We all have ways in which we leave the moment. Sex, flirtation, gaming, gambling, drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, internet, exercise — all are effective, to a degree. Well, in fact, they are super effective until they quit working altogether. If only we, as a species, were capable of accurately defining exactly when that was…
As I might have mentioned before, I have tried all of the above and all have worked. Some I recognized the hard road ahead and just avoided the inevitable crash that would in fact come if I kept going, others I could not see the end, even though I was on the bleeding edge of it for years.
But my most favorite, most used, outworn, overdone, completely optimized without really any reality check is my story telling ability. I do it all the time, every minute of my life. I write the backstory of your life, my life and everything in between. I fill in all those little annoying blank spots life gives us…instead of appreciating the gap, I fill it with the demonized stories from my head. Which if you ever had to live there, you would recognize is much more like living in a laundry mat that only allows you to dry bricks…
I didn’t really identify this as an escape until the other day. I didn’t also realize until just this past month that I write stories and they are not even really based on fact. I just fill in those inconvenient missing details for you, for me, for anyone, even the cat. I seem to not be able to tolerate the blank spaces of life, where I do not get to know something and I am being asked to wait, to hold steady while the universe sorts through some shit. “Oh, no, we can’t have that!,” seems to be my constant and unrelenting refrain!
So I don’t. I do not sit idle, my mind active and busy, telling myself all sorts of sordid things about you, well, and me. Sometimes you are broken and sympathetic, sometimes you are a fucking raging asshole. And of course, sometimes you are both which is really super confusing…and you would think since I appointed myself a universal author, then I should really be able to pick a plot and stick with it! But alas, I cannot.
I have written some doozies lately. And the most problematic thing is that they may be somewhat true. And that is what has allowed this addiction of escapism through storytelling to become so pervasive and complete that it hardly made my notice.
I know why I started telling myself stories, they were an alternative reality to my reality that helped me escape some awfully painful stuff. And I supposed today that is why I still do it…but, but, but, my life is not that of a child today who has no words or mechanism for understanding the why of people’s behavior and actions. I am a grown ass woman and I know why people hurt people, I know why. I no longer need the back story. Really.
And also, my life is not so painful today. My life really is pretty blessed. I am alive, healthy (to my knowledge), I am not actively destroying myself or others, I am fucking it up a lot less and fixing it way quicker than I ever have before. So why the story telling escape hatch all the damn time?
Absolutely but to end the discussion there would be premature…(sorry, not sorry).
I have been kicking this thought around for the last couple of days, another brick in the dryer (hey, that could be a Pink Floyd song!) if you will, and what I have come up with is that regardless of how safe and secure and amazing my life is, I still have this inner person that is terrified, literally living as if this moment right here will be the one to nail her to the cross. And I cannot stress how much I do not want this to be my fate. I mean, who would, really?
What I have come to is this, the present moment still kicks my ass even though I have only a passing acquaintance with it…I avoid being here, being in the right now, being alive and present for the pleasure, the pain, the whatthefuckever is happening right now. The story gets me out of the fray and into something much more to my liking which is to lay down narrative in a way and manner to avoid real presence or momentary uncomfortableness.
I have determined that I am allergic to being uncomfortable. Laugh, go ahead, but look at my life! I have proven it time and time and time again. I have almost zero ability to stay in something that makes me…uncomfortable.
Too hot, I leave and find cooler grounds.
Too cold, I leave and find warmer grounds.
Too humid, I complain and complain but from the indoors where it is not humid
Fabric itchy, not going to wear it.
Too boring or non-drama filled, I create it.
Too much drama, I bounce.
What I have come to realize is that I am 1000% not ok with being uncomfortable and the stories, these are my escape hatches because they always get me out of right here, right now.
It has been recently that the wise inner voice, the one that is not really heard or listened to all that much but has gotten louder over the years, has begun this thing, she just calls me out…let me explain.
I will be doing something and will find it intolerable…not really intolerable, I am not being gutted or maimed, but emotionally intolerable, so I begin to seek exits.
Me: Doing the dishes…
“Ya know, I have kids that should be doing this! Not me, I am way too busy and important…”
And so off I go to a place and where I disrupt whatever the teenagers are doing that isn’t the dishes and whip up some mama drama.
Recently that weird inner voice has started saying things like:
“Yes you could do that but instead you could just do the dishes and while you are doing it you could examine why you feel the need to get all agitated about your children and their lack of willingness to help out. You could just sit here and think about that…”
I am telling you that shit brings you up short!
And it is happening to me all the time. I start a story and then she starts her voice over like some sort of amazingly funny voice over in a movie:
“I am the VICTIM!” I cry out…
And then she starts in with this shit,
“She is not actually the victim, look at this or that or this other thing, see not a victim but she will rant on and on about this if you let her, so let’s just ignore her and move on with the story…ok?”
All. The. Damn. Time.
My storytelling is interrupted with a Jane Lynch voice over…which is acutely funny so it is hard to get all pissy about it. I kind of love her. Like a lot. And I can’t think of no one else more apt for the voice over job in my life. Maybe Ellen. She could do it, and would be amazing. But, nope it is clearly Jane Lynch in my head. Totally.
Ok, I went on a deep dive with the voice over thing…I am back now.
My point, the whole point of this now long winded rant is to own my very fraught storytelling escape mechanism, and call it out, to you, for me, so that I can start, maybe, experiencing the present moment for all that it is…here and now.
Fuck if I can’t stop thinking about the past or worrying about the future. But I can, or so it seems, begin to see the error in my addictiveness and begin to stop the story as soon as I see its presence. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.
Where I keep landing lately, after Jane puts me in my place with love and humor and lilting voice that just makes you feel good, is that right here, right now, all is well. Everything is fine. I do not need to do anything. I do not need to go anywhere or be anyone else, or fix anything or be better or worse or whatever. I am fine. And I do not need to escape this moment where there isn’t really a lot going on.
I can’t even begin to tell you how lost I feel when this hits me. I mean like turn around in your kitchen but be able to take no steps anywhere kind of lost. And I am learning, that is totally ok. And I am grateful that for the most part, as I feel like I am coming undone, I can see that life, so tightly wound as I have been living it, isn’t a great amount of fun. And twirling myself around with a bunch of nothingness in my kitchen is actually kind of cool. I mean, don’t come over and watch, I probably look really weird. But inside, the inside person of me is growing as she spirals in place. No where to go. Nothing to do. Just be here. I never, ever knew exactly how exhausting that was until I really began to try it and contemporaneously actually experience it.
I am still grappling with what I am to do with myself now, after I am done twisting in the kitchen that is. It is like a great void, that I have been avoiding my whole life has opened up and I am quite literally terrified as to what to do next. My head is sure that a story, or chocolate, or a man, or a new dress, or a pedicure or new couch, or dog, or goat will fix it. And so it begins the storyboard to get that new narrative fired off with a bang. But as much energy and interest as it packs, it is failing to grab me like it used to. Instead after I right myself from my dizzy making spirals in the kitchen, I find myself somewhat lost on the great expanse of myself and the moment.
Have you ever really experience a moment?
I mean really?
A whole moment where you were totally present, not future tripping or falling into the morass of the past?
I mean if you have good for fucking you!
But me, not really, I mean I like to think that I have but really, totally, I haven’t.
Like at all.
But I am beginning, I think, to address the underlying issue for myself that started likely with birth…that there is nothing that I need to escape from, because I can’t. Whatever methodology I use to exit, will eventually become my captor, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place…
So for now, I will spin spirals in my kitchen and laugh with Jane at just how kooky I am, and begin, hopefully to just enjoy a moment that is free from my escapist storytelling narratives that really haven’t served me all that well. For me, I will begin to ask myself,
“Here we go again?”
Nope, and turn back to turning spirals in the center of my life free at last from the need, one more time, to find an exit.