Sometimes Running Away is Our Only Option

There are two types of runaways, the ones who run from consequences and the ones who run from chaos. The first is trying to escape the pain of the choices they have made and the second is trying to escape the pain of the choices others have made. Sometimes running away is the only means by which we can be safe. I know that was true in my case.

As I kid I lived with two parents were diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar is caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain and unfortunately you can't just pull out a dipstick to see what you're low on. It often takes some trial and error to get it treated right. Bipolar is a word that gets thrown around a lot and because it doesn't look the same in everyone, it can be hard to define. The problem with bipolar isn’t that it makes you act in one way or another but instead its that how you act can change on a dime. I have memories of my mom being happy and then suddenly depressed and my dad being silly and then really angry out of no where. It wasn’t just the changing emotions that made our home volatile but the constant guessing that created chaos. Don't get me wrong, fun Dad was around way more than mad Dad but you just never knew what you were going to get.

Like every 6 year old my survival techniques were limited. Even though I was taking Karate lessons at the YMCA all I really had learned was how to stand correctly and to yell "Hiya!" So, when things got crazy I was left with two responses, run and hide. I remember there being a small building behind our house that was FULL of our landlords junk. The outer walls were covered in green shingles and it had a dirt floor. It was full of mattresses, collectibles, old furniture, and spare car parts. I'm sure those American Picker guys would have had a field day. Overtime I moved things around enough to dig out a hole big enough for me to hide in. I'd climb over the dresser, past the stack of boxes and squeeze between the washer and dryer to my little safe place, right between an armoire and a busted box spring. I felt secure there because even though I was alone, no one could reach me.

I look back now and I can see that my parents never meant to scare me or hurt me. They were each dealing with their own pain the best way they knew how.  But as a kid all I could knew was that these people who were supposed to love me, and nurture me, and help understand the world, were in no condition to do so.  I was going to have to figure things out on my own and so at 6 years old, sitting in my fort/shed, I declared my independence. It was a decision that led to my survival because I learned that when you feel unsafe, it’s ok to get out.

If someone acts in a way that you're uncomfortable with, it’s ok to put some distance between the two of you. Boundaries are an important part of any relationship. Some people’s boundaries are really high brick walls surrounded by moats full of alligators. That can be dangerous because no one can get in which leaves you in isolation and we just weren't meant to live that way. On the other hand, some people's boundaries are like a house with all the windows and doors wide open. The house is nice and inviting but people will come in and break your stuff and misuse your hospitality. More often than not you leave interactions feeling used and mistreated. I like to think of boundaries as a nice white picket fence around my property that clearly defines my limits to others; but has a gate so that I can choose who to let in.

If someone is hurting you, you don’t have to let them. If your parent is abusing you tell someone. If you friends are using you, find other friends. If your significant other is hitting you, you don’t have to just take it and you definitely don’t have to defend them. Stand up for yourself and get out of those abusive situations. Don’t be afraid to create some boundaries. It can be hard to tell people that you need some space but you have every right to do so. Who knows, you setting limits may finally wake them up to the fact that their choices are effecting others. They might even realize that they need some boundaries of their own!

Sometimes running away will be your only option and I hope you can find the courage.

For more info on Boundaries Check out this Book!