I’m Not a Runner

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I attended my daughter two year check recently. Due to a number of reasons we haven’t been in the centre much at all in the last year. It was lovely to catch up with one of the support workers we’ve known for years and go through how life has changed and just check in.

In explaining that I’m in general doing much better than this time last year, and that life felt much more under control, K (support worker) shared a memory of one of the times she saw me at home after T was born, something I hadn’t thought about for a long time:

“Yes, I remember you struggling and saying ‘I’m a runner; I am fighting the instinct to run away.'”

This hit me like a ton of bricks and echoed in my mind for hours after I left that appointment. I will admit a sudden panic: Was I still like this? Had I run away from my marriage, or anything else, without thinking, on a whim or unhealthy instinct? Was this a habit I had and needed to sort out or risk repeating?

However, the answer is no. The truth is there have definitely been moments when I ran from a situation I was in, a location connected to pain, or avoided people due to fear or hurt:

  • I ran to University and did not expect to return home again.
  • I ran from Dundee shortly after my first miscarriage, utterly unable to cope with being in the flat that held those memories.
  • I ran from a job I was struggling with, after my second miscarriage, with the justification of “life is too short” (true but not helpful in that situation).
  • I have run into projects to distract me, out of events where I couldn’t cope, and away from responsibilities that felt overwhelming (if only temporarily).

I am a runner. Or, more accurately I was a runner.

I have been in the same place for over almost 6 years, I have built friendships, I have built a house, I have built up my family as best I could. I may have felt like I wanted to run, but I didn’t. Despite feeling that I was trapped, alone, and struggling with a heavy load on my shoulders, I did not run.

I fought. I planned, organised, and worked hard to make things better. I pushed myself harder than I ever thought I could and came out of the tunnel not by running away from it, but by taking steps, one by one, and at times digging my way out, until I was through.

I stayed in tricky situations until there was a clear answer. I walked knowing people around me were talking about me. I bettered myself despite pressure to quit. I pulled out my resources, leant on my supports, and continued down the path I had.

I am not a runner.

I used to be, but life can throw you curveballs and hardships that make that tempting. It is tempting to ditch everything and leave. It would be easier, but it doesn’t solve anything. Running just leaves bad memories lingering, words unspoken, and goals unfinished.

If I could go back and finish certain things well I would, but I can’t. I can only continue to fight today, now, and here.

I am not a runner.

I stopped, and grew, and learnt to change my situation.

I am a survivor.

I could’ve given up so many times, and voices from all sides told me to do exactly that. But I didn’t.

I am a fighter.

I learnt I am stronger than I gave myself credit for, that hard days only last until you fall asleep, and that it’s often the little things in life that can power you through.

I am not a runner.

And my future looks so much brighter for it.

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