Friday, August 5, 2011

Running Away, Locking The Gate

I feel as if I have given birth to the little baby of anxiety. I am carrying her/him around, an annoying knot of a child, constantly clinging.
This is not the anxiety of four years ago which paralyzed me; this is merely one which slows my movements, muddies my dreams, my thoughts.
It wormed itself into my brain last night where I was constantly trying to catch a plane to go off to a college far away and I thought to myself, "Why didn't I even check the internet to see how people like this college? How will I deal with a new city, a new school, new roommates?" and I kept looking at my watch and my ticket and I was late, late, late.

Of course when I was eighteen, I did fly far away to go to a new city, a school I knew nothing about. It ended up being a disaster, a rocket-fast crash course on how to do drugs, how to suffer depression, how to be homesick.
Oh, I was never homesick for my own family. No, I had fled from that house with intent of escape but I left behind friends, a boyfriend, a de facto family of sorts made up of other kids with strange families who could not function properly, who had no idea what to do with brainiac kids always chasing the highway, reading TS Eliot, kids who ate psilocybin mushrooms straight from the cowshit and then listened to Bach in order clear our brains (for a moment, at least) of what was going on in our own homes where the carpet was avocado green, where the mashed potatoes came from a bag, where there might not be a lock on the door and if there was, it was on the outside, slide...bolt.

And I did fly away from that place and ended up in another place where I had no support whatsoever, I was as much a stranger in a strange land as Michael Valentine Smith, raised on Mars and dumped on Earth.

Ms. Radish King wrote yesterday that she has spent her entire life wanting to run away from her life and I think that is bred into the bones when one is young. There are lives that are meant to be run away from. That very survival depends on such running-away-from. That from the earliest moments of consciousness, there is the alarming realization that this is not right. No. This is far from right.

It gets to be a habit, this running-away from.
Even when the life one leads is as practically perfect as can even be not-imagined. And of course, the running-away-from desire is more the idea of escape from oneself, or at least those parts of oneself that are still entangled in the sticky web of childhood.

Sometimes the running-away-from desire takes the form of closing the gate and refusing to go anywhere beyond the fence, which is a running-away-from the world. Here I am safe. Take one step out and who knows? It is not an "adult" feeling and there is no logic attached. It is a child feeling. Perhaps even a baby feeling. An infant who does not want to be set down.


Sometimes I think I should spend the rest of my life in therapy and sometimes I think what the hell, I am functioning. I have my place in the world. I have my good days, even my very good days. My escapes take the form of writing, of reading, of a martini, of sleep. Of closing the gate. Even the making of a fine dinner can be an escape. The most basic functions can be comforting escape- the kneading of dough, the picking and cooking of vegetables, the sear of flame on skillet, the hiss of onions and garlic filling the safe-house with comfort. Giving comfort can be an escape. Holding my grandson, following him around as he explores this world, keeping him safe and keeping my distance, if that is what he wants, so that he can wander farther afield until some day, he will catch that plane and he will not fall into a black hole because he knows that there are arms behind him, even if he cannot see them, ready to be proffered if there is need.

All of this is on my mind today. Words written by a poet (Madame King), sparse and true as a thin arrow found their mark and opened some channel into my psyche. And in being able to see the truth of them, I am not so afraid of my feelings, this tiny knot of an infant born of anxiety's evil intimacy. He/she may cling like a monkey (monkey on my back- what a sincerely apt metaphor that one is) but at least I know where he/she came from. At least I know that eventually (maybe in an hour- who knows?), he/she will tire in its grasp, slip away.

I knew a woman who suffered from depression and mental illness so badly that she could not let her husband go to work. She threatened daily to kill herself if he left her and in so doing, she trapped him in with her in her world of illness. She had come all the way from New Zealand to escape the horrible things which happened to her in childhood- true madness she had suffered and true madness she still experienced and what is the idea of suicide but the Ultimate Escape?

Ah. But isn't it better to flee to Key West, or to write poetry, to slice vegetables? Even to close the gate? If we are lucky, that is enough.

I am so lucky.

Owen does this thing now where if he hurts himself and you kiss the boo-boo he says, "Better," and if he chokes on something and you look up in alarm, he gets himself back to normal functioning and says, "Better," and I think of that now.
He has already, at the age of not-quite two, learned to reassure himself and us too.
In his case, I think he is being truthful.
He has also learned that if he is sad he will be held, he will be comforted.
I do not think that boy will need to run away from his life. He may run towards something new, something awesome, something fabulous- his own life. But he will not be running away.

He will have no need of escape.

Well, that's the theory.

Who knows if it will turn out to be true?
Not me.

I barely understand my own self, my own life, my own dreams, either the sleeping or awake ones.

But I do know that with each tiny piece of understanding, the need to run away lessens.

In theory. And in theory, the running-away-from desire can perhaps be channeled, even at this late date, into a running-towards, an embracing of that which is. Of what can-be.

Of perhaps even joy (yes, sometimes), or of each and every morning.

Well, maybe. And when the monkey-clinging-baby-of-anxiety is threatening to choke me, I just have to know that this, too, is part of who I am and why I am. Period. The End.

This is how it is for me today. How is it for you?


  1. Ms. Moon-blossom, you have obviously reached deep into my skull and pulled out what's always been ailing did you find the door?


    Yes. This. I've ALWAYS been a bolter and am just settling down. Usually it has to do with just what you said: anxiety. Scared that things won't work out, that I'll fail, that I'll be loathed, that something awful will happen, that I'll gobble up drugs or alcohol and embarrass myself. For me, it has everything to do with being a hard-wired recovering addict. I do all right now, though. It's good to read that I'm not the only cookoo in the clock. :) :)

  2. Dear Ms Moon,
    You have hit all the nails on their tiny mind fucking little heads.

    PS I love monkey metaphors.

  3. This didn't take me so much by surprise, but it's still tough reading--and living and writing. I hope you go out the gate and talk to your friends, and the doctor...there's nothing wrong with easing through these times to be stronger. Take care of yourself, it's the only one there is!

  4. silverfinofhope- We do get better. We do. And Lord Almighty, this is a big clock. Room for us all.

    plantingalongtheverge- Thank-you, dear woman. Thank-you.

    Joanne- Done with that doctor thing. I take the drugs. No worries. This passes. Thank-you.

  5. Yep, me too, me too, all of it. Even the comments. Only now I am learning to simply stop and rest in the feeling of needing to run. Because it will pass, I have learned this too.

  6. Same here. That monkey has been trying to strangle me for the past week and a half and I know he'll stop eventually, but still.

  7. Well, given that it's nearly 11:00 and I'm still in my nightgown in a very quiet house, devoid of small boys and the girl is asleep in her room, all is well. However, I have loads to do and am stymied and paralyzed and stuck here in my chair. It's a good, good thing to have you here to read -- to ponder -- there is much to wonder about. I so appreciate your ability to write of and to express your experience. You are making the world more open and understanding -- you are teaching and exposing those of us with different lives, different experiences -- thank you, Ms. Moon. I love you so.

  8. I've always had the urge to run away but then I'd think - I have to take me with me...

  9. Anxiety runs in my family. My mom has it BIGTIME. I've been getting worse with mine over the past decade or so. It's an uphill battle, for sure!

    One of the things that's helped me tremendously over the past year is gaining knowledge about the things I fear. Somehow, learning as much as I can, makes me more able to think rationally during those moments of panic.

  10. I awoke with mean monkey thoughts this morning myself. I am going to cast them off my back with a massage from one of my favorite women here in a minute.

    Wishing you a good book, a satisfying walk, a talk with a friend that brings that "Better" feeling today. (That O-boy is an old soul. Such wisdom from the not-quite-two year-old!)

    x0 N2

  11. Thanks for all the insights. I have a dear friend I'm trying to understand this for. You illuminate more than you'll ever know.

  12. Sorry your feeling icky sticky. Maybe the rain will help...?

    Today we went to the park and we were the only ones there! The whole park to ourselves. Then we found an intact Chick Fil-A kid book, which equals free ice cream. We got our freebee ice cream and made a new friend. Now, laundry.

    Hey, do you want some greens water? I made some last night and have much too much for just one batch of soup. (We have a serious space issue in our fridgidaires)

  13. Kori- Eventually, you realize that no matter how cheesy it sounds- wherever you go, there you are. Sigh.

    Lois- I'm sorry. Where did all these little monkeys come from?

    Elizabeth- No. That is exactly what YOU do and that is why I love YOU!

    Jeannie- I know. Sad but true.

    Sage- My anxiety is not so much about things that I fear. I mean, sometimes it grabs onto a focus, but mostly, it's just...stupid.

    N2- Oh. I crave a massage. I AM going to get one soon. I AM.

    Joanne- It's really hard to understand, even if you have experienced it. It sounds so...vague.

    Ms. Fleur- Sounds like y'all had a great day! I'm glad. And honey, I appreciate the offer but I don't think I could get so much as the leaf of a green in my refrigerator.

  14. Thank you, Mrs. Moon, for that deep and thoughtful post. Maybe Buster will get that damn little monkey and do something for his own doggy salvation. And Owen will say, "Better." And all this will happen while you are chopping vegetables, because god knows that vegetables are here for us to eat and feel better. So I hope you eat yours tonight, and have a beer, and hug the boy and the man, and have a sweet dream tonight.xoxox

  15. Denise- I did chop vegetables and I did drink a martini and I am now about to make a peach and berry cobbler for Jessie and Vergil who will be here soon.
    I don't understand any of this life but I know that food is good.
    And I have hugged the man plenty and been hugged back in turn and I suppose I will survive. Thank-you.

  16. Oh indeed. Yes and yes. I often want to run away (even though life is actually, finally, strangely?) calm and (dare I say it?) full of what I've always wanted. And yet, I still feel pinned to the couch, eyeing that wet dog of loneliness and anxiety who still curls on the stoop; he's not rabid, but he's always lurking.

    And I am so glad that there are folks like you, who write about this, it's vagueness, how it can appear shallow or trite to others (my mother's advice, still,is to "just get OVER it, Sara.") Yeah. And all those years I thought I was alone, the only one who felt this way and it has been such a blessing to read the words of others who know this wet dog, this monkey, who live anyway, who have the courage to say in the same breath I"m happy and I'm anxious and know that both are true and that it's a struggle. So, thanks for doing this important, important stuff. Enjoy that martini. I"m enjoying my wine and a night below 90 degrees.

  17. I'm tired and can't pull together a proper comment. But I want to say thank you. Thank you.

  18. This is a very wise post, Ms. Moon.

    You are very wise, and I love you.


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.