Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Practice



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.


10 comments:

  1. I'm glad you are back on the road, or path, or where ever in the heck you feel like running lol. It is such a good release. I love the feel of my feet moving down the road. The little bit of quiet time to myself is invaluable :) It's crazy how something that used to feel so hard, begins to feel like flying.

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    1. That's it too- it's the one time I'm really by myself- I need that time whether flying or falling :)

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  2. Awesome post Amy. I have always wanted to be a runner but I'm not even a walker at the moment. My body is in constant pain and it's just too hard. But I know I should just get out and walk and I will feel better. It must feel wonderful to be running again. Well done. A x

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    1. It's all the little things that add up to big ones. I'm reading a book called "Meditations from the Mat" (it's a daily meditation book) and the one I read today talked about renunciation- how we hold on to our old stories until we're ready to let them go- or push them out the door! Start small: take a short walk one day a week- is that possible? xxxooo

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    2. It is possible. I just have to find the motivation to get out the door. I know I will feel so much better when I do it. I might try and find the book you mentioned, it sounds good. Thanks Amy. A x

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  3. Oh I love this! Im sharing it on FB, I love it that much. In 2012, right about the time you were changing your life, I decided to meet with a personal trainer for the first time ever in my life and deal with my own drug of choice... food. I cried everytime I thought about it, I cried the first few times I met with her.....and then I lost 50lbs and then I was climbing mountains. I loved it. But I didn't tend it. I couldn't do it ALL, so now I have gained 40lbs back and Im not even walking anymore. But I am about to have my schedule open up 3 days a week that will just be open days....and my first thought is that I want to get back in shape and start climbing mountains again. Your post is exactly what I needed to read. I LOVED it!! I had just changed my picture on FB to my biggest conquest of a climb, to inspire me. Thank you thank you thank you for writing. I hope your knee feels better. <3

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    1. Annette! I love you! Thank you so much for your kind words and also for getting back to climbing mountains. My knee is thankfully not messed up at all- just a big scab. Change your picture to the smallest conquest to inspire you- sometimes I think our inspirations intimidate us even though they're meant to inspire us. So think about a small mountain you can climb regularly rather than a big one. The big one will show up when you're ready :) xxxooo

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  4. Congratulations for finding a new and healthy hobby to make yourself believe that you can live past alcohol. We need to step out of our comfort zone, so that we can see other ways to engage the world and thrive in it. I must say, running is a great head start. I hope you continue to go the distance. Good day!

    Sabra Hoffmann @ Stark Behavioral Health

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