Flight Risk and RomComs

Did you watch The Runaway Bride with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere? Typical cute rom-com, typical Julia role and film. In it, she’s in love with love. Gets engaged several times. Then bails when she’s walking down the aisle. Finally, she meets the guy who understands (Richard Gere). They plan a wedding, and sure enough she starts to bail. He’s prepared. He knows it doesn’t mean she isn’t in love. He knows it’s her thing. Her fears. Her past, her roadblocks. Her speed bumps, her baggage, her heart, her mind. And he loves her through it. He gets it even though he doesn’t get it at all. He chases her and loses her in the chase. And then, eventually, she comes to him. Ready to settle down with him. And he’s waiting. And they get married and live happily…well you know the rest.

I’m here to tell you, life ain’t this movie.

In today’s edition of “how to screw up a new relationship”, let’s talk about coping mechanisms!

So, looking back, I realize that I’ve never really been able to stay put in my entire adult life. I grew up in a relatively stable environment home-wise (don’t get me started on the dynamics, I’m JUST talking about the building itself…the HOUSE). I lived in 2 homes before I moved out at 18. My entire childhood was spent in two homes. Pretty stable, right?

I moved out at 18 and since that time, I have pretty much moved houses every 3 years with the exception of the house I had with Michael, which was 5 years and counting. Sometimes I’d just change neighborhoods. Sometimes, states. One time, a country. But I’ve always been on the move.

Because I never felt I belonged anywhere.

Take this information and fast forward to now. New relationship. Unchartered territory as a widow. A relationship that I quite frankly never expected, never looked for, sure as hell never thought I’d allow into my life or heart again, but here we are.

And as with any new relationship, there are quirks, kinks to work through, growing pains, debates, and yes some arguments. It’s going to happen, folks. We are both in our 50’s with our own very unique baggage and shit comes up.

And it turns out that I’m a flight risk. Me. A flight risk. Yeah, it doesn’t surprise me either.

When things get tense, I “offer” to leave. I don’t threaten. I don’t do ultimatums. I just say I can leave.

And this is super fucked up.


Why do I do it? Why is it so fucked up? Well, I do it because I feel like I’m a burden. To everyone and everything. Ever since Michael died, I’ve been floating. Nomading. Looking for “home”. Looking to belong. Hoping to find someone that loved me and that I could love along the way.

And then I found it. I met a wonderful guy who loves me and the dogs and wants to share a life with us. So I jumped. I don’t mean a little hop to a lily pad, I mean a full force jump off the cliff into the lagoon. I. MOVED. IN. OMG. This is not something I ever expected. Never. It was fast, but it felt right. This was/ is a HUGE step for me. I don’t live with guys unless I’m married to them. I don’t just “move in” with a dude just because. This meant and means something BIG to me. BIG.

And now, I “offer” to leave when things aren’t perfect.

Why is this so fucked up?  Because it breaks trust and makes your partner feel like they’re in a revolving door. It’s cruel and quite honestly, a little bit abusive. So why do I do it?

A lot of it comes from a lack of a sense of belonging. This isn’t about anyone but me, but I feel like a guest who has overstayed her welcome. I feel like I’ve damaged the relationship with my insecurities, self-loathing, and issues.

Another part of it is feeling like HE wants me to leave but he’s afraid to say so. So it’s essentially an easy “get out of Lisa” card.  Which is really stupid because I can’t assume to know his feelings.

In those key fight or flight moments, I always choose flight. It’s not because I’m afraid of conflict I don’t think. I have plenty of conflicts in my life.  I have no issues speaking my truth even if it causes conflict. So it’s not that.

I think it’s just about my damaged brain choosing that I don’t want to be anywhere or do anything unpleasant. I don’t want to feel like I don’t belong. I don’t want to spend my time stressed about relationships. I don’t want I don’t want I don’t want. I can’t. I can’t manage. I can’t process. I can’t I CAN’T I can’t. And of course, the LAST thing I’ll allow myself to do is cause any stress on others. So when I see something going off the rails, I want to just bail. Put THEM out of their misery.

But…I have to reprogram my brain as much as I’m able. I need to get to a mental place where I feel I truly am wanted and loved and accepted, and where I can shed the fears about driving people away. It really becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m so afraid of being hurt or losing someone, that I’m putting walls up that don’t need to be there.

And maybe I need to lock up my passport.


~ Lisa

Edge of Seventeen

That’s how old I was when I made my move and started taking care of myself. I had an abusive, alcoholic mother and I would do almost anything to get the hell away from her.

I was the youngest of five kids, BUT the only natural child of my father’s. My dad met my mom when she had my siblings, and he married her and adopted them. There were never words like half-brothers or half-sisters. We were a family and I didn’t understand it to be anything different. Until one time in my late adolescent years. My sister Linda, 9 years older than me, had a boyfriend over to the house. When I walked into the living room, she told him I was her half-sister. I’ll never forget it. It devastated me. Throughout our years together, Linda would make comments about me being spoiled or my dad loving me best because I was his daughter. These comments continued until my dad died and even afterwards. When I was young it made me feel awful because she insisted on singling me out from my other siblings who shared a father, and when I was older it made me angry because it just wasn’t true. I may have been treated differently growing up because I was dramatically younger, but it had nothing to do with my DNA. And as an adult, I may have been closest to my dad, but that’s because I put effort into having a relationship with him.

Anyway, my mother had a mental illness that had gone undiscovered for many years. As my siblings grew into teenagers, real trouble started with them. REAL trouble. My brother being arrested, sisters running away, dropping out of school, just a lot more trouble than typical teens. And my mom started drinking.

Gradually, one by one the siblings left at young ages, leaving me the only child left in the house with a raging alcoholic for a mother. By the time I reached the age of 13, she was checked out. My (at the time) emotionally unavailable father was all I had. When I got my first-ever period, I had to go to my dad. Typical teen angst or issues, I was on my own.

My mom was pretty cruel to my dad. She didn’t love him. She cheated on him, emotionally and verbally abused him, and was just cruel in general. Her dislike for him bled over into me and I was told many, many times that my mom regretted having me and she should have stopped while she was ahead. I was cursed at, beaten bloody with belts to the point my high school counselor intervened and called the police when he saw me at school with welts on my body. I was woken up in the middle of the nights when they would fight, and my mom would tell me to get in the car and we would drive to her boyfriends house where I would try to sleep on the couch while my mom and her boyfriend would retreat to the bedroom. My childhood is really an entire book.

All of this led to me getting out as soon as I could. I got pregnant at 17, got pregnant again at 18 (same daddy), and married at 19. My parents helped us out in the early years of our marriage, but I have been on my own and taken care of my shit ever since then. It’s been a badge of honor for me, something to be proud of, that I was able to overcome the abuse I suffered. I have always been fiercely independent because those I leaned on let me down. These lessons continued into adulthood even up to today.

Why am I writing this? Well I’m moving this week, back to the US and in with a friend. And I’m really sad about it. In exploring my thoughts, I think what’s happening is grief. Grief for a life I worked so hard for and lost, yes – but also, grief for my independence. In just a few days, I will be living in someone else’s home that they worked for. Their decor, their colors. Their neighborhood. Their HOME. For the FIRST time in my life, I don’t have a home. I don’t have my own place that I can make my own. At the age of 52, I am starting from scratch and am the furthest thing from independent I can think of. And it takes me back to those years suffering at the hand of my mother. Where I had no control, no means to take care of myself. Those years that I swore that NEVER again would I be stuck ANYWHERE because I would ALWAYS be able to take care of myself.

Moving here was SO HARD. It took ALL of my courage and trust and hope. I don’t feel ready to do this again. I don’t feel ready or strong enough to start again.

And it’s sad. And I miss him and all that we shared. That’s all.