When you’re going through hard times in your life you find ways to survive. Therapists call them coping mechanisms. They also say that holding onto these things to long can be unhealthy. And yet, they become so much a part of your life it can be hard and frightening to give them up.
How have I coped with my abuse, depression, and bipolar disorder? Well…I write, mostly poetry. I may post some of my writings on here in the future. I also listen to music, a lot. If you’ve read my post “I am not alone” you’ve seen some of what I mean there. I fantasize about a better life. One where I’m thin and beautiful and confident. One where I don’t lack for attention and people care about how I feel and even put me first. Truthfully though, I do have a good life now. My husband is very supportive and my kids are the best things I’ve ever done. We aren’t rich, but we don’t lack anything. I also read, a lot. I find it easy to lose myself in books and the character’s burdens and pain.
These things don’t sound too unhealthy on the surface. Writing is a good way to vent. Music can also be a great outlet as well as a calming influence. Who doesn’t fantasize? Reading improves your mind and is way better than watching television. Right? I don’t know anymore. I needed these things to get through what passed for my childhood, but do I need them to manage day to day in my adult life? Sometimes I feel like I do. But, sometimes I wonder if they make it hard to face reality.
Writing will always be a part of me and I can’t see a downside to getting things off my chest…until I can’t get the words out. Sometimes I just can’t get it right or I can’t finish it. I get frustrated with myself and that beats at my already waning self-image. I can’t see anything wrong with music being an outlet also…until the songs I’m listening to aren’t appropriate for my children’s ears. They are young and I don’t want them hearing things they aren’t going to understand or that they shouldn’t repeat.
Now fantasizing can be bad, bad thing. It indicates dissatisfaction with my life, which couldn’t be further from the truth. It also prevents me from living in the here and now. Sure, fantasizing about winning the lottery and paying off all my bills and setting my kids up so they never have to worry about the future is normal and something most people do. But it’s unrealistic and my time could probably be better spent teaching my kids to be independent and self-reliant.
Reading…here’s the hard one. I love to read. In fact, it’s almost an obsession. I deny myself visits to the bookstore because I could drop $100 without even thinking about it. I would spend the next two days doing nothing but reading the books I brought home and then I would be alone again. I am kept up at night thinking about characters in books and what I would have done in their situations. It’s just so much easier to deal with issues in books, particularly romance novels, because the author usually resolves the problems for you. Don’t get me wrong, reading is a wonderful pass time and a fantastic way to improve your mind. I encourage everyone to pick up a book, and I’m trying to instill a love a reading within both of my children. But when does it go from being a healthy hobby to a way to escape life? Perhaps when you’ve read a book so many times that the cover disintegrates, you know the words by heart, and the book automatically falls open to the most painful passages. Possibly when it depresses you when books that helped you make it through hard times become stale and it sends you spiralling into depression. I just don’t know anymore.
Some people use alcohol or drugs to escape. Some people who have been sexually abused become promiscuous trying to find love and approval. Some people become abusers themselves to try to regain control any way they can. In my opinion, those things are way more dangerous and harmful to themselves and others, even criminal.
Does that make me any more right in my coping mechanisms? I’m not doing anything criminal. I’m not hurting myself or anyone else physically. But am I neglecting the most important people in my life in favor of living in a dream world? I’m not sure if I know what’s up or down anymore, let alone healthy or unhealthy. Life can be hard, but isn’t it better to face it than giving up control by pretending everything is okay? I do that if people had stopped pretending and hiding I most likely would not have been abused.