To fill that void, I overcompensated at school. I became an athlete, very competitive and good at sports. It was the perfect outlet for the chaos swirling around inside me from the abuse. Sports gave me a way to turn those explosive emotions into running faster or jumping higher.
Emotional abandonment is very painful. Abused children have to find a way to disconnect from the pain in order to survive it. What worked best for me was to stay distracted. I made sure I was so busy there wasn’t time to think or feel.
For example, I didn’t excel at just one sport. I participated in as many sports as I could. In college, I didn’t have just one part-time job. I had three.
My healing journey made me realize distraction is a toxic coping skill. It’s how I learned to deal with any kind of discomfort. My subconscious immediately wants to dull that pain by distracting itself.
But I don’t allow it to do that anymore. Now when I feel the need to do too much, I make myself slow down. I remain intentional about each day, week, task, and conversation.
That’s how I stay connected to myself and everything in life. It forces me to focus on what I’m doing in the present moment and prevents subconscious distractions, like worrying about all the other tasks I need to tackle.
I’ve even written this on a sticky note and attached it to a wall I see often: When I’m Distracted, I’m Disconnected. If distraction is one of your toxic coping skills, try it. It’s a visual reminder that works!
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