I prided myself in knowing I could “run for days” without stopping and “no one could catch me”. Running was such a powerful form of escape for me as a child and younger man.
It wasn’t until yesterday, driving home into a gorgeous sunset, that I realized most of the running I did in my life was away from things or people or scary circumstances. I can see now that I learned or was taught or made up the story that it was ok to run away from life by my family.
I had plenty of reasons to run. Whether it was from my alcoholic Dad beating my Mom, my older brothers beating my Dad, my embarrassment of growing up on welfare or me running from the terror of sexual abuse, I had every excuse to bolt.
This skill, that grew out of a challenging upbringing, also served as the foundation for an amazing athletic career.
Canadian National indoor track records in sprinting, covering 40 yards in 4.5 seconds in university football and being crowned ‘The Big Run’ champion in junior high school cross country running.
I also learned to run from responsibility, from people in relationship, from the truth, from helping people and from my sexuality. Running was my modus operandi; my method of operation.
While shopping in a downtown department store, after stealing a package of greeting cards, the grip of the plain clothed security woman was so strong I couldn’t run. It didn’t always work, yet there would be more thefts that I was successful in dashing away from. It took me a long time to stop running.
I distinctly remember, in the year 2000, telling a dear friend I was tired of running.
Shortly afterwards I began to explore aspects of my life that beckoned me to stand firm and not run away. I even chose to stop competing in sprinting in gay track events. I just didn’t want to move through life that fast anymore.
As I uncovered the reasons or excuses why I ran, with the support of an amazing therapist, the desire to flee my life circumstances began to diminish.
It’s not easy running towards life.
There are a million distractions, today, easily purchased to augment the idea of running away. It’s not a skill I’m proud to list on my resume, yet it is a part of me I can call on.
My toughest bit of work during this lifetime is to stay present, find my breath, when I confront a part of me I think I should run away from. That’s been the gift of integrative coaching in my life; holding the light and dark aspects of who I am and learning to love myself.
Being out of breath because of running away is nothing compared to finding my breath while embracing a part of me that I think shouldn’t exist. That’s a skill I’m proud to run towards.