When you run away from your problems, it works. Initially.
There is a certain rush that comes from running – it’s the liberating realization that not all problems necessitate solutions. That not all queries require clarification. That not all of the puzzles we face up to with intensity and passion need be solved, settled and packed neatly away on a shelf – labeled “Fixed this” or “Figured out that.” We do not possess the patience or perspective that is needed to arrive at our solutions, so we instead take the easy way out. We run away. And it all seems as simple as that.
When you run away from your problems, you feel empowered. You are taking your life back by ignoring all the parts of it that do not particularly please you. Mess something up at your job? Not a problem. Fail at a meaningful relationship? No worries. Your problems don’t exist here in this new physical place that you’ve arrived at. Out of sight, out of mind, and for a while you can get off on the absence. You have new things to focus on. You’re thriving.
Except when you run away from all of your problems, you eventually start tripping. First over little things – the cute guy who asks you out but never texts you back. The interview you go to that you inexplicably tank. The things you’re running from don’t explicitly appear in front of you but linger just beneath your mind’s surface – cooing taunts at your newest undertakings.
The problem with running away is that we’re trying to apply a definitive solution to an indefinite, ongoing problem. We’re attempting to tie up the loose threads of our lives before we’ve detangled any of them. We’re putting a bowtie on a monstrosity. We all want resolutions as simple as purchasing a plane ticket, updating our “Current City” on Facebook and moving on with our lives, but we forget that our emotional ties run deeper than that. We forget that we can never fly far enough away from ourselves to escape what it is that lies unresolved within us.
Because the thing is, our issues aren’t imbedded in the places we leave behind or the people we no longer see every day. Our unresolved emotional clutter seeps into every facet of our lives, stealthily enough to remain eternally undetected. It’s the hesitation deep in your gut that balks when new opportunity arises. It’s the sense of self-doubt that creeps in when you’re challenged. It’s the same old pain of trying to write a new chapter without finishing the old one – you do not have a frame of reference to carry on forward. You’re trying to grab at something new with full hands and yet you cannot figure out why you keep dropping it.
J.K. Rowling once stated that “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it,” And I find this to be largely untrue. Pain can be avoided almost entirely but the bleakness that accompanies avoiding it cannot. When you constantly run from the past, it wears away the present with a vengeance. You become afraid to love anything fully, live anywhere completely, invest yourself entirely in any new person or venture, for the underlying fear that eventually you are going to leave. That you aren’t going to stick around when the going gets tough. That you’ll be gone and with you will fade all of the sweet, unfinished memories, all of the plans, all of the careful devotions that you promised with uncertain lips. When you’re the person who runs away from everything, you don’t get to be fully present anywhere. You know you won’t be staying so you check out. You check out from everything that makes you the most alive.
When you run away from all of your problems, you eventually run from yourself. You forget the person you could be if you stayed in one place, worked through your downfalls, accepted your shortcomings and then overcame them. You forget that there’s a version of you who is reliable and passionate and strong. You lose the sense of pride you used to have from persevering.
Because when you run away from all of your problems, you run right into infinitely more. You create a world within yourself that must be tiptoed through and gets over-turned with ease. You are a land mine of unfinished wounds that bleed again at the slightest scratch. You find yourself having to constantly run further, harder, faster, to avoid what you are carrying within yourself. The further you run from your problems, the further you run from yourself. And the harder it becomes to eventually find your way back home.