When I was a kid, I never ran away. My sister did on a regular basis. Packed her little suitcase and marched herself all the way out to the huge pecan tree in our front yard and parked under it. I’m pretty sure she never left the yard. But I never did.
I didn’t have to because I had a hole to hide in, a cave in the dark recesses of my closet. I used to pretend that nothing bad could ever happen in my cave, that somehow everything evil in the world, everything that scared me, everything I couldn’t handle or didn’t know how to handle was forbidden entry through the sliding wood door. As a child it seemed reasonable, even plausible. Even horrible sounds I didn’t want to hear were muffled.
If only that could be true as an adult …
Now the sounds, the evil, the fears follow me everywhere, reside in my head and my heart like cockroaches I can’t evict from the dark crevices behind the walls. Not even a closet with thick doors and sound proofing would suffice.
Now … I have to run away.
I honestly never understood my sister when I was young. Her reactions to things were puzzling time and time again. I never understood how running away was going to help make things better or fix a problem or make trouble vanish. But I guess it wasn’t that much different than hiding … at least the way she did it.
But as an adult, I run away every weekend now. It keeps me sane. It allows me to get through the other days of the week … but sometimes only barely … Other times I wonder if it doesn’t make it harder to survive the week. If my weekend world was available all week … I’d probably just say to hell with it and leave. It would be so much easier.
At least I think it would.
I guess that’s the trouble really. When faced with situations we don’t want to muster the strength to conquer, or don’t feel we have the ability to fight, running away seems the perfect answer. Surely somewhere else, some other situation would be more perfect and easier to deal with than this. Except we forget that the fear we are running from resides within us and will simply pop up later wherever we are.
Fear … one small little four letter word that causes more trouble in this world than anything else ever has. We are afraid of everything. Afraid of change, afraid to admit our mistakes, afraid of anger, afraid of confrontation, afraid of ignorance, afraid of affluence, afraid of anything different than we are, afraid of love, afraid of hate, afraid to be afraid … And instead of facing those fears, instead of confronting them head-on, we run away to the safety of our closets and bury ourselves under piles of pillows or we pack our suitcases and march out to hide behind a massive tree with our stuff surrounding us.
Why are we so afraid all the time? Why can’t we just embrace life and move through it with confidence and determination? Why must we carry fear in our hearts all the time?
The answer is really pretty simple … we’re human. It’s how our brains work. Fear is a base reaction controlled by our dinosaur brains. We stay alive because fear is integral to our species. And when our fears were simply based on running for our lives because we might be eaten by a saber tooth tiger or scalded by a steaming geyser, they were useful to us, understandable, important. They kept us from dying.
But when fears become linked to our emotions they are much harder to control. They are no longer fight or flight responses to something that might kill us. They are no longer helping us stay alive in this world. Instead, they become something we use to control others.
When we understand that idea, we can begin to not let fear rule our actions.