I’ve been doing a good deal of learning lately. Right now, I am slowly working my way through Pema Chödrön’s No Time to Lose. It struck me that I have a habit of escaping into my fantasy life when I am having bad pain days. For sure, this is a coping method to try to help me keep my sanity by diverting my attention from the reality of constant pain, but it is not always a healthy habit.
Let’s back up a bit. I started daydreaming at a very early age. I had a fairly isolated childhood, being an only child growing up in a very rural area. Due to illness, I missed a lot of school. Making up stories gave me something to do, and it is a very healthy thing that children do. Sometimes, though, the stories transformed into wishes and those wishes into hope for some different reality than the one I lived in.
I’ve always had times of doing this, finding myself swept up by some grand scheme for the future that will somehow make my life better. Sometimes these were real, healthy goals. Other times, diversions from my real life.
In hindsight, I realized that last year, my fantasy world got especially out of control. I was spending more time ruminating on idealized notions than on living my life. Granted, it was a really shitty year. I needed some escape from it just to cope, and that’s fine in moderation. All of us escape at times. It’s a natural human reaction. But I have spent and do spend a lot of time lost there at the expense of my real life, and that is making my depression and anxiety worse, and is ultimately very unfulfilling.
This year hasn’t been better. In some ways, it is worse. I keep falling into fantasy without realizing it. I’ve tried to be more mindful to make it stop, but trying to eradicate it isn’t the answer either. What I need to do is face this issue head on and figure out what these fantasies are telling me about what I need in my emotional life that I don’t have, and then go about getting those things in realistic ways.
A big step in confronting the unhealthy parts of my fantasy life is to confess they exist. I started with my therapist and my husband. Now, I’m laying it out here. I’m addicted to fantasy. But I know it and own it, and now I go from here.