Wednesday, August 19, 2015
I was running in the woods the other day and I fell. Hard. The kids are away for the week visiting their grandparents, all summer I've been waiting for this part of August to get here: visiting time, next week back to school time, back to regular running time.
I have been running for about ten years now. I started after my oldest was born- he was born in December and we would bundle up and go on these epic walks that just naturally evolved into runs. I would push him in his stroller and feel so tough and so proud of myself: look what I could do! I ran desperately hungover, exhausted, rested, feeling fine, in the rain- it was my one thing I hung on to. If I could run I was OK. If I could run I wasn't an alcoholic, or a bad wife, or a bad mother.
When I got sober at the end of 2012 one thing I was really looking forward to was being able to run not hungover. Then the reality of being newly sober set in and it was all I could do some days to just get through the day much less get out for a run. Four months in I did a trail run that I shouldn't have done but did anyway and ended up with a nasty case plantar fasciitis that took me over a year to recuperate from.
I had other things I needed to concentrate on anyway- like learning to breathe and not drink and be in the world. Then when I tried to run I wasn't very good at it anymore. I used to be able to run ten miles and now I couldn't run one. So I gave up trying. I saw people out running and just wished I could be like them. "Oh, I wish I could be a runner again," I would think wistfully in my head, "That used to be me."
Now, this year, 2015, I am finally running again. I think it took me a long time to sort myself out enough to be able to give in to something again. To trust myself to not make it disappearing but a therapy: a part of my practice. To give it what it really is: a run. To not make it into something that saves me but something that soothes me. I don't need it to be crutch, I need it to be a thing that fills my soul but also a purely physical thing that reminds me of how beautifully my body works- and it does.
It does because I finally got patient enough to practice. I finally pushed my damn ego out of the way and started going out for walks. I would dress in my running gear and stick in my headphones and go out for a walk and it wasn't long before I was running a little bit. I remember running and feeling like I was flying and looking down at my GPS watch thing thinking I was just as fast as before and seeing that I was running four minutes a mile slower than I used to. Four minutes!
So I laughed and kept going. Because, really, fuck it. It wasn't important how fast I was going- the important part was that I was out there running- even when I was walking. Practicing.
I'm up to three miles now. I can run without stopping for three miles. I go run to the woods and I jam out to music and run fast and run slow and hug my tree and find bits for my altar. I cry and pray and laugh and dance and feel real-er than I've felt in a long damn time.
If you'd told me at the end of summer last year that I'd be running again this year I would have never ever believed you. I was waiting to see the neurologist. I was weak, tired all the time. Stressed. I was sober but I wasn't paying attention to the next things. Finally after I saw the neurologist in December and a clear CAT scan showed I wasn't suffering from a big honking brain tumor or dying I could let it go- I could not be afraid and go run. I could have more tests. I could face what was coming, or what wasn't. I could stop being paused and start again.
It's funny, the stories we tell ourselves. How things happen at just the right time: I shake my head at how things have lined up and played out over these last couple of years. I look back at last year at this time and then this year and I'm amazed at how much I've grown and changed. I think about how last year I wanted and planted a garden but didn't tend it and this year I only planted tomatoes and they're big and all over the place and they take some time but not all the time. How last year I wanted to say things like "I'm training for a half marathon" but wouldn't even go out for a walk. How next fall I want to do my favorite ten mile trail run again but how this fall three miles feels like a miracle.
When I told my mom that I fell running in the woods the other day she said I should think about not running in the woods anymore. That maybe it was time to just stick to safer paths. What if I fell again? But I can't listen to her story about me, I have to tell my own. It's taken me a long time to be brave enough to say that.
I used to feel so frustrated that I couldn't ever reach the end- that I never seemed to be "cured" or "well" or "recovered". That I wasn't happy all the time, and zen. That I wasn't doing it right since I have sad days, or mad days, or days when I just can't be the woman I want to be despite all my best intentions. But that's the it of it: the story just goes on and on. I am the woman I want to be in spite of my intentions. Every day is just practice: and every day is the big show- the show is the practice.
So the other day I was running- welled up, full of delight- running as fast as I used to. I forgot to pay attention to the rocks, to the roots, to that voice in my head that tells me I look stupid, or that I'm tired. I flat out forgot to be and just ran. I don't know what I tripped over, and it doesn't really matter. All I know is that one minute I was flying and then next I was on the ground. In ten years of running I have never ever fallen even though I spent most of my life falling down.
I breathed and laughed a little and thought I might should cry but the dog looked too confused for me to make her feel worse. I wanted to be so mad: here, out on my first day of my new running schedule, I'd fallen and fucked it up. Instead I did what life is really meant to be: practice getting up, practice dealing with what happens- whether it's a root or a rock, a day or a year, a recovery, or a skinned knee.
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
I had a big important to me meeting today. On the way home I started thinking about the threads that make up my life: how I sort of launch them like I imagine a spider flings a string of web and how some catch and some fall.
Four years ago I was supposed to do yoga teacher training. I was in fantastic physical shape, awful in my head shape. Six weeks before the training was supposed to start I developed an umbilical hernia and had to drop out. I was so sad about this: I'd been waiting for us to have the money and the time for me to do it and then finally been brave enough and waited enough that I was all signed up and then blammo. No dice.
Of course, now I am so grateful that it happened just the way it happened- life has this way of dropping and tying those strings so they actually make sense. That string has been out there waving around, waiting to get caught- and now it has! My class starts in January.
That made me think about all my other strings too: about how strings aren't really in a big fat hurry most of the time. How they just wave about in the breeze, waiting. I thought about my please let me be sober string that I cast out there time and time again only to discover I'd forgotten to put on the bait. Or I was flinging that string in the wrong direction and could only catch more drinks. Or that I had too many afraid strings out there and not a one was secure enough to grab me a handhold and a help up.
I think about the tightrope of it all: how to make it life there has to be balance and care. How I can't rampage out into the world and expect any of my strings to make it across, and how if I wear out the same old string that wears it out, and how keeping all my strings to myself keeps me stuck at the ledge.
All of the patience it has taken, all the waiting to see this through: all these four years I waited. I got sober in that time! I found myself again. I learned to wait and see. It makes me know that the time things take could be the most valuable thing of all.
We live in such an instant world. We are taught to zip and hurtle ourselves through life and to be impatient and frustrated when things take time. Sobriety has taught me that strings take time. That I am OK just as I am. That me being the best me I am isn't something that should happen soon- it is already who I am today, this minute, right now. That the dreams I put out there into the world will come true.
One reason I could never stay sober is because I thought if I wasn't over it by day three it probably wasn't working. I always thought I wasn't doing it right and always said fuck it and tossed my string down in disgust. Two and a half years in I want to always have the mind of a beginner: fresh and open. Awkward, full of questions. Full of hope.
If you aren't drinking you are doing it right. Period. There are great and awful and in-between days and they are all you being awesome at sobriety if you aren't drinking alcohol. Some days that's just what it takes. Tie a string around your finger to remind yourself that you're sober. Let that string remind you of all the dreams you have out there looking for a place to land. String together days and then years of this then when you step back and look you see a woven well lived life. Rejoice in the time it takes to get here: be grateful for the string of things.