“To stay, you have to believe there is something worth staying for—and then you have to bring yourself back, again and again. The initial glimpse of wonder, of love, of possibility, of expansion becomes a commitment to returning, to bringing yourself back each time you bolt.” – Geneen Roth
For as long as I can remember, I have had what Geneen Roth so perfectly describes as “an inclination to bolt.” An overwhelming desire to escape. My inability to remain in the present moment (to stay) paved the way for the various addictions and dysfunctional ways I dealt with being a normal imperfect human being living in this world. Eating disordered behavior, substance abuse, co-dependent relationships, self-harm, isolation: these are all excellent choices for those who are inclined to bolt! I’ve had plenty of practice in this area. Unfortunately, chronic bolting prevents the development of some pretty crucial (& awesome) life skills.
I’ve slowly learned that making the scary decision to “stay” = electing to LIVE. It hurts and it’s messy. It means choosing to exercise muscles you haven’t used in a while, if ever. It is exhausting. But, just like any habit, it gets easier over time and pretty soon you can’t imagine living any other way.
My days of escaping through starving, bingeing, purging, drinking, lying, hiding – those dark days are thankfully behind me. Does this mean I have completely erased my very very powerful inclination to bolt? Nope. Not at all. I have to work on it. DAILY. Every time I choose to redirect my thinking and bring myself back to NOW is a small victory. I still slip up a lot. Instead of the sad painful destruction of my old ways, “slipping up” for me now usually means avoiding something that actually demands my attention….(i.e. Ignoring those little red flags instead of being grateful for the fact that I have such vibrant bright ones alerting me to a potential slip!)
For me, red flags are signals of some underlying depression and/or anxiety. Spacing out, excessive worry, negative self-talk, shutting down, withdrawing. I might be physically present in those moments but I have emotionally BOLTED. This is something I continue to struggle with and strongly believe I have it in me to change, as long as I continue refusing to escape.
It is hard work.
My trail fall last month was a huge bummer. But I have also come to view it as an opportunity. A perfect time to exercise my flabby “staying” muscles. I was physically unable to do much of anything those first weeks, especially anything for myself. My bum leg, painful stitches, lack of energy and painkiller-induced brain fog meant that I had to ask for help. WITH EVERYTHING. For someone whose favorite line is “It’s ok, I got it!”, learning to say “I need….”, “Could you please….” and “Yes I need your help…” was a 2-week lesson in humility and gratitude. (thank you mom!) It was also an open invitation (once I accepted it) to slow down. To sit in bed with my leg up, with my sweet mom right there with me, and talk. To listen. To BE. PRESENT. To allow someone to see me in a vulnerable state, help me through it, and have that be okay.
And guess what? I’m okay! :)
Here is my monster wound…
The reason you don’t see a nice clean line where my 11 stitches once were is because the stitches failed! Boooo. Apparently a deep jagged cut on that part of the body is not conducive to closure by stitching, thereby extending my healing process out even longer and guaranteeing a nice fat scar (and by scar I mean Trail Tattoo)!
More opportunity for me to practice the Fine Art of Staying…