For a lot of my life I was a runner- an avoider. I was scared a lot, more often than not. I was constantly unsure of myself. Having always been a Highly Sensitive Person and an empath, I was very attuned to the energy and moods of the people around me. And there was no pamphlet to guide me through the turbulence of that.

As a child I could wear my parents out with my excitement about company coming over, and then when they finally arrived I was instantly overwhelmed. I’d shut down, get “grumpy” and often get a headache or want to go to bed. My mom loves to remind me of this even to this day. It was a mass confusion for me. My parents would want answers: “What’s wrong? Why are you being like this?”. And I wouldn’t really know, but they wouldn’t accept my shrugs or silence- they wanted a reason. So I would say things until something clicked, until something seemed believable.

In hindsight, I see it. I didn’t have the tools to process so much energy and emotion. I didn’t want to fight. I didn’t want to get in trouble. And all of it seemed to happen so randomly- I wanted to be able to predict it, but I couldn’t. I liked having small groups of friends and would freak out if I showed up at a friend’s house to discover she had *another* friend there too. I hated surprises (still do) and resented when plans changed at the last minute.

My imagination is one of my greatest assets, but when given to anxiety, it is my absolute worst enemy. The threats are vague, but are infiltrated with the cleanest terror. My mind will say “No”. My mind will say “Run”.

And over the years running has looked different. In my teens and twenties, I suffered from migraines and I believe now that I manifested these headaches to avoid stressful situations. I also suffered with panic attacks and of course, there was bulimia. When I couldn’t run away from a situation, I turned the fear and anxiety so far inward that my body did it for me. Physical was more believable. “I’m nervous” or “I’m scared” were poo-pooed and explained away. But sickness was taken seriously. Sickness meant I could miss the party or the day of school.

It’s a pattern I’ve carried into my thirties though it looks different, I suppose, and it’s most definitely lessened. When my marriage ended, I was forced to do things on my own- things that I normally would have left to my ex-husband. I had no choice but to face my fears because something I loved (my kids) meant more to me than something I was afraid of (talking to other parents, calling the hydro company, returning clothes that don’t fit etc.). I also have a spiritual practice that gradually shows me I am not alone.

Knowing I don’t go it alone is *everything*. This is something I could never get from anyone else- not my mother, not my boyfriend…no one. It had to come from within. It is something I’ve been cultivating since I was a child praying at night to pass the math test up until my present practice of forgive, surrender, trust.

A few nights ago I was faced with a very tough situation.

I wanted to run.

I wanted to say no.

I watched myself defend and then…

I stopped.

I listened.

I watched myself accept the situation for what it was and I didn’t interfere.

Everything calmed. Everything came back to centre. I did the hard thing- I faced it all head-on.

There is a time for running, I know this. We do what we do until we don’t. I ran for years and years and it’s OK. Now I know I can do hard things. I know I’m not alone. I don’t have to control when I can accept. I don’t have to run when I can stay.

God within and I am safe. I do not walk alone.


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