Running Away


A mother on OASIS (OASIS) wrote about how her son tended to run away from situations that upset him. I responded:

Good grief. Reading your stories made me remember times when I have run away myself. Once I was on vacation with a friend, 3,000 from home, and I did exactly what your son did except that I got out of (and ran away from) my friend's car instead of a street car. She was taken completely by surprise. (I was in my late 30s at the time.)

What would have made it possible for me NOT to run away? I suspect it would take investing me with the power to shut the situation down. Here's what I mean:

I ran (and perhaps still would, at the age of 51) when I felt so totally frustrated by a situation that I had to get away or burst. Usually it was a case of not being able to "get through" to people I was talking to (they probably thought they understood what I was trying to say, but I felt that if they did understand, they would admit I was right!), sometimes a matter of feeling too acutely at-a-loss to bear it.

What I needed was a "time out." The only alternative to running away I can imagine would be for me to have a signal to be used only in emergencies (i.e., if I got to the point where running away felt like my only option). When I gave the signal, everyone would immediately stop talking to me, switch to a different subject entirely, and generally put everything "on hold" until I had a chance to process my feelings and regain equilibrium.

I'd also need someone to accept that the crisis-level emotion I was feeling was real and, in itself, did constitute a crisis (for me). That means not trying to talk me out of it (e.g., telling me that the level of feeling was inappropriate for the situation).

I imagine this as a bargan I might be able to make with certain people (family, close friends): If you are willing and able to accept my need for crisis time-outs, and if you are willing to participate in them when I need them, then I will undertake not to run away (because I realize it is a genuine matter of concern for you to have me do that).

Don't know if that would work for anybody in real life, but I can imagine it working for me if I had cooperative companions.



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