The Elusive Other Shoe

Things have been good lately.  Really good.

Yes. I’m still annoyed by my job.  Yes.  My kiddos drive me insane.  Yes.  There is never enough time, or money, or resources, or sleep.

But yet, things have been good.

We took all three kiddos on a walk around the neighborhood today.  The boys ran ahead playing Pokemon Go and chatting with a neighbor friend who turns out to be in Ollie’s class at school.  Charlie toddled. And fell.  And begged to be picked up.  And begged to be put down. We, as the grownups, meandered slowly, relishing in the fact that we live in a neighborhood where it’s ok that the kids run ahead of us and Charlie walks in the middle of the road.

There was an instant that I realized this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time.  Not days, not months. Years. Probably 5 years if you want to put a number on it. And it was the most amazing feeling.  Nothing extraordinary was happening at that moment or today, and yet, pure bliss.

And then after the bliss comes worry.  Because this kind of happiness doesn’t stay.  At least not for me.  I’m half enjoying the bliss and half waiting for the other shoe to drop.  That elusive shoe that’s always hanging in the background waiting.  Waiting to swoop and and remind you that you’re fallible.  That life is full of ups AND downs.  To bring chaos to the stillness happening around you right now.

So we enjoy the happiness, but on our tiptoes.  Scared to make too much noise.  Scared to make any sudden movements.  Because, as much as we want to believe that this kind of happiness, true and unadulterated happiness, is here to stay, we know that darkness is hiding in the shadows.

So we sit and wait until we hear it…the sound of that shoe hitting the ground.

And then we brace our selves.

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Lost and Found

I seem to have lost myself.  And my will.  And my motivation.  And I can’t seem to find any of them.

I think back to last summer.  Training for the NYC marathon.  Running almost every day, even in the heat. 50 pounds lighter than I am now (the shame).  Happier kids.  Happier life.  Happier marriage.  I sit here and I wonder…what the fuck happened?

When I think about it, I tend to place the blame on other people and situations.  This person came into my life.  This person left.  Work became harder.  A third baby was added.  Time and money were short, as were tempers and understanding.  All of this things can take the blame for my unhappiness, the lack of motivation, the weigh gain, the drinking gain, the indiscretions.

And none of that blame is actually working to fix the problem.  It’s making me a victim.  And I hate being the victim.

Maybe, instead of placing the blame and over analyzing the past year I can suck it up and move on.  Who cares how I got to this place?  Does it really even matter?  The point is, I’m here.  And I need to find my way out.  I know no one can do this for me.  I have to find my way on my own.  But it’s HARD.

I can say, things seem to be headed in the right direction and my support system, though smaller by a few people, is incredibly mighty.  I’m learning to ask for help.  I’m learning to accept help when it’s offered.  Homelife is becoming more concrete, and sound, and loving.

And now to work on the rest.

I’m not used to baby steps.  I’m not used to slow progress.  I’m not  patient person.  When I want something, I want it now.  But with that, my life seems to be a bunch of random “One step forward, two steps back” mishaps.  So maybe now, I go slow.  Take each day and change at a snails pace. Work to strengthen everything instead of just fixing is for a minute.

Maybe going slow isn’t so bad.  Maybe it’s just what need to find where I’m hiding.

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I’m not me. But I will be soon.

I started the post awhile ago and then stopped.  There are so many truths within it that I just didn’t know if I was willing to face them.  By admitting these things, I feel like my life course, my life as I know it, essentially all that I am, will be different.  And I’m literally writing this after I had a mental breakdown on the side of the road at 5:30 in the morning.

I started running when my dad died.  Ok.  That’s not entirely accurate, but that’s the truth that I tend to tell people because it seems more acceptable than the real story.  More acceptable and less ugly. But really, what have I got to lose at this point?  Nothing.  They say the truth will set you free.  Well, maybe that’s just what I need.  Freedom from who I think I am so I can become the real me.

After my dad died I fell apart.  Which was odd to me because we hadn’t spoken in 5 years.  But I had often seen myself in him.  He was angry a lot and tended to push those who were closest to him away.  As I watched him die sick and alone I worried that this is what my life was destined for.  And I tried to run away from everything.  During that time I got caught up in a relationship that I shouldn’t have.  I thought it was healing me when in reality it was slowly dismantling me.  When it ended, leaving me heartbroken and empty, I had no idea how to handle two losses in such a short amount of time.  So I went for a run.  And it truly saved me. I had found something that could put me back together, slowly and piece by piece.

And it worked…for a time.

I loved being able to say I was a runner.  It helped me feel accomplished, like I could do anything.  It made me feel more confident and pretty bad ass. But it also gave me an escape from my life, the escape I thought I had needed before; a way to “run away” so to speak.  In reality, it didn’t save me from myself.  It simply gave me the outlet to gloss over my problems; to bury them deep down and save them for another day.

Cut to me crying on the side of the road because I couldn’t run.  I have so much going on in my life that I had begun to use running as that escape again.  Now I have an injury and can’t run.  What am I supposed to do?  Without the running, I’m actually going to have to face the demons in my life.  I’m actually going to have to figure out what’s wrong and get to the root of my problems.

And I don’t know if I can do that.  I’ve been putting them in the background for so long that I don’t how to face my problems without running away.  I don’t know if I’m entirely ready to make these hard decisions that I know have to be made.  I don’t think I’m disciplined enough to make the changes that I need to make in order to actually survive.

But maybe that’s why this happened.  Maybe this injury is the universe’s way of telling me to grow a pair and handle my shit.  Because life is short.  And time is not guaranteed.

I need to say good-bye to running for awhile.  I need to learn how to cope without it. I need to learn how to love myself completely without the label of being a runner.  Once I’m whole again, we can start our journey all over, when running is something in my life and not the only thing.

Here goes nothing.

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Snow is serious business

The summer before I graduated from college (circa 2003) Mike and I drove across the country.  We visited 36 states in 3 weeks.  It was the most magical and fun trip I had ever taken.  And it’s this exact trip that convinced me that I could, in fact, get married.  I figured if we could basically live in a car together for 21 days and come out the other end alive, then we could pledge eternity to each other.

If knew me growing up, you’d know I never even thought about marriage.  Both my parents were on their second marriages before I came along.  I am also what caused their marriage (They were married in June.  I was born in January.  You do the math.).  Their marriage was tumultuous to say the least.  Fighting, screaming, throwing, cheating, drugs, alcohol, guilt, and insults were what I witnessed almost every day.  We would all beg for them to get divorced and my mom left a few times, always coming back in the end.  She would tell us it was for love, but we knew the real reason: loneliness and lack of money always won out in the end.  It wasn’t until I was 18 that they finally divorced and only because my mother had another person to help take care of her.

To say these experiences shaped the way I look at love and marriage would be an understatement.  From a very young age I had decided I didn’t want to be married.  Or have children.  I saw the strain they brought to things and having pretty much raised my younger siblings, I felt like my child rearing days were over.  Even when I would play with my dolls when I was younger, I never played house.  I always played orphanage.  That way I was still taking care of my “babies” but not having to be their mother. And I also wouldn’t be required to have a husband.

Sure, I had crushes.  Who didn’t?  But I never thought about them in the long term and I tended to flit from one person to another as my mood changed.  Finally, in college, I met Mike, we dated, and after our car trip I figured maybe I could do the marriage thing.  Maybe I wasn’t as broken as I actually thought I was.

Cut to the end of 2015/beginning of 2016.  14 years together.  Almost 11 years married. Three children.  And completely unsure of the future. Throughout this separation, I’ve spent my days convinced I am making the best decision for me and my family and my nights unsure.   Conflicted is an understatement.  Torn apart might be better analogy.

And then, lo and behold, a snow storm.  And not just any snow storm…the largest single snow storm in Baltimore history.  Not only would I be trapped in the house with my husband and kids, but I would be trapped in the house for DAYS.  How would we manage our hostility and hurt when there was no where to go?  It’s not even that I wouldn’t be leaving for work.  We literally could not leave the house. And I refused to simply use the children as a buffer as my parents had done so many times.

And maybe that’s where the real story begins.  Or, should I say, maybe that’s where a new story begins.  Maybe being trapped by this snowstorm was the best thing that could have happened to us.  Without a means to escape, we would have to face our problems head on and full force.  There was nowhere to hide.  And really no reason to.  Without being able to leave, we couldn’t lie to ourselves or each other anymore.  We would have to start being honest.  We would have to actually do some work.  Even if not to fix things, but to figure out a way to live in quiet harmony.

And you know what?  We did.  I’m not saying that everything is magically fixed.  It’s not. And it won’t be for a long time.  But without being able to escape I had to confront everything: my feelings, his feelings, the past, the present, the future.  And for the first time in a long time, I haven’t wanted to leave.  There’s a glimmer of something that I used to feel peeking up from behind the years of complacency and routine. Perhaps we need to see if this is anything worth saving.   Perhaps there’s a chance that it is actually worth working for.  Maybe it’s not…but maybe it is.

I feel a hope and a promise I haven’t felt for years.  Maybe, just maybe, we’re finally getting somewhere.

 

Brave

It’s almost that time.  My favorite time of the year.  The day we all get a blank slate to begin again.
I’m so excited.  I’ve been looking forward to this for a while now.  The last couple years have been marred by big events, both good and bad.  From new relationships and friendships, to break ups and new babies.  New houses and old baggage, and starting and stopping many times over.
I know the calendar has nothing to do with this, but there is something about the last number of the year changing that signifies a baptism.  The past is put aside so new experiences can emerge.  With the change in number so comes a change in attitude, purpose and resolve, almost as if the year is shedding off it’s old coat in order have renewed sparkle and shine.
In the past I’ve spent time coming up with strict, structured, and concrete resolutions; run this much, weigh this much, eat this food, be the person.  But not this year.  Instead I’ve decided to come up with a word, a theme if you will, that will drive the way I live my life.  My word this year will be brave.
In the past few weeks I have flirting with this concept, almost as if I’m simply tasting it to see if it’s something that my palate can agree with.  I’ve been more honest, stood up for myself, engaged in mild confrontations, and spoke truths that I’ve been too scared to address in over two years.
And I’ve never felt better.
Some of my braveries will be small (I’ve never tried steamed mussels) and some will be life changing.
I started this blog as a way to express myself and and make sense of my soul.  But in a way, I’m still hidden.  I speak the truth, but only a part of it.  I add sprinkles to items I’m not ready to completely address, like a way to liven up a bland sugar cookie.  I leave out details I’m sure will get judged.  But not anymore.  I’m ready to be open and honest about certain elements.  I’m ready to embrace who I am; the good and bad, the ugly and awesome.
I’ll probably be judged.  I’ll probably lose friends.  But that’s ok.  I’m almost 35 years old and life is short, dammit.  Why be someone I’m not?  It’s getting too hard.
I’m read to embrace 2016 and all of it’s amazingness.  And I’m ready for me to be amazing as well.
In 2016 we should resolve to be who we really are.
Be brave.  Be fearless.  Be you.

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The Best Intentions

“Good intentions never change anything.  They only become a deeper and deeper rut.” ~Joyce Meyer

I’ve just turned 34 and I’m no better at this than I was at 24.  I make lists.  I make plans.  I identify things that need changing.  I’m proud of myself.  I’m able to take the first step.  Sometimes I’m even able to take the second step. I stick with it, for a day, maybe a week.

And then nothing.

I don’t know what it is.  I decided just one day off is ok.  I decide I need a break. I decide, for whatever arbitrary reason, that I deserve a break. Or I lose my cool. Or I break my promise.  And my one day turns into two, or three, and then, inevitably forever.

Why is it sometimes I can do it and sometimes I can’t?  Where in my brain is the motivation cortex?  The place that is supposed to help me keep going and reach my goals even when I want to quit.

I could blame the pregnancy right now and it would be so easy.  I’m exhausted and uncomfortable and will be for the next 2 months.  But that would be taking the easy way out because in reality, I was like this long before I became pregnant and long before I had two rambunctious boys to take care of.  I feel like I’ve always been of the “lazier” variety, of the “blame everyone but me” variety, of the “let’s make excuses” variety.  And as much as I make the conscious effort NOT  be like this, I always end up right back here at the starting line.

But I can’t stop, right?  As I do at the beginning of every month I have to believe that this month will be different, that this is the month where everything will finally stick and I will emerge victorious and transformed.  No more excuses.

The first step, no matter how many times you have taken it in the past, is always the hardest.

Plain and simple, it’s all about the shoes.

“Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” ~Marilyn Monroe

Today was a day for a long run.  I was supposed to run 5 miles.  I was tired, cranky, and had a head cold so I was worried that I wouldn’t even complete one.  But at the prodding of my super supportive husband I laced up anyway and got out the door.   After the first mile my shins were hurting.  Then came the knees.  Then a weird pain in my foot that I hadn’t felt before.  I couldn’t understand why I had all these weird pains when I was running significantly slower than normal in order to complete all 5 miles.  Then it hit me.  It is time to change the shoes.  Even though I had another pair waiting at home for me, I felt a sadness creep into my run.  I thought maybe it was just the weird pains, but in the end I knew that wasn’t it.  This was going to be my last time running in these shoes.  And suddenly, 5 miles didn’t seem like too much.  It seemed like not enough.

Before this attempt I had tried the running thing a few times before, each time in shoes that I bought from a department store or a random shoe store in the mall.  I bought usually based on looks and what I thought the other “real” runners were wearing at the time…something that would make me look like a “real” runner even when I wasn’t.

During Christmas break my best friend came home for a visit.  She is a “real runner”, multiple miles and Ks, marathons, etc., and yet talked to me like I was one too, even though I was only up to 2 miles at a time, even though I hadn’t run in a month.  She told me how running isn’t ever easy, even for her.  She gets the same pains I do, the same tiredness, the same foreboding feeling of running certain days.  She suggested I try it again, and maybe this time, head to Charm City Run, a local running store, to find the best shoes for me.

I was always nervous to enter these stores because of the feeling of not being a “real runner” but everyone was so wonderful and personable and simply celebratory of everyone who is up and out there and doing something.  After a few trials and a few runs on the treadmill, I finally settled on the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14.  I was skeptical because I had tried Brooks before but hated them.

But from that very first run in my Brooks, on the first day of 2014, I felt like I had met my soulmate.  I was back to barely running a mile, but my shoes didn’t care.  They were there for me every step of the way, literally.  Every time I put them on it felt like coming home again.  While I had run before (and stopped quite a few times) these were the shoes that saw me through running in snow storms, completing my first 5K without stopping to walk, completing my first 6K, running in the Color Run as a family (the first race for both my boys and my husband), and 2 pants sizes. These are the shoes I was wearing when I signed up for my first half-marathon before I could chicken out.  These are the first shoes that chose me instead of me choosing them.  These are the first shoes I bought with my ultra running best friend who inspires me each and every day to get up and run.  These are the shoes that got me back where I need to be.

And while I know I have a new pair waiting in the closet, they will never be these shoes.  The ones in the closet are worth $120.  These ones are priceless and are literally filled with my blood sweat and tears.

Today was a day for a long run.  I was supposed to do 5 miles. But instead, to celebrate my shoes, I did 6.2.  My first unofficial 10K.  These shoes literally took me from .75 miles to 6.2 miles in four and a half months.  But really it’s more than that.  They took me farther than I ever thought possible.  They took me to a place where I am a better version of myself…and that can’t be measured in miles.

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