Four months. One-third of a year. That’s a long time to be quiet.
I’m so disconnected with myself that I can’t even put a thought together. That’s not good.
I don’t have a race. I don’t have a plan. Every morning I wake up and make a critical decision about whether to get a run in or sleep more and run later – maybe. Usually sleep wins, and then the guilt chases me around all day. Even if I do run later, I beat myself up for not doing it “right.” No matter which choice I make I’m exhausted because I woke up early to fight with myself. Again.
And my runs aren’t what they used to be. I’m almost always struggling. All my parts argue with each other and I can’t seem to find real peace.
As go I, so goes my run.
I need to get myself together.
I have forgotten everything. All the lessons. All the ah-ha moments. I’m living in a brain fog and my wires are all disconnected.
My body has been screaming at me for months, but apparently my personal translator fell down on the job. Lyme Disease. Anxiety. Asthma. Vocal chord disfunction. Menopause. The infamous “hmm…” from the doctor, and a handful of assorted prescribed poisons.
But it won’t quiet down.
So I exist in a screaming body with a disconnected brain. And I’m so uncomfortable.
But Love holds me hard and tight and my soul has never felt more relieved and safe.
When I was young, I used to delight in going through my mother’s sheet music and plunking out the melody lines to songs from her past on our badly out-of-tune piano. I would croon my way through classics from Carmen, The King and I, and Porgy and Bess. She had stacks and stacks of beautiful, well-worn music, each song a treasure.
But one of my favorites was that gut-wrenching blues tune called, “Stormy Weather,” and I would dig deep inside my soul and belt out that song with every bit of passion my tiny voice could muster. I felt it. And I wished I had a huge, big voice that could really express all of the feelings it evoked in me.
The weathermen warn us – sometimes. Sometimes it strikes with no warning. It rages and swirls around us and pulls us into its gloomy gusts, making us feel powerless and hopeless. We fight for a while against it, imagining ourselves to be invincible and calling on every bit of stubbornness and determination and strength that lies within us. But the storm looms large and tosses us around until we feel so banged up we think we’ll never get up and walk again. All we can do is let go and wait it out.
And when we’re in it, we feel like it’s never going to end and that surely it’s the most awful storm in the history of the world.
Until it’s over.
And the beautiful, lovely, heart-opening peace that comes after a storm is worth every war behind us.
It comes. It always, always comes.
I wound slowly through the cold, quiet countryside this morning as most of the world was still waking up. The sugar maples lit the path like street lamps with their neon-yellow canopies and carpeted the earth with layers and layers of gorgeous yellow leaves.
Somewhere in the second mile the tears came, and my emotions spilled out all over the country road leaving a long trail behind me. My whole life flashed in my mind like a movie trailer. All the hurts and disappointments – in myself and in others, the joys and discoveries and sweet lovely moments…
Fear – childhood pain, desperate decisions, the awfulness of being trapped in a bad situation and not being able to see a way out… Then… Love – hope and light, finding my voice, feeling cherished…
And the beginning of this running journey – treadmill walks that sometimes turned to brief jogs. A slow huff around the block. Longer… and longer… And…
Now I face my 6th marathon.
The runs have changed me, as they do. Running is dying. Running is living. The lovely harmony of my mind, body and spirit moves me and reminds me that if even one of those things is off-key, the entire song suffers. My heart opens wide and I have a moment of illumination when I see the Universe clearly and everything makes perfect sense to me.
My old self is crucified, and all the Fears with it. The suffering and pain is all for something bigger and more important – but it has to happen this way. There is no other path from here to there. Ridicule. Accusations. They only see from their limited view. They don’t understand.
And from death, Life.
Over and over and over again. Just like the farms, so goes the world.
“Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.” ~ Luke 17:33
The bright moon hung suspended in the lavender sky by an invisible wire, spotlighting the rolling farm tapestries of gold and green. And as my body floated down the winding roads on happy legs, my heart swelled with the magic of this beautiful evening scene, and I released gasping, tearful sobs of joy in the third mile.
The rest was just a lovely dream, leaving no trace of the pain and agony of last week.
My body was wrecked – destroyed – by lack of sleep and trying to squeeze too much activity into each 24 hours. Every cell revolted and stubbornly sat down and refused to carry on the nonsense, forcing me to bed and to my favorite chair for a whole weekend of mindless nothingness. I felt my life draining away from me even as I tried to save it.
But today, the Universe restored my soul and filled me with the Love I’ve come to depend upon for my health and happiness.
And this… this is how I choose to live. I choose Love. Every fucking time.
“Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy.”
Gosh, I haven’t written here in so long I feel like a complete stranger to my own blog.
I’ve been exhausted.
My weekly training mileage is getting extremely challenging; to find the time is maybe more difficult than finding the energy. A 4:30 alarm is about the earliest I can stomach, and even that doesn’t always leave me room to get to work on time. It’s dark. It’s getting chilly. And 4:30 is fucking early no matter what time you go to bed.
But every two weeks I’m surprising myself with new records, and as trashed as my body feels at times, I’ve never felt stronger in my life. It’s a journey, full of adventure and lessons and doubts and exhilaration and… Love. Race day will almost be a let-down at this point, because it will mark the end of my trip. Well… this trip.
It’s all relative, I remind myself constantly. I have certain friends who run my weekly miles for breakfast. But this isn’t about them. It’s all about me. My legs. My lungs. My pace. My fears. My stubborn determination. My open heart. My lessons.
All the parts of my life melt together into the run. The can’t-go-another-step part, the my-god-I’m-a-fucking-badass part, the finally-feel-loved part, and the what’s-going-to-happen-in-the-next-mile part. And I just keep going, with relentless forward motion, until it’s time to stop. And so it goes. Mile after mile. Life after life. Love after fear.
I can’t imagine going back there unless one of them is gravely ill or dead.
I’m so done.
It’s not their fault, I guess. It’s not mine, either. The Universe threw us together into this thing called a family, which somehow takes on this “till death do us part” kind of promise, which is completely unfair when we don’t get to do the choosing.
So a lot of us suffer through these awful, dysfunctional, outgrown relationships for the sake of having a guest list for Thanksgiving dinner and people to buy useless Christmas gifts for, or because we feel some sense of social obligation to these strangers who share our blood line and our name.
Throw in a shitty childhood and tell me why I should ever have to return to the scene of those crimes? Now that we’re all adults I’m supposed to just forget the atrocities and play nice because my parents probably won’t be around much longer? And because they’re family?
Fuck that shit.
But it’s hard not to have a family in this society. Better to be homeless or terminally ill than not have a family. People are sensitive to the homeless and the sick. No one seems to care if you don’t have a family.
I have completed my obligatory visits for 2014. And it may very well be my last trip, at least for a very long while.
He did it again.
It seemed like the middle of the night when I thought I heard a knock at the door. I wanted to ignore it, but my son was sleeping on the sofa bed and I went to check it out.
There he was – my son – receiving instructions in low tones from my father, who had decided to take him fishing. My dad then turned to me and started babbling about my youngest sister closing on a house this week. I glared at him and reminded him I was still half asleep and that this might be the only day in my 18-week training schedule when I didn’t have to get up early to run or go to work. So much for sleeping in.
And I hated him all morning for that.
I started thinking about all of the stupid-ass things he did to me when I was young – waking me up by pouring water in my face or tickling me with my feather pen until I was annoyed into opening my eyes, leading me to believe Santa left me that bundle of switches outside my bedroom door because I was such a bad kid. It dawned on me that if he were born today, he might be diagnosed with some sort of social disorder like Aspbergers, because he really doesn’t know how to deal with people sometimes. Maybe he does have some issues. I just always thought he was an asshole.
So the boys went fishing and the girls hung back and hot-tubbed, read, and watched the rain roll in. Damn it.
The fishermen arrived around lunchtime with photographic evidence of their day’s efforts. My son looked happy and seems to tolerate my father in a way that I cannot. Or maybe I used to, once upon a time.
He left to clean up, then returned to take us all to dinner. He rattled on about this and that, not listening to a goddamn thing anyone else said. I started to tell him about my job, but he just doesn’t hear me. He interrupts to tell me about my cousin’s husband who finally got his citizenship and now has access to some classified something or other. Seriously, I can’t have a fucking conversation with this man.
I understand now why I never felt loved. I understand why I hated him. I understand why I felt like nothing I ever did impressed him or was good enough. Because he never acted like he heard me. Ever. Still doesn’t. I think it’s just the way he is. He has his own agenda. He doesn’t give a shit about yours.
And all the while, I’m wondering if my kids will hate visiting me one day as much as I hate visiting my family.
I finished out the day with another round in the hot tub and a glass of cheap Chardonnay from the Tiki Hut convenience store up the road. My head hurts from too much sugar and fat, and while I hope we get to boat again tomorrow, I’m really ready for my own bed and my regular routine. There are many things I miss this week, not the least of which is my gym time.
Friday will be a colorful (I’m certain) visit with my great Uncle Dick, and an uncomfortable (I’m even more certain) evening with my sister and her family at my mother’s before we
escape head home on Saturday.
And that will be the end of this year’s family torture. I’m going to put a note on my calendar to remind me to read these posts if I am stupid enough to consider it again next summer.
The second day of the trip began the way most of my days begin – with the donning of the running gear and a glance at the schedule while the kids lay sleeping. I had contacted the local high school before we left to see if I could make use of their running track for my interval training. The answer was yes, and that’s where I went.
It was a nice, quiet run – only one other person was in sight, painting the lines on the football field. We left each other alone to our separate tasks and finished and left without incident.
I had worked up a ridiculous sweat, as I always do, but intervals get me going more so than usual. Soaked and smelly, I hit the grocery store while I was there in town for some “not junk” food for our home away from home. I got some really strange looks from people who looked pretty strange to me in their regular clothes.
The kids were up and awake and ready for adventure when I returned, so we headed for the boat dock to grab a pontoon boat and hit the lake.
My son was terrified – he always is in the beginning. He feels more comfortable expressing himself now, which is terrific, but the rest of us know how the story ends, so we don’t buy into it so much. By the time we were on the other side of the bridge outside the idle zone, he was kicking back and playing lookout for his sister who decided to go tubing, joking in his usual way.
Our tradition is to find a quiet cove, drop anchor, and swim for a bit. So we did. I was a little bit worried that the kids would be bored, but it’s amazing what can entertain you when you unplug from the electronic world for awhile and immerse yourself in nature.
I made my way to the shore side of the cove; I was hoping to relax in the sun on the “beach.” My little ducklings followed – all of them – and we sat on the gravelly ground with our toes in the water, skipping stones and watching tiny fish nip at our feet. Never missing an opportunity to educate, I told my kids the stones below us were shale stones and showed them the lines of sediment that made beautiful patterns. One of my daughters announced that shale was very soft (a tidbit of info deposited in her brain from her extensive 8th-grade earth science education), so we began breaking the rocks with no effort at all, showing each other our super powers when it came to the really big ones.
They were great for skipping, those flat smooth pieces of shale. One of the kids got 7 skips, I think.
I had some trouble starting the boat again after that. I tried to call the contact number I had, but our phone reception was poor and eventually I was able to get the thing going again.
We explored the rest of the gigantic lake and even saw a bald eagle take off from the side of a hill. I’d never seen one and didn’t understand the big deal about them, but seeing one take flight in person was amazing. This graceful, majestic bird commanded my attention and gained my respect.
A little while later, I was zig-zagging around an open area to pull my daughter through the wake and jazz up her tubing experience, when I saw another pontoon boat nearby that was tracking in the same direction I was. I didn’t want to chance a collision, so I made a big circle, only to see that they were following. I got a little nervous when I saw two men on the other boat.
It was the guys from the dock who had received my calls but couldn’t hear me, so they had set out to make sure we were okay. How Hoosierly of them! I told them we were fine and thanked them; they went on their way.
More tubing and joke-cracking and family silliness.
My son anxiously yelled for me to stop the boat, having seen the hand signal from my daughter on the tube. What happened? She says something sank into the water, and the gas tank was now floating behind the motor, though still attached to the boat.
I took a good look and all of the wires and tubes appeared to be intact. Gas wasn’t leaking into the water. I figured I could untangle the gas line and pull the tank onto the boat and we could proceed, but, not being a boat expert, I thought maybe I would cause further issue and decided to call the boat guys. This time the reception was better in the middle of the lake.
They were on their way. Again.
As we sat and waited, drifting in the water with the engine off, I watched my son handle the whole emergency like a champ, which amused me because this was exactly the kind of thing he was worried about.
The boat guys examined the situation and did exactly what I was planning to do – they pulled up the tank and secured it inside the boat, and had us start her up and get moving. All was well as we headed for home to clean up for dinner.
Quick showers inside – huge storm outside. Holy shit, am I glad it didn’t cut loose like that while we were still on the lake.
We headed into the closest town to hunt down some wings to satisfy my middle child’s cravings. I had some ideas, but wanted us all to agree. We settled on a place called Thirty-Six Saloon. Seemed like a good candidate for wings, and I didn’t see a bunch of cars there just yet, so hopefully it wasn’t too drunk and disorderly. We agreed to take a peek and head for the car if it wasn’t family-friendly.
We marveled at the etched artwork in the big wooden door and opened it.
Inside, we found a very saloon-like atmosphere, with wood beams in the high ceilings and mounted trophies everywhere. Where they didn’t stuff ’em, they skinned ’em and mounted the fur on the wall. Moose, deer, ducks, foxes, bears, fish… you name it – they killed it. Peanut shells were scattered on the floor and we noticed barrels with big scoops and a “help yourself” attitude.
But it wasn’t drunk and disorderly at this hour, so we took a seat and ordered a pretty good supper for these parts.
By the time we finished, the storm had passed, the sun was shining, and all was well. We stopped at the Big Berry for a traditional scoop of outstanding ice cream and dragged our tired bones home.
Day 2 was a very good vacation day, and I had forgotten all about my dysfunctional family and my stress. My kids may be the product of dysfunction, but today, they were happy kids. Happy kids make happy moms.