As a young child in elementary school, my favourite task at school was “Creative Writing” assignments. It seems logical as I adored reading any book I could get my hands on. And I was good at it too. I always received the highest marks for my writing. Pleasure and praise – it’s no wonder it was my favourite!
Then Jr. High came along and out went the creative writing assignments to be replaced with more mundane factual tasks. Boring! But that never stopped my mind from creating. Stories, characters, scenarios, scenes, places, dialogue and much more. The problem was, I no longer had the opportunity to write about them. Somehow the concept of writing just for the sake of it didn’t appeal to me. I guess I wanted to share my ideas and probably even more so wanted the compliments, approval and admiration that I used to get. What a shame we didn’t have blogs back then … you know in the olden days.
Of course as a child, I had family and friends. Why didn’t I ever write and share with them? Could my desire for commendation only be fulfilled by someone in authority (such as a teacher)? Why did I feel that need in the first place when I enjoyed the process of writing on its own? Have I ever stopped looking for congratulations in this manner? Did that desire expand into other areas of life and cause me to seek approval for other things?
Since then, I became a bit of a fantacist. I retreated into a fictional world when I couldn’t cope with real life. I think most people do at times. I’d like to think that the shrinks of this world would say “it’s normal”. But it can go too far. A time can come when you rely too much on that “other world” and stop facing reality. You withdraw from real life, your family and friends. You ignore problems and use procrastination instead of resolution. You clam up, shut down and go through the motions of everyday life. You do just enough to survive while pretending everything is fine.
However, things can go another route as well. This one perhaps even worse, I don’t know. It is the route I took and I regret it. I imagine I may have found my way out a lot earlier if I had chosen the first path. But I didn’t. (Actually on re-reading this I think I did take the first route initally but at some point ended up on this one) Instead I used people and things in reality and created that other world around them. Let me explain this because it isn’t easy to comprehend if you haven’t done it yourself.
Firstly, people. In my own mind, I transformed them into what I wanted them to be. How I wanted them to feel about me and what I wanted them to say or do. As I was trying to avoid reality, I turned the unimportant people into important ones and vice versa (with a few exceptions, namely my children). The ones who should have been important, I shut them out and created for them all sorts of (borderline paranoia) characteristics, motives and thoughts. Naturally this did NOT help reality one bit! For those who didn’t matter, the ones whom I meant the least to, I built them up. I think choosing people I knew without a doubt actually cared nothing or very little about me was a sort of safety mechanism. I could imagine they loved me, put me on a pedestal, worshipped me even. They would do anything for me without question. And the best bit of all? It wasn’t real so there was no risk of them actually getting too close for my comfort. I also told myself that I could stop the fantasy at any time. Problem was, I couldn’t. I let it go too far. Dealing with the truly insignificant people was not the trouble. The difficulty lay in my altered perceptions of those who were valuable, the ones who did care and did love me. And I was never even fully conscious of what I was doing. I was out of control, my thinking skewed so badly that I might have even argued that back was white at the time. I even shut out the “little” people on whom I had bestowed such power and esteem. Before the tipping point arrived, I had shut out nearly everyone I knew (save my children).
And then it came. The end of my world. I was instantly transported to hell and had no one to blame except myself. Of course that didn’t stop me from trying. Months went by where nothing made sense. I would look around confused by everything. Harsh reality pummelled me and I had no choice but to wake up from the fantastical nightmare and learn how to survive in the real one. It took months. Long hard months often filled with days where I couldn’t imagine existing for just one more hour. When I felt like giving up, like giving into the weariness, to stop fighting. But I couldn’t. And I didn’t understand why I wasn’t able to bounce back. I’ve never been one to stay down for so long – it didn’t make sense. Why couldn’t I shake it off? Inevitably that lead back into the circle of being sucked back down into the dark void of depression, struggle, see the surface just out of reach before being drawn back in once again. By the time I did manage to come up for the first breath of air and began to realise and understand what I had been doing, it was too late. I had blown up the tower, torched the gates and burned bridges in my wake. The acrid smell of devestation still turns my stomach.
But I am stronger now. I am coping with life much better. I am enjoying being back in the real world despite its problems. And I and ready to start on a few reconstruction projects when the right time comes.