I’ve been running my whole life. I don’t mean that I have been putting my feet to the pavement and racking up the miles in races. Nope. Until about two years ago running wasn’t a physical activity for me. It was an emotional one.
Internalization was a lesson I learned young and perfected by my teenage years. Anger in my house was an emotion that bred dysfunction and abuse. It was the fuel behind volatile emotionally abusive fights and my family’s inability to deal with anger in constructive and rational ways was the catalyst for another emotion that I’ve never been able to deal with well, resentment.
I learned not to express anger in an effort to avoid uncomfortable confrontations. I learned to fear anger because the wrath of the women in my family was so emotionally, verbally and physically abusive that making sure they were never angry, which meant never being angry yourself, was a well-known goal between the men and children in our family.
But when things start happening that make us angry and we don’t learn to deal with it, to talk through it and get past it, we are left with resentment. The strange thing about resentment is that it’s a very private emotion. It has almost no impact on the person it is directed towards because they rarely know that it exists. Instead it resides deep within us causing internal discontent.
When our life is filled with negativity we start trying to run from it. When my marriage started falling apart because I harbored so much resentment towards him for all the financial problems we had, all the lying he had done and all the pain he had caused me there was no fight or flight reaction in me, it was only flight, running away was always my answer. So I buried myself in my own little world of online escapism. I buried myself in work. I stuffed my feelings with food. This was me running away.
I’ve previously wrote about night I discovered my love for running. It was the night before my Father passed away. What I don’t talk about is the horrible fight I had with my Mother the night before that. I’ve never gone into details about how I almost left the house and got back on a plane because she wouldn’t allow me to disengage from a verbal fight she wanted to pick with me. I’d never wanted to run away so bad in my whole life. Here I was in a house I swore I would never go back to. A house that was full of memories that had haunted me for most of my life.
But my life was different now. I’d had weight loss surgery; I’d lost 155 lbs and though I still had another 100 lbs to lose I was taking my life back from the dark grasp of obesity that not being able to express anger and deal with resentment had led me too.
I didn’t know what to do to make myself feel better. I hadn’t really gotten to the stage where I had learned to start developing healthy coping skills. I knew I couldn’t go back to any of the old ones, especially food but I knew that if I left the house to exercise I could get away.
I ran for the first time that night. The 4th of July under the fireworks of Los Angeles, CA and somehow, the faster I ran and the further I went, the more free I felt. I put on music and found that it helped me feel my feelings. Something amazing happened that night. Right then and there I became a different type of runner.
I might not have been moving very fast. I still don’t run very fast, but that was the moment that the runner in me was reborn. Being a runner for me isn’t about a 8 or 10 minute mile, it’s about taking the time to feel my feelings, it’s about having a healthy coping mechanism, it’s about having time to collect my thoughts and gather my words so I can communicate them to others and deal with them rather than being burdened with resentment.
People often ask me why I run. I run because it’s my healthy addiction. I run because I made a deal with my father when he was leaving this world that I would spend time with him and talk to him when I exercise. I run because it keeps me close to my father. I run because in truth I have always ran I’ve just found a way to turn what was once a negative emotional exercise of running away into a positive physical activity that helps me maintain my weight loss and my sanity. I run because it’s how I modified an unhealthy behavior into a healthy one and that Slender Seekers is what healthy lifestyle changes are all about.