The Urge to Run:
By: Christine McFarlane
Do you ever get the feeling when things get overwhelming, to just drop everything and run? Running away was something I was really good at: whether it was emotionally distancing myself or physically taking myself away from those around me. I know it’s not something to really brag about. It’s the last thing that I would want people to do when things get difficult, but we all know that flight response lies deep within all of us.
Running away was something I did on a number of occasions when I was a child. I did it to escape the abuse I went through at the hands of my adoptive parents. I also did it later on in life when I was feeling overwhelmed and angry, and felt that if I voiced the turmoil I was feeling, no one would understand. Looking back now, I was very lucky that while running away, I was never hurt because there were many times that I could have been.
I remember my last run like it happened yesterday. I was in my third foster home and things weren’t going that well. Part of it was my doing, after all I was thirteen years old, and as difficult as you can get. Those who have teenagers know what that is like, and the other part was my foster parents not knowing how to deal with the immense amount of anger I carried within me.
I had just had my one-millionth disagreement with my foster mom and I remember her saying
“We are not going to tolerate this behavior, Christine” followed two minutes later with the proverbial
“Go to your room.”
Angrily, I said “Fine” and went up the stairs to my room. I slammed my bedroom door. Opened the door one more time, and BANG slammed my door again just for effect. I remember sitting in my bedroom, stewing at how life was so unfair, and crying more out of anger than hurt.
I felt the anger boiling up inside and then an inner voice saying
“It’s time to run.”
I mustered up my energy, wiped the tears falling swiftly down my cheeks, walked across my room and pulled my bedroom door open. At first I was afraid to come out of my room, I was like a deer frozen in headlights. But then I smiled, the biggest smile I could and sprang into action.
I recall making a hasty dash to the front door of the home I was living in. I pulled the door open and ran out onto the porch and then the driveway. I thought no one had seen me, and that I would be able to make a clean getaway. I was wrong. Striding down the driveway, I felt the sun beating down and the hot asphalt through my shoes. I had just reached the end of the driveway, when all of a sudden, a voice yells out
“CHRISTINE, if you leave this driveway, and run away, you will not be able to stay here any longer!”
My heart pounding, I stopped in my tracks. I turned around and saw my foster mom standing on the front porch looking at me. For a few minutes I stood there, and then I turned around and walked back towards her. Though I never physically ran away again, I found other ways to deal with the pain I was feeling inside. They weren’t good; in fact I feel shame for the actions I soon engaged in, self-destructive behaviors that have taken me years to fight and overcome.
Running away, when things get overwhelming is not okay to do. In fact it makes things worse. But I know we all get that feeling of wanting to run. We need to learn ways of coping that help us to stay and deal with what may be going on within, and that could be
- talking to a trusted friend
- listening to music
- painting or drawing
- watching your favorite movie or show
- going for a walk, even if its just for a walk around your neighborhood and then coming back to deal with whatever it is that’s bothering you.
It is up to us individually, to find ways of coping that are healthy and not self-destructive. Running may seem the easiest response, but in the end it hurts you and others around you more than you think.
When my foster mom stood on that porch years ago and said
“if you run, you won’t be able to stay here any longer,”
It made me stop and take notice. Sure, at the time I was angry to hear her say that, but later I began to see it differently. This woman decided that despite our difficulties, she wouldn’t give me up, like so many others in my past had, and would stand by me. For that, I will always be grateful.