Wednesday, July 3, 2013

How Does A Three-Year Old Run Away?

Wednesday July 3, 2013

Today, as the whirl of daily events came and went, I found myself able to articulate in words a feeling I had when I was about three years old...yes, three years old.  I must admit to feeling disoriented and stunned much of the time as thoughts and feelings from my youngest years of life come erupting into my conscious awareness.  The most blindsiding thought I had was the following: "I wanted to run away from home when I was three years old."

When I was first able to express this long ago feeling in the form of words some thirty-seven years later I was shocked by the content.  Did I really want to run away from home when I was three years old?  I posed the question back to myself more than once.  And each time the answer was the same.  Yes I had wanted to run away from home.

How does a three year old run away from home?  He doesn't.  That is the bottom line.  Show me a three year old so developmentally advanced that he could actually successfully negotiate something as daring as fleeing his own anxiety riddled home environment AND find better circumstances where he could thrive.  Do such miniature Hercules children actually exist?  If such amazing occurrences have actually happened over the centuries I must imagine they are extremely rare.  At the age of three years, no matter how chaotic and stressful the home environment, most children will likely opt for it over the vast Unknown behind the boundaries of their own home.  Home life may prove terrifying but at least it is a KNOWN quantity.

A particular incident from my childhood has been present in my consciousness today.  And I believe it must have happened about the time I was three years old.  My parents' marriage was already in serious trouble; any objective person looking inside from the outside would probably have concluded it would not be able to hold together permanently.  My father and I were eating at a burger restaurant.  As I recall it my parents were already nearly estranged from one another.  My mother somehow tracked us down and confronted my father in the restaurant.  And so there I was, a very, very small child in a public setting witnessing my mother fly into a rage and my father experience shock and overwhelm in response.  And then I had to flee to my father's car for safety.  And today, all these years later, as that event played through my mind, I finally, FINALLY, THIRTY SEVEN YEARS LATER, was able to retrieve a thought I had had that night, namely the thought of wanting to run away.

It is painful to invite all the pain within me that I have been unconscious of to finally come to the surface so I can purge it.  But going back is simply not an option.  To ignore the pain is to permanently freeze myself at a developmental stage not befitting an adult of my age and experience.

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