Running Scared, learning to sit still with fear

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“Within you there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
Hermann Hesse (Photo by S. Kim Henson)

Our son sent the text around 3 in the morning that his dog Maggie was missing. I called him within minutes so we could cry together.

He had no idea how she got out of the backyard fence, but figured she ran scared because of July 4th fireworks.

I tossed in bed most of the night thinking about how lonely he must feel without his best friend, and about Maggie wandering big city streets, lost and frightened.

I knew how she felt.

I ran scared for years, although I’m not sure what I was running from, where I was going, or why I thought ‘over there’ was safer than my own backyard. I did busy work on my job and at church so I didn’t have to feel the fear. I ran to the refrigerator when I was home. Eating took the place of feeling anxious.

The rest of the time, I ran in circles. I couldn’t fold a dryer full of clothes without running from the pile at least once. A room never got cleaned in one fell swoop, but more like ten, and only because I happened to have a cloth in my hand when I was doing laps.

Undone projects spotted every room because I was too nervous to stay in one place for long.

The home we lived in the longest was arranged (not on purpose) so I could literally run in circles from bedroom to bedroom to living area to kitchen, and back around through a bathroom to start over.

I exhausted myself running scared, until the day I melted down in our bathroom.

I put the toilet seat down, sat in the darkness and bawled my eyes out.

The bathroom scene brought to focus that running scared intensifies my fear. Sitting still has the opposite effect.

Have you ever felt the kind of fear that sends you running scared; all the while you’d be safer if you’d stay put?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Running scared perpetuates fear. Sitting still fosters calmness. Our challenge is to sit still long enough to calm down.

On the side: While we panicked for 19 hours, Maggie was playing at a nearby house with the neighbor’s dog. Our son said, “Unbelievable. I’m having the worst day of my life and Maggie’s having a party.”

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9 responses »

  1. Great post Kim! Will you consider sending this to my friend whose writing a devo. book on dogs? Also- thanks for letting us know the rest of the story. I think there’s a lesson in that too!

    • Andy, what a compliment. I’d love to submit Maggie’s story to a devotional book about dogs. And I’d be happy to rewrite it if it needs tweaking here and there. Our kids and animals come with lots of lessons and no instruction manuals. What’s that about? : )

  2. So timely, as I’m enjoying the antics of my daughter’s new puppy — it’s party all the time for Jo!
    And yes, I’ve run scared — I ran from the truth for so long, thinking life wouldn’t make sense. (You know, sometimes you can’t “pretty up” truth. It is what it is, but it isn’t pretty.)
    But when I finally stopped and accepted the truth — and the pain — well, then I could start healing.
    And, yes, that’s worth celebrating too.

    • Beth, I thought about you when I posted. Our daughter and her husband found Maggie on the side of the road in january. She had a chip, but her owners didn’t want her back. We talked our son into taking her since Kelly and Ryan already have two rescues. He said he didn’t want the responsibility, but funny how that changed when he met her.

      You’re right, It is sometimes difficult to come to terms with life. If running was an option, I may have kept it up. But it stopped working and man, oh, man was I miserable carrying around the past. Healing is worth it, but until I slowed down, I didn’t know. Sounds like you understand.

      I’m grateful to be traveling with you and others on a journey through happier times.

      Thanks for stopping by to comment. Enjoy Jo. She is a cutie!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Beth. I’m building some steam with my blog, thanks to our conversation on the way to Wilmington and back. I’m keeping up with yours as well.

  3. New follower here. Nice to meet you =) Found you through Coleen Patrick’s blog. Great post. I love the Hermann Hesse quote. And so glad to hear that your son’s dog is safe and sound and back home.

    • Nice to meet you too, Ruth. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I just found Coleen today, through Beth Vogt’s FB page. We’ve got a chain reaction going on here. Happy Maggie is back safe and sound. She visited this weekend and says she’s happy to be home also. : )

  4. Pingback: What If I Fail? | S. Kim Henson ~ Getting Your Own Life while Loving the People in It.

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