I basically run like a girl. Not in the graceful running sense but in the arms flailing tripping over my own feet sense. So to say I’m not a runner is an understatement. What makes this interesting is when I was 5-years-old I decided to run away from home and since then I’ve been running mentally for years. Mental arms flailing, running without knowing why.
My parents were famous for throwing parties and during the family summer parties usually were at our home. With a large family, literally dozens and dozens of cousins it was always a good time. One particular summer night when I was five, I was told it was time for me to go to bed. I didn’t want to, not just because I was five but because it was still “light out” and the party was still rolling. I didn’t want to miss out on anything. So I put my pajamas on and was tucked into bed. After what I considered a reasonable amount of time, I snuck out and hid behind a sofa to watch the party. Of course, hiding for a 5-year-old means that I could still be seen. Especially since the sofa I was hiding behind was in the middle of the party anyone could actually see me.
Yes, I got caught and to make matters worse Mom caught me. Not a good thing. She was off to go get “the belt”. Now I need to step back a moment and explain; I was never spanked. My older siblings not only were spanked they “got the belt”. (I realized as I got older that my older siblings literally “took the hit” for myself and my younger brother.) So things went quickly from “I’m in trouble” to “holy crap, the belt type of trouble”. Mom was pissed and I was the target. Thinking back on that I often think Mom was not as pissed directly at me but at being embarrassed. She was a proud woman who didn’t take to embarrassment easily and I had just embarrassed her in front of family.
All I could think to do was to hit the front door and run as fast as my little bare feet could go. My oldest brother had recently gotten married so in my little head I was running to him. I knew he would protect me. In my 5-year-old head, running from my home to his house would be easy I knew the way. Ha! The way included a major highway but in the moment that seemed easier than what was going to happen to me. As I ran down the street, I saw my oldest brother and his wife driving towards me. I waved! In that split second I thought, “What was I thinking, now they would find me!” No logic at all in this thought process. Even through I was running to him for protection I still didn’t want to be found. And you guessed it; he stopped the car and picked me up.
I don’t remember how I told him what Mom was going to do, I just remember him saying that won’t happened. He had me stay in the car with his wife and he went inside to talk to Mom. A true hero for me because the result was Mom apologizing to me! Whatever my brother had said to her, she had completely flipped and hugged me, apologized and told me never to run away again, that it would all be okay. That was my own little miracle that day.
The unintended result of my “run” was a new label for me. I needed to be protected; my label of “I’m little” began that day. I wasn’t capable of standing up for myself, I needed a protector, I needed someone to be my advocate, and I was too little to do this for myself. Reality was I was only five but that “little” label stayed with me through my adult life. It restricted so many things as an adult. How I viewed myself through school academically, sports, relationships, what I was capable of doing for myself. No matter how old I was I never felt able to speak up on my own behalf. I needed to be quite and in my own head would run. I would secretly hide how I felt, what I was thinking.
The other unintended consequence from the “I’m little” label was it gave power to other people over my life. It pushed me into a box where nothing I had to say was important. Even as an adult I felt unable to contribute anything of significance to a conversation. Anyone who would challenge me would find that I would back down, or withdrawal mentally. Maybe those who know me well might be thinking differently. You might even say you see just the opposite. You might think I like confrontation or a good argument. Not so. Inside I was dying, thinking that if I could just make my point maybe I would finally be heard. Basically, I was thinking, “maybe this time, I’m big enough to be a part of adult conversations”.
Ripping off the Label
This label began to slowly peal away last year. Yes, last year. Some labels are attached with super glue and then laminated to our souls. This was one of them. It was quite shocking last year when I realized that that 5-year-old was still running. I had a talk with her, reassured her that she can stop running, that the adult Bonnie could and would take care of her. I was capable of standing up for myself, capable of standing my ground and speak up in love and truth for myself. Whew! That was huge!
Honestly, I don’t know what changed in me that ripped off this label. I think I finally realized at I was done. It was a kind of awakening for me. I saw myself in the mirror and realized that I’m old enough to have an opinion that counts.
What are you running from?
We all run from something. Let's help each other out. It sucks that there are places inside of us that we don’t let anyone in. It sucks that we have abilities and things to contribute but keep it all to ourselves. What really sucks “canal water” is that we also have the ability to be a grown up, to rip off the label, crush the damn box we are stuck in and walk away taller, more capable and with purpose. No more running alone, no more holding on to labels alone. Who’s with me?! That label is done! No more will I sit back and feel “little”.
Point of Connection
How am I doing this? How do I keep the label off permanently? I make a point of connection with someone else. I listen to their story and share my own story. You would be surprised the release it will give you. Connecting with another person just for the sole purpose of hearing them, releases you to speak. Life is to be lived out loud, in full living color. Ripping labels off with you!
I would love a point of connection with you and to hear your story. Contact here to tell your story.