We all remember the scene in Forrest Gump where a young Jenny hides from her raging father in a corn field and prays, "dear Lord, Make me a bird so I can fly far, far away from here." I don't think I realized it until recently, but the same prayer became kind of a survival habit of mine.
I mention sometimes the break-up that was a life changer for me and the slow and painful recovery which brought anxiety into my life so many years ago now. I think that's when this habit of "flying away" to survive began. I remember clearly that one of the thoughts that kept me going then was, "someday this will all be so small. Even in five years, this will be so much smaller than it feels now." And I would go live in that future place where my wounds didn't throb so badly. Even in less severe cases, like on the days when I could barely pay my rent, I would think, "this will be different. What will it be like to be there, looking back on this?"
And even in tiny moments I fly away from myself. In spin class when we're doing hand weights and I start to feel the exhaustion that makes me want to put my arms down, I escape to somewhere else nearby, like into the speaker above me where the music is so loud. That's how I look at it, though it's actually the practice of putting my focus outside myself and my burning shoulders. "Go live in the speaker for a minute," is what I tell myself. It was in this moment the other day that it occurred to me how long I've been using this tactic. And then came the real ah-ha moment.
I am that future me.
I am the woman who my younger self fled to in the moments when she most needed hope. Surely there are some things I/she are still waiting for (rent money notwithstanding) but she was right to seek me out. I am stronger. I am wiser. I am happier.
I am a bird.