Are you an escape artist? I know I am, constantly feeling like I want to run, to move to a new house or even country, go on holiday or even just go to bed, the need to escape is real.
I used to think it was only me but then I look at the TV and what is popular and I realise that it really isn’t just me. Programmes like Escape to the Chateau, Four in a bed, A new life in the sun, Ben Fogle, A new life in the wild, do really well in the ratings and they all have something in common, they are about escape, about being somewhere else.
Indeed, I am in an excellent sober group. The members are intelligent and successful women yet start talking about reality TV and the excitement is real! Loads of us absolutely love the real housewives, below deck, married at first site etc and this made me think, do we love them because they too are a little bit of escapism and is that also why we drank, were we trying to escape?
I have been running for years, I moved hundreds of miles from home as soon as I could. Then within a couple of months of moving, I took myself off to Greece for two weeks on my own, because again I was feeling trapped. Not the greatest idea for a young blonde girl who drank way too much, but off I went. I took two books with me, Bridget Jones Diary and The Liars Club. I must have read them both at least twice whilst away, but again reading was another form of escape. Whilst away, surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of a Greek Island, I realised that I could run as much as I wanted and as far away as I wanted, but I would never escape the real problem, me.
I wish I could tell you that this was my epiphany moment but it really wasn’t. I carried on moving house every six months until eventually I settled down and got married and had children. But now my escape was most definitely in the bottom of the glass. I guess this goes back again to my earlier post about emotions. If you are feeling uncomfortable in yourself then drink it away, escape those feelings, actually numb them and then don’t remember them.
So, what do I do now, now that I am not drinking? I’ll admit I am always thinking of other places, I have flashbacks constantly of past holidays and a need to be somewhere (anywhere) else. I am reading fiction again, not just quit lit, I need to be able to escape into someone else’s world just for a while. I am desperately just trying to escape and this is one of the hardest realisations of not drinking for me. I can’t easily escape feelings.
I am struggling with acknowledging people from the past have gone and I am escaping into thoughts of when we were all together. The pool I swim in at night has lights under the water which remind me of holidays with my family when we were children in Spain. And when I swim, I stare and stare at the lights to get that feeling back. I guess I am escaping to my childhood again for a little while.
The really stupid thing is, that I am really happy where I am! I have a lovely family; a happy marriage and I live in a beautiful part of the country. I know what is happening, I am learning again how to sit with feelings and my brain is really not happy about that. If I can no longer escape with alcohol then my brain is looking for new escape routes. But this time as uncomfortable as it is, I am trying very hard to just ride it out. I need to feel these feelings and I need to acknowledge them; which I believe I am starting to do. But it really really isn’t easy.
So, for those other ‘escape artists’ out there I see you and I understand, real life is really hard and no wonder we want to run sometimes.