Updated: Dec 7, 2020
How can a person get so excited about a simple word? Here, let me show you. Take a ride with me and my ridiculousness (or, my love for words?).
Escapism, per Dr. Google means, “The tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.” And per Wikipedia, “Escapism may be used to occupy one's self away from persistent feelings of depression or general sadness.”
I told my best friend about how I was SO excited to learn about the word escapism. I heard this word used on the emotional, raw, real, and relatable podcast I’m listening to called “We Are HER” (stemming from an amazing nonprofit organization founded by Stevie from Bozeman, Montana that helps survivors of domestic violence or sexual assault become HER: Healed, Empowered, and Restored). My best friend replied to my excitement about this word with such a beautiful statement, “You’re my Kya,” (from “Where the Crawdad’s Sing”), “I fucking love your brain. Love where you take things and how you find interest in words. Makes me a better human too.” You, my best friend, make me a better human. You are why I am where I am. If I did not have you cheering me on, I’d have given up a long time ago.
I read a simple sentence today that said something about how technology allows us to be on-call 24/7. How true is this!? Every time I pick up my phone, I can have 8 messages waiting for a reply. Every time I open Facebook, I have 9+ notifications: birthdays, friend requests, comments, tags, and top stories that Facebook thinks I should know about. It feels so good to just put it away for a while! And to put away the rest of the overwhelming things in my life that don’t come from technology (my mind spinning around the assault, what I need to accomplish, what I want to accomplish, and where I am going with life), I partake in escapism.
Ok, maybe I need to elaborate a smidge more on that last sentence there. Things that are all colliding and causing me to feel overwhelmed include: (Disclaimer… I’m just bitching. I know that things can be worse (truthfully, I often preach this). For example, my beautiful friend is battling breast cancer after just having beat colon cancer a few years ago. NOT saying that is worse than what I survived; it is just a different kind of bad. It is a different kind of shit. It is a different kind of trauma. We all have whatever it is that causes us to be overwhelmed, stressed out, and burned out. And here is what it currently is for me…)
1. My son started distance learning Monday. He’s in kindergarten and they said to plan for about 2 hours/day of work. (Note: he does not get this done during the daycare day and his dad and I both work 5 days a week. So in our about…. 2 hours of evening time together, we need to accomplish it. OH, and I just found out that daycare is closed for two weeks due to COVID-19).
2. Being a single mom (50% custody) and having to be both mom and dad on these days. Having no one to help or hand-off to when things get challenging. I haven’t mastered that “dad voice” yet.
3. Being a pet mom. They are time-suckers! Straight-up ball and chains! But completely worth feeling safe. I have mixed emotions when my guard dog destroys my garage during the day while I'm at work because she escapes from her pen area in the garage. Plus two cats (yes, they’re needy as fuck. Tiny time-suckers.).
4. Being a homeowner. Gross.
5. Dealing with extremely challenging family dynamics. Particularly during the holidays… In theory, shouldn’t we be “coming together” for the holidays? You’d think, but instead my family seems to be falling apart… (Surprisingly, not even COVID-19 related).
6. Trying to stay in shape. I have a lot of anxiety about this: what I eat, how much I run (which sucks to try to accomplish in the winter in Minnesota as a single mom), the fact that my gym is closed due to COVID-19, and every square inch of my body scrutinized by yours truly – me!
7. Trying to finish Book # 1. (And find a publisher or afford a publisher).
8. Starting Book # 2 (I’m setting up interviews of other survivors, yay!).
9. Finishing my Victim Impact Statement for sentencing February 10th, 2021.
10. Being part of the Survivor Advisory Group to the Governor. (I'm HONORED to be part of this.)
11. Tech-fucking-nology. Being “available/on-call” 24/7.
12. Trying to stay social so I’m not scrutinized for not always wanting to be social with 100% of my free time! Balancing the two is challenging because people don’t understand… then it’s more time consuming to attempt to explain it. While I enjoy being social (though it is super hard currently with COVID-19), I thrive on introvert time. I accomplish things and it is rewarding; I love being productive (even if it’s simply reading). I recharge. Silence is a virtue. But then people give me hell for always being so busy and cherishing my alone time… so sometimes I feel like I’m not allowed to have me-time, to appease them… I’m trying to balance this.
13. (I have to add this because not all women have to work nor work full time) – 40+ hours of work/week (as a permanent Charge Nurse of the Ambulatory Urology Department) plus drive time. Being the person that is dependable, the go-to, the policy enforcer, the problem solver, the one who always shows up on time… early, rather, and trying to please 45 nurses regarding their schedules, shifts, and assignments, all while making sure the department is taken care of.
14. Triggers. PTSD. Court (which has finally come to an end with exception of sentencing...).
While I am productive much of the time, sometimes it is far too overwhelming and I want to escape it all. Come to find out, I need escapism to step away, collect myself, and recharge. From the brief, informal research that I have done around this word, escapism can be innocent activities like watching TV, movies, listening to music, playing video games, reading, or painting. But it can also be not-so innocent activities such as substance abuse, overeating, addictive gambling and other things done in extremes. I read somewhere that it is the opposite of mindfulness and it allows us to numb reality. There are obviously pros and cons, right?
I’m probably over-researching this word. But damn, how intriguing that there IS a word for this! And so simple, nonetheless. But sure enough, avoiding our problems don’t make them go away. Even with the innocent activities, it only helps temporarily. The problems are still there when I go back to reality. I found this out with riding motorcycle this summer. My neighbor had brought it to my attention, “You’re so tough driving a big truck and riding motorcycle, but when you get home, you’re still alone and your mind is still going to think about what happened.” Yes, thank you. I’ve realized this. While riding motorcycle (wind therapy, as we say), is an excellent escapist activity, the things I need to process and face head on are still waiting for me when I get home. And that’s okay. I’m okay with that. At least when I get home from riding motorcycle, I’ve de-stressed and have more energy to face the things I need to face.
One of my earlier posts from February 26th was entitled, “Non-Traditional Forms of Therapy.” Maybe I should consider re-titling this to “Escapism, The Healthy Way.”