Why I Run Part 1
* warning this is a deep, personal post and while I am comfortable posting it, you might not be comfortable reading it. and that’s okay, I promise a nice mix of workout information, nutrition, humor and personal revelations on this blog. This one is personal revelation. These are my musings, thoughts and feelings and may be uncomfortable to read. Proceed with caution….
This will probably be a many part series. I think about different things when I run and there are many reasons why I do it – some why I began, some why I continue. Since I’m running a lot now, I’m sure I’ll have a myriad of reasons come to light…
There is a song that I always put on my iPod and it nearly always crops up on my shuffle while I’m out doing my thing. I love it, especially when it plays close to the finish of any particular run or race. I’ve mentioned it before, it’s “Kids” by MGMT and I’m not sure if it’s specifically the song or the fact that it was played at the end of the movie “Whip It” that makes it so poignant and motivating to me. Lately, when I run, I think about kids. I think about my children, the unborn, the hoped for, the yet to be created. I picture them playing outside. When I’m running down at the river and all the little expat kids are riding bikes and scooters and playing homemade footy games or chasing each other I imagine my children with their flushed cheeks and their curls? or freckles and skinned knees, green eyes? Hazel? Hyper or laid back temperaments? I try to go through different scenarios, I try to practice being a good parent. What will I do to show them I love them? How will I nurture their creativity, their individuality? I must remember these priorities, even when I’m busy. How will I juggle my need to exercise, my need to spend time with my husband and their need for attention? How will I make the time to feed them healthily, to play, to read to them? What will I read to them? What will I do when they’re naughty? I come up with different answers, work different situations, I try to look at motherhood and the million different jobs of a mother from all the angles, all the questions. How will I handle myself when I’m not perfect, when I’m impatient? How will I recover so we can move on, so my children will learn how to handle their own falliability with grace, love, productiveness?
I don’t have children. But the truth is I’m scared and excited to someday. Perhaps this is partially spurred by the fact that I have a man in my life that I love so much, feel loved so much that I can imagine having children with him. I can imagine my children because I know they will be our children. I hope they have his eyes. And his temperament. Partially this could be my age, I’ll be 29 years old in less then 10 days. I’m not going to feed you some bullshit about a biological clock because in all honesty I feel like I’m 19 years old. I can’t believe I’m counting down to thirty when I feel like I just figured out a few of the basics of life. However, I will give a nod to biology in that I have a yearning whenever I see the little kids at work, stretching their hands out to me or clinging to their mothers. I want to cradle them to my breast and smell their baby heads and teach them to sing. Sometimes in half waking dream when I’m lying next to Diz I can picture a beautiful child nestled between and us and I daydream about Danny playing his guitar to the kids while I make our morning coffee or stroke our children’s hair. I think about these things when I run too. How will we support them, two performers that we are with big glamorous pipe dreams and ambitions? How will we love them and show them how important they are? How will we visit families since Dan and I are from two countries so far away from each other?
I don’t solve these questions, but like the engineer that I grew up under (my Dad) I know that only in working problems do you even hope to get answers. By playing with variables you get to see a spread of possible solutions.
I also think this is coming up now when I run because I am finally loved. I feel loveable. This is hard for me to admit. It sounds self helpy and a part of me feels selfish for admitting it, but I am nothing without my honesty. You see, my childhood encompassed good and bad like everyone else’s. I see my past, my youth as a deep dark hole that can suck me in if I think of it too hard. I’m not proud of my childhood or who I was. Don’t get me wrong, I was privileged in many, many ways, I am thankful for so many things, and at the end of the day my parents love me (right guys?). But I don’t think anyone in my family would deny that we were broken (although I don’t ask). I believe that everyone, my brothers and sister, my mother and father, felt like they lost some vital, important parts of themselves in the riptide of our past. We were all hurt and we scattered like shrapnel instead of bonding together, unable to trust each other, licking our wounds the best we could. I’m not sure, but I think if you ask anyone in my family they might tell you they feel betrayed in some ways and depleted by the circumstances of our past and in all honesty, we don’t talk about it with each other. Why dwell on things that are tainted by the inaccuracies of time and perception? I’m proud of who we all became in the wake and that’s more important.
However, I did not escape the pull, the damage, the feelings of betrayal. I know that one of my defense mechanisms was anorexia. I know this because unlike a lot of the info out there I did not fall into an eating disorder because of some desire to look like the girls in magazines or in ABT even though I was a dancer. I remember distinctly the beginning before I knew what things like reccommended daily allowances and lanugo were. I remember feeling afraid. Not fat, scared. And guilty. And unloveable. I remember trying my best to fix and stay out of peoples way. I remember trying to diminish, to be smaller, to be unseen. I felt guilty that I couldn’t do that, that I left a mark on the world, that I needed – things, people, attention. Guilt. Fear. Helplessness. I felt utterly unprotected.
And when I run I remember these things and I think of how far I’ve come. How I braved an unprotected and uncertain future, moving away, school, jobs, different countries a career choice that promised to forever be unstable, relationships… motor vehicles for crying out loud. I remember how I decided that I, I could protect myself. I could love myself. I could face my guilt in honesty and believe in my good heart and my ability to make mistakes and keep going. And I want to know how to show that to my children from the beginning. Now that I’m safe in and of myself I want to, although it’s hard, poke and prod and dissect that scary dark past and ask the questions and get the answers. Because in my heart of hearts I know, I KNOW, my parents wonder the same things (maybe they have found answers?). I know they wanted to raise their children in love and safety and honesty. I know that we aren’t all so different.
And the space that running allows me is space to think through all this. To face the dark and see the hope of light, of beauty. Of children that I can love. Because I love myself. And I love my boyfriend. And I’ll fight for me, protect me, protect us. And I want to do everything I can for them too. I run to heal myself, to show myself I’m worth however long it takes to run 8 miles, and then 10 miles and then beyond. I’m worth stretching out my legs afterwords and taking cold showers, swallowing extra vitamins and waking up early or sleeping in late. I run to see that I can endure, that I can be patient, that everything ends even pain and fatigue. I run to feel myself push through. And I imagine this will aid me through the pain of childbirth, through the difficulty of raising independent, thoughtful children, self-respecting, hopefully curious souls. I run to give myself time to think, to teach me to think. I run to love my family, to recall all the good, the holidays, the winter mornings we drank hot cocoa together, the summer nights catching fireflys. and I love and so I run some more. And I think of you, my family, my past and how much I love you; and you, my children, the future and how much I’ll love you.