Tactics of Distraction

“It’s a transformative experience to simply pause instead of immediately filling up the space.”  Pema Chodron

During my divorce, a  friend gave me a copy of Pema Chodron’s When Things Fall Apart; I’ve read and re-read it a number of times since. The pages are dog-eared and I’ve underlined passages throughout. It’s a book that has made a huge difference in my life. And it’s a book I’ve returned to in the last few weeks. Chodron’s writing reminds me to stay with my experience, to lean into it instead of trying to run away. This is where the learning is.

By the end of this week, I was feeling strung out and destabilized, and I realized that I’d spent much of my week running away. My boys were with their dad for the week, and I didn’t want to be home, all by myself, clattering about in my big empty house. Instead, I worked long hours, and then booked up my evenings, socializing with friends. I didn’t want to face my sadness or my loneliness. I didn’t want to acknowledge the big empty gaps of time that I would normally have spent with Griff.

It’s easier to run than to face the hard things in our lives. My preferred approaches are working and socializing. A good book can sometimes do the trick. But Chodron catalogues a variety of other ways we distract ourselves: exercising, over eating, shopping, drinking too much, searching for a new romantic partner as soon as a relationship fails. Anything to avoid facing our pain.

By yesterday, it was time for me to stop running. I cancelled my plans for the evening and stayed home. I let myself feel sad, experienced this new kind of loneliness, which is different than the way I felt after my divorce, and wrote in my journal until I began to feel calm and centered again.  (I really know how to have fun on a Friday night!)

The trick for me now is to maintain that grounded feeling. I need to recognize when sadness or loneliness or restlessness comes up, and to be able to pause and notice the experience. I don’t need to stop working hard or socializing, but I do need to recognize when they become tactics of distraction.

What are your tried and true methods for running?



About Sally

Poet, seeker, author, mom. Celebrating the beauty and mystery that surrounds us and learning to trust in the journey.
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