When I was in Junior High School, I desperately wanted my dad to get a job in another state so that we could move far away. I wanted a fresh start. Running away seemed like the only answer.
I fantasized about leaving my friendless past behind. I thought that if I could only start over in a new school, then I might be accepted and embraced as the cool new kid, instead of as the loser that I was. Sadly, that never happened. I had to stay put and just deal with it.
In my adult life, I still tend to go down this path in my mind. When things get difficult, and I begin to feel like a loser, running away beckons to me. Although I never actually run away in the physical sense, I do run away emotionally.
I go inside myself. I tell myself all the reasons why the difficult thing I am going through is not going to be resolved. Then, I start believing that I will probably end up hurting myself and others if I continue to participate in the world around me.
It doesn’t take long before I start packing up and retreating to my cave where I can be alone. Any doubts I might have about my Neanderthal behavior are squelched when I remind myself how much I enjoy being alone. Of course, I’m miserably unhappy throughout this entire process.
This happened to me again recently, and it was rather unpleasant. After wallowing in the funk for a few hours, it took all the courage I could muster to snap out of it. I had to truly fight in order to exchange my overriding desire to run away with a command decision to stay put.
It was incredibly scary to begin to trust in the love around me and in me, instead of retreating to the safety and security of solitude. It was scary, but I knew running away wouldn’t solve anything. I needed to learn how to live outside of my cave.
Afterwards, I recalled a quote by Terry Brooks, who said, “We must nurture and love if life is to have any real meaning, but first we must find a way to survive against the things that prevent us from doing so.”
At first glance, I would assume he meant that we must nurture and love others. Yet, I’m also struck by the reality that for me, I must also nurture and love myself. I must teach myself that the solution does not lie in isolation, but in connection.