The Great Escape
By: Faith Pearce
(4 min read)
I feel like I’m going around in circles. Like I’ve definitely been here before. I don’t know why I wait until I feel like my back is up against the wall before I truly see things.
I traveled back in time to a really old memory this week. When we were five, my best friend from primary school and I used to play a game. We were really close. Every Friday we had dinner at his house. When we were in class, we were always told to stop talking and giggling. At playtime we played our favorite game. Imagination. The main character was Aunt Aggie, and we were always stuck somewhere trying to escape. We had episodes of being kidnapped or held hostage. In hindsight, I realize our games took place in rather dark places with dark themes. The most common was repeatedly trying to escape a situation.
I recently realized that this is a pattern that has followed me my whole life. Just like our games when we were five, I have repeated over and over again throughout my life, varying extremes of waiting or looking for that escape route. When I feel my back is up against the wall, I create ways to emotionally, physically or intellectually escape. “Now there is a Brain Dump, Faith!”
This discovery has upset me because it’s almost like once you’ve seen it or realized it, you can’t unsee it. As I began processing my “skill,” my stress level and anxiety has risen just thinking about it.
Is this really how I want my life? Have I become accustomed to ups and downs; highs and lows? So much so that I enjoy doing it? Is it my comfort zone? My answer is no. There’s got to be a better way to cope. It isn’t healthy creating a smoke screen every time I am confronted by something or someone that raises an uncomfortable feeling in me. Certainly, I must learn to feel the emotions and face them anyway.
At times, I feel a need to escape because I lack motivation or maybe lack a desire to plan ahead. Surely, I do not enjoy being pressed into decisions or actions when I am uncomfortable. Right?! Some call it “escapism” or procrastination. Others might call it suppression or avoidance. With no judgment in assigning a term, I simply know I need to make a change.
I’m a grown woman now, and yet certain things still make me feel like a small child and like I don’t have a voice or choice in the situation. But I do have a voice! I’ve got a bad habit of self-sabotaging and repeating a belief that everything is my fault. “You will never be good enough.” I am good enough.
I’ve noticed I do this when I’m feeling scared and out of my comfort zone. Almost like how can I fuck up this time? How can I prove myself right, prove that I am not worthy? Hey, I am worthy! How can I prove those dancing insecurities right?
Let’s try this another way! And here follows a bit of the conversation with my five-year-old self.”
“When yucky feelings bubble, remember the grown-up Faith is here. Is she going to step into action instead of laying low, imagining the worst-case scenario or trying to create escape routes or excuses? Just, breathe, girl, you’ve got this. We’ve been here before. Our world didn’t come crashing down. Face this. When you are feeling scared, it’s okay. Everyone is scared once in a while. We won’t always know all the answers. Being open and honest won’t always feel safe. Just try; it gets easier. You don’t need to justify asking for help. We all need guidance and support.” I got you.”
I am an expert at creating a playground where I can manifest my feelings and actions.
One of the most challenging areas for me, for any of us, is to be open and honest. It is so risky. Another area is accountability. It is easier for me to be accountable to others than to myself. I hate being my own judge and jury. I am totally accustomed to others doing that for me starting when I was a little girl.
I know I am incredibly hard on myself, and how my perspective can get a little skewed at times. I am not naturally my own cheerleader. It is clear to me I’m my own worst enemy. I would rather repeat things over and over on my own, bettering myself each time making mistakes on my own without the judgment I fear from others. Why is it that I automatically assume the worst?
It is a challenge to ask for support when we don’t know what we need or what the response will be to the ask. I am an adult and I struggle putting to words how I feel and where I need help. Even at five years old, I was an escape artist suppressing real-world challenges.
I continue to peel back the onion and confront the reasons I “escaped.” I am working on my praise system. It is a challenge when the mind remembers the negative experiences and cancels out any positives. They say there is a 5:1 ratio. If we can find five positives for each negative thought, we can counter any negative bias. I know the only way to move forward is to learn to validate and love myself.
I have come a long way, and I am sick and tired of beating myself up. I am going to focus on the positives and list five things each time I feel anxiety or a negative thought pattern. It is always easier to externalize and say what we love about others, and it’s time to turn that focus around.
It’s time I listened to my own advice for once. It is also time to let my escapism artistry take a rest.