Running in Circles
When I was six, at the dinner table, I voiced a strong disagreement towards eating my vegetables. My parents – doing what parents do – attempted to encourage me to eat my vegetables by reminding me that they make the rules in the house and if I didn't like it I could just leave. Well, I took them up on that offer. I declared that I wanted to leave the house. I packed my bags. They drove me to the bus station. I stepped out of the car and looked down a long hall of people and trash, bags in hand, and looked back at my parents, who huddled together – barely able to contain their laughter – and I started to walk away. Instantly, the gravitas of my situation fell upon my mother and she ran up, hugged me, and pulled me into her. They then took me home.
It didn't stop there. When I was fourteen, I decided to move in with some friends. My mother went rifling through my stuff and found some Dexatrim tablets. Speed, she said. Hell, I just wanted to lose some weight. So, I left. I didn't tell my parents where I went. I was gone for a few days. They called the police. I was safe. I was living in the basement of my friend's place; he owned his own apartment. No big.
When I was seventeen, it was summer, and I decided to camp out under the stars near Battle Ground lake. I took my bike, my gear, and left. I left a note for the parental consent: “Gone camping. Be back tomorrow.” While I was out there, I met up with some people I knew, and I decided to stay for another night. Then, another. A week had past. Cops were called again. This time they found me.
Close to the end of my senior year, my dad caught me in a compromising position in my room. It was dark, 3am, and I was … downloading. Downloading programs for my Commodore 64. Back then, you were lucky to get in 1mb of data in a night, so I wanted to get an early start to download this stuff from a pirate board on the east coast. My dad, he warned me about this before, so he took my C64; well, actually, that was my second C64 – I had purchased it on my own, hid it, and used it at night, because he took my first one and grounded me. Well, I thought that was the shit – wasn't even rewarded for my clever replenishment of the asset; I mean, how fucking industrious, eh? – so I hung out over at another friend's place. His parents were cool. Didn't talk to my folks for a week.
Throughout my adult life, I would repeat this pattern. I'd meet a girl. We'd hit it off. Things were fine until she said something wrong and I'd piss off. I just started my car and drove. I'd drive everywhere: to the coast, to Ontario (Oregon), to Ashland, to Port Angeles. I'd come back, we'd split up.
In my first marriage, when I had a fight with my wife, I'd scram. I'd head over to PG/PF's and tell them about my problems. They would listen and I'd return to my crap relationship and eventually get in another fight and come back around. Eventually, I ended up staying... for a month. And I got a divorce.
The next girlfriend: same stuff, different day, except this time she liked to run, too. She'd take off. I'd take off. We'd text each other to apologize or to plead – beg! - to meet up, reconcile. And we did. Over and over. Eventually we married. And in my second marriage, when I had a fight with my wife, I'd scram. I'd head over to PG/PF's and tell them about my problems. They would listen and I'd return to my crap relationship and eventually get in another fight and come back around. If it sounds repetitive, it was. Painfully, stupidly repetitive. And, eventually, I ended up staying... for a month. And I got a divorce.
In the last two years I've been in a relationship, a poly relationship which – on the surface – would seem more screwed up than anything else, but it's the first relationship that I haven't run from. Since that time, I've had time to reflect.
Leaving... running... is selfish. I used to convince myself that it was the moral high-ground in that I could escape the situation to return calmer and more prepared to engage in constructive conversation. This didn't happen. Instead, I left because it returned some sense of control that I felt that I had lost, and, because I maliciously wanted my absence to be painfully remembered. I wanted to be missed.
Once, during my second marriage, I recall being alone one night after she had packed her things in the car and left with her kid. It was horribly silent. It was raining and just the sound of the outside, the 'drip-drop-drip' permeated the bedroom, and, when you're anxious and worried like that, you know, you can't sleep, so I was laying there for what seemed like an eternity, waiting, staring at the ceiling, watching my cell phone, and waiting for the call to talk, to reconcile, to make up. I felt awful. I was very alone. She had stolen something from me. She'd taken my breath away. Today, I still wish I could have done something differently that night. It hurts even now, not being able to tell her I'm sorry.
I think I saw then that walking away deprives your partner that breath – that chance – to make amends, to snuggle, or to mend the fence, or to apologize, or to argue, or to resolve the issue. Walking away short-circuits reconciliation and diminishes your partner. Walking away and then making up is a reinforcing cycle – the act of reconciliation may spike emotions, create more feelings of closeness for a while, and may bring you and your partner together, but for me, it became a negatively reinforcing cycle of “problem-attention-resolution”. Walking away is cowardly because it allows you to retreat and leaves the problem clearly at the feet of your partner. You've chosen not to deal with it. You've chosen to leave it – and her – all behind.
I'm thankful that I don't run anymore. I have a partner that doesn't leave me feeling out of control, or, without my breath. She is a communicator and I am never lacking. I am also thankful that I have come to realize that a lifetime of running took me nowhere (just in circles), aimlessly ending up exactly where I was before. Now, I am content.
I have to tell you: if you're a runner, before you run again, think about how many times you had done so before and about how many times you had to start over, and about how much life seems to repeat itself. The pattern isn't found in your partners but the lowest common denominator of yourself, and how you've always dealt with your problems. And in your retrospection you may come to realize - much earlier than I and hopefully at less expense - how much agony your partner feels when they're so carelessly tossed away.
p.s. - Yeah, sorry I haven't been writing for a while. My attention has been seriously removed as of late, working too many hours and building up content on my consultancy's website. I'll try to refocus my priorities. You know it's bad when PolyGestalt (a.k.a. Silent Bob) has been able to blog twice since my last post... can't freekin' have that...