Did you ever run away from home as a kid?
Maybe your feelings were hurt or you got in trouble. Maybe you were overwhelmed by just how big life was when you were so small.
It’s practically a rite of passage.
I asked my mom for a good story about me running away, and I found out that I missed that particular “rite of passage.”
I never ran away from home.
Truthfully, I’ve never been much of a rebel.
Instead of running away from home, I was practicing emergency preparedness. I can recall planning a route of escape from my second story bedroom window. Near the window I kept a small plastic briefcase packed (mostly with art supplies and a hand drawn escape plan) and ready to go. It needed to be light so I could also grab my cat. Some things never change.
I feel like I’ve spent most of my life prepped for a crisis, planning ahead… just like all straight-laced, rule following, overachieving Type A-ers. Control freak? You betcha. (Trying to let that go. I’m a work in progress.) I have lived my life in wait… watching for the sky to fall.
Then, as an adult, when my sky really did start to fall… that was when I decided to run.
I ran away from home.
And I lied to myself about it. I disguised my running as preparedness, as making the best choice for me and my husband. That has been a hard truth to face. But I’ve been facing it for the better part of a year now. In fact, this post has been rattling around in my brain since early 2017, but I hadn’t been able to bring myself to write it down, to share it. Because I was ashamed. Because I felt like I had failed. And if you know me, failure has always been my number one fear. (I know! Work in progress.) Admitting failure… second biggest fear… now everyone knows. I’m not perfect.
Nope. I’m not.
Actually that’s kind of a relief to say out loud. To share.
I’m not perfect.
I’m not. And I failed pretty big in 2017. And I keep getting reminded of that. In part because of Facebook’s lovely “on this day” feature. I’ve been reliving some tough choices, some things I’d consider changing if I had the chance. So, I find myself reflecting and feeling like I am ready to share a little more. Here it is: My big mistake was choosing to run. I ran instead of using my background of crisis prep and problem solving. Instead, I let my emotions take over. I let fear get in the way. I felt too small in this big world.
So, I ran away from L.A.
That’s right. I left Los Angeles with a story about how it was just time, how I couldn’t have all the things I wanted here (church home, more of a community, success in my chosen career), how I never fell in love with L.A. It just wasn’t Home. I even wrote a blog post about it… that recently popped up too. And I felt ill rereading it because I remember writing it… I remember my rehearsed reasons, my embellished feelings. I remember the pit of doubt opening inside me, and the way I tried to seal it shut. I wrote that particular post to reassure myself that this was the right choice. After all, we’d already said we were going. Decision made. Right? We told the world we were going… so, we needed to make good on our word.
And we did.
There’s a video I still have on my phone of Dan and me getting ready to drive away from the last five years of our life. Watching that a few months later was so painful. Clearly written on both of our faces is doubt, is actual terror… how did we not see it? How did we keep telling ourselves this was what we wanted? That this was the right thing for us?
Honestly, I don’t know. At that point it felt like I’d lost control of a vehicle moving at top speed. I covered my eyes and hoped for the best. I kept telling myself it would all be okay eventually. Just go through the motions. You’ll be fine.
It wasn’t until that vehicle came to a screeching, slamming halt that I realized what I had done. I had turned Los Angeles into the crisis that I needed an escape route from. I decided any issue we were faced with was about the where and not the why. I didn’t ask the right questions. I panicked. I felt hurt. And then I ran away from home.
My rite of passage? My act of rebellion?
I don’t know about any of that…
I do know that as hard as facing all of this has been… admitting mistakes, putting my imperfections clearly on display for all to see… I can’t go back. And maybe I don’t actually want to.
While there are certain parts of my life that would be in better shape had we stayed put and been honest with ourselves… I truly believe we needed to go. We always would have wondered if we hadn’t. And you can call it a mistake, but it changed our lives. I think for the better. We got to spend some time away to get grounded and focused. There was a bigger picture we were missing while we were in the middle of it. Both of us got back to our theatre roots. We were able to address the real “emergencies” we’d been experiencing and what we wanted to change about our lives. We spent time with people we love in a city we adore. We gained perspective, discovered that success doesn’t always look the way you imagine, and realized that no matter what happens for us career wise – we just love Los Angeles. We gave our hearts to this city for five years. It turns out that this city gave us some roots in return. Los Angeles is Home. Right now. This is where we belong.
The sky might have had to fall and smack me in the head to see it… but here we are. 2017 was the hardest year of my life, but growth isn’t always beautiful, huh? I feel stronger on this side of fear.
We might have had to run away to figure it out, but I’m so happy we came back home.