The Escape Hatch.
At least once a week, I look for it. The way to get out and never have to come back. Yep, I mean to my life. As glorious as some moments in each day can be, there are those that beat me to my core.
Here is my typical week:
- I cannot please enough people, be smart enough at work, participate in school events, go through the mail, or pick up the freakin’ house.
- I forget it’s trash day — for the fourth week in a row.
- My garage door is frozen shut, with my car inside.
- I forgot to submit half my time sheet, so I only got half my pay.
- My #4 child has to be taken to the Doctor for the second time in three days because she REALLY DOES have strep throat and they forgot to send the culture in the first time you were there….but wait, did you know Christmas is tomorrow?!?!!?
This is when I start to open the Escape Hatch. The severity of daily events determines just how wide the opening needs to be.
For example, a day when I unknowingly slam my winter scarf in the car door and walk away JUST in time to clothesline a passing pedestrian followed by serving pancakes for the third night in a row (because it’s Tuesday and payday isn’t until Friday)? That opens up an Escape Hatch that looks ME, in my car, alone, driving up I-95 until I hit Canada.
A day that begins on a 9-degree morning when there is no water in my house? If the subsequent events include the “well guy” having to come on an emergency call to dig up your front yard with a backhoe because….the pump down in the well isn’t low enough (WTH?), telling your kids to “wait to pee at school”, “use the bottle of water to brush your teeth”, and a bill for $3,200?
Well, that day opens an Escape Hatch that is as large as a withdrawal from the ATM (in Escape Hatch mode there is actually money in my bank account) and a bus ticket (so no one can trace where I’ve gone) to as far West as it will take me. Then I’ll be a waitress and live at the Skylark Motel (doesn’t every town have one of those?), and no one will know who I am.
When I am in Escape Hatch mode, that thought is comforting. No one knows who I am. I have no responsibilities to other people, therefore I’m not letting anybody down. And I don’t have to make any more pancakes….
Maybe that’s not your Escape Hatch. Maybe yours looks like a “safe cheat.” You know, the kind where you don’t get caught? Or perhaps three hot fudge sundaes and a movie binge? Mark Wahlberg with his shirt off? Making a powerful dent in a bottle of Patron? Or maybe just a very intense shopping spree.
Maybe your Escape Hatch looks like that fleeting moment when you think, Everyone would be okay if I….just….drove….into….this….tree.
Have you been there? Right there? Some of you have, and it’s a seriously rough spot to sit in.
Therein lies the drawback of the Escape Hatch. WHY? Because, it’s the most un-real place your brain will ever go.
It’s a lie.
Safe cheat? Ummm, there isn’t one. Three hot fudge sundaes and a movie binge? That equals sick to your stomach and —if you’re over 40, laying there in a bloated state from too much dairy. Mark Wahlberg without his shirt on? Well, it depends on the movie….but even Marky Mark is getting old, my friends. A bottle of Patron? YUM, vomit, and then two weeks of out of body experiences while you detox. Shopping spree? A closet full of junk, with the tags still on them, because (let’s be honest) if you’ve got that problem, you’re not shopping because you NEED the items you bought.
Here’s what is really happening when your brain opens the Escape Hatch. It is telling you, “I need to stop! Too much is happening in here!” In your frustrated, overloaded brain, it sounds like that high-pitched whistle that only dogs can hear.
Fact: Your brain IS telling you to stop. Your brain is creating “escapes” so that subconsciously it can regulate. I know this is true, because I live this.
Truth: I broke. For hours, one night, in the dark. I cried like I never knew I could cry and I couldn’t stop. I prayed out loud, the same words over and over, “Father please help me. Father please help me….” I laid on the floor and let my body feel the pain and remorse and loss and hurt and frustration and fatigue. Sometimes, I couldn’t even get a breath. I did not have the thought of plunging into my final eternity—BUT, afterward, I could understand and empathize with how someone else may get to that point.
I cried for hours. I have no idea how many. My guess would be however many my body and my brain needed. My crying stopped, and then I just laid there in the quiet. Hours passed. For once, I just let myself sit in the realness of life and felt it all.
Wanna know what blows my mind? After all of that, after sitting in it and accepting it and feeling it, my sans-whistling brain told my body to GET UP.
So, I did. I got up and I walked forward. Then I freakin’ realized, “HERE is the REAL Escape Hatch!” (My calm brain added, “You Moron!” to that previous statement) It’s walking forward….
Forward is the CHANGE you’re going to make because….well, you HAVE to. You can’t keep doing that shit! Forward is not a lie, or a mirage, and it’s definitely not Mark Wahlberg with his shirt off.
There is struggle that will become great. There is struggle that will stay struggling. You may find yourself crying on the floor again (and again). BUT remember—you’ve been here before. It’s survivable. YOU WILL GET UP. YOU WILL ESCAPE FORWARD because, as I said, you HAVE to.
Why do you have to? Because that’s real, too. The world needs you, whether you know it or not.
So, in my real life week, the unread mail was still there, the house was still disgusting, I still wasn’t smart enough at work, and I didn’t wrap the presents until Christmas morning. (No joke, I told my kids they had to wait upstairs until I was done!) Oh, and the Doctor called me three days after my daughter started antibiotics (for strep) to tell me that she had strep.
That’s messy happy life. There is never happy without messy — unless you’re a liar.
If you are reading this, and you have teetered on the edge for a moment or for hours, I need you to know this…CHOOSE to get up. Escape forward.