Saturday, April 28, 2012
Running With (Not Away From) Life
Today I am heading over to one of the local colleges to participate in my first 5K Fun Run/Walk.
Now, most of my friends will tell you I can walk 5K with no problem. In fact, some mornings I go out and walk that on a regular day. So what makes this event special?
Well, when I signed up for it last fall, I was still aching with pain from HOB's decision to end our marriage. I sat in my office at work, feeling weak and overwhelmed.
At that time, I was not even sure I could make it to my car at the end of the day, let alone around a 5K route. After thirty years of being with the same person, living the same kind of lifestyle, I couldn't fathom my future.
I was depressed, confused and full of self-doubt.
When the invitation to to participate in this event came, I stared at that date, April 28th and wondered what my life would be like then. It would be in the spring, I thought. Renewal. A fresh start. Sounded good. It took effort and a sort of forced faith in the future, but I put my name on the application. It felt good to put a pin on a date in the future. I would use it as a benchmark.
Walking has always been a big part of my life, and I turned to it for my recovery. That was fine but some days when I was walking, I would be absolutely overwhelmed with anxiety.
Then, I would start running. It was not a healthy kind of running. It was a lunging, gasping, madly determined kind of running. It was clear I was running as fast as I could to get away from all of the thoughts that invaded my brain.
As I ran, I literally I shook my hands to get all of the mire and pain that I felt hung on my very being. I ran faster and harder than I ever have in my life. Looking back, I can see it sometimes gave me momentary relief, but overall, it didn't feel good. It just felt desperate.
Soon, my body decided it had had enough. It went into revolt. My feet were the major messengers. Through extremely painful achilles tendentious and other serious foot problems, I was finally hobbled, sidelined, forced to listen to the quiet inner voices that had been trying to get through.
Deal with what you have to deal with.
You can't outrun this.
You have to sit, center yourself, work through all the emotions, all the pain.
Believe me, I resisted. I tried running again. Nope, my body said. No way. So, I did what the inner voices urged me to do. I slowed down. I stopped. I had to. I had no choice. I got into therapy. I faced my fears, my demons, my shortcomings, even my role in the disintegration of our marriage. Exhausting? Yes. Painful? Yes. Debilitating? At times, yes.
But I got stronger.
As soon as my feet got better, I slowly got back into walking. Then one day, there was an extra kick in my step. I felt especially light and spontaneously went into an easy jog. It felt great. I stopped after about a block, walked anther half mile or so and then ran a little ways more. Over the weeks, I built up little by little.
Now, I would not claim the title of runner but more often than not, I run at some point in one of my walks. The difference in the way it feels now, compared to the way it felt back then is amazing.
Then, I was running away from turmoil, trying to escape the mental and spiritual work that needed to be done. It felt heavy, desperate and depleting.
When I run now, I am filled with a lightness, an energy, an appreciation of my body and the way it carries me through this life.
So, April 28th has arrived--that date I looked at on that flier all those months ago. I wondered what my life would be like and now I know. It's good. It's very good.
So today, I'll join a whole group of people on that starting line and run as much of the route as I can, walking when I need to, and enjoying every single minute of the journey.
After all, I am no longer running away from life.
I'm running with it.