I can’t tell you what it was that made me leave that night. Nothing abnormal happened. I was making dinner––honey mustard chicken, his favorite––when he strolled into the kitchen. He opened the fridge door and looked inside. A few seconds later, it slammed shut so hard, the fridge shook. He was in my face before I could take another breath. The yelling began. He wasn’t pleased with the way I’d wrapped the leftovers from lunch. His face was red, his eyes were fireballs, his mouth was twisted. I’d seen it so many times before. And, after too many years together, I knew what was coming.
Yet, for a reason I still don’t understand, a deep calm penetrated my soul. I remember I stared at him and whispered, “I’m leaving you.”
He didn’t take the news well.
After a scene upstairs, he said he was taking something from the car’s engine so I couldn’t go, and stormed downstairs. Banging and crashing sounds echoed through the floorboards. I knew the lower level would soon match the destruction he’d left around me.
My heart pounded. How could I get away if I had no car? At night? The neighbors wouldn’t help, as usual. I began to panic. If I was still there when he came back upstairs, I knew the situation would get worse.
Again, I can’t really explain what happened next.
I felt the same deep calm I’d experienced in the kitchen . . . then something inside me yelled, “Run!”
I grabbed a bag, stuffed the bare essentials inside and crept toward the front door.
Outside, the night sky seemed blacker than usual. I couldn’t see well even with the street lamps lighting the way. The noises made by the wind made me think I was being chased.
That was the night I learned to run.
And I didn’t stop there. I ran, figuratively speaking, from every other man that came into my life, especially if commitment or intimacy seemed probable. Most didn’t make it past the first date. None made it to the third. I became reconciled to the idea that I’d be single forever.
Three years passed that way. Then, one of my sisters arranged a blind date for me. I agreed, thinking I would give dating one last try and be done with it. His name was John. It took about half an hour before I noticed something different about him. I liked him. Really liked him. He asked me out again. And again. He made it past the third date. It was official. We were ‘dating’. Friends started making jokes about love and marriage.
That’s when it all went wrong.
After another fantastic date, the reality of commitment closed in on me. My lungs squeezed the air from my chest, my heart raced and my mind spat ‘what-if’s’ at me so fast I couldn’t think. I had a full blown panic attack.
Of course, I reacted the only way I knew how: I ran . . . straight to one of my sister’s.
After making me a chamomile tea and letting me freak out, she asked, “And how is he different from (ex’s name)?”
That question made me stop. The more I talked with her, the clearer I saw things. My sister asked me to give John one more chance before I made a decision about calling things off. I’m so glad I listened to her.
Less than three months later, we were at a lighthouse overlooking the sea. The weather was perfect: no clouds, soft breeze and bright sun. He popped onto one knee and proposed, with strangers smiling and looking on. I said, “Yes,” without hesitation.
That was the day I stopped running.
And I haven’t since. Turns out, it was easier than I’d expected.
About A.K. Leigh
A.K. Leigh is an international-selling romance author, identical triplet, writing instructor, incurable romantic, love guru, self-love advocate, amateur mystic, mother, sometimes blogger and vlogger, and trauma survivor.