And I Ran, I Ran So Far Away (Well, 38 Miles)


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After an especially mentally wobbly week, I finally did it: I got a hotel room all to myself for 48 hours to regroup. This isn’t a novel idea, and it’s not even the first time I’ve done it. But usually it’s baked into some sort of conference or a project I’m trying to wrap up.

The difference this year was COVID and all the other 2020 fuckery, as well as the fact that my daughter just started preschool. It’s a new and scary time for various reasons; it made sense to stay home for approximately forever.

But now …  here I am, I’m writing this from a hastily booked hotel room after a day of back-to-back panic attacks.

The Decision

While I consider myself to be fortunate in many ways, it is equally true that I am suffering inside. Finding a way to honor both of these truths is hard work, especially at a time when so many are suffering and I don’t often feel I have a right to complain.

This is especially hard when you’re bombarded with messages to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stay strong. At worst you may be met with toxic positivity or ridiculed for sharing that you are suffering. At best, you receive well-meaning reminders of gratitude, positivity and perspective.

Worn down to the nub, my defenses were weak. An emotionally dismissive comment from the peanut gallery suddenly was the most painful attack ever. Ego and the need for external validation were taking over. My destructive thought and feeling patterns were eating me alive. If I couldn’t get away for myself, I had to do it for my daughter.

The Detachment

It was really hard to leave. It took me forever to pack and I think I’ve reminded my husband twice that he needed to pick up milk. Leading up to my departure, the invisible tethering I felt to my daughter was tugging harder. 

Now, with the clarity of new surroundings, I can complete a single thought without interruption. For example, I learned that I was ruminating over family dynamics that simply do not matter right now (or maybe ever). Let’s save it for a time when we aren’t going through a global health and financial crisis and are a couple of weeks away from the election.

This clarity has also shown me that when I don’t take care of myself, I am too easily knocked over. It also taught me how I’ve done things on impulse that have set myself up for suffering. Randomly texting people ideas, agreeing to commitments without thinking it through, making tasks harder by not fully reading directions. I know better than to do any of these things, but they’ve been happening more as my well-being degrades. 

The (Un)Agenda

There was no agenda, but I did need a little structure to make myself more at ease. For this, I wrote out cards for each thing I wanted to do while I was here. Not every single thing I could do, but things that represented what I wanted to get out of this trip.

I somehow ended up with two beds, so I made one of them into a command center where I could lay each of the cards out and pick what I wanted. They ranged from eating something delicious to doing some yoga for my flaming lower back pain.

I didn’t give myself rules like “no texting people back home” or “no social media”, but I tried to take it easy on those things and instead focus on high-quality things that would feed me during this precious time. I unabashedly slept A LOT. Not even sleep-deprived before getting here, it was clear my body and mind were exhausted. 

Conclusion

I fully understand when I get back from my Eat (BBQ)/ Pray (For Wifi)/ Love (Being Alone) mini-excursion, my problems aren’t going to go away. They could get much worse. However, I reconnected with some insights that I know will help when I get back. And now that I’m a tad recharged and recalibrated, I’m in a better place to handle whatever comes. 

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