Allow me to take you back. It was 2005-2006. I was an intern at a theater company, which meant I lived off of very small stipend in a studio apartment that was provided by the theater. It was like college, continued. All us interns lived together, we had shared laundry space and a common room with couches and a TV/DVD player. We spent a lot of time there.
I was always invited to watch Grey’s Anatomy (in its second season, so things were getting really good- Denny was dying, Meredith and Derek were giving each other smoldering looks while trying to get over each other, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan was adorable even though he was the dying heart patient Denny Duquette) on Sunday evenings in the common room with the other female interns. I always turned it down. I knew myself well enough to know that I would get hooked on this TV show and then I would be there in front of the TV every Sunday. I knew I would get addicted.
And I did, I think I ended up watching the last two episodes alone in my studio apartment because I was curious about why everyone was obsessed. And the same thing seems to happen every year- people tell me about the amazing shows they are addicted to, and I resist watching because I know I will get addicted.
And then I got dumped. And I had free time during my days, and I started watching the ABC dramas on Netflix. They are hour long episodes, and they have two seasons worth of episodes. Thats a lot of hours. But I buried myself in these stories. I would put the episode on my iPad and I would clean, cook, organize, do some data entry work and keep them in the background. And I obsessed over these stories, I got carried away in Mary Margret of Once Upon a Time and Olivia Pope in Scandal. I could bury into their pain and escape my own. I cried over their pain, and felt for the characters.
And then I realized what I was doing. I was basically addicted to TV and to these fictional character’s stories.
So I started writing. I keep a journal for when I want to write with a pen and I keep a Google doc for the times when I am not near my journal. I have moments where it feels like I am getting hit with a wave of inspiration- I have to write NOW. Sometimes, I feel it drip and it gets to be like water boarding if I don’t get it down on paper. I am usually driving and have to pull over and write on my phone.
Writing lets me get my emotions out, and it feels safe. No one sees it, I usually don’t even re-read it. Sometimes it does help me identify my weak spots or the parts of myself that I need to heal.
So that’s step one. Identify the problems. Then you can fix the problems. Easy peasy, right?
What are your coping mechanisms? Do you escape into anything?