If you’ve been around for a while, follow me on social media, or know me at all, you know that I love books. I’m always reading. I always have a book with me where ever I go. A few weeks ago, I pounded three 500+ page books in less than a week. Great books. Loved ’em all! As I was picking out a fourth, Ricky mentioned that maybe I need a break. “Take a breather.” So I did. I didn’t like it.
I’ve read books to escape real life and my anxious brain my whole life. Reading isn’t just entertaining for me. It’s a way to get away from my thoughts. Duh. That makes sense. Everyone has something like that in their lives – books, food, tv, games, drugs… The list goes on. There’s a line between “loving ____” and “running away.” It’s important to find that balance.
Now that I’m talking to Shelby, there’s been new things/feelings that were coming up. Things I didn’t necessarily want to deal with. It’s a lot to work through and it’s very uncomfy. I don’t like how I feel or what I’m thinking, so I pick up my book. Easy.
I had a week between the book binge escape and my next appointment with Shelby, so I talked to Ricky, we decided that I needed to take that week to sit in my feelings. Try to navigate my way through it.
It was a really hard, long week. I could really see what reading did for me. But I didn’t want to keep mentally running away. Talking to Shelby is important but it’s not going to do anything if I don’t take the things I’m learning and use them. So I didn’t read. Instead, I would try to work through what my anxiety was saying. There were lots of tears that week.
When I finally had my conversation with Shelby, I told her about my week, the binge reading, the not reading/sitting in my thoughts and feelings, and what I’d learned. She was so proud of me for learning about myself and how I handled the whole thing. She was happy that I was willing to do what I need to to grow.
My homework that week was to start questioning why I’m reading. Every time I pick up my book, I have actively stop and ask myself: Why am I reading? What am I avoiding? Or is a book is what I’m craving? I’ve learned how to analyze the reasons I’m wanting to read. If I am not trying to avoid anything or if I’m just really wanting to read, I go for it. If I’m running away from a feeling or an anxiety, I have to stop and figure out what it is and why.
It’s been a couple weeks since that appointment and I’m doing better with the balance. I’m still reading, but for happiness and entertainment. Because I’m reading with purpose, I’ve noticed that I’m reading slower and enjoying the story more. I am a fast reader, regardless, so I’m still plowing through books pretty fast, but it’s with joy now!