Escapism – it’s something I know all too well. I’m so good at it. I can swerve my own emotions, hide from my thoughts, masquerade who I am and how I’m feeling to myself and everyone around me. I can be lost in the depths of self-loathing and yet be a light of self-love for everyone else. I can appear to have all my emotions perfectly under control and yet beneath the surface is a whirlpool of anxiety, depression, insecurities, pressure and confusion. Rather than dealing with emotions that I find remotely hard to process I’ll just bury my head, distract myself or ignore it until it becomes all-encompassing and out of control, then I’ll lash out. When my emotions are too hard to face or I’m not in control of them, I behave so badly. I manipulate situations, push people I care about away, I behave in ways that are detrimental to my health and happiness whilst often hurting people I love.
I want to stop. I’m so tired of escaping from my own emotions. I want to wake up in a morning and feel content. In order to do that I have to process how I’m feeling, I have to evaluate where my heads at, where my hearts at. I have to look around me at the people in my life, are they good for me? Are there changes that could be made to my life that will make me feel better? All too often I blame other people and external factors for my unhappiness but in reality, they’re just conveniences that help me escape.
I once got so lost and felt such a lack of identity that I went searching for it in a relationship that I knew was doomed. I spent hours, days, weeks, months, clinging to every word he spoke, doing all I could to make him happy because in my head, without him I was nothing. I escaped into a world where even though things weren’t perfect, lying next to him made me feel safe, made me feel less lonely.
Last year I spent months traveling and attending untold self-development workshops, I went searching for a cure for the insecurities I had, I escaped my mundane grey life where I felt numb, trusting that sunshine, spicy food and spiritual retreats would hold the answer to my happiness. I was one of those hopeful, jolly backpackers with a twinkle in my eye that told the world I was searching for something. I unturned every stone I could whilst away, every mountain climbed, every hot spring swam in, every spiritual guru listened too, only to later realise that the answers were inside of me. Honestly, I will be forever grateful for all I experienced but no amount of searching was going to make me happy, changes had to be made within.
My biggest vice and my most destructive escape is hiding behind my party girl alter ego. She is so fun. She will party on and on (and on), she will stay awake for days, dance and have THE BEST time. It’s said that a little party never hurt anyone, this I believe but, I always take it to an extreme. I never stop when the party finishes, there always has to be an after party. In fact if I’m honest, sometimes I stay out for days or sit round that kitchen table a little too long because I’m scared of going home. There’s nothing more cold, dark and lonely than an empty bed after a party. I’ve spent hours, alone with my thoughts, unable to sleep, lost in thoughts of self-loathing, “you’re just not good enough” inner dialog and anxiety attacks.
It’s not easy but I’m becoming more and more aware of my escape triggers; loneliness being number one and then a list of destructive insecurities closely following. I’m heading into this new year determined to reconnect with myself, nourish myself, care and grow as a person. No more numbing and distracting myself when uncomfortable feelings rise, I’ll feel them, talk them through with friends and take steps to change. I’m writing this to encourage you to stop lying to yourself and the people around you, face emotions, process them, reach out for help and take responsibility for your own happiness.
What are you escaping from?