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.