the long run home.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I want to preface this post by saying straight-up, I am writing about my last relationship. In the last three months since we broke up, I've been debating whether to write about this on the blog. Most of my experiences and lessons learned come from personal experiences that do not involve other people, so it hasn't felt as odd to write about them openly. 

This is a unique situation where there are others involved, and I wanted to take a moment to iterate, again, that this blog has always been a place for me to write about my life experiences from my individual point of view, with the intention to reflect, process, and share truths with you all. In no way is this piece intended to point fingers, assign blame, or create division.

I am doing what I've always done, utilizing this space to unpack and work through the difficult parts of life: openly, honestly, and authentically. I hope you find whatever you need in these words, for wherever you are in life. 

As always, it is an honor to write, share, and be supported by all of you. My deepest thanks.


I started running again this past week.

I’ve never been much of a distance runner. I used to despise conditioning in high school, whether it was running sidelines during basketball practice or stadiums in the hot August afternoons after tennis practice was over. I’d much rather be doing “something” rather than the nothingness that I felt while running. Why do people do this anyway, I would ask myself as I huffed and puffed my way through a mile run in PE. It didn’t feel fulfilling. It just made me tired. Sometime between then and now, I figured out running is kind of therapeutic. And God knows I’ve leaned into anything therapeutic over the past year.

Without a high school sports team to keep me accountable to stay in shape, I was tasked with the common responsibility of any 20-something, which was finding some way to stay active. Some folks swim, take dance classes, or cycle. Some play pick-up basketball, join a gym, or walk regularly. I don’t have a gym membership, and have never really been into lifting weights, so I came back to something I know: running.

I’m not a marathon runner, and I barely make it down my block before pausing to walk. But I’ve found out the only time I can really clear my head from everything that’s been plaguing my mind recently is through running. Maybe it’s a blessing, maybe it’s a curse, since I usually wake up the next morning sore. My body is pretty confused how we went from sitting around watching Netflix all day to running outside in 105 degree weather. It’s a quick change, but it’s been smooth for the most part. And as weird as it feels, I kind of enjoy it.

I’m not focusing on mileage, pace, or even duration of my runs.
I’m just trying to not focus on anything at all.

The past three months have been particularly difficult. After Paul and I broke up, it felt like my world shattered. Like a rug had just been pulled out from under my feet. I felt incapable of accomplishing anything. I didn’t feel like I could do anything other than obsess over the details and questions I still had, mope around and simply feel miserable at the unfortunate fact that our relationship was over. It felt like anything I tried to do, to feel better, only left me feeling more empty and consumed by thoughts I didn’t want. Why did we break up? Why hasn’t he called? Should I reach out again? Should I apologize? Am I being too pathetic about this whole thing? Why hasn’t he called? Did I royally screw things up? Why won't he respond to my messages? Should I even have hope for us? Should I move on? Is he moving on? Why hasn’t he called? Why hasn’t he called? Why hasn’t he called?

It felt like I went through the grief cycle every day. Depression set in, with bouts of crying and obsessing over every single action. Anger came around, complete with tirades of angry text messages and isolating myself. There were moments of acceptance and peace, short-lived, but sweet nonetheless. But the questions and the thoughts remained through it all.

After a while, the constant thoughts began to feel familiar, and a sense of numbness set in.

At first, I was fearful of it. I assumed feeling numb to anything was a bad thing, but this has been rather helpful. Waking up and not feeling my heart instantly drop into my stomach when I realize the reality of our situation, is surprisingly a nice change. It’s not as shocking as it once was anymore. It’s becoming the slightest bit familiar. With that in mind, I decided to do what I could to help clear my mind – go out and work out until the only thing I could think about was how much my body hurt.

When you’re numb to something, you want to feel something. Anything, really. Some people reach for unhealthy coping mechanisms, but I think I’ve found mine in a new pair of running shoes, a stopwatch, and my old neighborhood streets. The first time I ran, it hurt. My muscles ached, my body heaved, and I felt like I wouldn't ever be able to this again. But although it hurt, it hurt in a good way. Like I knew what I was getting myself into when I walked out the door and into the insane heat. It was a hurt I expected when my breathing got harder and I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead and back. It was a hurt that felt satisfying, as I ran home, legs like jello. It was a satisfaction I had been searching for, slowly flooding my body and soul, physically and emotionally.

It wasn’t a hurt that caught me by surprise, or left me with an unrelenting sense of defeat. It was a hurt that told me, wholeheartedly, that I was doing something good. And it hooked me, instantly. I wanted to feel that feeling again. So I kept running, and I kept chasing that feeling, in hopes that it would become part of my everyday routine. I hoped it would slowly replace the hurt and pain in my heart and soul. I hoped it would help me heal.

I wanted to transform that feeling of satisfaction and strength into who I am.
And I do feel strong, despite feeling like my world fell apart when my relationship ended.

I don’t hesitate in saying that, because that’s what it felt like. I don’t think I invested my entire life in my relationship, but when you are with someone for a long time, they become part of you and ingrained into your life. I’m not ashamed of that, I think it was a natural thing that occurred in my relationship, although it has made the break-up particularly difficult. I had believed my relationship was something that would be permanent, at least for the foreseeable future. I had believed in a lot that didn’t come to fruition, and even though I’m still trying to accept it, I think I’m a step or two closer. I learned not to put all my eggs in one basket, because sometimes baskets break and the eggs crack. Sometimes you aren’t the only one holding the basket, and it’s okay. It’s okay if things break and things crack and life gets messy.

You learn to be okay with it.

The constant refrain in my head has been just that. “I’m trying to be okay, despite feeling the farthest from okay right now.” I think if I keep telling myself that, I’ll eventually feel okay. People keep telling me time heals all wounds, and honestly, I might have wanted to punch the first person who said that to me. How could you ever know what I'm going through, I would ask in my head, You have no idea. I stopped taking people's advice, because I knew I had to find out what was going to make me okay on my own terms and by myself.

And so far, I've found a few.

Running: until I'm drenched in sweat and I can't feel my legs.
Talking: with my Dad about his days in the Air Force and his travels around the world.
Working: with new coworkers who have graciously allowed me into their space and culture.
Writing: about anything and everything.
Reading: The Fellowship of the Ring, and letting myself drift away to far off lands with Frodo and friends.
Believing: that good things are on the way, and I can have hope in that.
Forgetting: things that have been said and done, and things I have said and done, in hopes that the hurt that came with them will eventually go away too.
Watching: too much Law & Order SVU, and ironically, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
Listening: to songs that encapsulate so much of my emotions it's almost surreal.
Stopping: myself from mentioning my relationship in conversations, and instead talking about something else.
Exploring: new places with new people and new gear, feeling that sense of adventure again.
Letting go: of the hope that whatever we had will ever be a part of my life again.
Forgiving: myself and others.
Accepting: it all.

When I head out for a run, I'm not thinking about anything.

I keep my mind clear, because it's one of the few moments I get that sense of silence I ache for so much. There is no more anxious questioning, failed expectations, or lingering disappointment. There is no more worry that he's moving on, and I am stuck, because I'm not. I'm slowly chugging along, step after step, chasing after that feeling of exhaustion, satisfaction, and strength.

I don't know when I will get wherever I'm going, but at least I know this: I'm not where I started, and I know I'm on my way there.

Whatever that finish line is for me, at least I know I'm on my way.


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