Open and Unashamed.

As always, I will start with a caveat.

I write this piece not to generate a circle of shock, sympathy, or embarrassment. I write this to be honest. To allow people to lift their heads and look away from the shame of difficult moments in time. To know that experiences no matter how terrible, hard, or heartbreaking should not be hidden. Do not conceal emotion because it might make the other person uncomfortable. Or hide beneath its cloak of darkness, as this will only shield your light, and dull your emotions.

Experiences are factual, they happened, and it is fucking OK to share what hurt, as much as what made you smile. Life does not define you, it created you, experiences educate you on how to live, about good people and bad people.  It teaches you that you are strong, and from each uncomfortable act, a flicker of kindness can be ignited. Allowing you to reach out from under the suffocating blanket of mortification.

Most of you know my story. I have always been extremely open, probably to the chagrin of many. But it is my survival tactic, once I have voiced it, it can be looked upon, analyzed and allowed to float away. I mean, It is not like I walk up on a first meeting and say…  “Hey, I am an anorexic, I have been depressed, self-harmed blah blah blah”. NO! Shit the only person I did that with was with Kieron, as I thought he was way too nice for me and could not believe he genuinely liked me. I thought I could scare him away. Instead, he told me he loved me.

Here is my list in black and white. Know I am not ashamed, yes these things can be hard, but I also know that many people have gone through the same and hold on too tightly to a guilt that is not theirs. I know many who have been through excruciating experiences and they have survived. Like all of us with baggage, they continue to live and love their lives as best they can. Especially on the days life allows that freedom from pain.

In Chronological Order: –

~At age 6 I was abused by a man in my parents’ circle – the details are not needed, my parents now know, and are heartbroken. It is no ones fault except his. It was a long time ago, and it was from that moment life started to hit me hard. It created so much pain that I have diligently had to work through. I acknowledged it in my 40s with the help of a Psychologist, and then a heavy wave of relief flooded through because everything now made sense. I am not ashamed, I was angry for long time and I cried a lot, but this was not my fault.

~Therefore, at age 9 I developed a severe eating disorder. This is why I purposely hurt my body, this is why men frightened me, this is why I was in and out of hospital, this is why I was 2 weeks from death at age 10 (malnutrition) this is why I was told to stop running, and this is why I do not like my body. But I am not ashamed, I know exactly what I am.

~I had a “Me Too” moment. As a female I know most of us have.  I am not ashamed.

~I do not like my body. I am like a spider, I have no breasts. I have learnt to understand and appreciate my body. It does not mean I think it is pretty.

~I was told when I was age 12, I could not have children. But with time, hard work (on myself) to get to a good weight, at age 30 I had my first period; yes, my first. I went on to have 3 beautiful boys. My body is now a machine to me, but it is amazing, if defied the odds, my hatred, and gave birth to life. I am not ashamed.

I lost a baby. This broke my heart and it still hurts today. It was extremely early in my pregnancy, but it hurt, it hurt so much, I felt like my body had let that sweet baby down. I am not ashamed; we do not talk about this ENOUGH as women!

I developed crippling anxiety at age 34, I had panic attacks often and they were not rational. Each day I woke up thinking I would die from a heart attack, or a meteor would wipe out the world, we would die on a plane, in a car, I struggled to do anything. The boys have seen me collapse in a ball crying, Kieron has had to listen and try to understand why I rushed myself to ER when I thought I was dying. This is where my running has helped, my anxiety improved with my discovery of abuse, this is not my fault. Medication and hard, fucking hard exercise have been a life changer. I still suffer today and that is OK.

I have been taking Prozac since I was 10 and I have seen multiple Psychologists. – I am not ashamed

I AM NOT ASHAMED, and I will NOT apologize for writing this.

This is me. I feel that people who go through this and more have something to give back. They have a light you must see, they have a light to share, they understand people, they are there to hug you hard when you hurt, to listen to you when you are sad. Because they know. They are not weird, broken, or damaged goods. It is those cracks that let you SEE THEM, to see their heart. They can help you; they can love you “right” if you let them, do not turn your back or hide, they will never judge you.

We need to talk about all these topics and more, so much more than this tiny list. People are out there being hurt, discarded, and forgotten every second of every day. Open you heart, your arms and experience and tell them – “Please do not be ashamed, I understand, and I am here for you”.

Run, Release, Reflect

Recently when running with a good friend of mine, we got to discussing the reasons of why we run. I also have to say that this is a person who makes me think beyond my day to day. When I am with them, I formulate questions and answers with a deliberate, careful thought. The question of, “Why do I run?”, actually brought tears to my eyes, tears I quickly brushed away. As I thought about it, my 43 year self-melted to the floor, and my 10-year-old self stood there in its place, wide eyed, expectant, and open. Open to the core feeling of why I ran then, and accepting it is the same reason to why I run now.

I distinctly remember the feeling of running as child. I ran to feel reckless, out of control and wild, there was no agenda. The main goal unbeknownst to me was to express my uninhibited adulation for nature and being alive, no constraints, no rules needed. As a 43 year old I still do the same, I’ll run down a trail with my arms stretched wide, chest open and head thrown back hollering with delight (you may be pleased to know this only occurs in my solitary moments), just me, the earth, the sky and whatever creature that peeps its head up to watch a wildling tumble by.

If you look around, there are many people who train to be competitive and that is their number one goal. Do not get me wrong I am as competitive as the next person, I am an Aries after all, not that that is an excuse for my unashamed competitiveness. But really, why do I run?

I gave it some careful consideration. I run to be open, in general I am a very honest and raw person. I mean I have had to be, otherwise the darkness of a time gone past would have crushed me. I run to be excited. I run to feel the adrenaline high. I run with my inside on the outside. I run for the caress of the wind on my face, the coolness of sweat on my skin, the elongation of my limbs, the expansion of every tangible part of my body. I am free yet grounded. I am like a bird, but a rooted tree, all at the same time. The energy feels all-consuming and warm in my chest, it fills me up and explodes. My deepest feelings can rise upwards to the sun and pour forth, spilling out as I pound past. I cannot count the times a feeling I had thought was so hidden away from years past bubble up and caused me to cry out. To openly sob as I move with abandonment, running to nowhere, but running to everywhere. The release is cathartic, welcome, and needed.

Yes, I train to be competitive, but I run to be unfettered, rough around the edges, reflective, and honest. To be unshackled from the constraints of my life, uninhibited for a fleeting moment. I run to feel my life, feel nature, accept my life, to understand and learn to love who I am. To give my true self to others. To run is to allow myself the moment to feel my emotions, to hurt and not be ashamed of them or myself. 

I run because I love to run.