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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I Guess Sometimes Running Isn't The Answer

Here I am, doing the same thing I have always done, hoping for a better outcome without changing the direction of the flooding tide. There are heavy decisions hanging over my head that I am avoiding in hopes that they will make themselves; if I wait long enough, they might... but having them hanging is not making each day easier.

Avoidance. Escape. I want them; I feel as though I need them.

I know that avoidance as a coping mechanism almost all of the time falls short of "helpful" or "healthy"; and yet... It has been more than a week since I sat at my stepmother's table and shared a meal with them. I have tried to push away the thoughts, the emotions, the ideas. I have worked to build ladders against the walls of paranoia so that I can pretend they don't exist. I have built dams and wells and thrown into them the sadness, the guilt, the fear, the anger, the shame, the disgust. They continue to bubble up, bubble out and flood my brain the way the Brisbane river flooded Southbank last week. I have alternately reached out and retreated; struck out and struck in; fought and loved and hidden. And what I have done more than anything else is run. In any way I can, I have taken off running and not stopped until that panicked feeling went down a little again.

I need to find a way to control this crisis, because this became one far too quickly and far too strongly. I am in serious distress and I need to level it out enough that my skills have some impact.

I've been thinking about this all day, and I think I know how I'm going to do that. I think I know the right way to handle this, but I'm not absolutely sure. I might make it worse - but at least I will have tried... and if I don't do anything, it's still going to keep getting worse on its own.

Don't get me wrong; as much as I have avoided, I have also been trying to do what I need to, in tiny ways. I wrote a journal; I wasted about four thousand words avoiding and then I wrote a thousand words about the visit. I have mentioned that I'm struggling. And tiny ways at trying this are great, but they're not enough. if I want to keep my head above water, I need to make bigger steps.

I need to actually stop running. I need to start looking at this for what it was, and that's going to mean learning how to accept it. It's going to mean talking about it and writing about it and actually being honest about it. It's going to be uncomfortable.

But how do I voice this tangle of emotions? How do I extricate myself from the guilt, shame and disgust long enough to allow any of the other emotions a look in; or for long enough to allow anyone else in? I need to figure it out and soon.

I need to trust in my own beliefs, I need to trust in my own self; I need to let go enough to trust in the pockets of safety that there are here where the waters aren't so rough and I can rest a little.

When you are swept off your feet and carried away on the tide, how do you regain your equilibrium?


  1. Hm. When I am really thrown, I need to retreat. I think that's different from running. Yes, to retreat is to run away, a bit, to get some distance from the problem, but then you stop running when you reach that higher ground and catch your breath and you look for a new perspective -- what you couldn't see when you were in the thick of it. If you get too much distance -- if you run too far -- you can't construct a good solution to the problem, but if you keep your troubles at arm's length, where you can look at them but still get some air into your lungs, then it's possible to make an informed, intelligent decision. This is easier said than done, and I think it's best done with a healthy dose of support from friends, therapists, or whoever is able to lend a hand! I hope I haven't stretched the metaphor too far. My main thought was that, when totally swamped with impossible decisions, I really need to step back and take lots of deep breaths. I hope you find what works for you!

  2. I often find that I hide or retreat when things get too tough for me. I think being and feeling safe is really important. When I don't feel safe, I start to panic and the panic can set off my depression which feeds the need to want to self harm or hurt myself in some way. If you need retreat, then I think you should, at least until you feel relatively safe. There is no shame in that. I just want you to know that I'm thinking about you and I really really hope you're okay. You know my email, drop me a line if you need to talk or you can text me. I'm here for you my friend. Be gentle with yourself!

  3. I think there might also be a danger in believing that running is to be avoided at all costs. Throwing yourself headlong into things that should be avoided is arguably what lead to this situation in the first place ;) A bit of tactical avoidance might have gone down well there!

    The need to take a step back and find some breathing space is something we all have. However it is worth keeping the reasons *why* we need this breathing space in mind. Is it to rally ourselves, or is it just to not face something that is difficult, but does need attention...

  4. there is a difference between a "retreat" and a "tactical advance to the rear." one is a panicky route. one is a decision that you need to go back for a bit, to be able to plan your next advance in safety.

  5. I agree with the others - there is a difference between running away and strategic retreat and regrouping. Running away means never going back to deal with things and it sounds like you intend to deal with things.. you just need to gather some more strength before you do. We've all been there.