You know what usually happens on days like yesterday -- where I have pressure upped in one arena (professional) and a small series of (what now seem like negative, but maybe that'll change with distance) unexpected changes in another (personal)? I go on a bike, or a run, or a long walk. When I say a long walk, of course, I mean LONG. Unhealthy long. Exercise is my primary coping mechanism. A couple weeks ago, I was running six miles a day, every day, and swimming about two miles at the pool. Again, every day. I felt stronger at the end of the day. A good friend asked why I was doing so much, told me not to do anything he wouldn't do. He's blessed with a high metabolism and with being able to lose himself to television. I'm envious of both these qualities. I wasn't training for an event, I just needed to cope with something I couldn't name.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, perhaps), these changes and pressure increases all happened AFTER I'd worked out for the day, after I'd showered, after I was already tired, after several emotional drainings, after dark. A friend, who could read this, but probably won't, suggested back in March that I find another way of dealing with problems. He couldn't offer specifics, because over-exercise is my problem, but he did ask if it would help if I had someone monitoring what I was doing, someone who would say, "Hey, instead of going for a run, why don't you sit here and watch this show with me."
I appreciated his concern, or the appearance of it. But, I told him it wouldn't help, because that's probably the truth. I'd probably delay the negative behavior, I said, rather than argue about it.
This is my method of self-destructing, in part because it's been my method of self-destruction for a while. Easy enough explanation, right? And a cop-out explanation to some extent. "Escapism," I called it this weekend. My friend in Austin, MN said to call it escapism--to think of it that way--was to trivialize what is a real body-image issue. This is true, in part, probably (though I haven't figured out how entirely). But also, I like the endorphin high. And I like to feel powerful for the few minutes that I'm doing this exercise or that. And for a host of other reasons, which I'd rather not go into, at least not right now.
But the thing is, I know in the end, it doesn't really help. It delays me thinking about whatever it is I need to think about. It causes a cycle of self-doubt and to some degree, self-loathing. I could bake instead (except gluten-free baking is so expensive!), or call a friend, or drown myself in a pint of ice cream (oh, more self-loathing), or any other number of supposedly "better" coping mechanisms. But I don't know that these things work for me. I'm not convinced most of these things work for anyone.
I want to know though: what are your coping mechanisms? I think I need to try a new one on for size.