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….