Making strides.

Twenty-five days ago I quit drinking, and most people told me to start AA meetings or sign up for therapy. I started running instead.

I am not an athletic person whatsoever. I don’t work out and I’ve never trained for anything. Even as a child, I never participated in sports. I couldn’t even tell you how most of them are played. The 3-block walk to the grocery store to pick up potato chips for my Netflix marathon is usually plenty of activity in my book. That said, starting this running regimen has been kind of a big deal for me.

I suppose before I started the C25K program I had a romantic idea in my mind of what I thought running was like. The expectation was that I would leisurely jog down tranquil beaches in cute exercise clothing while sporting killer abs and hardly breaking a sweat, just like the girls in pictures. The reality is that I would drag my 20000lb, heavier-than-stone, aching body through the grass for fear of breaking my shins on the concrete, in the grubbiest clothing that I own because they will be so nasty that I will want to burn them in the fires of Sauron when I’m finished, all while praying nobody noticed my fat jiggling to the tune of “Get your freak on” on my Ipod.


Running is hard.


I know, I know. You’re probably thinking: You fool! You should go to AA. That seems to be the common thought among society. I did try a couple meetings, but sitting in a moldy church basement with a bunch of strangers and listening to someone’s struggle that was brought on from their dead cat simply isn’t therapeutic for me. Don’t get me wrong, I can see why a lot of people like the program. There is that sense of community when everyone greets you, listens to your woes and shakes your hand at the end. You even get coins, and who doesn’t like prizes?!  Well, this loner could do without.

The road is a fairly good listener and I get to tell my tale to the most important audience: myself. On my first run, I noticed right away the amount of positive self-talk involved to get through a session. It sounds really cheesy, but telling myself, “Don’t stop- you can do this!” has done wonders not only for my running but my self confidence.

You can get through this.

This pain is temporary.

You are strong.

These are all things that I think on my runs and I’m now starting to apply those same thoughts when I have other challenges in my life. As a drinker, I was only familiar with negative self talk and sabotaging myself into not doing anything that could result in failure. The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.

I’m not sure how long I will have to train before I can consider myself a “real” runner. Right now, I am on week 4 of the C25K program and I find it quite challenging. Sometimes in the middle of a jog interval I have asked myself, “Is this really jogging or am I just hop-walking?” but finishing is all that matters so I keep going. I never regret a run. Even if my energy sucked and I come home feeling like I totally sucked, at least I tried.

The saying goes that you have to get through hell to reach heaven. Like all things worth pursuing, you are going to get knocked down, stepped on, and rejected along the way.  Maybe this is part of the journey to get to my goals. Sometimes it’s more about the journey than the destination, anyway.

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Obligatory photo of my running shoes and heart rate monitor.

Independence Day, literally.

For two days I have tried to write this entry. I have written paragraphs, only to dissect them and ultimately delete them. Each effort began on a different tone or at a different scene, but the result was always the same: darkness. My mind is like a black, empty void that is scrambling to give description to 14 years of repressed grief.


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy


 

Independence Day, 2002 took a very literal meaning for me when my mother, who was terminally ill with breast Cancer that metastasized to her bone and brain, passed away in the hospital. She was 48.

It wasn’t sudden. My mother fought for 6 years with Cancer and never really went into remission. We were constantly told that she would die, as if she had some expiration date stamped on her arm. My bed-ridden mother was the reality for so long that I guess I perceived it as normal. I didn’t believe that she would die, or at least told myself that I still had plenty of time. Time to talk to her and hear her old stories. Time to play games. Time to drop the teenage attitude and be a better daughter.

There wasn’t enough time.

I don’t remember my mother before she died, with her bald head from too many rounds of chemo or her heart surgery scar. I remember the version of her as she was when I was a small child. I remember her boy haircut, and her big plastic glasses. I remember her red lipstick and her puffy purple coat. I remember how she was the director of Camp Fire boys and girls, and I know now that it’s because she wanted nothing more in her life than to be with her two daughter’s and their friends every day. I remember her borrowing money just to put food on the table. We didn’t usually have much but my mother put us first.

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My mother, cooking in the kitchen, how I remember her.

My mother didn’t make it to my High School graduation. The birth of my first child. My wedding. My divorce! Mother’s Day comes and goes and I’m not sure whether to mourn or celebrate because I am a mother without one. Time goes on but the scars are permanent.

I was left to spend my days with my alcoholic father, who joined her in 2010. I remember so many nights, laying in bed and asking the darkness, why?  My mother’s passing brought my father and I together. So, if there can be any ‘why’, it was that. Nothing helps you understand the fleeting beauty of life more than death. Nothing helps you understand what is important in life more than death. The people in our lives are the most important. The connection, the bond, the stories, and the memories that we share.

The people that you call family, whoever they may be, are your greatest gifts in life. Forget the arguments, the drama, the fights, the blame or the wrongdoings. Grab hold of them. Don’t learn about life from loss.