Many, many, many years ago I was standing in line at Subway getting my lunch. It was about 3p (which I guess is what I considered lunchtime) and even though the place was literally in the parking lot of my condo complex I drove instead of walking. As I handed over my credit card, hoping and praying that it wasn’t yet maxed out, my friend from high school called to tell me that she had bought a house.
Here I was facing the biggest decision of my day, american or provolone, while all of my friends were making real life decisions. I could barely afford my rent. I had to use my credit card for fast food. I was single with no wedding of any kind in sight. I felt worthless.
I coped with this news by doing the thing I did best-finding someone/anyone to go out with me and get completely hammered. I used that same, nearly maxed out, credit card to buy everyone drinks, and instead of focusing on the thing that was really bothering me I subconsciously created other problems for myself. In other words, I tried escaping.
Fast forward 15 years and I guess I “caught up.” I eventually got married, bought a house, had kids, and reached a point financially where I could afford fast food. But, I still found myself using alcohol as an escape.
Bad day-I need a drink. The kids are stressing me out-I need a drink. I feel nervous about the gathering/party/meeting-drink. For that hour or two the alcohol took the edge off and I thought that would be good enough. I would deal with the hangover, the regret, the debt, the whatever tomorrow “when I felt better.”
If you’ve been reading long enough, you already know that the time "when I felt better” never came. You can’t escape anxiety, depression, bad situations, poor decisions, hard times, and complacency (the hardest to overcome) with numbing. Believe me, I have tried. In fact, I still find myself trying to numb at times. Netflix, carbs, sugar, caffeine, exercise, obsessive cleaning, etc. Sure, I can take my mind off things but avoiding the problem doesn’t make it go away.
I recently saw this quote “Create A Life That You No Longer Need to Escape From.”
The drinking (or gossiping, or spending, or cheating, or lying, or over eating, or negative self talk, or 9 straight seasons of Grey’s Anatomy) isn't the problem. That is the behavior we've come up with to deal with the problem. The problem is that we don’t like what’s happening in life. We’re unhappy, let down, stressed, nervous, over worked, overstimulated, misunderstood, bored and the list goes on for miles.
We numb because we can’t stand to face the truth. We numb because we convince ourselves that it’s easier that way. We numb because of words like should, supposed to, and must. Or, worst of all, we numb because we forgot that we were started numbing to begin with.
So, you can't just stop drinking (or whatever you use to escape). That will never work (or it might work but I bet you’ll feel deprived). You stop drinking while simultaneously finding that spark, finding that life choice that gives you that high you’re chasing, find that change that will make everything easier, and find that hope that there is something better for you.
Create a life that doesn’t need the escape. Create a life that doesn’t require yearning for more. Create a life that is content and even grateful. Create a life that you want. You’re in charge. Yes, you! Don’t like your job, your relationship, your feelings, your past? Get the help you need, read the books, look into that change, make the first step! Your situation can change.
I know how much energy and time it takes to numb. It’s an amazing suck that will waste away years if you’re not careful. How do you choose to spend your time? It’s going to pass regardless.