Most of us are on the run: running out of time, out of chances, away from our thoughts, emotions, and fears, running from love, pain, trauma, shame, responsibility, failure, success, lies, truth, and ultimately ourselves. The problem is, as I’m sure many of you have experienced, is that whatever we run from, only gets bigger, stronger and faster the longer we run from it. Wherever we try to run away to: another job, friend, lover, obsession, device, drug, alcohol, food, house, state, or country, there it is, waiting for us.
I started running when I was about seven years old. I now had a secret to keep and a lie to uphold and therefore my life could no longer be innocent, authentic and improvisational. In hindsight, If I was to sit still for too long, maybe the confusion, hurt, fear, and ultimately the truth, would catch up to me. So, this running took many forms throughout my teens and twenties. I ran scared from my relationship with my Father as his mental health declined, from intimate relationships when they became too close, from friends when they were too honest, from play because it didn’t make me win, from stillness because busyness was the only thing that made me feel safe and worthy, and from the truth because I was told it would destroy me.
Imagine the game of “Whack-A-Mole,” as soon as you hit one Mole down, another one pops up. As soon as you hit that one down, two others pop up, and as the game advances, the Moles keep popping up faster and faster until you can barely manage. This was akin to my emotional experience: fear, push it down, sadness, push it down, anxiety and anger, push them down, and faster and faster until the pace became so rapid that I eventually fell into complete nervous breakdowns. The time to run, was up. My nervous system punched me in the gut and said, “Sit down, you’re not going anywhere. It is time for you to stop, look, listen and speak.”
Seven years ago today, I finally stopped running away.
As terrifying as it was, once I surrendered to being with my fear, anxiety, depression and trauma, they turned out not to be fatal. Once I gave them my full attention, they slowly started to change, soften, slow down, and shrink. They then started to teach me about the deepest parts of myself and therefore, humanity. They turned out to actually, at their core, all be motivated by love: for me, my family and friends, and for life itself. Along this journey, E.M.D.R., Somatic Experiencing and Vedic Meditation were and are essential allies.
I have learned that not all running is bad, the question is, are we running away or running towards? Instead of running from fear, we can run towards it. Instead of running from love, we can run towards it. Instead of running from life, we can run towards it, into it and with it. Everything that we run from contains infinite wisdom for us, if we could only stop, look and listen. Believe me, I still find myself running at times, but thankfully it never lasts for too long anymore. It is truly as Joseph Campbell said, “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Running away is a race we cannot win. Running towards ends the race and begins the dance.