Staying vs. Running

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"You wanna run away,
and i said that i would understand.
'cause i know it's just a dream."

We talked about running, about how easy it would be to run. How shoes were made for speed and if I felt so inclined to test them, it would be right in line with what the knee jerk reaction to my lived experiences called for.

I replied with, “I stayed and am staying,” because running wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go. Slow deliberate steps. One foot in front of the other. In stilettos. On a tightrope. 15 feet above the ground. This is how I was navigating my way to Point B. Because running, the quick hits of adrenaline it would give me, they were the ingredients on a recipe for a manufactured high I did not want. I understood deeply what a contact high felt like, and even that was too rooted in fantasy for me to properly indulge.

I wanted reality. I wanted a present moment that cost me and that I could show up whole to.

We talked about the comfort in creating different personas. The public online version, the private online version, the version you are when sitting cross legged on a Target comforter after a shower. I talked about how easy it would be to manufacture personas just to project the reality I wanted others to see. The bigger challenge wasn’t the time and logistical commitment that would take, it’s that at some point I would feel so fractured that bringing it all back into a single person would feel damn near impossible.

The feelings I allowed of the public online version would only be happy ones, moments living life at the highest peak, no conflict, no hurt, no regrets. The private online version, that persona would peak out behind trees at objects of desire, it would feel the longing, but sabotage any chance of moving to claim what is theirs. The version I would bring home to my little family? That would be me at my most exhausted, overwhelmed, and unable to connect - because do you know how much energy goes into keeping up appearances?

We talked about our future children, how reckless it would be of us to not think about how some of these decisions would affect them in the long run, when so many of the imprints of our own scars could be found at the warm end of our own parents’ cigarette butts.

When I think of my mother, I think of a woman who tried her best and whose worst mistakes have “Do Not Enter” signs on them, just for me. When I imagine a little girl with chocolate eyes and hair that chose the dominant gene, I think of the mistakes I want her to walk tightropes to healing for, and the one's that I’m responsible for sparing her of.  Her in therapy at 21 because I’ve butchered teaching moments on how real beauty is a reflection of inner strength, or how having a backbone and values does not a “too...demanding, angry, bitchy,” woman make, is what I’m trying to avoid.

We talked about staying curious even during the darkest, hardest days. “I’m open to possibility,” I said, as we talked about so many potentials, from love to a cross country move. Navigating dark days was easier when the woman I saw in the mirror was the same one who sat down for coffee with her friend and who bared her soul on Instagram.

"So if you ever worry about
Me walking out
Yeah, let me tell you something.
I hold on."

I am just one person with a lot of feelings and in constant training to develop the language that helps me express them. I often take for granted how fortunate I am to not feel afraid of the more complicated and layered feelings that sit inside of me. Years of therapy, of self-growth, of inner reflection have taught me that fearing abandonment hits the same number on the scale as my purest moments of joy. Labeling them “bad” or “good” feelings is a projection that I impose onto them, it is not how the feelings show up in my life. They simply are. I miss you. I feel sad. I love you. I feel angry. I hate you. I don’t like you. I want you. I need you. I want to grow with you. I want to learn from you. I feel tired. I want you in my bed. I want to not always be the adult. I feel anxious. I want you next to me at McDonalds. I want distance. I want closeness.

The scale starts at 0 for all of these and they all weigh about the same. Because they all invoke physical reactions, a momentary reaction, and a lasting reaction. They all have knee jerk responses, most if not all probably centered on running. We aren’t to blame for the knee jerk, we are responsible for the reaction that comes next.

We talked about choosing reality over fantasy. We talked about staying when things got hard because we wouldn’t learn anything if we decided to run. Instead, if we ran, the world that was watching would learn more about us than we did about it. We were selfish when it came to our self-growth, we wanted it to change us and to teach us, to mold us and to make us better versions tomorrow of the people we are today. We didn’t want our knee jerk reaction to be to run because we didn’t want our next reaction to be one that split us into consumable versions of ourselves made with other people in mind. 

There is not a happy version of me, a sad version of me, a hurt version of me, an “I miss you” version of me - there is just me.

There is just us.

There is just staying.

There is no running. We don’t do that here.