Written by Jess Hibbert, guest blogger
I’m a runner.
Not by the “hey, let’s go hit a 5K this Saturday” definition. As a matter of fact, if you ever DO see me running, you better run too because something scary is definitely chasing me.
No, I’m a runner in relationships.
When my first marriage was headed towards separation, I ran. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I did. I somehow thought that the best way to deal with the demise of a 15 year relationship was not to face it, communicate my fears, my wants, my needs.
Instead, I ran.
Eventually I made my way back to a place where we tried to work things out, but that initial run had already done it’s damage. (See, I always say nothing good comes from running!)
The thing about being a runner is that your fight or flight instinct is always on high alert. You’re always wondering what is around the next corner, who is going to sweep the rug out from underneath you and how fast you can get away from it. You’re listening for subtext in conversations, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
It’s hard to know when to stop running, when to throw your hands up in the air and admit that you’re too damn tired to keep up this pace you’ve set for yourself.
But runners run. We run until we’ve hurt ourselves. We run until we can’t run anymore.
Or until we don’t WANT to run anymore.
When I first started dating again, I met someone. He was fun to be around, pushed me outside my comfort zone, made me laugh again…and was maddening. We would fight, often and loudly, and usually over stupid things. This was new to me, I’d NEVER fought with my ex-husband so why on Earth was I fighting with this person that I had zero history with? And more importantly, why was I, the runner, sticking around to fight?
One night, during a particularly loud and embarrassing argument, I turned on my heel and took that first step to run.
And he called me out on it.
“Go ahead and run, like you always do. Or, stay here and fight for us.”
Oh, I wanted to run. I wanted to sprint.
But, who was HE to tell ME to run? Who was he to call me out?
I remember whipping back around, flames actually coming out of my ears, and staying. For the first time, I didn’t run.
Relationships are a tricky thing, a constant balancing act of needs and wants. Struggling to find your place not only in your own life, but in this new life as a couple. Not to mention, the absolute uncertainty of the future that lies ahead. Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is absolute. Let’s face it, if every relationship you were ever in was always sunshine and rainbows life would be a pretty boring place eventually – and there would be a LOT of therapists out of business.
I’m not an expert, and I will NEVER claim to be one, but I do have experience in my corner. I’ve had the tears rushing down my face when all is lost. I’ve thought myself crazy for ever putting my heart back out there again. I’ve wondered and watched and waited to be hurt…and have done some of the hurting myself.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself – do I stay, or do I go? Do I run, or is this worth fighting for?
Since that night there have been times when I’ve walked briskly, galloped and sometimes even jogged.
But I haven’t run.
I’ve stood my ground. I’ve made myself heard. I’ve found a reason to stop running.