“I picture myself running outside with lightness and a smile across my face.”
This vision of myself as a happy, free runner seemingly came out of nowhere. I was listening to a spiritual teacher who encouraged me to write down a vision for my future. The thing about writing, especially with pen and paper, is that it tends to take on a life of its own. I’ll jot things down and surprise myself with the truth that emerges. “Wow, THAT is what I believe?” My truth, something beautiful and sometimes brutal (or brutiful), is right there on the page, and I can’t ignore it.
In the past running always meant punishment, either doled out by masochistic sports coaches or inflicted upon myself in pursuit of a different kind of body. (Let’s be real: a smaller, tighter body.) It was defined by force, dread, and vicious self-talk. And yet, I did it. I made myself do it. I hated it, but I never let myself stop.
That is, until a few weeks ago.
To make a long, complicated story short, I found myself thrust into a dark night of the soul, a ruthless process of uncovering painful memories, releasing trauma and emotions buried within my body, and coming to terms with how these events in my life have shaped me in ways I never saw until now. It has been a gift, though it has often felt like a curse. I liken to a stomach virus: just when you think you’re done throwing up, there’s more.
But eventually, the purging stopped. My body calmed. And I found that I was no longer the person I was before this process started.
One day, I was heading down to the basement to do my normal work out and I felt pulled to go outside. “I’m going to run.” It had been a solid year since I last went out for a run, so I was nervous about how this would go. As I transitioned from a walk into a light jog, it was as if I were running for the very first time. Where I had once felt heaviness, I felt lightness. It was as if a 10-pound weighted vest had been lifted off my body, and for the first time, I understood why people actually enjoy running: it made me feel free. I found myself smiling, even laughing, as I made my way down the path. I was so amazed at what my body was capable of.
I say all of this, not to encourage you to take up running, but to let you know that healing is possible for every single one of us. And it’s worth all of the pain in the process because on the other side is something more beautiful than you could ever imagine.