RUNNING AWAY IS OKAY — AS LONG AS WE COME BACK

I asked Rachel to guest post for me and I might have pinched myself a few times when she said yes.  Seriously, this redhead is incredible. She’s not only the author of some very highly ranked and reviewed books on Amazon but she is also a poet.

The fact she is a poet thrills me to the core because I have been told many times that poetry doesn’t sell and yet…it does. Her newest book Broken Places is a brilliant mix of prose and poetry which reached #1 on Amazon’s Hot Releases within its first week of being released. I did not, however, realize any of these wonderful things about Rachel when I asked her to guest post.

I ran across Rachel’s guest post on Stigma Fighters which you can find HERE .  I am drawn to strong women and men who are survivors and who inspire others to be survivors.  I am not a victim of child abuse but I know far too many who are and Rachel is a strong voice of guidance and inspiration on a battleground filled with the wounded.  Please visit Rachel Thompson and check out her books which I have linked in the pictures at the bottom.

 


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Running Away is Okay — As Long As We Come Back
by Rachel Thompson

“And I ran, I ran so far away
I just ran, I ran all night and day
I couldn’t get away”

~ “I Ran (So Far Away)”, A Flock of Seagulls

 

Remember that 80s song? If you lived through the 80s, you couldn’t get away from it. I loved that song, even when I couldn’t stand it anymore. It resonated with me on a deep level, one I wouldn’t understand for many, many years. Decades, even.

Because I ran. Because I run. Because I still run.

Let me explain.

When I was eleven, a neighbor dad sexually abused me and a few other neighbor girls. He was in the army. It happened more than once, and I didn’t understand what it was or why this thing, this monster, wanted me. Eventually, all our experiences with him came to light, and I testified against him in both civil and military trials. He got two years and lost his pension, then moved back home.

My family didn’t move away, so I lived with what happened for the next eight years until I moved away for college. I didn’t receive therapy, and my family just kind of swept it under the rug. I lived with his kids’ accusatory stares every day as I hurried to and from the same school, as if I were the one who had committed the crime. I lived with their rumors, gossip, and bullying as I rushed through my school activities, busy with busy-ness, terrified that my friends would find out if I came to a standstill for even a moment.

So I ran. I ran from the shame.

I never shared my story publicly until I wrote about it in my bestselling third book, Broken Pieces, in 2012, and my fourth book, the just released, Broken Places (Booktrope). These are heavy books, filled with essays and poetry that discuss what it’s like to live with the effects of being a survivor, as well as love and loss.

One of those effects is that I run — not the literal ‘put on your shoes and go for a run’ — which I did for a long time until my knees gave out. No, this is a different kind of running. The kind that happens when I find myself in an emotionally overwhelming situation. I cut and run. I leave the room, and if I can’t leave, I clam up. I’m Baby in the corner.

I didn’t know, until recently, that this is very common for survivors of sexual abuse, and yet, it’s not a bad thing. It seems like it would be, right? But it’s not. You know why? Because it’s a way for us to take back our power. It’s okay to run, or really, to remove ourselves from a situation we are uncomfortable with, because we weren’t able to do this when the abuse happened — as long as we are able to come back and resolve the issue at some point.

See, that’s the ticket, right there: it’s okay to run, as long as we come back to form a resolution.

Running from difficult situations has caused problems in my personal relationships, I won’t lie. I’m currently going through a divorce, and the man I’m seeing now gets very frustrated when I walk away from confrontation. He’s a Scorpio — he loves to dig in and get things resolved right then and there! I’m the complete opposite anyway (Capricorn, introvert), but add the past abuse, and it’s a minefield. We’re working through it, and his love and compassion for me helps immensely. So does this realization about running.

See, you have to understand something: I’m not a doormat or a victim. I speak my mind. I’m a strong woman, a feminist, and an advocate for women and children, particularly survivors of sexual abuse. But that doesn’t mean I’m infallible.

For a long time, I, like my family, minimized what happened. They believed me — how could they not? I testified in court — twice. I helped put the beast away. But the minimization was brutal. ‘Rachel’s abuse wasn’t as bad as the others,’ became the family mantra. I can’t even get my mind around that to this day.

I became the good girl, the cheerleader, the overachiever who graduated early, who got every award and promotion, who moved across the country to get that home office job — who ran, exhausted and panting for air, but who kept running, because that’s what I did. That’s what I knew. That became my normal.

Until it all crashed down when I had my first baby — postpartum depression and terrifying anxiety. How could I ever let her out of my sight? This precious life that depended on me to keep her safe — what if I failed her? I finally started therapy and medication. Everything, all my freak outs and mis-steps and fears — started to make sense.

Our past doesn’t just fall away, no matter how deeply we bury it.

I don’t use my past as an excuse, but it helps me to understand much more about my own behaviors, and why I subconsciously react to situations the way I do. Becoming aware of the subconscious helps me deal with all of it in a more conscious way, if that makes sense. Writing about the abuse so openly has been a wonderful way to connect with other survivors as well, to comprehend so much about what eluded me.

I started #SexAbuseChat on Twitter (every Tuesday at 6pm PST) last year with my cohost, certified therapist/incest survivor and author Bobbi Parish, to help remove the stigma and shame survivors feel about our past. Any survivor or family member is welcome to join — just use the hashtag to join in the chat.

My final point is this: survivors, just like anyone, need to set boundaries. If putting the brakes on an emotionally difficult situation helps you, then do it. Just being aware of that is a big step. We often have to define, or redefine, what normal is because what’s normal to us and normal to well, someone who is truly normal (is anyone truly normal?), is completely different. Everyone is just a little fucked up.

Run if you have to. And it’s okay. But be sure to come back to those people who mean something in your life, because if you don’t, you’ll have nothing, and maybe no one, to run back to.

 

“Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”

Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s

 


Rachel-Thompson2-768x1024Rachel Thompson is the author of the award-winning Broken Pieces, the newly released Broken Places, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. Rachel is published and represented by Booktrope. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. For affordable group sessions check out Author Social Media Boot Camp, monthly sessions to help all authors! Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, bitrebels.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Rachel is the creator and founder of #MondayBlogs and #SexAbuseChat and an advocate for sexual abuse survivors. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Author Contact Information:

Author Site: rachelintheoc.com
BadRedhead Media Site: badredheadmedia.com
Twitter: @RachelintheOC
Twitter (Business): @BadRedheadMedia
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRachelThompson
Facebook Broken Pieces Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/BrokenPiecesByRachelThompson
Facebook (Business): https://www.facebook.com/BadRedheadMedia
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+RachelThompson/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/rachelintheoc/
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-thompson/24/784/b95
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619475.Rachel_Thompson
Author Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/j9oaH
BadRedhead Media Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/koN8r
Full-size Author Photo Link: http://i119.photobucket.com/albums/o158/Froze8/RachelThompson_zps88bd401e.jpg

 

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46 thoughts on “RUNNING AWAY IS OKAY — AS LONG AS WE COME BACK

  1. sometimes getting even is not the answer, getting help is, for all involved, in that way, all parties involved will eventually heal, in a word, being unwell at times is nothing unusual, but being unable to forgive is a life sentence.

    Like

    • Hi BW — I agree that getting even isn’t productive, and can ultimately be destructive.

      but as I write in my new book, Broken Places, forgiveness culture puts a lot of pressure on survivors to forgive when we’ve done nothing wrong in the first place. Forgiveness is a very private act, and if and when I choose to forgive my abuser, nobody but me will know about it.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I am not a victim of sexual abuse perse… its rather complicated however, I recently learned its okay to run. I always thought it must be the worst thing. YOU CAN”T AVOID IT. But sometimes we need to avoid it just for a bit. My therapist is the one who said its okay to avoid and deny for a bit. We will deal with it next week or in two weeks. Then we did. Now I need anywhere from an hour to twenty four hours but then I am ready to deal with it. By not thinking about it , its almost like my brain is working it out while I am not thinking about it. I don’t know if that made any sense. I just wanted to say I resonate with this post a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Fang and yes, it makes sense to me. I’m a processor — I need time to work through all the aspects of an issue before I make a decision or even respond. I’m not a yeller or a thrower or a reactor — that’s just not how I operate. And that’s okay.

      People like drama. That’s what we see in movies and such. But not everyone fits into that mold. As Stephen King says, ‘quiet people have the loudest minds’ and in my case (and likely yours), that’s the absolute truth.

      Like

  3. I’m completely overcome with emotion right now. I thought I had all my shit figured out. I learned this past year through heavy duty therapy that I run too. And I’m a strong woman, not a doormat. Thank you for pointing that out about yourself. I so identify. But I shut down completely in the face of conflict or anger (mine or someone else’s) or confrontation. It’s so frustrating for my husband but he’s able to be patient with me now (thank you therapy) and wait me out.

    I have lived the life of being the “happy” one. At my core I am a naturally optimistic happy person, but I played the role to the point of not allowing any emotion other than happy. This is starting to feel like a confessional so I’ll wrap it up, but I wanted to let you know just how much this resonates with me. How much validation I feel at another piece of my personal puzzle making a tiny bit more sense to me now. Thank you. So much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I felt the same way when I read this post but instead of running away I am the one poking for a response and there is definitely a reason I do that. You can write a confessional here anytime. You are among friends.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Gretchen, you are not alone. That’s the biggest message I can give you, in blinking neon lights! You are a strong woman because you recognize this within yourself and that’s a huge step. We are beautiful humans, and shit happens. We are flawed, and it’s okay to need help. That, more than anything, is what I’ve learned and hope to share.

      Most ‘happy’ people I know are kidding themselves (no offense) — it’s an illusion. They skim. I’m not saying you have to run the opposite direction and dress in black while playing Marilyn Manson music. I’m just saying that digging deep is a good thing to validate yourself. Hugs, girl.

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, you’re completely right. I definitely skim. I have dug deeper in the past year and had moments where I wondered why the hell I was doing it. Bringing up old feelings and dealing with them ain’t fun and what I was doing before (skimming on an epic level) was (I thought) o.k. Of course, I know that doing the work is the only way to be truly healthy and would in the end make me more REAL with myself instead of always playing the part of the eternally happy person. Thank you for all of this. I honestly feel like I learned something really important about myself. I told my husband I would be reading this post to him tonight…

        Like

  4. Wow. This piece has such great insight, and I am always so deeply honored to witness someone like you, Rachel, who can turn your life experiences into purposeful missions. I just can’t imagine what you endured during your childhood… What a horrible circumstance!!

    I’m so grateful for women like you, who share their heart and take risks and step into vulnerable places to reach those who are hurting and aching and needing your voice.

    It’s so important to be able to claim our own power and control over situations, especially if we lost that control in our childhood. I love your message here!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, MomCafe! It’s been a journey, and while I always felt such shame for what happened, I don’t know that I fully realized the awfulness of it until I had my own children. It was something that happened, that I tried to put behind me, and basically not deal with. And with the words of my family — the minimization so strong in my head — I became convinced that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

      Except it was, of course. My childhood ended at age 11 and there’s just no getting around that. Even as I write this now, I second-guess myself: am I being overly dramatic? Surely, people will think so.

      But that’s typical survivor behavior. I still have work to do. 🙂 And that’s okay. Recovery is a process, and writing is, too. At least, as my editor says, I have plenty of material to work with!

      Like

  5. You are a beautiful human being and I look up to you every day. Your raw truth is liberating to us all. Thank you for being a light that has inspired me.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for this ..it explains my own reaction to cetain situations. I was ’emotionally’ abused by my mother – she filled my head with the notion that I shouldn’t have been born, that I was an ugly waste if space. When she wanted to punish me, she refused to speak to me (could go on for weeks) and wouldn’t make me a meal. My brother was openly adored. Now, even at 64, if I find myself in a confrontational situation, with someone who is verbally abusing me, I shut down. I leave. I’ve always seen it as failure on my part. Maybe not so now. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry, luv. What an awful situation she put you through. I’ll never understand that kind of behavior — favoring one child over another. The long-term effects you experience now make so much sense, sadly. The running thing — yea, it’s a game-changer for sure. It has been for me, too. Big hugs, Carol.

      Like

    • Thank you, Carol. It seems to resonate with so many people, women especially, the running. It’s been eye-opening for me, too. Talking with other survivors and being part of this community is so enlightening.

      Like

  7. Thanks so much for sharing! It’s easier on the mind to thinks ones suffering is less than others; to minimise horrible experiences that are not one’s fault. It takes a lot of courage, willingness to stand up and stand out, boldness to state the truth without worrying about the feelings of the perpetrator … It’s also good to remember to be kind to oneself and run away if one needs to until one can come back to find resolution. # tweet

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    • Thanks Adventures. In my case, the abuser is long passed, so I don’t worry about his reaction. I did consider the feelings of my family, but ultimately I gave myself permission to tell my story. I think every survivor needs to get to that point — some never do, and that’s okay. It’s our choice, and that’s a resolution, too.

      Like

  8. Rachel,

    Don’t let anyone minimize your experiences ever again. And I won’t tell you to “forgive” the person who abused you.

    I will tell you that someone I was very close to was molested as a child. She carried that to her grave without telling me about it. But I found out just before she died that she’d been abused. I’d guessed because of her actions, and it was confirmed by two reliable sources. The thing is, I don’t know if she ever “forgave” her abuser. I don’t care if she ever “forgave” her abuser. I haven’t, and I don’t even know him. It was that she ran, and although she had some counseling, I’m not sure that she ever came back. Because even during her passing, I’m sure that she was still running.

    Facing the abuse with counseling doesn’t mean “forgiveness,” at least for me. It means you learn to live with what happened to you so that it doesn’t eat at you from the inside out until you can’t face life. It means you learn why you respond to situations the way that you do and you learn to find happiness and contentment, if not today, then later when you are ready.

    I’m glad you came back while you still could.

    Like

    • HI sweet PJ! Thank you for reading and sharing the story about your friend. So very sad. Part of why I refer to survivors as survivors and not victims is because I believe we do face life and embrace our experiences. It’s out of ignorance that people minimize our abuse — whether intentional or not. It’a part of the stigma survivors face.

      Thank you for being a fierce supporter! Our voices matter. Hugs, girl.

      Like

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  10. Wonderful post that brings lots of thoughts… I got caught up in running away and still need to figure out how to come back, but knowing I’m not alone who feels like that helps… Thanks a lot for your words. Maybe now realizing it a little bit more I’ll learn to stop and step by step come back to the world and old friends, getting my confidence back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Katsyarina — accepting ourselves as survivors is also important. Stopping a certain behavior may not be the answer because that’s become a coping skill for you. I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s okay to continue with a coping skill (if it’s not self-harming, like cutting or addiction) if it’s helpful to you.

      Running can have consequences, of course, but it can also help calm us down. Just a thought.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Rachel 🙂 Accepting yourself for who you are with everything good & bad is the hardest thing & even more harder sometimes is to understand who you are & forgive yourself for not trying hard enough & refusing to be brave facing life as you should. I guess running away itself is my coping mechanism although I’m agree that it helps & gives time to calm & think something over – you can’t run away forever missing all the life & wonderful things you could have experienced; with time it just gets easier to run away each time somethinf difficult or unpleasant comes your way – at first you feel good & safe but then guilt comes & you are caught in a trap… unhappy but still afraid to change.
        Your thought though made me feel a bit better about this run away thing, thank you.

        Like

  11. What I resonate here with is what happened after I had my first child. I was terrified of the idea of being a parent, terrified of damaging it anywhere near as much as I am damaged by my mother. I suffered more verbal and emotional abuse, some physical, and am a ‘child of domestic violence’ – my stepfather beat my mother all my early childhood until I was 9. I did suffer sexual abuse, at the hands of one of my mother’s boyfriends, but for years I didn’t consider my sexual abuse ‘proper’, sexual abuse, that it was ‘mild’ – I wouldn’t even say I was, but recent years I have dealt with it. And you highlight here that in some ways I am burying it, trying to make it less than it was. But having children sent me into my third, but most effective round of therapy, which lasted 6 years (finished last year). I am now able to stop wanting to run all the time – It’s all I thought about the second my first was born – that he would be better off without me, that I was no good for him, that I should leave, but it’s been a struggle to reach this point. I will say I only have had the urge to totally walk about a couple of times in the last year or so. That’s an achievement for me. And I have also been able to see that I can be a good mum, and allow myself to one, and enjoy it. My mother treated me as a burden, so I saw myself as a burden to my children, and also reflected it onto them, treating them as though they are a burden. As you say, once you start moving these patterns out of the subconscious into the conscious they make a lot of sense. It is nice to know that I am not the only person in the world that experienced this after becoming a parent. I often feel I am. Thanks for sharing Rachel, you enable me to gauge me and myself more rationally.

    Like

    • Hi Miranda Kate — thank you for sharing your experience and I’m so sorry you had to deal with that. These experiences never truly leave us, despite the work we do. When people say, ‘get over it,’ or ‘move on’ they truly have no idea what they are talking about.

      Proud of you for doing the work! I’m so happy my piece can help you even a little bit. sending healing hugs and vibes.

      Like

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  13. Being a survivor of abuse, I know all too well the ability to sweep things under the rug. It’s still something that we don’t talk about in our family. I keep saying that I should be all sorts of fucked up – but I’m not. Like you, a very strong, independent woman. Thank you for sharing your powerful message Rachel. One day, I will share my own experience.

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    • Hi Rosie! Thank you for reading. It’s so common to not discuss it — that was my MO for years and years — my family’s too. Writing about it opened up conversations that many weren’t ready to have but that was okay, too because I gave myself permission, and that’s all that matters in the end.

      Hugs to you!

      Like

  14. I’m a runner too.

    It’s weird sometimes when I do because, like your man, I’m a Scorpio and for most of my life I’d dig in my heals and fight.fight.fight. But, as I continue to heal from 15+years of domestic violence and a recent sexual assault I’ve found I just don’t have any fight in me. It feels safest to run, or rather, withdrawal for a bit.

    Luckily my partner not only understands but tends to do the same thing. So we’ve agreed it’s ok to run as long as we come back and open a dialog asap. It’s an ongoing act of loving-kindness we offer to ourselves and each other – it’s also an act of ongoing healing for both of us.

    Thank you for this affirming piece.

    Like

    • Thank you for reading and sharing, Kate! I’m so sorry you experienced such horrible things. And thrilled you have that loving support now. Knowing and learning ourselves is crucial to our growth as survivors — so many of our behaviors are on auto-pilot. That’s been a huge learning experience for me.

      We can still be strong and not have to ‘fight’ — learning about zen has been extremely helpful to me. Calming in many ways.

      Like

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