Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue


Fantasizing Too Much? Plan a Positive Escape

posted by Beyond Blue

I’ve been feeling badly that I spend so much of my day fantasizing … about a place not covered in dirty laundry, and where sex is spontaneous (not scheduled), and backrubs and pillow talk come before and after. At this dreamland, I have no responsibilities, no little people to take care of. All noises are pleasant: the sound of hot, steamy sex against the backdrop of the waves of the Atlantic crashing on the beach.

Ahhh…. There I go again.

Is it harmless? Wasting so much of time in a place that doesn’t exist?

Yes and no.

It’s certainly better than getting hammered, having an affair, or attempting suicide. But I’m thinking it’s unfair to my kids to hang out in a place in my mind that’s not reality, because when I’m interrupted (“Mom, I don’t want to go to camp! Don’t make me go to camp!”), my fantasies feed a resentment that, in turn, feeds more fantasies. Before too long, I’ve bought a timeshare on “Fantasy Island.”

“Fantasies are wonderful in that they can transport you immediately from a house full of whining kids to a tiki bar in the Caribbean,” my therapist explained last visit. “It’s fast, cheap, and efficient–requiring no passport, no money, no babysitters, no real effort at all. They are not all bad. In fact, they can be very useful. The trick is feeding positive fantasies, that don’t take away from your reality.”

Moreover, fantasies are about trying to escape. From your life. Or the stressful parts of your life. Everyone needs an escape, a break from her problems. But coming up with the kind of escape that fills you up, instead of steals from you–that’s where you have to apply some creativity.

“I think if you directed your thoughts toward coming up with some positive escapes, then you’d spend less time fantasizing about potentially destructive ones (thoughts of death, binge drinking, etc.),” my therapist explained.

She’s right.

For the last week, I’ve concentrated on designing some positive escapes for me, and I’ve spent considerably less time fighting unhealthy fantasies (“I want to get drunk,” “I wish I were dead,” “I want to take off for Tibet and not tell anyone”). Also, as I told my therapist, I need to predict the times of stress where I’ll definitely need an escape and plan one before my unhealthy fantasies and destructive emotions get the best of me.

Example.

In August, we are planning to spend a week with my family in Michigan. I love my family dearly, and am looking forward to the week. But as a recovering alcoholic, I find it very difficult to be around so much drinking–and when everyone gets together, there is A LOT of drinking. By day four, I start to lose it, and my thoughts turn to self-pity: “Why can’t I get hammered too? I’m so sick of being sober…. I wish I could blitzed for just a night….I’m missing out on the fun ….”

I remember turning into a total grouch last year. So this year, I designed a positive escape. I got online and looked at the surrounding areas, possible locations where Eric and I could land that would be a fun break from all the drinking. I researched a few places at Mackinac Island, and found a lovely inn with a swimming pool that’s perfect.

Now I get to fantasize about that: which looks a lot like the first fantasy I talked about, except without the spontaneous sex (we share a room with the kids) and it’s on Lake Michigan, not the Atlantic Ocean.

I’ve also decided to work less and play more (at least in theory) so that I’m not always in la la land. My recent New York trip was a positive escape, as will be my visit with my guardian angel Ann in Boston and my writing mentor/foster dad in Connecticut planned for later this summer. In between those trips, I’m going to shut down the computer and go kayaking more evenings, and pump up my mountain bike tires so that I can try out some new routes.

And if my mind drifts to vodka, or thoughts of death, or escaping to a third-world country, I’ll know that it’s time for a new real adventure, even if it’s walking down to the end of my stress to throw rocks into Spa Creek.

To read more Beyond Blue, go to www.beliefnet.com/beyondblue, and to get to Group Beyond Blue, a support group at Beliefnet Community, click here.



  • m

    I will pray you through your vacation.
    Your Angel will be with you, to prevent temptation from grabbing you.
    I too have thoughts of no responsibility, sitting by the ocean and all those calming things. Since those thoughts only torment me, I choose to take a nap or most often read a good book. I like the books that are similar to Tom Clancy’s novels. Brad Thor is an excellent author also. They are well written and grab my interest right away.
    Also, if you haven’t already done this, hire someone to clean for you. It’s wonderful knowing you don’t have to chase dust bunny’s anymore or scrub the tub.
    Blessings and all good,
    m

  • Melzoom

    therese, you have such a great writing voice/tone. =)
    and you made me laugh.
    my husband and i are working on planning a couple little vacations in the fall.
    and i have a ‘girls’ weekend planned this weekend.
    but, with this ‘girl’s weekend’, i also have an issue–asserting my limits (yes, i can have a beer or two, no i will not do shots with you) and dealing with the good-natured but frustrating comments about how ‘Cinderella has to go to bed at midnight!’ One late night is one thing. Three is a completely different story.
    My weekend is supposed to be refreshing and recharge me, and be about bond with my girlfriends. And those of us with mental illness don’t get to take vacations from our structures that save our lives.

  • Cully

    Therese wrote: …there is A LOT of drinking. By day four, I start to lose it, and my thoughts turn to self-pity: “Why can’t I get hammered too? I’m so sick of being sober…. I wish I could blitzed for just a night….I’m missing out on the fun ….”
    huny, that’s Not “self-pity”, that is Self-Disrespect. I know you are a wonderful and caring person – there is no reason that you should feel you should (notice I did not say, *want*) get drunk. You have nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to be embarrassed about, and if somebody makes you feel you do then THEY are the ones who should be ashamed and embarrassed.
    Have a great vacation!
    love ya, Cully

  • Lynne

    Hope you enjoy Michigan! I have a cousin in Sturgis. It’s a small town, you sneeze, you miss it! I have many a fond memory of childhood shananigans durring my summer vacations up there. I was the little princess, being the only girl on that side of the family. Ah the good old days. Have a great time decompressing . Thanks to a previous post I believe I’ll be checking out the local chapter of Recovery,inc. I need to do something positive and it sounds like that might be helpful.

  • Anonymous

    therese thats so true there are so many positive little things we can do to escape the day to day stress.and i think all of us overcomeing addictions get on the pity wagon once in awhile but reality as you say kicks in and we realize its not worth all we worked to achive.some times i go to my freinds house when she is away just to have a mini vacation.oh well anyway stay strong and enjoy your vacation.

  • marilyn

    therese i think we all have are fantisies but its not forgettinfg the reality that counts.you should be proud of the fact that you dont give in and have figured away to enjoy your trip without all of the hassel.i am proud of you.by the way i sometimes go over to my freinds house when she is away and stay just so i can feel like i actualy live in a home and not an apartment its such a differant feeling so yes there is simple things to do to get away from reality that not harmfull.

  • Peg

    Therese, another idea for this coming winter. How about you and your family coming to Colorado to ski or snowboard. I know skiing vacations might sound expensive but there are plenty of other places other than Aspen or Vail. There’s Loveland Basin, Copper Mountain, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, just to name a few. Some people rent condos rather than stay in hotels. I think there are some condos that are mostly family oriented, too. I suggest skiing because you are athletic, not to mention what the high altitude and fresh air does for the body and soul. Something to think about and research on the internet.

  • Anonymous

    T: Remind yourself that you are proteting your own kids from the kind of dysfunctions that alcoholism brings to a family; they shouldn’t have to fight the same battles since you’be “broken the cycle. I can think of no greatr gift that you could give catherine and David than that!

  • Pat

    I admire your fortitude in even going on this vacation (?) w/so much drinking all around… You stay strong. Let me share w/you my type of fantasy… I have a ‘happy place’ I go to when I need to escape. It has evolved over the years as my needs have also evolved, but the theory is the same. While I used to battle the drinking problems, I now have a thing w/chronic pain and the happy place is wonderful! So… fantasies to me are our lifelines! I admire your words always! I wish I could put mine into form the way you do. You truly have a gift. While you are battling your demons, remember your wonder gift(s) & how much they inspire all of us…. and of course, your happy place!

  • Paul

    The problem with Mental Illness is that the people with it have learned the Important Lesson that Jesus gives us in the Bible— & That is to Forgive those who have hurt us & Care not if we are hurt. They go through life carrying a Grudge & Pains & they grow into Depression, Bi-Polar Disease, etc…. & other Mental Illnesses. Better to surrender the problems to Jesus & Forgive them as HE did than carry these burdens for life. And to forgive ourselves, also. It says Never go to bed ANGRY at anyone! They have not matured, yet!

  • Tom Kelly

    The Profound Mystical Meditation for the Western Society helps people discover their own Sea of Tranquility, where one can be there at will. alcworld.com will link to this site.
    Tom Kelly
    PS I discovered this over 30 years ago and it has been an absolute blessing to my life.

  • Amber

    If you are looking for winter get aways there is also Casper,Wyoming there is a ski lodge on the beautiful Casper Mountain and also Jackson.There are plenty of things to do and good restaraunts in Casper. You may find the price tag worth checking into.There are several lakes for fishing and a number of hot creeks as well as wonderful hunting.There is a Symphony Orchestra and there are plenty of vacation rentals as well as glorious hotels.We have the world famous Wonder Bar where the Cowboys used to ride their horses in the establishment on our Parade day. Let there be said that Wyoming has alot to offer, more than just Yellowstone Park and Devils Tower. You could always Go into the Big Horns up above Sheridan to Bear Lodge, it is truly beautiful in winter. Also Hot Spings in Thermopolis is an experiance that you won’t soon forget.The Buffalo roam on the prarie still and the museums are all around you. The museums in Casper consist of wildlife and the more western of tales from the frontiersmans point of view.Fort Casper is a must to see. If you are looking for a quiet getaway more secluded look again to the North country to Story,Wyo. where the legendary Al Capone hid out and once there you can experience tranquility and wildlife right down the old streets.It is small and there is no cell phone service the perfect getaway for an over worked mind. Think Wyoming where it is under populated and the crime rate is at a low, and so are the amount of people.

  • Michael Patterson

    I understand the problem of being around those who indulge when you do not. For me it has always come down to my own personal decision to do what I like to do, what I enjoy the most. As I embraced the fact that I no longer obtained joy in drinking or drugs, then this decision to stop became simpler for me. Embibing was no longer something I felt I couldn’t do, but something I made a decision not to do because I no longer obtained joy or pleasure in it. Being self destructive is easier than finding your true self and discovering what makes you happy. Once this became clear to me then I found the phrase ‘live and let live’ took on a whole new meaning. I was less influenced by what others chose to do and realized that no one really cared what I did, unless they had a problem of their own. Being able to walk away from situations where there is nothing happening for you is a sign of maturity. Being able to say, “You guys have fun, I’m going to the woods.” is often easieer said than done, but once you begin down this path of pursuing the love and joy in your own heart, than goodness buids upon goodness, and even those that are the prickliest of pears become manageable.

  • sarah

    I too understand the issues of alcohol and the insanity of the house and kids.I have six One left to raise we all have are place we go to to find peace in our minds and hearts and on a drive.i haven’t drank now for almost 11 years and family functions are hard to handle my mom is a full blown alcoholic , I decided we couldn’t be together anymore some decisions are tough but there the right ones at times your a bright lady do what makes you happy and your family you and yours are number one first.

  • Shelley O.

    Thank you Therese!
    This is just what I have been praying for.
    The last two and a half months have been very stressful with my mother being very sick in the hospital. Taking care of my family, my mother at the hospital and at home and helping with my dad has taken it’s toll.
    Caregivers are wonderful people!
    “Calgon, take me away!” is now my mantra. And of course my depression is worse. Even with all the tools I have to tweak it backwards, nothing is helping right now. But reading your blog gives me the insight that I have another tool in my belt and I can keep going.

  • Laura Eternod

    You absolutely make my days, I really appreciate reading your beliefs as I too get down (with so many financial burdens) . This topic in particular was great.
    Thank you

  • Solman

    Gee Therese, wish you and the kids could have separate but adjoining rooms at the inn so you could relax a little more. I had mine doing sleepovers at friends before kindergarten and multi-day field trips in 6th grade. No problem with any of us not sharing the same room on vacation from early on.
    Your fantasies, like your night dreams, are just creative problem solving on your part whether positive or negative. They are not plans, just options. Nothing to feel guilty about. Glad your counselor recommended choosing to dwell on the best positive options. Real-life adventures don’t take the place of fantasies but do expose you to more variety of experience so you’ll have more tested options to pick from in the future.
    The area around Interlochen and Mackinac is inspirational during August. I hope you and yours have a great time.

  • Richard Gillert

    Recently my 50 yo son became very abusive to the point of having him arrested and not posting bail [TOUGH LOVE]Now his 30 days are up and release is is in a few days.States Attorneys office called asking if I would prefer charges I declined saying I would ask the court to sentence probation and out patient mental health counseling at the local facility.This will add to our personal conflict but he is also clean/sober for the first time in years [36]Im wondering if I should have left it alone but ambivalant that maybe it may set him on path to recovery.His Jekyll & Hyde tirades are impossible to deal with[Diagnosed Manic Depressive complicated by alcohol medication]maybe I am just ranting but I know he can be saved.Any secret places out there where he can get help like a Monastary/Health Center/Old fishing hole to meditate/Transendental Med etc Enough said Need Input in So Florida Thanks for reading

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