Last Spring, I watched a documentary about the women’s movement. It started with the story of Katherine Switzer who ran the Boston Marathon “illegally” in 1967 and then she ran it again in 2017. While standing in the back of the room watching the clip with my students, I cried a little when she talked about being a woman in sports in the late 1960s and how in running that first marathon in Boston she became a woman. She had not started the marathon with the intention to run on behalf of all women, but once her ability was called into dramatic question by the race’s organizer she had to finish the race. If you have not seen the clip yourself, you should: I dare you to tell me you did not get emotional watching this!
This 3 minute and 20 second clip sat with me. Then at the end of June my co-worker said he was signing up for a half-marathon in August in Rockport. I thought, “Why not?” It might seem silly but I felt very motivated to feel just a sliver of what Switzer articulated about being alone with one’s thoughts and about having to “grow up” a bit along the course of the run. Our minds are very powerful. When we feel weak and want to quit, that mind of ours usually knows exactly what to say: you have done enough, it is okay to stop, don’t worry about it, and maybe try again some other time. I wanted to sit with those thoughts, feel them in my muscles and fight agains them. It would be so empowering to turn the volume way down low on that negative self-talk and to take control and do something that felt a bit outrageous to me. I am not a runner. Prior to “training” for this half marathon, I had not run more than a mile here and there, if that. After having Owen, I had not really committed to any consistent form of exercise feeling too sleep deprived and now that little guy turned 1 in April. And, feeling still a bit out of sorts about not having control anymore over my reproductive future, I needed something to channel my anger, my sadness, and to get me out of fixated thoughts about no longer having babies while my friends seem to be wildly fertile these days and get my head into some different space. So I started running.
I am not a huge fan of the silence. It is scary (but I also don’t like listening to programed music). I don’t like the massive sweating or the sore feet after a long haul. Sometimes the sun is too hot or my breathing is too ragged. I am sure a running coach would have lots of tips and tricks and things to share with me about improving my gait or changing my shoes for a more pricey brand. But every few days, I hit the pavement and for the minutes (or even hours), I am alone with myself. I have to decided every time if I am going to commit to it, stop, or go. I have to decide the internal dialogue. At first it was always about feeling disempowered and rejected. But, as I got a little stronger, the dialogue became more positive and encouraging. It questioned how far I could go in a “I dare you to keep at it” kind of way. It might even say I enjoy it. I finished the half marathon on Sunday. My time was nothing to brag about, but the race was complete and I have an itch to try one again. Did it heal my broken heart? No. Did it help? A bit. So I guess that is a start and maybe the Fall will be a good time to feel those breezy temps on my skin and to keep working on growing up or at least outgrowing the mental obstacles I keep.
Have you been watching the bachelorette? This season has been awesome. According to Chris Harrison, it is the most dramatic season in bachelor nation history (as they all are!). But there is one contestant for love who truly resonates with me. His name is Dean. Now I do not want to pretend that I know his inner workings but from what I can see from the carefully curated snippets of him, I get him and I like him a lot (although Rachel did not like this young man too much and just sent my boy packing). So yes, he is dreamy and that dynamite smile is so captivating but this last week his emotional state was what was most attractive. Dean has had loss in his life (the kind of which I have not experienced) and his family is eccentric and these two things have shaped him. It was clear after watching his hometown that his life, health, understanding of himself, understanding of love, experiences, and what he wants from his future were shaped in the non-linear path of emotional turmoil. Despite his particular mix of life giving him every reason to be jaded or cruel, he is able to walk in his raw emotions but also step outside of them and be present in the moment and explore the future possibility of love. I get that. Some people might see it as compartmented but it makes a lot of sense to me, that one can occupy both spaces at once.
David and I were snuggled up on the couch when he asked, “How are you doing?” After my emotional rollercoaster of a week, I said fine and he was unable to understand how I could be so fragile and broken a few days ago but seemingly okay today. It is hard to say, but I don’t want to live in the raw and uncomfortable always. I am not so consumed by that pain that I am unable to be like Dean and smile genuinely enjoying the present moment. I carry both of those worlds with me. Both are real, valid, and constant but neither has to dominate or diminish the other. I love my life, my husband, kids and the bubble of awesome we have created and I live here and occupy that emotional space with eyes towards future joys constantly and consistently. Sometimes I ache but feelings, even uncomfortable ones, make us human! I can only hope that by being totally open and honest about emotional health and well-being I become more and more comfortable in my worlds and that I model for my sons how to articulate their emotional spaces and needs. I want them to have the kind of love I have with David. One in which we can get real, get to those sticking places, and continue to love hard and truly because life is complicated but being able to verbally share one’s hardships opens up so so so many doors to beautiful, real joys that go so deep. For me, sharing that emotional space is important. It is what makes the difference in a marriage. It is what helps us become comfortable in our own skin. It helps us move forward without feeling like we need to “play nice” or pretend. It is sexy! And heck, Dean is sexy. So hopefully by the time my boys are ready to go searching for their life partners on a reality dating show or in the wild they will feel ready to be open, honest, and real about their own emotional spaces and draw in the kind of person who forever wants to learn more about them and their hearts, and loves them hard – bumps and all! (Thank you, David)
Things feel a bit hard today. The travel part of my Wisconsin weekend has tired me out. My luck was just not good with those flights (but, yes we landed safely and I am grateful for that, just not for the headaches associated). This helps contribute to the rawness of all things. And last night David got his official “zero” from the procedure and I feel a bit numb. It feels as though the progress I told myself I made in these past three months feels for naught now that the reality that the procedure worked was confirmed. I am not sure how I feel. I feel some relief that now we know and there is no more waiting game to play but I also feel alone, depressed, miserable and confused. I want to run away, I want to rewind and start this chapter of my life over again, I want to not feel like an ungrateful cry-baby. I feel like the decision was selfish on David’s part (but there is no real room for compromise, you cannot have half a kid). It just really sucks being the person to have to lose out on this decision. David gets what he wants, I get told be grateful, be happy, move on. I want to stew indefinitely, I want to be taken seriously, I want to be left alone. I want to feel like if I shared these feelings my friends and family would not be tired of hearing me AGAIN complain about my “problem.” I want to stop feeling crazy and to be able to quiet my mind. I want to believe that two kids are enough but I just know in my heart I will forever be missing someone…be missing that little person from my life.