Confidence and marriage and running.

We met in college.  We were in the same biology class and lab.  It was an 8 am class and I clearly wasn’t interested in impressing anybody since I showed up almost every day in my pajamas.  We became late partners (or rather a group of three) out of basic convenience…we sat near each other and it was easier than seeking out others.  I actually had a crush on the other guy in our group, but alas, he had a girlfriend.  We started studying together outside of class.  One thing led to another, and Poof!  Three years later we were married.  Now 13 years after that we are separated and headed towards divorce.

I was a mess when I was in college, even more so than I am now (for those who know me in “real life”).  I battled depression and manic episodes.  I was unhealthy.  I was “in love” with a boy from high school who was dating another girl.  I transferred schools every year or so and my debt was out of control (hi credit cards).  Because of all this, and I’m sure so much more,  I had the confidence of…well, I don’t know.  Let’s just say I had really low confidence.  And it took me a  long time (16 years to be exact) to realize this is the main contributor of me getting married and the age of 24 to my first “real” boyfriend.

In the beginning, I think I was just trying things out and having fun and then it became a dependency.  Here was a boy was was relatively normal and seemed to like me.  I’m lucky, I would think.  I don’t have to be alone anymore.  Did I love him?  I’m sure I did.  But I don’t think it was a life changing, earth shattering love.  And I know (especially now) that it wasn’t a love that could sustain a marriage.  I thought so little of my self and my self-worth that I  reveled in the attention. Someone likes me and I owe it to him to be with him.  It saddens me now thinking about how much my low self confidence contributed to this MAJOR aspect of my life.

There were times I felt that I should leave.  That I should break up with him because I knew I didn’t have what it takes to be his girlfriend and then his wife.  He deserved someone better, someone that was completely over the moon for him.  But instead I stayed.  I convinced myself I belonged there.  Someone loved me so much and I should stay with them because of this.  I worried I would hurt him and I didn’t want the guilt of hurting anyone.

In reality now, I realize I also stayed because I didn’t think anyone else would ever want me.  How horrible is that?  It took me a very long time to admit that to myself.

Our marriage was so tumultuous; up and down constantly that I couldn’t keep up.  I always wanted to leave, but never wanted to leave at the same time.  I didn’t want to be alone.  I didn’t want to have to start over.  I was safe here in this place.  Unhappy.  But safe.

I wish I knew what it was that finally made me realize it was OK to leave and that I deserved to be happy.  I know a small part of it was finding someone else who really did love me for me.  Another part was the kids and realizing that they shouldn’t be growing up in an unhappy home.

In all honesty, I think the biggest thing was that my confidence was improving and I know it had a lot to do with running.  Running made me happier and helped me become healthier, which of course led me to be more confident.  It was an outlet for my anger and frustration and gave me time to think and decide.

I loved myself during those times.

I haven’t run consistently since I began dating Joe.  I guess when I found another source of happiness running just fell to the side until it was almost non-existent.  While I am happier now than I have ever been, I miss the confidence.  I think that’s why I’m chasing running again after two years, and why I’m chasing this marathon.

I need to get that feeling back again…and I’ll make myself run until I do.

Shit’s about to get real.

*I’m writing this post for both of my blogs because it is equally pertinent to both.*

It’s gotten to that point again…the point I never thought I would be at again.  The weight is slowly creeping up and has been for the last few years, ever since Charlie was born.

It comes so slowly that you don’t even notice it.  A pound here, a pound there.  Then you realize that you are tired all the time and you just don’t have the energy to do much.  Just thinking about doing something *anything* makes you feel more tired.  You’ll do anything to NOT step on the scale (I just ate, I just showered, I’m wearing too many clothes it won’t be accurate), but when you finally do the number staring back at you takes your breath away.  And not in a good way.  Not in a John Cusack holding a boombox outside of your window way.  A sickening way.

Your clothes start to get tighter.  It must have shrunk in the dryer. Then there is no denying it.  They just don’t fit.  You need new ones.  You promise yourself you’ll just get one or two things until the weight comes off again and then you’ll reward yourself with brand new clothes to celebrate your hard work and perseverance.  Waking up is a drag because you have no idea what to wear.  Nothing really fits and nothing really looks good.  Every outfit becomes a best effort, one that your throw an over-sized cardigan over and hope for the best.

Things hurt.  Your body that you worked do hard to get healthy is now betraying you and groaning under the extra snacks and libations.  Your knees hurt.  Your hips hurt.  It is hard to get comfortable and sleep well at night.  You used to run miles after mile each week, now you loathe walking down the block when you don’t get a close parking spot.

You make promise after promise to yourself.  You will get healthier.  You will have energy again.  You will stop hurting.  You are two young to feel this way.  37 is too young to be falling apart.

But you’ll do it tomorrow.  It’s always tomorrow.  Because we always feel like we will have tomorrow.

I’m supposed to run the NYC marathon in 177 days.  Fate, destiny, a higher power, luck, whatever you want to call it, has landed me this opportunity and I told myself this is what I needed to get back again.  This would be my comeback.  I would DO THIS.

But I have 177 days until this marathon and I haven’t run in weeks.  And even though I used to run 10 miles at a time (albeit slow, but I did it), I know I can’t even run one anymore.

It breaks my heart.  More than leaving my husband.  More than my impending divorce.  More than anything, this is what breaks my heart.  That idea that I’m not who I used to be anymore.  The idea that I am not who I am SUPPOSED to be anymore.  The idea that I’m not who I was MEANT to be anymore.

It’s sobering and humiliating that I let it get this bad.  That I crashed to the bottom once again only to feel that there is no way up at all this time.  That I’ll tell myself I WILL get up and run tomorrow.  And I WILL be healthier and happier for it.

And I don’t.

I want to but I don’t do it.

Even though I know I need to.  I truly need to.  To save myself before I’m swallowed up whole again.

From the old to the new

I got my haircut today.  And registered to run the NYC marathon.  Two things that really needed to happen.

While my haircut is pretty great, we all know this isn’t what this post is about.

I earned my guaranteed entry by deferring my entrance from last year to this year.  Last year I wasn’t ready.  I thought getting in by lottery would make me ready.  It didn’t.  Life happened.  And then more life.  I stopped running. I stopped trying.  I stopped everything.

But now things are different.  I’m still not ready for this marathon.  Not by a long shot.  I’ll be one of those last finishers that everyone waits for, but I don’t care.  I’ll do it anyway and be proud of any amount of time it takes me.  Going from zero to marathon is no small feat.  I know this.

I knew my guaranteed entry was coming but I hesitated signing up again.  I would think yes, then no, then yes again, then no again…I think you get the picture.  Then the lottery opened and my emailed arrived confirming what I already knew.  And still I waited.  After posting on social media about how I was unsure of which decision to make my friends and complete strangers encouraged me: it’s a once in a life time opportunity, don’t hesitate – just do it, I have faith in you.  The words resonated with me so much and I began to think maybe I could do this.  Maybe I could “run” a marathon.

But still…I waited.  $295 dollars is no small amount of money and for someone who is paying the bills in two households, it’s more than I can waste.  What if I chickened out again?  What if the self-doubt and fear overtakes me?   What if I really can’t do it?  That’s a lot of money to flush down the drain.

And then, on whim, on a random Thursday night, I sold my old engagement ring.  A ring I had picked out and essentially paid for myself.  A ring that represented a marriage and a union that no longer existed.  A ring that was bought for a person who no longer exists.  I didn’t get a lot for it.  Not nearly as much as we paid for it almost 16 years ago.  But you know what it was enough to cover?  An entry fee to the NYC marathon as well as some left over (training gear, perhaps?).

With a few clicks of a button it was done, and I was registered, letting a piece of who I once was turn me into someone I know I can be.

NYC 2018…here I come.

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Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  I usually try and shy away from it as it tends to make me sad.  I sugar coat the past at times, putting the shiny crystal sheen on things making me think I had it better when, in actuality, I probably didn’t. Charleston, kid free times, college – all things I think back on fondly, wishing I was still there in those moments, never really remembering the times that weren’t so good.

Today, though, was different.

I’ve been contemplating the idea of accepting my guaranteed entry to the NYC marathon since I dropped out last year.  I told myself that maybe this was the year I would *actually* do it if I could just take the first step and get out the door to exercise.  Today made three days in a row and I’m pretty damn proud of myself for that.

Today is cold.  And snowy.  But I managed to get the workout clothes on and out the front door to run/walk/jog/slide for 30 minutes.

As I began navigating the neighbor streets where I now live, the neighborhood streets where I lived years ago when I first began running, the nostalgia was overpowering.  This is where it all began…my love for running.  The shiny beacon in an otherwise tumultuous time in my life where I could barely stay afloat.  And then out of the blue “Summertime Sadness” by Lana Del Rey came on and my heart stopped.

This could be the fall of 2013 when I first started running.  That song took me right back to those moments so many years ago.  The early mornings and sore legs.  The darkness of running pre-dawn.  The excitement I felt when I ran down certain streets and crested certain hills and the annoyance I felt with others.

Not only did I fall in love with running on these streets and sidewalks, for the first time I actually fell in love with myself.

This girl.

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And this one.

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The girl who completed her first Runner’s World Run Streak.

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And her first half marathon.

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The girl who was happiest and had the biggest smile when completely covered in sweat.

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This wasn’t the same kind of nostalgia that I was used to.  It wasn’t so much remembering what I had as discovering what I can absolutely have again.

With this short 30 minutes this morning I began to realize that maybe I never lost my love of running or even myself.  Maybe it’s always been here.  In this neighborhood.  On these streets, waiting for me to return.  Because this is where I belong.

We’ll all float on Ok.

I don’t seem to know who I am anymore.

Not so long ago I felt like I had it all figured out.  I’m a mom.  I’m a runner.  I’m a teacher.  I’m a friend.  Things were going well.  I had a wonderful new daughter, two amazing boys, and a fantastic support system of friends and family.  I literally had no complaints and was perfectly content any happy.

And then I broke…again.

This wasn’t like the first time I felt that I had broke, when my dad had died.  When that happened I feel apart all at once so it was almost easier to out myself back together.  The pieces were right there and easier to find, not scattered over space and time.

I wish I could say I knew the exact moment that it happened, but really it was a series of events that started small, each one separately almost microscopic in size, but together crumbled my world into a million pieces.

I cut back on my running and dropped out of the NYC marathon.

An old friend came back into my life just when I thought I was finally over our past.

I lost a person in my life who I thought was a good friend.

The separation began…and ended…and began…and changed so much that I don’t even know where we are at this point.

Most recently I’ve done things I probably shouldn’t have.  I’ve eaten things I probably shouldn’t have.  I’ve stopped running altogether.  With each passing day, the numbers on the scale keep inching closer to where I said I never wanted to be again.  And the worst part of it all is that I just don’t seem to care.  Not about being a bad person, or losing certain people from my life, or even losing everything I worked for.  None of it.

I feel like I’m on the roundabout on the playground spinning more and more out of control each day.  The sad part is that I know I’m the one that’s pushing it to go faster and faster.  I am in complete and utter control of this and I can’t seem to jump off and just stop. Because I know that when I do I’m going to break even more from the impact.  I know that I’m really going to have to work to find all the pieces and put myself back together again.  Not only in the “now” but in the past too.  The task seems daunting and so impossible that 99% of the time I don’t even have the desire to try.

But then, out of the blue, today happened.  The 1%.  The one glimmer of hope I had been hoping for.

We’re driving to the park and the library and all three kids are squeezed into the back seat.  Charlotte is singing along to Modest Mouse playing in the background while Oliver and Max argued about how many sheep are in an adjoining field.  The sun was shining in the blue sky as wispy clouds float by, my hand out the window rising and falling in the warm air.  I finally felt it.  What I had been longing to feel for so long lately.  A sense of peace and contentment.   A sense of placement.

This is where I was supposed to be.  Maybe not forever, but at least for right now.

And with that tiny feeling of hope, I know that pretty soon I’ll have enough courage to make the leap off the roundabout.  And maybe, just maybe, my feet will actually hit the ground and I’ll be able to pick myself up and begin to collect all the pieces.

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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I think I can’t

After two long months of injury, I’ve started running again.  Every morning when my alarm wakes me up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am, I throw on my running clothes and head out the door…and it sucks.  Not just in a way that all running sucks, but in a very real, painful, and depressing way.

My shin and my knee is still killing me.  And because of that I’m running all kinds of crazy causing other muscles to hurt.  My pace time is abysmal…and I don’t mean in the “I run a 13 minute mile, I’m so slow” way, but in an actual “people walk faster than I run” way.  And it’s killing me inside.

I don’t know if it’s the extra stress I have going on at work or simply the extra street I have going on at home (or maybe it’s a combination of both), but I can’t seem to get motivated to go any faster or do anymore.  I literally plod on and on and on praying that I get finished the run soon.

Yes, I feel great after.  Yes, I feel accomplished.  But the before and during are worse than they were when I first started.

And to top it off, I have a hard marathon in 10 weeks and I and scared out of my fucking mind.  I’m already having anxiety attacks about it and it’s 2.5 months away. I don’t think I can do this.  I will be nowhere near ready.  I am going to fail.  And it’s going to suck.  Big time.

I hate this feeling of inadequacy.  I hate the lack of self confidence I have.

But I hate more that I’m pretty sure I’m right about this.