Hold On…Just a Little Longer

It seems like it’s been a lifetime since I last talked to you and in some ways it truly has been. So much in my life has changed and then changed again, so although there are lots of words waiting in the wings, I’m not really sure where to begin with all of it. There is a huge lesson in all of it though and that is, just when you think you cannot bear to deal with even one more thing, one more thing comes along and you fight your way through it. You take one more step toward your belief in yourself being re-established. You take one more step away from the expectations of others. It’s a scary place to be sometimes. Standing far, far outside the relative safety of your comfort zone and all that it entails.

As you take those first tentative baby steps, you find yourself having to hold on through one more mind bending explosion of disbelief. Hold onto all those emotions you’re feeling for just one more minute that turns into one more hour and one more day. Eventually, the days turn into weeks and then months have gone by with no sign of a light at the end of this journey. Your comfort zone is now far removed and you’re no longer sure it ever really was your zone of comfort. Rather it was a place in life where you simply settled because that’s what you thought you were supposed to do. That’s the place you were supposed to be. That’s the place where it was best for all concerned if you just planted yourself and did not budge at all.

I would’ve never thought of running as something I was meant to do, or something I was supposed to do and certainly not something that was implanted in me to do. I’d always despised it before. Somehow though, running became my peace of mind and even that was taken from me and I found myself second guessing its necessity. Until the headaches and insomnia returned in full force. Oh yes my friends! Some people turn to drugs and alcohol or prescription medication to alleviate the stress of life and aid in their sleep cycles. I had been on prescription headache relief and sleep aids for two years before I really got serious with the amount of miles I ran every week. Once my mileage became a nice steady base of 30 miles a week it was like a veil was lifted, the insomnia was there one day and all of a sudden it was just gone. I could sleep! The headaches went away with only a few stragglers who held on…

Hold on for one more month. Do whatever you need to do. Tie a knot in that rope you’re holding onto for dear life and pray that it’s strong enough to keep you safe. Pray that it’s strong enough to keep you from tumbling back down into the hole you’ve spent these months crawling out of. Granted, it was a hole that I helped dig. Every time I turned my back on what I felt was right. Every time I compromised the boundaries I’d established for myself and our family. Every time I allowed someone in my life, an important someone no less, to make me feel as though balancing between my needs and that of the family was a selfish act. Is it selfish to take care of oneself? I say not! Everything that I’ve learned in the last 28 years of parenting has taught me that in order to be the BEST parent I can be I must take care of myself first.

What is it about being a mother that makes it okay for someone to come along and tell you that what you are doing is not enough? You are not enough. You are selfish. You cannot take time away from the “family” to replenish your soul because it’s not right. You cannot spend time with others who are of a like mind because they’re not your family and the entirety of your focus must be on just your family to the exclusion of all else. Oh, and just for good measure, while you’re being repeatedly told that these are all selfish acts, you have to put on this act of perfection for others. Nobody would believe you if you told them that you live with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Once the doors close and any temporary residents depart, the mask comes off, the joker goes away and the coldness arises from the depths. Sounds dramatic I know, but that makes it no less true. Hold on.

Just hold on. That’s what running ultras has taught me. Every mountain eventually tops out and then you are coasting back down again. When your legs tell you that they cannot possibly take another step that they’re too tired, you have to fight that feeling and keep moving. I had to keep moving forward and break out of the set expectations that were before me. Breaking out of those expectations meant breaking vows I’d made to God and that was a big deal to me. When one makes a vow to God you don’t simply break it without a lot of deep reflection and conversations with your God. How could I cleave our family in two and cause a huge disruption in our lives? Many nights of fitful sleep over the course of several years. I asked for guidance and none appeared. I prayed for strength and I received more trials.

On one particular day there was a moment when it all reached a very anti-climactic breaking point and I knew it was over. I prayed for a method to help me begin the process and within days I had my answer. The method was provided. I knew in that moment and every moment since that this action of breaking my vows was acceptable in the eyes of my God. You can call it coincidental or whatever you want to call it. I held on some more. This was just the beginning and it was not going to be without pain. How ironic is it that when you ‘fall in love’ there’s no pain with the butterflies in your belly, but when you find yourself disliking the person you were supposed to love through ‘thick and thin’ there is so much pain you’re not quite sure where it all comes from.

Pain. I learned all about this facet of life from a very early age and every step along my journey has only taught me more information about it. How deeply you can feel pain before it knocks out your other senses. How much pain you can tolerate before you just become numb to it all. Running taught me that pain is really an issue of mind over matter. Put it out of your mind then it no longer matters. Think about something else other than the pain and before you know it – you no longer feel the pain you once felt. This journey through the divorce process was very similar. There were days when I was in so much pain I did not know how I could possibly continue to move forward. I second guessed every single decision made.

Yes. I second guessed the decision. For those of you who know me personally this may come as a shock. Maybe, just maybe, I was overreacting. Maybe the problem was me and my way of thinking. There’s truth there you see. I was growing, branching out into other endeavors of life and felt as though I was not able to breathe or move without asking first for permission. Maybe comfortable was better than this struggle. If I just apologized and agreed with all that he’d wanted me to be, maybe we could save our marriage…..again. There was another side of me though that would not accept this. If our marriage was meant to be saved it would take two people wanting to do so not just one and I’d seen not a single sign from him that he was desirous of saving it.

Again there’s the correlation between running and life. Second guessing yourself and failing to follow through with your plan which then results in failing to accomplish the mission you set out for. I set the course, maintained the course and followed my heart as well as my mind along the way without deviation. It hurt. There were days when the pain was immeasurable. I missed……..wait. WHAT? What did I miss? The relative ease and comfort of knowing exactly what to expect from that particular rollercoaster is what I missed. Going around and around in circles, upside down and feeling as though my insides were being torn out by way of my heart is what I missed? Oh, there were good times too, but often they were simply bandaids to cover the wounds that had sunk in deep like a fish hook.

It’s over now. Finally. I can breathe and now learn what there is to discover about this person I’ve become and am becoming. There will still be pain and there are many more lessons left to learn, but I’m looking forward to the road ahead with our daughters. I’m looking forward to demonstrating for them that when you truly love someone there are sacrifices that need to be made, but they should never be of self belief. Hold on and be strong. Hold your course and love yourself enough to know that there is more to this life than what exists inside this little bubble of a comfort zone. Step outside of it and see the entirety of the world you’ve been looking at through your single, little window.

Life goes on….

Peace

~TLT

 

Advertisements

The Same and yet Different

I’ve been thinking about writing this one for awhile, but life continues to roll on and priorities being what they are, it just hasn’t happened. This evening as I sat here trying to process more new information for work related duties over dinner, the idea once again came back into the forefront of my wee brain, so here we are.

People often look bewildered when I tell them about my love of running and even more so when they find out that I LIKE to run ultra distances. To those of you who read my blog but are not familiar with the term ultra-marathon, it means any distance more than the traditional marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Now, just because I run these distances does not mean that it’s easy for me. It doesn’t mean that the miles do not exact their own price on my body while cleansing my mind and spirit. To the contrary in fact!

I’ve dealt with numerous pretty minor injuries (huge blisters, neuromas, muscle imbalance) along with the normal muscle soreness and the breathlessness that comes from trying to push a particular pace when the conditions dictate that the run should be nice and easy. I’ve been told that I will never medal, never come in first place, never have the physique to run long distances efficiently. Guess what? It hasn’t stopped me! Does it nag at me when people think they know what I should or should not do or tell me that I should just quit running? Sure it does. I’d be lying if I said otherwise. I digress however!

What I really wanted to talk about are the similarities between running long distances and being in ANY long term relationship. You may be asking yourself, where in the world is she going with this? There are no similarities between these two activities! Ah, but I ask you to hang in there with me and I will endeavor to tell you, dear reader, that there are a few ways in which they are alike. They both require a commitment to stick to your guns when the initial passion to do so has long passed you by. They both have these hidden peaks and valleys that are often unseen until you suddenly come upon them, or they upon you. Both of these events require the ability to plan and yet be flexible enough to know when your plan has gone down the tubes and you’ll simply have to fly by the seat of your proverbial pants.

What do you think? Do you see it yet? Some call it discipline and commitment while others say that one must be a bit of a masochist to push your body, over and over again, in order to complete a long distance event. If you have ever been in a long term relationship, and I use the phrase long term rather loosely to mean any relationship that lasts more than a year, you know there is some degree of pain involved. As human beings we tend to be quite self centered at times and with this behavior comes pain, either our own or that of another person. During the initial infatuation phase you are absolutely entranced by all the passion and bliss; perhaps you even make a commitment to stay together “no matter what”. This happens when running long distance as well – I promise you it does!

You sign up for your race of choice, train your body relentlessly to perform at optimal levels and show up the morning of the big day primed and ready. Somewhere between that starting line and the eventual finish (for me this is generally somewhere after the halfway  point) the creeping vines of ugliness and doubt find their way into your now tired body and mind. The infatuation and passion is ebbing, leaving you wondering what in the world you were thinking when you signed up for this fiasco! Now comes the test to see how committed you truly are to finish what you started. Will you struggle through being tired, hungry and perhaps even a bit grumpy in order to reach your goal? Will you be cross and ugly to the people who have been standing by to give you a hand and tell you that you really DO have the strength or will you grit your teeth, smile through the pain and keep on moving through it?

You move through each mile after mile (or milestone after milestone depending on your perspective) and then the path suddenly rises above you like a goliath. In your head you think that although you are able to move easily enough up this hill the first time, you sure hope that your body remains strong enough to climb it again…and again. How many of you have wondered how many times you can possibly have the exact same disagreement (usually of the heated variety) over the exact same issue with your significant other? Is this not like climbing a hill? What about the downhill portion of climbing? The argument is over and peace once more reigns supreme in your life….ahhhh. It’s like cruising downhill! Are you with me? Have you ran down a hill lately my friends? Let me tell you that it’s a freeing experience to feel your legs moving like pistons beneath your hips as the earth drops down and down. I’d say that with the wind in my face and a nice, even descent, it’s probably the closest I’ll come to flying!

Flying…..until you stub your toe on something and you go flying for real to complete the best ever belly flop on dry land! Hah! Were you expecting that? Did you plan to fall flat on your face, bloodying your knees like an eight year old on roller skates? The answer is probably NO but it happens all the time. As is the case in relationships. You’re running along, minding your own business and following your plan for life when all of a sudden something happens out of the blue and BAMMM there goes your perfect plans! Ugh! How many times has that happened? Okay, so now your well structured plan is garbage to be thrown away with the mornings’ coffee grounds. What will you do now? There comes a time when you have to make the choice to keep going the way you are, with bruised and bloodied knees or a broken heart along the same trajectory, or you have to change things up a bit. Flexibility is a valuable trait and not only for gymnasts and dancers apparently. Agreed?

The bottom line is that even big, ugly blisters drain and eventually heal. Bloodied knees and bruised egos also heal – eventually. Does one have to be a bit of a masochistic to run long distance and repeatedly push the envelope to see how far the human body CAN be pushed to the edge without teetering over? I say, that running 30, 50 or 100 miles in a go is not much different than being in a long term relationship. What do you think?

 

Until next time friends

~Peace and blessings

 

Anniversaries

An anniversary is so much more than simply a date on the calendar and when I hear people say that they married their best friend I wonder.

I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very worst and loves you even though it hurts. I wonder how it is that one can be just a best friend to someone who sees you at your very best and loves you beyond life long tests.

I used to be envious of those couples who seem so in love whenever I saw them out and about but then I remembered what goes on behind closed doors is shrouded in clouds.I wonder how someone can love me for who I really am, if even I don’t know who that person is. I wonder how someone can love me through the good and the bad, when sometimes it seems that bad is all there is to be had.

It seems to me that saying one is married to their best friend may be undercutting the height to which love transcends. Marriage must transcend it all through the thick and the thin; through the times of financial struggle and times of ease; through the times of illness and of health. Yet those are only words we speak because when the line is drawn in the proverbial sand, you have to make a choice as to which side of life you will stand.

There are no easy answers and no instructions to follow, whether you are flying high as an eagle or drowning in a pool of sorrow. How will you manage to hold true to your words when they’re left tasting bitter on your lips? Why would you want to leave the person who steadies your emotions with just a hand on your hip?

A decade plus of marriage surely must show you how much you truly do not know this person you have married for better or for worse. Almost two decades of communication between the two surely must indicate that there is so much left to learn. There are choices to be made daily. That’s right I said, there are choices that have to be made – daily. As a wise woman recently said, life is all about choices and when we fail to make a choice that is a choice in itself.

Being married to another person is a study in patience, understanding and stamina to name but a few. When I am out among the trees, I am reminded of the likeness between my love of running and that of marriage.

There are hills to climb and as my friend Doug once told me, you are fighting yourself climbing those hills. Just go with the flow, he said, in his infinite wisdom. Take smaller steps and don’t work so hard. Being married is that way when every step feels like quicksand trying to pull you under to flounder in your misery. Quicken your steps, lighten the load and before you know it you feel as though you are once again floating along effortlessly.

I ask God to help me bite my tongue and guide my words daily. You see, some degree of faith in a power greater than me is necessary to trudge my way through when times are tough and the going is slow. There are things in this world I believe that only He knows. We make the plans but he sets the path and once again this is similar to running a race. We make plans to complete this race or that. We follow our plans and aim for a successful conclusion but sometimes there are lessons to be learned in the falling down and failing.

Anniversary is but a simple word that really means so much more….