Some people cut their wrists, others pull their hair out. Alcohol, drugs, sex, food, the gym, business, politics; truly anything can be used as an escape. Even religion. Escapes are an essential part of life but like everything else, it’s about its measurements.
What is the escape button you are using and how hard do you press it? Yoga or mediation, for example, seems like a great escape… but what about when the person sits in an ashram for 12 hours without eating or talking? And perhaps one glass of wine really isn’t so bad to relax if it doesn’t turn into 10 glasses of wine.
I have often struggled in my life with what I chose to be my escape button; all I knew is that I needed it.
Some crazy things have been happening. The story of the mother and her four daughters, coming very close to losing someone extremely near and dear in my own life, losing four young soldiers while one is still fighting for her life, plus a few more “over the edge” personal moments, culminated and brought me to a place of needing “an out route.” I wasn’t going to numb myself, stay in bed or sleep through it all. I had to face my reality. But could I change my environment?
As a single, full-time working mom I hadn’t had a real break from my two delicious and rambunctious boys since June, when my mother was visiting. I knew if I didn’t shovel my way out of this heaping, building, mountain of stress — I would soon be of no use to anyone, especially my kids. And with that, I called my only emotional emergency number and yelled (in a text), that I needed emotional backup ASAP and could she please tell me the closest night possible she could pick up my kids from school, sleep over and get them out the next morning. Tuesday, she said. This Tuesday. And with that, I was on the net booking my hotel for Tuesday night in the Dead Sea.
The escape button needs, begs actually, to be pressed every so often. However, what the escape button is and again, how strong it is pressed, is our choice.
So, I pressed the button that said: Dead Sea. Now. And I pressed it for a two-day-and-one-night dose. I pressed it with fervor and excitement, with a tad of irresponsibility (financially mostly), but with certainly that I needed to do this. Not only did I need to do this, I needed to do it alone. It so happens that I love spending time with myself and although I would have loved to have spent this time with certain friends, the time alone was delicious.
Tuesday morning 7:30 a.m., I dropped my kids off, gave them kisses, smiled a deep secret smile, and drove off. As I drove down to the lowest place on earth, I felt myself rising from the lowest place in myself. Talk about a traveling paradox. I let my hair loose in the wind, window all away down, and geared up the music. I started with the 70s with my favorite musical soundtracks. Then I hit the 80s with the Indigo Girls. Then the 90s with Savage Garden. By the time I reached my high school years, I had reached my destination. But I knew I would listen to my Y2K music all away to my contemporary playlists on the way home.
I checked into the hotel. “Alone?” the receptionist asked. Oh yes, very alone to you, the outsider. But to me, Ma’am, I am not alone. I have brought myself with me on this trip. I have also brought a good book, which will be accompanying me on this stay. “What room number please?” I asked with a smile. And yes, I was given a room for two.
With a quick change of clothes and mind set, I went down to the Dead Sea. It was a chilly day, but the water was still very agreeable. I stepped in, walked on the salt floor and imagined what I always imagine at the Dead Sea. “The ultimate place to let go and let G-d is right here,” I thought. If there was ever an imagery that could be manifested in this physical world of G-d holding us up and not letting us drown in our pain, it is the Dead Sea. As I leaned back and let myself be held, I pictured myself falling into His hands. As I floated on the water, I imagined G-d holding me, cupping me, embracing me, not letting me fall. “I’ve got you,” He whispered and I completely let myself go and let G-d hold me in the manifestation of the salty waters.
With the sky perfect blue and the desert mountains before me, I closed my eyes and rafted off to a place I hadn’t been to in a while: my escape place. I would have stayed there for hours but I feared if I did, I would wake up on the beaches of Jordan. So eventually I pulled myself out of the waters and spent the next 36 hours immersing myself in reading, praying, listening to music, using the gym, sitting in salty pools, baths and Jacuzzis. I also finally had a normal long conversation with someone I love and barely get to speak with. Did I mention I slept like a baby, ate two hotel meals and watched a movie? It’s amazing how time could be used the fullest when one pays attention to every precious moment.
Not only was this a physical replenishment and an emotional recharge, it was also about me reconnecting to me and me reconnecting to G-d. When I talked out loud to “Our Father, Our King,” I started with a, “It’s been a while. How are things on your side?” But after the initial awkward feeling of being estranged, I realized He had never left me once, I had just left him. I began “talking things through” and man did I feel release.
After 36 hours, I drove home, got my kids, hugged them tight, fed and bathed them, did homework, read them books and tucked them in with kisses and Shema. As I walked out of their room all I could think about was how lucky I am to have known, in time, that I needed an escape button, that I chose a healthy escape button, that I pressed it at just the right quantity, and that it worked. I felt like me again.
I share this not because I want nor need to share my personal experience with you, the over-worked woman (or man). I share this with you because I feel strongly that people need to hear this. We are humans and part of humanity is knowing when to stop being super-human and press the darn button.