one foot in front of the other. And generally, I cannot stand whiners. I have a very low tolerance for people who are physically weak. My kids know this and because of it, I am raising tough kids. BUT…when it comes to emotions, I am the biggest baby in the world. I absolutely cannot deal with emotions a lot of the time. I can slip into emotional paralysis at the slightest provocation. Its not even 1:00 and I have already cried twice today. I cried this morning when I read one of my friend’s Facebook posts…stupid, sad song lyrics. They were, “Cause when you’re in pieces, you pick up the bits, and nothing fits, and the wind blows you away.” Its a Florence and the Machine Song called Flakes. Its actually a Mystery Jets song that Florence covered. Its a great song about heartache, lost love and dreams that never come true…sadness. I am a bit of an expert in the sad songs department. I wonder sometimes if I am not more addicted to sadness than I am addicted to alcohol….
Stay with me, I do in fact have a point.
And here it is…the intensity with which I feel things…the overwhelming emotion that I feel about everything…even the tiniest things…I think thats why I escape. I say escape rather than drink alcohol, because alcohol is just one method of escape. It wasn’t my first and it won’t be my last. As I child, I had a very active fantasy life. I spent A LOT of time alone, its how I preferred to be (and still do but I am working on it)…where no one was yelling or angry or frightening. So I would escape into my fantasy world. By 3rd or 4th grade, I discovered reading. I pretty much spent the years between 9-14 reading non-stop…anything I could get my hands on. I actually got detention in middle school for walking down the hall at school with an open book in front of me and not watching where I was going. I went through various genre phases, reading two or three books a week. And that worked pretty well for me. I also watched a lot of TV during these years…another escape method. And then at age 14…I discovered an escape method that worked better than any imaginary world I could build around myself or any romance novel I could fall into. I discovered drugs and alcohol. I have never talked about drug use in this blog because its not really about that. But in high school and college, I used just about every drug possible. Drugs and alcohol became an instant cure for my sadness and anxiety. The perfect escape. And cigarettes, well they are their own form of escape that really just involves me sitting still and breathing deeply…although I am trying REALLY, REALLY hard to make myself do just that (sit quietly and breathe deeply) several times a day. And Theatre…that I love sooooooo much…there is no better escape than to simply fall into the world of another character and become them.
I knew quitting drinking was going to be hard. But I didn’t know how much emotion I have been suppressing my entire FREAKING life with my escape tactics. I think this is why people replace one addiction with another. Eating seems like a common replacement for alcohol and cigarettes. I have worked out excessively for years but I have definitely been working out more, perhaps in an addictive way since quitting. I really think that’s one of the reasons Alcoholics Anonymous works so well is because it becomes an addiction like all the other ones. I think an online forum could become that…I think this blog could become another addiction. And it makes me wonder what the difference between using something to help you cope and using it in an addictive way, really is? My dad quit drinking about 30 years ago. He did AA for a while, but mostly, he just kind of checked out on life. He went to work, he came home…he watched TV, did yard work. He didn’t talk to very many people and just kept to himself. Its only as an adult that I can begin to understand why he did that. He was terrified of being hurt and not being able to deal with the emotions. So he shut down and just started going through the motions. He seems better now, he is trying but for MANY years; he had very few friends and talked to very few people outside of work and his wife. Its a scary world out there when you have to face it head on without any escape tactics.
And thats where I am right now. I am scared. I wonder if I took on too much in trying to do this. I am having a lot of escape fantasies…where I just want to run away to a place where no one expects anything from me or wants anything from me or knows that I said I wasn’t going to drink or smoke for one year. I feel like I need to escape really bad now. I feel like the bits of me are lying all around and nothing fits quite right and the wind could come up and just blow me away. Like the song lyrics. I feel incredibly lonely but generally prefer to be alone. And when I get this way, I get an overwhelming sense of frustration with myself for being such a darned cry baby and I cannot stand being that way. Heavy sigh.
Remember how I said it was only 1:00 and I have already cried twice? I told you the first one. The second one happened when I got home today from the morning errands, kid drop off. My big yellow lab mix greeted me at the door. She does a happy dance when I get home. I have four dogs, they are always glad to see me when I get home. But Evaleen…she is a gift from God. She just adores me and when I walk in the door, she did an unusually aggressive happy dance…like she knew where I was mentally. And she just wanted to make sure I know how much she cares and loves me. And when she loved me like that I felt better. I felt like I could make it through today…I could be the mom, the wife, the employee that everyone needs me to be. I could deal with my emotions without needing to escape from them. Thanks Evaleen, you are the best!