Escape and Distracting from Emotional Pain

Escape from Emotional PainSee Full Size

Distracting From Reality

Portrayal – A small girl in the clouds on a paper boat. The stars are above and below her and the whole scene is hazy, like she were in a dream world. Of course it’s fantasy since that scene in reality isn’t possible, but the details of the fantasy speak truths to what’s going on inside the psyche. The truth here is that this is an escape world of her creation, used to distract from her actual one, which doesn’t seem to be one she wishes to inhabit at the moment.

It’s nighttime and since she’s in her nightgown, she should probably be sound asleep, with a full tummy and full spirit. Unfortunately the latter case seems not to be. To be up in the clouds by herself is to be FAR away from everyone; her parents, home, school etc. The soft, fluffy clouds and peaceful sky look ideal. Her boat, a vessel to carry and take care of her so that she can be by herself and not need anyone. Perfect.

Except it isn’t. Her world may be pleasant but it’s also lonely. Her look of sorrow tells her that no matter where she goes, it will follow and remain with her. In response she’ll double and even triple her efforts, living more and more in her head, until her teachers notice and recommend medication of some kind so that she “focuses” better. It may help a tad, but the root of the issue will be missed completely. Since the health of a family is usually dependent on it’s least healthy member (usually a parent), who would volunteer to step forward? Which teacher wants to broach THAT subject? It’s far less troublesome to blame the girl’s problems on herself.

As time goes on this girl will continue to use escape and distraction for many years in the form of food, shopping, TV etc., until either one of 3 things happen:

1- The distractions cause problems that become to obvious and intrusive in her life, giving her no choice but to have to try to deal with them.
2- The distractions stop being effective or “enough” to keep her away from her blocked pain, so this unprocessed pain becomes more conscious, and distressing.
3- Nothing. Her defenses hold throughout her life and she never has to deal with the pain. She also never gets to regain and experience her true self, who she really is.

It’s a task for sure. One that requires an ongoing commitment which can be likened to a pledge of some sort, which is required to get her to the other side of the vast field of hardship. Unfortunately, that’s what’s necessary for her to grow.

“We don’t create a fantasy world to escape reality. We create it to be able to stay.” – Lynda Barry

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