Going Off the Rails, or How to Be an Escape Artiste

In which our fearful protagonist navigates the treacherous waters of a social life, and the even more duplicitous depths of meeting herself.

There are days when I think I might be losing my mind. Today is one of them.

I can’t concentrate on anything. I can’t focus on work for more than a minute or two at a time. I keep trying to do things and getting distracted almost immediately. These are not problems I’ve had my whole life, just in the past six months or so. It’s as though when I moved out of the house I shared with M, my brain cracked into several pieces and now I can’t get it back together again.

I feel panicky about it, and wonder when it will end. Or if it will end. Is this my new existence? It’s interfering with my ability to do my job, and that’s particularly scary. That’s the only lifeline I have in this entire world. If that goes away, I’m completely fucked. I’m making decisions that are weird, or bad, or both, and I can’t justify them. Some things are moving way too fast, others not fast enough.

I have good days and bad, and today is one of the bad ones, full of self-loathing and fear. I feel I overestimated my ability to pull all of this off on my own: the breakup, the move, the new life. I don’t know if I can do it, but I have to. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.

I am an escape artist. More than that, I’m an escape professional. No one is better at avoiding my own issues than I am, and that’s really a problem. It was my modus operandi for 21 of the 24 years with M. I escaped every night into bottles of wine and the television world so I never had to confront my monumental mistake and my constant loneliness. I quit writing, and making art. When I finally quit drinking on December 2, 2018, it was like waking from a long, repetitive nightmare.

The vertigo is also back. It’s a peculiar combination of physically feeling a little dizzy, while mentally feeling as though the floor is going to drop out from under me and there’s no safety net. I think I need help. I’m going to look for some counseling. The problem I’ve had in the past with counseling is that therapists tend to think I’m not ‘ill’ enough to keep going beyond a few sessions. But this is different; these were possibly the most profound changes I’ve ever made in my life, and I need some mental tools, tools beyond exercise and eating right, to help me through.

I need someone to talk to besides you, Ghost, I need to hear my feelings out loud and have them validated by someone else. I need someone to steer me back onto a path of healing. I’m not working through things, I’m working around them. I’m avoiding, and I guess I think that if I say everything is fine often enough, it will be. But it’s not fine, and I’m not fine. I’m skipping steps, and I need someone to help me work through those steps so I can be free again. I don’t even know where to begin.

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