It’s a scene played out in so many of my favorite childhood movies – Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride, Notting Hill (I had a slight obsession with Julia Roberts in the 90s, OK? Don’t judge me).
Girl likes guy.
Guy likes girl.
Sometimes it works out and they live happily ever after. Sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, girl is fabulous and free and happy. She figures it out. In the movies.
It took me all of 36 years to figure out I, too, am a runner. In every sense of the word. But my life is definitely not a movie.
It started in junior high, to exercise and blow off steam. I dabbled in running throughout high school and college, then logged a few miles here and there in my 20s.
After popping out a third kid in 2015, I RAMPED. IT. UP. – training for and completing a few dozen 5K, 10K and half-marathon races. Shit, I even did a half Ironman two years ago. I told myself all those miles kept me in decent physical shape while saving my sanity.
In 2017, when I broke the news of my divorce to my parents, My dad said, "You know, all this time I've kind of wondered who or what you were running away from." At the time, I shrugged, because I hadn’t really thought about it that way and didn’t have an answer for him.
Fast forward to pandemic. When my gym closed in March, I resolved to run 50 miles a month. No races. No training plans. And that’s how I coped with the unknown… I ran. For 14 months straight.
I kept telling myself I was moving forward, even if the rest of the world was on pause in lockdown.
Somewhere along the way though, I discovered I was pretty OK at running on pavement and a damn pro at running away from what’s uncomfortable and hard.
It was my M.O. in friendships, in dating and yes, in my marriage.
A friendship gets weird? I’d prefer to ghost that person rather than spend time and energy trying to save it.
A conflict or argument with a guy I’m dating reveals flaws a few months in? NEXT!
Let me be clear. I don’t shy away from the actual conflict or confrontation. I can almost always face that stuff head-on and acknowledge why I’m upset. But when it comes to fixing a struggle with another person, I tend to light shit on fire and head for the hills. It’s just… easier.
Fun fact: I am one heck of an “and another thing” girl in arguments. Upset me about one thing and I will absolutely rattle off five more reasons why I’m mad.
I am also the worst at goodbyes.
When colleagues leave for a new job, when friends move away, at funerals, when my kids and I leave my parent’s house at Christmas and just about anything else in life that involves saying ‘See ya!’, I struggle hard. So I avoid it. I dodge the negative emotions and I run.
Irish Goodbyes happen to be my specialty.
Let’s just say I’m a work in progress in the relationship department.
I could hypothesize my instinct to bolt is a product my perception of how my parents fought from time to time when I was growing up.
I could blame my tendency to peace out at the first sign of trouble on the fact that movies romanticize it.
But the truth?
No one ever taught me how to stay.
When I got married, I thought a fight was silent treatment and passive aggressive comments.
No one had shown me the value of sitting down and talking through a tough situation with empathy and compassion.
I did not know working through uncomfortable feelings was also a path for growth… both as an individual and in relationships.
No one told me disappointment, hurt and anger are normal; and it is possible to forge a deeper relationship with another person when we communicate openly about those difficult feelings.
No one explained to me it would be impossible to outrun my own mistakes until I owned them and faced my demons head-on.
So I spent the past 36 years building strong, high walls to protect my heart. I broke off relationships and shut people out before they could do it to me first. I made it impossible for anyone to hurt me. Yes, part of those actions was me refusing to settle for anything less than what I felt I deserved. Another part was simply a bad cycle I didn’t know how to break.
And guess what?
It still hurt.
But ready or not, it is truly amazing the way time works its magic… often in unexpected ways and through the most unexpected people.
All I've ever needed is someone to truly understand me. All I've ever wanted is a reason to stop running.
I saw this quote the other day and read it over and over as the words sank into my soul:
And after everything, I’m finally figuring out how to stay.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, elementary school-aged humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...