On Running. (And Control.)February 15, 2013 at 10:32 am | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), Mindful., My life | 6 Comments
A good blogger friend of mine posted today about a terrible bout of anxiety she’s feeling about where she is right now – she’s perched on the precipice of a lot of unknowns. Which is really hard.
And this sentence got me: The more I can’t control the big issues, the more I micromanage and grab onto smaller things. When we were ttcing it was my weight and body image and running. I couldn’t get pregnant, but I could damn well make sure I got skinny and could run really fast.
That last sentence.
That’s ME right now.
I have finally gotten to the point where realize I am not in control of much of anything in my life. I have a career which is ill-fitting. My relationship with my husband is challenged by the stress of our infertility, the drudgery of our daily life, and parenting. My nearly-five-year-old still wets his pants regularly. I will likely never be pregnant again.
And all of this is uncomfortable. I LIKE having plans. Sitting with decisions, really forcing myself not to CHOOSE anything, really sitting with emotions and feelings… it’s kind of exhausting and tiring and uncomfortable. And hard.
Except there’s one thing in my life which I DO have some measure of control over: running. And food choices.
I wish I could bottle up the feeling of nailing a workout, how amazing and light and fast I feel.
Words don’t do that feeling justice either. It’s joy. Freedom. Sometimes exhaustion. Sheer will. The rush of pushing past some mental barrier and realizing that you can DO something you previously thought you weren’t capable of. I have moments where my overriding feeling is, I am MADE for this. That feeling you get when running is changeable, like catching lightning in a bottle. But always, always, always fulfilling.
After being snowed in with my family for two full days last weekend, I went out the day after the blizzard for my long run and experienced nothing more than sheer JOY. The run had it all: birdsong, the crunch of the snow under my sneakers, the quiet without any traffic, the people outside shoveling I got to greet… it was perfection.
A run is the one thing in my life right now that gives me joy, and success, and happiness. It makes up for all the ways I am failing everywhere else.
Because, you see, I DO feel as if I’m failing a lot. At work, I fail to be detail oriented; I am trying not to be crippled with self-doubt right now whenever I turn in something I’ve worked on, but it is so hard to banish the Inner Critic who tells me it’ll never be good enough.
I fail to be patient with my son, who still struggles with using the damn potty. We have been dealing with accidents for far too long, and I am nearly at my wits’ end* with it all. Our conversations when I discover that he’s wet often end up with him telling me, Stop being mad at me, Mommy. (I don’t yell, nor punish him for it, but I do lecture. I just can’t be neutral about it any more, no matter how hard I try.)
I also fail to be a good wife nowadays. Charlie is under some pretty tough work stress, and though I know he could use support and kindness, I’m having trouble not being resentful of the fact I feel like his work takes precedence over me or Lucky. I am failing at giving him the support he needs without expecting something in return.
I also have failed, utterly, to complete our family. I am mourning, already, the end of Lucky’s childhood; it’s going by so fast and I won’t ever get to experience it again. I mourn FOR him, the fact that he will have to bear the burden of taking care of Charlie and I at some point in the future on his own, that he has no one to share the burden. I mourn that his children won’t have cousins.
My body has failed. Failed me in the most fundamental way, on the deepest, most basic level possible. My body will not produce children. I have one child, yes, but that’s a product of luck. Happy luck, clearly. But luck.
It all melts away when I go out for a run, when I look down and see a pace which I never thought of as “comfortable” and I realize I am barely exerting myself. When I run a race and completely shock myself with the pace – nearly 3 minutes faster over the distance than I did in May of last year. When I go to track practice and get stronger and faster as the workout goes on, instead of giving in to my tired muscles and stopping.
Running is when I can get caught up in the sheer joy of DOING something with my body. Running frees me in a way I don’t have in other parts of my life. It gives me happiness, and a sense of control, and a deep thankfulness for my body and what I can accomplish with it.
But yeah. There’s the control thing again. This is another way for me to grasp at control over something. It’s an escape, too. I can get away from the Fail of my life for a while; escape into the run, and come home feeling stronger.
And it makes me wonder if this means I am falling back into my old patterns; where I am looking for SOMETHING I can control, since I feel so out of control with everything else. Except it’s hard now.
With running, I don’t WANT to let it go. I have accepted the fact that I can’t control EVERYTHING. But can’t I have one area of my life where I feel like I can work hard and see the benefit?
Or is that unhealthy, too?
I don’t know.
I suppose the best I can hope for is that someday, running is just something I do, and not something I need. Because I NEED it right now. Right now, I need the joy, the release, the feeling of being good at SOMETHING.
*Thanks to a comment on my blog, we just ordered Lucky a watch which can be set to vibrate every two hours. Our new strategy is to talk up the fact that the “doctor” suggests that we do this; that THIS is the way he will be able to keep his underwear dry – use the potty every time Mr. Watch tells him to. We’ve mentioned it to his teachers and they’re willing to work with us on this. We’ll see what happens.