I started thinking about writing this post soon after my child had almost died in the hospital and I was routinely having meltdowns like clockwork every single week. By about two weeks after my child nearly died my weekly meltdowns had morphed into twice-weekly meltdowns — Tuesdays and Thursdays, every single one.
I was in bad shape. I had emotions leaking all over the place. The meltdown that precipitated me deciding to write this post (really I only wrote the title at the time) was one during which I huddled in the hammock in my backyard and fought off the urge to run until I couldn’t run any more. I wanted to get in the car and drive and drive and drive until I couldn’t get any farther. Then I’d probably abandon the car or something and just walk until I expired.
That was basically my plan, right there. It wasn’t really a plan and I knew that. But it was ever such a strong feeling. I just wanted to get the hell out of town and never look back. Never talk to anyone from here, never see anyone again. Just go.
This isn’t a new feeling. I’ve had it ever since I was a child. I totally get it, I understand, when I hear of an Autistic child running off and getting hurt in the process. I used to wander myself, but I was sneaky about it so I’m not sure anyone really knew. The threat of physical punishment from my parents was such that I wouldn’t have taken any chances of getting caught.
I’ve always adored wandering around or sitting by myself in nature. It’s something I miss terribly living where I do, in not-very-walkable suburbia. Even if I do go for a walk, I mostly see houses and cars, not trees. It’s depressing.
And in the past I have done some pretty extreme things when this feeling has hit. I’ve quit jobs, ghosted friends, moved across the USA… Goodness, just three weeks ago I actually ran 9 miles when the fleeing feeling hit. Nine miles. I accidentally hurt myself during that run in multiple ways too, but at least I felt as though I’d been productive in my pain and inability to speak.
But at the time of the meltdown in question I felt pretty firmly rooted in place for the time being. We have a lease, we have children who have friends and activities. Counterpart’s job doesn’t hold us to any location as long as we have a decent internet connection, but it’s gotten more complicated now to just pick up and run run run when the feeling hits.
So, I hid myself in the hammock; pulling the sides up over my head and reminding myself to breathe, willing myself to not panic. It was okay, I was safe. Counterpart came out to tell me that dinner was ready and after a few minutes of deep breathing I went inside to eat a few bites.
The truth is that this year has been probably the most stressful of my life and that’s saying a lot. Most of my adult life (13 years of it) was spent living right around the poverty line, if not below. Finally we’re financially secure for the first time and the rest of life decided to get complicated.
It’s still tempting to think about going somewhere else, starting completely over again. It’s less complicated when I first meet people, first move to an area. People don’t have expectations and it feels less likely that I’ll severely disappoint people I care about because in a new place there’s nobody I really care about for a while. Those left behind might miss me, but at least they know that I’m gone.
So, there’s a work opportunity for Counterpart that may mean moving across the world, not just the country. And I’m not even sure how to process that or make a decision. I don’t know if I should resist the fleeing feeling or give in to it. Maybe it is time to try something completely new. We’ve been planning to move a couple states away for a while, but across an ocean is a much bigger deal.
How well would I handle such a change in our circumstances? Navigating a completely new culture? Getting sporty kid involved in their sport over there? Everything seems so daunting when I think about it, but that fleeing feeling sits in my mind and chortles gleefully at the thought.
It seems that when I’m faced with the reality of actually fleeing, I hesitate. Change is still difficult for me. Just driving and driving doesn’t require any planning, it’s a spur of the moment sort of thing. This feels different and a little scary.
Maybe that fleeing feeling should be respected as much as any other feeling though. Feelings mean things and I already hurt myself enough by hiding away my feelings to an extreme degree most of my life.
This potential international move is something to consider seriously at any rate.