How The Killers Kept Me from Running Away

Whenever it came down to fight-flight reactions, I would invariably go for the flight. Maybe because I lacked the power or the selfconfidence for the other option. Or maybe because my early intents at fighting back were slain down with force by people much stronger than myself at that time, so I had never developed the skill.

Anyway, that´s how I lived through my twenties: continuously on the run. I would endure a situation for as long as I could, and then I´d pack my things and leave. The old second-hand Volvo 850 I drove in those days proved to be my most loyal companion. It was a station wagon, and I could fit just about all my belongings in the trunk: my grandma´s armchair, two cardboard boxes with clothes, three more boxes with books, a few pairs of shoes, an old computer. In whatever house, job, or relationship I tried to settle (and I was desperate for a home), things would sooner or later become difficult or turn downright ugly, and I´d see myself forced to pack up my stuff again, and leave.

Then I found the man of my dreams, and took that giant leap of faith. I moved to Spain and we moved in together. For a few years everything went great: we moved to a bigger apartment, we got married, I had a baby. And then things started getting really rough. I sank into a postnatal depression, but that was okay -I´d had depressions before, I knew their dark faces, I knew I could deal with them one way or another.

But the chronic sleepdeprivation: now that was a totally new and excruciating experience. I cannot describe what it´s like to be woken up every three to four hours for almost 3 years in a row. And it wasn´t just the baby keeping us awake. It was also the bad housing, the loud neighbours, their incessantly barking dogs, cars honking at three in the morning. Wherever we moved, other noises would show up. I wasn´t just at the end of my tether, I had bruised and bloodstained tethermarks carved deeply into the skin of my neck. On top of all that I was taking care of an infant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I couldn´t go on, but I did it anyway, because I had no other option.

It is also far from easy to keep a relationship alive under such circumstances. No matter how much you love each other, no matter how dreamy your wedding was, no matter how much effort you both put into working out different opinions about how to raise a baby and organise a household: sooner or later the stress and chronic lack of sleep will bring you to a point of resentment.

So of course I wanted to run away again. I dreamed of packing my suitcase and leaving. A recurrent daydream was one where I´d drive to the airport and get onto a plane to Scandinavia (which in my mind was the coolest, quietest place within reach). I´d see myself settling into a little apartment with white floorboards and high windows, on the other side of which snowflakes would be silently whirling their way down.

Then my husband got me the new Killers album. He put the CD on in the car, and as soon as I heard the second track, Runaways, tears started streaming down my face. It´s not that the lyrics were perfectly applicable to my situation or anything, but there was something in that song that resonated with the feeling of sad frustration within me, loosening it up and untying the thick knot it had been woven into.

Every time I heard that song, I´d sit there crying. Pure catharsis.

End of the story? I stayed and I fought. I fought my husband, my baby, myself. I fought migraines and panic attacks. I fought the health care system until I got a doctor who wouldn´t dismiss my problems and a neurologist who would actually listen. I fought until we got an apartment with one bedroom that was relatively quiet at night. I fought for my right to keep away from certain people and I fought to get closer to others.

That´s how I learned how to fight. With the help of an album called Battle Born.

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