Written in 2011
For a long time I believed I hated you. Hated the feeling, hated the boredom of the slap, slap, slap of my feet on the pavement or trail. I hated you being something other people really loved and I just couldn’t understand. “Running, I don’t get you.” “Exercise is a social event for me” I’d profess, as if running – just didn’t get me either – lie, lie, lie. Secretly – I don’t even like most people, so why the hell would I want to exercise with them?
Running – I’d shrug you off and choose some other exercise. I’d choose a treadmill with a TV in front of it any day, over a treadmill without. I’d go to the gym over running. Hell, I’d rather engage the rower, elliptical or stair machine than deal with you – running.
But – the evil of it all, I realized – my hatred of you wasn’t about you, running. It’s about me. Oh – relationships are so one-sided, I know, it’s always about me. I hated myself – running. Not you. I hated the time alone in my head, all the menacing thoughts coming through. I could sit for hours and write about what I feel, but that’s easy for me. I put the words on the page and then close the book, it’s a gentler way for me to get things out and over with, knowing full well that nothing is every really “dealt with” or “over with”, it always come back, but I can just write it down again and then for me – poof, gone.
But running – you challenge me to stay with the thoughts and mull them around. I try to cover them with music but they come through anyway, every song – a new lyric, a new note, sends my mind off onto something else. “Why do we all have to keep thinking all the time, can’t we just be?” I’d include the entire world in my agony to defend my loathing, and shrug you off again.
And then, the absolute reality of it all, it’s not just about the thoughts. I hated you because I felt terrible about myself whenever I ran, too heavy, sluggish, and not able to move my body. “I used to be an athlete for god’s sake. I used to do this in my sleep and even win races.” Again, justifying my hatred of you. “I once owned you running.”
Running – you were and are reality. You were the constant reminder of what I couldn’t do. I’d look in the mirror and see my swollen up face and large back and shoulders, my jiggling belly and think – there you are, look what you’ve done to yourself. I’d hear that voice every day I tried to run. My boobs bigger than they’ve ever been, the heavy stomach, flopping around, my arms rubbing against parts of my body that I hadn’t realized had grown large. Even my lower back would not only jiggle, but also flop. You’re disgusting I’d think for the entire run.
Running – you’re the reminder that I’m not who I thought I’d be. But there was a bit of good news – something changed as I began to run more, something shifted. I realized, I don’t need to own you running, I can be with you or not. It’s my choice. Who knew we had choices about such things?
Running – I’m glad to say I didn’t give up on you or me. I keep trying to be who I am in this moment and not so worried about who I thought I was going to be. “I can either run today or complain that I can’t run.”
The new mantra in hand, I’d get on the treadmill, I’d run a bit outside, I’d be forced to deal with the menacing thoughts and doubts and I’d curse the entire way, but only because I felt bad about myself. I’d stop, cry a little, be pissed off at myself, but still, I’d run. It wasn’t a lot – running, I know, you’d prefer more, but I’m doing what I can.
Running – this relationship has been hard, but it’s been honest.
Joseph Campbell, the mythologist, a long time runner said “There has got to be a still place in there and the movement has to take place around it.”
“A still place while running? I don’t believe it.” is what I say.
The loathe of running hasn’t shifted to a love of running, and I’m still not who I want to be physically or emotionally, but I’m me and I’m closer to the authentic me than I’ve been in my life. Running – I get you now. I’m still jiggly and I still don’t love you. But I can be with you now. I can run!
I’m smaller than I used to be 18 months ago when I started back with you – running – and this is no longer about the weight on me, but the entire weight inside of me.
I know you are good for me, because I hated you so much. Your dark and shadowy face always looking at me, judging me. My aversion to you is one more sign that you have some good lessons to teach me. You challenge me to be better all around from my jiggly bits, to dealing with my menacing thoughts.
Running – I won’t give up on you, if you don’t give up on me and I’ll keep trying to understand that my hatred of you is a hatred of me.