I used to walk.
It started when I was in high school. I had to get out of my house. Walking around the block, and then around the neighborhood, seemed like a much more acceptable practice than actually running away. We were, see, an upstanding family in a working class town in northeastern Oklahoma, so running away would cause embarrassment. And I was positive I would fail at running away. And I was positive no one would understand, especially my parents why I would run away. Even though I had dozens of recurring dreams of running away. I knew I never would do it.
I did, however, run off to college. My mother was offended that I had a “Days Until I Left for OU” countdown posted on the refrigerator. My mother was offended that I was serious when I said, I’ll see you at Thanksgiving. My mother was offended that I knew she couldn’t control me.
In that six years at OU, I walked almost daily around the campus, listening to music that inspired me to be free of lies. I walked to be free. To this day, my mother believes that I was miserable my entire six years there, because she had nothing to do with my stay.
And then I came back home, to their house, after graduation. They talked me into it. It was not to make me happy, but it was to make them feel better about themselves. I was physically present in their lives, so they had the appearance of happiness. But they rarely spoke to me and they cared nothing for my life. Unless it was to tell me how I disappoint them. Unless it was to tell me how to be more presentable.
I threatened to run away, and I could have then, I was 24. My mother even said, if you hate it here, leave. If I had any money, I would have, right then. But I was afraid of running.
Then I met someone online. He lived on the East Coast. And after making him my friend, and then making my future, I ran with him, with their blessing, to his Big City. This running away was the most courageous thing I had ever done. My dream came true.
In this city, for the last sixteen years, I’ve walked. I walked to get exercise, walked to clear my head, walked with music that I might be free of lies.
And while my body is here, my mind walks back to the lies. I am still burdened by them. Time and distance doesn’t shake the lies off. When I walk, I am not victorious. I am still, at times, that distraught high school girl who believes what she is told: that she is fat, that she is ugly, that she is not worth it, that she only wants attention, that her choices, preferences, talents, desires, accomplishments and now her new family are not deserving of their attention.
But I am tired of losing this battle. I am tired of being a victim. I am tired of walking.
It’s time to run.
It’s time to cut emotional ties. It’s time to aggressively defeat the lies.
It’s time to say NO MORE!
I run because I have always been told I can’t.
I run because, despite what I have been told, I am powerful and smart and amazing.
I run because I don’t want them to catch me.
I run because I’m furious that it took me 43 years to figure out that the problem was them, not me.
I run because my heart breaks as I understand that their childhoods were full of the same abuse and they don’t have the courage or the will to do anything about it.
I run because I want my kids to see me win, not be a victim.
I run because this is a battle that I can’t afford to lose.
I run because running is not walking.
I run because when I run, I am free.
Katharine Grubb is a hopeful novelist, homeschool mama, bread baker and crafter who really didn’t have time in her day to do one more thing, but somehow, because she’s a runner, she got more awesome in everything. She blogs at www.10minutewriter.com and lives with her husband and five children in Boston, MA. Find her on twitter, too!