Do you know that thing where somebody asks you how you’re doing and you say, “I’m doing”?
I wonder if we want to say “I’m coping” instead.
The concept of “coping” tends to have a negative connotation in our world today, as if coping was indicative of an inability to have a real handle on life. But I don’t think that it’s a bad thing to not have everything under control. I certainly have a lot in my life right now that’s out of my grasp. And so I cope.
I cope a bit better these days. I used to run and hide from everything in a manner that hurt myself and others around me. I would shut people out and retreat to the same lies that I always told myself. I took my negative feelings out on the people close to me. Sometimes I still do. But now when I try to cope with life, I tend to treat everybody a little better than I used to.
I also breathe a lot more now, and I try to establish a sense of being grounded rather than letting my brain get ahead of itself. I also tend to clean when I’m stressed, which may be a sort of avoidance but at least something productive gets done! A bubble bath every once in a while can also be nice. Sometimes, I do a Google search of “ways to cope with stress” or something similar, to try out something new and maybe add it to the repertoire.
But I have to admit that I’m still a bit of a mess when it comes to coping. I often rely on distracting myself from unpleasant things to try and keep getting what I need to do on a daily basis done. I avoid being alone because being alone can honestly be terrifying and paralyzing.
And avoiding the paralysis is a high priority for me. When I get to that state it’s very difficult to get out of. I remember in high school when things would get to the point that I honestly couldn’t leave my bed. Moving was just too much energy. And I admit that hygiene would take a back seat when things got rough in my first year of college. I apologize to everybody who had to sit next to me in class when I hadn’t showered for longer than I’d like to admit (dry shampoo and I became very good friends that year). I don’t really know how to feel about those memories. They’re a big part of me; they’re familiar, and yet when I look back it seems so odd. It feels like I spent more time just hanging on rather than living fully. It’s only in the past two years that life has had more shades of colour than “coping.”
I’m not sure what I’m aiming for by writing this all down. I know that one blog post won’t “fix” how I’m feeling. I never expect this time of year to necessarily be very different than how it’s always been. Perhaps it’s even useful to have these times where we’re experiencing life at its bare bones.
Maybe I’ll start by trying to be more honest in the next while to say “I’m coping” rather than “I’m doing.”