Tell me what you’re running from

Source: momentumrunningco.com
Source: momentumrunningco.com

When I wrote this post called The deer and the hunter, I had a completely different idea in mind at first. I started off writing about running. Somehow it ran in a different direction (see what I did there?). Here is where my idea started.

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Sometimes when I’m running, I feel like I’m in a chase scene out of a movie. I’m escaping something behind me, and I’m too anxious to look over my shoulder.

Lately, Ellie Goulding, Florence Welch, and my new favorite artist, Charlotte OC, have all asked me what I’m running from.

I finally realized that I haven’t stopped running. I’m not safe yet. Danger still lurks behind. I’m racing as far as I can.

But what am (or who) am I running from?

First, the whats:

I’m running, first and foremost, from my anxiety. For months, I was a mess. Day to day was a battle. I was a prisoner of war and I’ve escaped.

I’m running from my new-found insecurities that stemmed from a boyfriend wanting someone else.

I’m running from my questions. The “what have I dones” and “who is she” and “why did this happen to me” and “how could you.”

I’m running from my body. Sometimes I want to run right out of my flesh and find a body I’m satisfied with. How many miles would that take?

I’m running from my devils. The thought disorders that gnaw at my brain. Thoughts that aren’t based on reality, but in my times of weakness, they become my reality.

Now, the whos:

I’m running from him. Not the him I met three years ago. Not the him who told me what I craved at the time. Not the him that I loved (even though I hate admitting it now).

I’m running from the him who looked me in the eyes and lied. The him who falsely proclaimed his love for selfish gain. The him who already found someone else. The him who became another mistake. Another regret. Another battle. Another “you’ll find someone better” or “we didn’t like him anyway” or “it’s karma that she gave him chlamydia.” Despite the truth in all those statements, it hasn’t stopped me from running.

I’m running from her. A girl I do not know, never will know, yet dangerously obsessed over before I ran further. A girl who may or may not have known who I was. A girl who I judged and labeled. A girl who he wanted more than me. A girl who he wanted despite the disease she infected him with. It was clear that she had something he couldn’t escape, because he didn’t let his STD stop him from running to her when he needed a fix.

Most of all, I’m running from myself. I’m running from the realization that none of it matters. I’m running to shield myself from the question, “But why do these thoughts upset me?” I’m running because I’m not okay yet, and I’m impatient. I’m counting down to the day that I think of me, and no one else. I’m running to pretend I’m not wounded anymore. The bandages are still wrapped around my arms, but I haven’t taken them off yet. I don’t know if the bleeding’s stopped.

Once I do remove those bandages, once the bleeding has stopped, the scars will be there. I’ll carry them with me for the rest of my life, like everything else that has shaped who I currently am as I run on the concrete. I don’t think much of the scars I’ve accumulated over the course of my 25 years. They’re a part of me. I can do nothing to erase them. I’m not airbrushed or tanned, and I don’t cover them up anymore. I’m learning that it’s okay I’m not perfect, and that I never have been.

These new wounds will be the same someday. They’ll be obvious when the scars are healing. Everyone will be able to see them. Yet I don’t want to cover them up. I don’t want to hide anymore. I know that there are other girls who’ve been through this, and it’s an insult to myself to pretend I haven’t been wounded. It’s a disservice to myself to strive for perfection because it doesn’t exist.

The wounds will join the rest of my scars as memories that have proven I’m not weak. If I were weak, I would have hidden. I wouldn’t have accumulated more scars because I would have been too weak to put myself in the battlegrounds again. But I ran back in every time. The hope meekly overcame the doubts, the aching wounds, the tears, the black hole of negativity.

I have learned recently that I have control. I’m not weak. I can control the “what have I dones” and the “why did this happen” and the “I’m not good enough.” None of those thoughts have any realistic basis, and I’m gaining control of it now. For the first time in my life, I’m in control.

For now, I’m still running. But I’m in control of how long. I can stop when I want to. I will remove the bandages when I feel that the wounds have scarred and it’s safe. I’m safe running by myself.

96 Comments

  1. Not indulging comparisons is usually pretty good advice, though seldom being easily taken by the intended recipient. Somewhat perversely, we like to inhabit the narratives we create about what we think we are, and what we think our past was as if some objective and extant reality. We cling to feelings, whether they be pleasant or unpleasant, and wrongly assume this is what being alive means.

    1. That’s good advice, and I agree with your thoughts. We believe our feelings are reality, and base our feelings on our thoughts. It seems like for me, once I’ve gotten more control over my thoughts, it’s easier to have more realistic feelings.

  2. This interests me–as someone who runs and who has found it affirming–because I’ve never thought of or felt my running as a means of escape. That is, I run *toward,* not *from.* It’s very much like my writing in that it’s a very soothing, regenerative act for me. I run toward my body, because in the act of running I am highly aware of my body and what it can do. It’s rare at the end of a run for me to feel a sense of disappointment; instead I feel a sense of wonder and accomplishment (and not because I’m particularly fast; far from it). I tend to appreciate my body and myself more when I run. I think there are many people who don’t run (and perhaps even many who do), who don’t get that. It looks to them like pain and discomfort and torture. It probably helps that I don’t try to kill myself by going faster and further all the time. But when I’m running regularly and within the scope of my fitness, I move through the world and I feel at once challenged and serene. So I’m wondering if there are any things that you feel you are running *to.*

    1. I know what you mean, and I do think maybe someday I’ll be running towards things instead of away from them. I think at this point I’m overcoming the insecurities that even travel with me when I run, and so I feel like I’m in a sense running away from everything I need to forget.

      I think I’m trying to get to a place where I’m running towards better things. Towards a healthier, happier perspective. I’ve used writing to deal with this and use my writing as a tool to deal with the negative thoughts and instead of feed into them, I’m debating them and turning them into thoughts that help me.

      1. I suspect that you’re already running toward good things; it may be that you just haven’t named them yet. 8~)}

  3. As much as you might think of running as a sign of weakness, we both know that running actually makes you stronger, healthier, and more prepared to take on the world. So while you might have felt you were running from something, I choose to think of it as you were running towards a better life, happiness, and an even more impressive Becky. Great post. As always, I will remind you that you rock!

      1. Remember, you’re never truly alone out there on the road. There are others there with you on spirit, and they have your back and are always cheering for you. πŸ™‚

      2. I remember feeling like I was all alone in the world after my divorce, and I’d never want someone important to me to feel like she was all alone…

      3. I know the best thing to do is to agree with Becky. That’s what you’ve told me to do, and I listen well. πŸ˜‰

      4. Nah, I don’t send angry emails unless the person deserves it. It’s very rare. I think what I wrote to The Jerk was the meanest I’ve ever been. But I’d like to think my reasoning for being mean was understandable considering the circumstances.

      5. To be honest, you guys are almost carbon copies of each other. Only you’re not clairvoyant. Or did you know I was going to say that???

      6. Well, sometimes, the halo becomes a little askew and the wings a heavy burden. It happens to the best Angels. Hang in there. πŸ™‚

      7. Since this is a post with running in the title, I will say I am running from this horrible winter. It snowed again today and now it’s cold and incredibly windy. I hate the fact that winter will simply not end!

      8. I am running from winter too. Wisconsin is very bipolar with the weather lately. Now it’s just been really cold and rainy. It wouldn’t surprise me if we got more snow at some point though.

      9. Like I just said in a previous comment, it’s supposed to snow again tonight. This Winter just does not want to end!

      10. It’s much nicer here today, Becky. I went out for a walk this morning and posted some pics. Wish you were here. πŸ˜‰

  4. I understand how you feel completely. Sadly, there are so many going through the same kind of thing, the same kind of pain, the same kind of relentless thoughts. We will get through it even though it really doesn’t feel like it. My thoughts are with you. Hang in there.

    1. Thank you so much. I agree that there are many people going through the same things. I’m glad that we’re all going to be okay. The pain will heal and it’ll all be just a distant memory.

  5. You are really on your way, Rebecca. The toughest lesson I’ve learned in life was that I wasn’t all that I’d built myself up to be: Perfect. Darkness, demons and a divorce took the first chunk in my 40s, and much introspection and mental running reached the realization that the real me was better off than the ideal man I never was. In my 50s came a professional pothole, a layoff at the choice of others that forced me to reevaluate and consider other routes that were every bit as valid — and more gratifying, as it turns out — than the one that had built my work identidy for three decades. So, you, heading into the bright light at 25, my friend, are way ahead of my pace. May you be proud and satisfied of the image in your head and your mirror. I like what I’m reading, Rebecca.

    1. Thank you so much, Mark. That means a lot. I’m sorry to hear about the struggles you’ve gone through in life. I think for me, I’ve learned (finally) how important it is to control my thoughts and focus on the reality of the situations instead of letting my thoughts run away with me.

      1. I don’t consider what I’ve lived through as struggles per se, Rebecca. I think they were chapters of life, learning experiences that one goes through as the years go by. I have a terrific wife, a great daughter your age, and I can write stories that make me quite pleased. Thank you for your kind words, my friend. You are getting into your head in a good way. πŸ™‚

  6. What a bastard. This was really powerful writing, thank you so much for sharing. You keep running, until that assface is nothing but dust on the road.

  7. This post hit a spot in me. I am going through some severe anxiety and have been for the last two months (Wrote a post about just before actually – read it if you want). You also suffered from anxiety everyday for months? I am going through this now. It is horrible.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been suffering from anxiety. I’ll give your post a read. I’m glad that this post resonated with you. I think it can help in knowing that we’re not alone and that we can get better. Counseling has been helping me tremendously. I’ve learned a lot of great coping skills and ways to calm myself down.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

      1. I agree. As long as you’re feeling your feelings and have support, things will always get better. There was a time when I lost an important relationship and I ran a 5k everyday before working out for an hour. It helps with the pain, and it’s good to take care of yourself in that way. It reminds you your worth taking care of, and helps you not to isolate or punch a stranger in the face.

      2. Yeah, I was really sad. It was the thing I had to remember that I was okay, to challenge myself and work toward a goal [at the time I wanted to run the Boston Marathon]. I agree that it’s a really healthy outlet, it changes your whole outlook, puts the grief in perspective a bit.

      3. That’s great you set goals for yourself and had such a great outlet for the pain. We all need those healthy ways of either coping or distracting ourselves from what’s bothering us.

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