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! :-)