Books As A Coping Mechanism
Books As A Coping Mechanism
Books are my life. They are also my coping mechanism when life gets too hectic. When I’m having a rough time, and just want to be alone, books are my escape. It’s been that way my whole life.
I remember when I first learned how to read. We went to the grocery store, and I was able to read the name of the store on the building. I was ecstatic! It was such an accomplishment to me that I could read the name of the store, and after that, I didn’t stop.
When I was in grade school, they had the Book It program, where you had to read so many books in a week or month, and then you got a prize. Our prize was a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. Of course, I didn’t need much motivation to read those books, but the pizza incentive did help.
I don’t remember what books I read when I was young, before my parents divorced, but I do remember The New Bobbsey Twins was one of my favorite series. I read all the books I could get my hands on. Over time though, reading went from a hobby to an escape route. Especially after my parents divorced.
I remember sitting down with a book many times throughout my childhood, when things were chaos in our home. Which was pretty much all the time. Even though my mom wasn’t living in the house, her disease still permeated our household. Books were the only way I could escape that chaos.
When I would read, the whole world disappeared. I was rocketed into a different world. I saw each character, the landscape, I was in the shoes of each person in those books. It was a way for me to be someone else, if only for a short time. I could be normal. I could be the girl who wasn’t always bullied. I could be the girl who had a mom by her side always. Essentially, I could be anybody but me.
Eventually, my taste in books evolved into a love of scary books. My mom loved Stephen King, and I remember visiting her one time, and asking her if I could read one of his books. She told me I was too young. But, when I was old enough, I did read his books, and I fell in love. As you can see from the picture below, my collection is quite large.
As I got older, my escape mechanism turned into an obsession. If I started a book, I would read constantly. I couldn’t put it down. I would put off doing household chores to read. I would stay up late, get no sleep, and be groggy at work the next day. There was no shut off switch.
Now, when I read a book, I recognize when I’m getting into the obsessive state, and try to balance my time. I’ve also found a way to turn reading for fun, into reading for learning. I’ve branched out my reading interests to include books on alcoholism and addiction, books on spirituality and Theology, so-called “self-help” books. It’s how I grow today. It’s how my sobriety grows today. For a list of my favorite books on these subjects, visit My Reading List page here.
Today, I try not to use books as an escape mechanism. But, that hasn’t been an easy feat. I’ve had to learn over time how to recognize and name my feelings, sit with them, and release them. But, by doing so, I have grown from an escape artist, to a full-fledge bookwork. And I love it.