Friday, December 11, 2009

Confessions of an "Escape"-aholic

Hi, my name is Margaret and I have an addictive personality (or in simpler/alternative terms, I'm a sinner, a ragamuffin, flawed, still being sanctified ... you get the picture).

Growing up I loved to read. Great, no problem, who doesn't want a kid that loves to read? But I used it as an escape. I read to excess. I tuned out the world and withdrew from the chance of rejection from my peers and hid in a world of fantasy and words. I could inhale a 500 page book in a single day. I would forget to eat, to study, to sleep so I could finish the book I was reading. I'd finally get to the end of the book and my eyes would be scratchy after not blinking or changing my view often enough and unable to focus properly on distant objects after so much close work. I'd have a headache and feel lethargic from slouching with my book all day.

I've gone through phases where my escape mechanism of choice varies. Playing solitaire. Playing the piano. Playing Tetris on my Nintendo. Researching a new topic of interest online. Reading message boards. Reading erotica. Obsessively checking my email, or MySpace or Facebook, or Critique Circle. Playing online games. Writing/editing/re-reading fiction.

Some of these obsessions were more productive and beneficial than others, obviously, but they all have a core of escapism, of letting me hide and disengage from the world.

Right now, reading parenting message boards and blogs is taking up way too much of my time. I don't like what I'm modeling for Pookaloo. There is more to life than sitting in a chair and staring at a flickering screen, and she should see me go about those things instead. While I sometimes appreciate the support and validation of my parenting beliefs and tips and tricks have come in handy, far too often, my reading puts me in a mindset of worry and anxiety. For example, am I eating healthfully enough? Am I feeding Pookaloo well enough? Are there hidden food intolerances or other problems that are at the root of XYZ problem and how would I go about fixing it if there were? Am I doing enough to engage her and teach her and be a good mom?

So what's my solution? How can I stop the escapism?

The solution is not legalism or banning the Internet from my home. The Internet is a tool that has its place and merely a symptom of an underlying problem. As I described above, I have ample evidence that I can easily find alternative obsessions.

No, the solution is God's grace. He has awakened me to an awareness of this weakness and He will grant me the grace moment by moment so I can make better choices. To stop and examine why I feel the need to escape, from what I am trying to escape and to purposefully engage in something else.

Small victory: today, instead of "nursing at keyboard" as I am wont to do for many of Pookaloo's feedings, we sat in our easy chair in the bedroom and played finger games and giggled together as I pretended I wanted to eat her toes and purposely kept missing when I tried to take a bite. That moment of connection was a great reminder of what I am missing out on when I disengage, obsess and overdo it on anything that keeps me from being present with her.

I am making no vows, because I know I will break them. I am not imposing man-made measurements or standards on myself. That way is legalism and death.

I know a new way: I will live by the Spirit, by the law of love, and will be free.

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