Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You may not recognize me....

I'm not so sure I do.

I'm thirty now... Not particularly old, not particularly young. Yet, I feel both renewed and alert like a child and wise and calm like a person of a much greater age. I can tell you that I never expected any of this. I never thought I would change so drastically. I certainly never thought it would bring about a level of happiness and fulfillment like I am enjoying even at this very second.

Not many people have the courage to be happy. I stood at the door a long time before I was brave enough to open it.

I have never been happier in my life.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A new kind of athlete.....

I am at a crossroads. I didn't even realize it, but apparently I am. Last night, I was sitting drinking coffee with Mark and he asked me, "So you aren't training for anything??? Nothing? That doesn't seem like you.... why?" I sighed and stared at the ceiling. "I don't know. I am just not there. I am just loving my workouts and .... i don't know... just running to run. The rage is gone..." Mark was clearly perplexed and more explanation was necessary. So, I slowly tried to weed through my thoughts because, honestly, I was considering it for the first time myself.

I have always been a successful athlete, never played a sport at which I didn't excel (some more than others, of course). But running was different. I came to running because I was pissed. Not frustrated, not upset..... completely and utterly pissed off at all life had handed me. The rage started as a small bubble in my stomach and consumed me over the years. I was angry that my feet and legs hurt so badly from a botched surgery. I was angry that I felt pulled in the direction of one lifestyle by expectation but another by design and desire. I felt angry that I sold myself short in a relationship that was neither right or fulfilling but expected, thus ending in a chasm that left me fighting to find my equilibrium while satisfying the "fairytale" that wasn't meant to be mine. In other words, a string of relationships that rested on everything that wasn't right. Regardless of the fact that each person was a good person and that I am a good person, the relationships were bad and the reactive behaviors were worse. I was angry that I couldn't find satisfaction and fulfillment in my career after changing paths to satisfy yet another person besides myself. And quite frankly, I was enraged at the cosmic joke of a miscarriage given to a person who had been told they couldn't even get pregnant. Roxy's death was the final straw. What had once started as a bubble was a full force volcanic explosion. Nothing could stand in the way of the destruction!

It's interesting. In my path of destruction, much like hot lava, I ran rampant on my course but left behind a uniqueness and beauty that touched people and forever changed the landscape of their lives. I am thankful for that. There was good in the whole thing, not just devastation. The lava has lost it's heat, though. I am in the best place I have ever been and the rage that once erupted from my body and drove me forward at a breakneck pace is gone. I'm happy for that, I really am. But, I am also a little lost. I rode on a wave of rage for nearly 10 yrs. It burned my feet and sizzled my soul. I was part monster, part unmatchable force, and part magnetic draw. The monster is gone, I know, perhaps the force and the magnetism are still there? I don't know.

In the past months, I have done some really cool things.... I have done them with friends and loved ones. I have enjoyed moments that in years past would have missed my attention. I have moments now where I feel like I am floating above my life looking in and I can't help but to feel my heart swell and to think "Is this really my life? Am I really this lucky?" And I'm not talking about monumental moments, either. These are seemingly nothing moments. The rage is gone. I have no idea what drives you to do more, accomplish more, work harder, run faster, win more once the rage is gone. I'm a new kind of athlete, it's like running again for the first time, it's weird.

I am running at 8:30 pm tonight with my mom. I would never have done that before. It's too late, not the right pace, it interferes with work, blah blah blah... But I am looking forward to it. I've got nowhere to go fast. I think I might float above the moment and watch it. It should be a good one :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Live like you are dying...

I woke up this morning at 3:50 am. Yes, I know..... it's ridiculous. But Isabella (my 9 mos. old lab) insisted it was time to run and who am I to argue with that sweet little face? So, I laced it up and headed out into the darkness. Now, you might find this shocking, but at 4:20 am on a Saturday morning there is not much action and it's quite easy to find yourself within your head.

My family is always onto me about running alone in the dark. I know it is warranted, but I just never really give it a thought.

Izzy and I started out at a breakneck pace into the dark (she has yet to learn the art of pacing).
Around mile 3, I passed a man just standing on the sidewalk and it occured to me that if today was the day that the stars aligned, it could be over in a matter of seconds... I didn't feel afraid or worried or anything, just very aware of the fact that not a second of life is guaranteed. And that awareness made me start assessing how I feel about the way I live my life. Right now, there is a popular song out that says to "live like you are dying." I've always considered myself a person that lived this way because I never "wish" I could do something. I simply do it. I have zig-zagged all over the map "living life to the fullest." Don't get me wrong. It has led to a lot of really fun experiences and a ridiculous number of "fish stories" that get retold again and again. It recently became clear to me, though, that just doing all the things I want to do isn't living like I am dying. That's only one facet of a much bigger picture. The other parts are a whole lot scarier.

As I think about the self exploration and life reflection I have done in the last 3 months, the common theme is a lack of vulnerability and a complete inability to just accept everyone I meet for who they are, where they are in life, and without any expectation that they will ever be anything other than what they are right this moment. Yet another hard truth in a long line of hard truths about myself. I have neither loved people well, nor have I been loveable because I was so afraid of who I was inside that I couldn't let people see the real me, love the real me. And, in response, I have loved people with great caution and reservation assuming that they too must be hiding their true self.

It occured to me that if I were to die, I would never have known what it feels like to be fully loved or to love fully. As I have traveled through the last 3 months, I have discovered how much more fulfilling life can be when you begin to truly embrace all the special people in your life and then allow them to embrace you. As I write this, I feel full inside. The emptiness and darkness that has haunted me for a lifetime is gone. My heart is bursting with the experience and sensation of basking in the love that has been available all along. Equally, I am shocked by how fulfilling it is to truly love people in return. Sure, I feel vulnerable. Its scary to tell people how much they mean to you, how special they are. Its even scarier to be truthful and honest about your own thoughts, feelings, and needs. EXPOSING!

It has been so amazing to know that the important people in my life can truly know me and still come back for more...

So, here I am. This is me. I am more ok with that than I have ever been. I am enjoying people like I never thought possible. And I now know what it means to "live" and "love" like you are dying...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

This has been an amazing year for me so far. That is a strange thought considering I have spent more time injured than well and until this week, I was barely able to log even a third of the weekly mileage I was doing pre-marathon (December). Historically, my mental well-being has been strongly linked to my running, and my sanity, in general, has relied on the daily sweat sessions in order to maintain some semblance of normalcy. But, like a heroine addict entering rehab, it was snatched away from me. I ruptured my posterior tibial tendon when I rolled my ankle back in November and the marathon was the last straw before my body asked me to take a break and let it breathe for a second..... gulp! Commence the withdrawal shakes, inner brain wars with ugly demons, and floundering self-esteem. How the hell am I supposed to deal with all the crap inside of me without running?!?!? After several "relapses" and subsequent bodily revolts, I knew the options were quite clear:

1. Take the time COMPLETELY off from running and just heal for God's sake...... and learn a
new, improved, healthy way to deal with your mushy brain. Clearly, the world is not going to
come to an end just because Rebecca Wroten cannot go log miles.....


2. Keep pushing it... Go ahead... you just keep pushing your body until the running gods take
running away from you permanently.... I double dog dare ya...


I enlisted the help of Dr Frank Shultz to give me someone to talk to about all the swirling junk in my head, but also to help me understand why it was there and how to better deal with it. My friend/colleague/adoptive mother/sounding board, Betsy, tells me almost daily that the hardest change to make is self-change and the hardest person to deal with is the one that looks back at you every morning in the mirror. Oh, how true! This was a scary journey, but a necessary one, and I felt like the timing was impeccable.

I am looking down the path and I see the door to my thirties just ahead. If I turn and look back at my twenties, it is not a pretty sight-- full of bad decisions, self imposed chaos, multiple directional changes. As Dr Shultz puts it, I haven't done anything "wrong," I've just survived and sought answers using the map I was given and the knowledge I had acquired through the years. I was seeking a path the only way I knew how, survival mode, and I was doing a hella good job at surviving..... the problem has been thriving. The map I had wasn't cutting it, but venturing away from what you know, heading off the beaten path requires a lot of courage, humility up the wazoo, and determination. My map was a circle and I was diligently running the loop over and over again in an attempt to somehow end up somewhere else. Maybe you can see what I couldn't..... that was never gonna happen..... huh..... weird.

So here we are, three months later. I haven't written much about this journey... at least not publicly. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done. I have had to become vulnerable, to open the ginormous gate to my heart and break down some pretty thick walls. I do not like to feel vulnerable, it is a scary scary scary feeling. I have had to look myself in the mirror and decide that I'm ok with me, just as I am. I have had to start to learn to love people unconditionally, for where they are right now rather than trying to "fix" them or "save" them. They aren't broken or lost, they are on a journey just like me and all I can do is show them a different map. I have had to learn to be okay enough with myself to accept love rather than trying constantly to earn it, working harder and harder to prove that I deserve whatever love is given to me.

This week I ran a long run. It was a wednesday morning at 11 am. I ran to Betsy's office and I cried. Not a sweat cry (ok, well yes a sweat cry but this one involved tears too). My first real, true, tears and everything cry in 15 months. Tears actually fell from my eyes. My stomach squeezed, my heart flipped circles, my brain stopped working... and then, I ran some more. I ran a hole right through the bottom of my shoe. I blazed a trail until my body ached like my heart and all the pent up emotions fell from my eyes. This was a different sorta run, like a final hoorah, a goodbye to my past. Not that I will never again run out my emotions, but that my emotional well-being will no longer rest solely on that release.

I took a turn.

I stepped off the loop I have been running for over a decade now.

I am heading in a direction for which I do not have a map. It's a little scary, I'm not gonna lie, but it's the only way to move forward....... at a full tilt run, of course! :-)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Broke Ass Human

Once, when I was in my early twenties, I laid on my belly in the back of a Toyota Tacoma pick up truck for three hours. Every few minutes, I would inch forward just a smidge, slowly, methodically. Crouched under the toolbox was a dog that had been so badly abused that his insides no longer functioned properly. He was shaking, scared, and trapped. I was his only hope and his biggest enemy. Three hours. My knees and elbows ached and my back was screaming. But it was totally worth it when I first touched his head. He jumped and snarled baring his teeth and pretending he had any fight left in him. I knew better. I knew how he felt. An hour later, he was out of the truck and leaning against my leg. Ultimately, the thing he feared more than anything- human- had been the thing that saved him.

Yesterday, I held a young girl in my lap. She was beaten and abused. Her insides had been ripped out by a monster and her wisdom exceeded her age. When I looked into her eyes, I saw my own reflection and I felt our hearts meld into one. I understood. She knew. In her eyes, I could see the fear, the mistrust and the fight for survival. I held her against my chest and felt her relax against me. She has such a long road ahead, so many hurdles seen and unseen to jump. The demons can destroy her or she can destroy them. Who will win is anyone's guess. Ultimately, the thing she fears the most- trust- will be the only thing that can save her.

I ran today, a real run. A freedom run. A run like I haven't run in quite some time. And I cried today, a real cry. A freedom cry. A cry like I haven't cried in quite some time. Mostly I cried sweat. Who knows if I will ever learn to truly cry tears again? But my heart cried. I felt an ache so deep. I saw that little girl, wide eyed and terrified. I know how hard she will have to fight to see a straight line again and I know that unlike that dog, she may never be able to trust again.

My own wounds seem so deep sometimes that I wonder how much longer it will be before there is no warm, gooey center left. How long before every last drop has just seeped right out? Can they still heal at nearly 30 yrs old? I like to think so. This month is dedicated to that little girl. I will hold her and love her and show her how to trust again. I will destroy the walls before they can be built any higher. I will teach her to fight for herself and how to fight for love because it can exist, just not without trust.

There is some tough stuff ahead, but she is depending on me. I won't let her down.

"We are Broke Ass Humans. Cleansed by His blood and held in His hands, we are safe. We are better for being broken." -Jeff

Friday, January 1, 2010

Every so often, I find myself in a bit of a pickle. Ok, well actually if the truth be told, I seem to always find myself in strange situations. But that is a completely different conversation. It goes sort of like this: I am riding along, just cruising. My tunes are blasting in my ears, my head is bee-bopping side to side. I am, inevitably, belting out some song at the top of my lungs. Life is good and I am carelessly blissful. And then, in an instant, the road is gone and I am wide-eyed with hands on the brakes and the tires squealing...... My heart races, the adrenaline pumps full steam ahead, all my muscles tense, and I am so wound up that the ensuing crash is almost a blissful finale.

Sprawled out, twisted, battered and bruised, spread eagle on the ground. I can't help but to laugh at myself. Hmmm. This view is familiar! I have seen it before!! I have powered forward at full speed so quickly, almost desperately even, focused so fully on the horizon that I didn't even see the gigantic river RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME! This isn't the first crash and I can say with full confidence that it will not be the last. It is in my bones, my very nature. Like a 3 yr old running hog wild through the house in an attempt to stay awake, I run at full tilt trying to do anything to avoid quiet and silence. Anything to stay out of my head. I hate that place. Stillness makes my mind suffocate and scream for help. The thoughts and doubts (yes, I have them too) are my dementors and it is so much easier to outrun them than to face them.

And that brings me to January 2010. This will be one of my hardest monthly challenges and I find it fitting to do it from the start. Last night at midnight, I didn't tumble out of 2009 and claw my way to 2010. Nope. Last night, I hoisted my bike on my shoulder and with complete confidence and poise, and not too much fanfare, crossed the narrow bridge into the new year. This month, I face the stillness that I hate so much. It's yoga month. Three times a week, I will shut out the world, turn off the technology, and savor (or hate) an hour that is fully mine. God, help me. I am deathly afraid of the hours to come. I am afraid to commit to these hours that will infringe on my running, my biking, my incessant workload. I am afraid of the shadows looming inside that will only grow bigger and scarier in the stillness. And I am scared sh*tless of a weekend spent in a Yoga Ashram with people so calm and centered (and a bit kooky :P) that I feel my energy will drown everyone there. Just my presence will turn the place on end; I will create enemies just by being there! Unless I can FINALLY learn to control it. I'm not so sure I can but I am going to try. I have no doubt there will be tears, that meditation will be a cacophony of evil voices. I will have to hear them out. I will have to agree with some of them and learn to ignore the others.

My hope is that I can learn to embrace the calmness. That I can find a peaceful blackness inside my head, rather than the cave-like place that is there now. The cave with all the bright eyes glowing from every direction refusing to declare themselves friend or foe. *shudder* My friend of nearly a decade, Kristen, said to me "For as long as I have known you Becca, there has never once been a day when I asked what you were doing next and you said 'nothing.' It's always a list of things that no human could accomplish in a day."

So, here we go. I hope you'll come with me. Pick up your bike and cross the bridge with me. Find some balance this month and learn to enjoy stillness.

This is gonna suck....