“I talked to Gretchen yesterday,” my therapist Kirsten said to me during one of our session a little over a year into treatment “she said you have gone another week without gaining any weight, what do you think might be going on?”
“I don’t know,” I answered avoiding direct eye contact with her, “I think my body might just be done gaining weight.”
“Do you really think that is true?” She pressed, I felt her direct gaze upon me and it was making me break into into a little sweat.
“No but…..God why is this so hard?” My head flopped back on the couch and my hands slapped the couch with the dull thud.
“Hard? I have known you for a year and a half”, Kirsten said earnestly leaning forwards on her chair, “and you are not the kind of person that will let hard stop you from getting what you want.”
Back ten years earlier, I wanted to be a runner. It wasn’t about weight, I felt I was in great physical shape, it was a mental game, and one, after my bout on the beach, I was ready to play. Immediately upon returning from that family trip I found a running app that tracked miles traveled and I mapped out a four-mile loop in the tree lined paths of my neighborhood.
I developed a plan to attack it in bits, run a quarter mile, walk a quarter mile, run a half a mile, walk a quarter mile, and so on. I had new running shoes, an iPod loaded with upbeat inspiring music, including my favorite Manilow tune, Copacabana, (don’t judge), and three times a week after dropping the boys at school, I hit the road. (Not the treadmill, B-O-R-I-N-G). It was hard and for the first ten minutes of every outing I wanted to quit but I soon discovered if I could stick it out ,until my body became warm and my legs became loose, the rest of the route would be easier. Most days I couldn’t believe that I was running, by choice, and enjoying it.
More than anything, however, running brought me peace, the rhythmic pounding of my feet hitting the earth, and the sound of my own breath as I inhaled the fresh pine air was so cathartic, I eventually ditched Barry and the iPod, so I could be alone with my thoughts. And in those days, I had a lot to think about.
What I found was, the more distressed I was about the problems in my marriage, the further I could run. I was so busy I my own head, that my labored breathing, and my burning legs often went unnoticed, and before I knew it three miles turned into four and four turned into five and so on. While tackling the hilly terrain of my route, I would mentally replay arguments Marc and I had throughout the week, the same arguments we' been having for the past three years, about his excessive drinking, late nights out, and disconnected demeanor, and I would imagine (again) the ultimatums I would carry out as promised, if didn’t change his ways . I felt better after those cathartic runs, they gave me moments of clarity and feelings of empowerment, but those feelings often dissipated when I walked in the door and kicked off my running shoes, leaving me to wonder, was I running towards a goal, or running from my life.