I spent a lot of my young adulthood running. Running away from the terrors in my head, both literally and figuratively. I started training for triathlons in a practical sense during my senior year of college. I always struggled with sleep and running, or swimming in particular, was the only way I could sleep – I had to wear out my body so my mind would quiet enough.
I graduated into a recession – many of us in the mid 00s did. I had spent my whole life being told that if I worked hard, graduated from high school, went to college, and graduated with the best grades I could get, that I would be able to find a job that was reliable and steady and would overlook my disabilities. That was not the case.
So I ran. I ran to outrun the voice in my head that told me I was an absolute failure. That all my hard work was meaningless. I ran to get away from the fact that I hated myself for all of that – for the failure, for the disabilities that I could mostly hide but would never be able to ignore or forget.
When I finally got a ‘real world’ job, it was one of those places where I felt like a replaceable cog in the machine. I ran there too – I would take my lunch break, lace up my sneakers, and run around the lake just down the street from our building. I would cry as I ran because I was constantly feeling left out, not understanding or being included in office gossip even though our cubes all looked out to each other and I could see everyone talking and laughing without me.
I worked hard at that job. I loved working in filing and I loved organizing – I also loved the fact that it didn’t force me to sit on my butt all day. I coped with not being able to hear co workers by walking over to their desks to ask questions and get directions – rather than phoning them, which everyone else did. I knew I needed to lipread them to be able to follow so this was my way of getting my needs met without outing myself as a disabled person.
I woke up really early most days and I would either walk out my front door and run down the street – or I would hop in my car and jump on a treadmill. If I was at the gym and on the treadmill, I would lift afterwards. Every other day I would absolutely go swim laps before my brain woke up enough to complain to me about the cold water.
I don’t know how I managed to keep going like that either, when I finally quit that job and moved away from my home state I wasn’t running to get away as much. I was running because it made me feel good, because it was a way to get to know my surroundings, and it was a way to build a community in a new place.
Because things changed – I started processing all the reasons behind my running/workout obsession. It was a good thing in many ways, but it also brought to light a lot of really difficult internal processes. It’s something I am still working out to this day. Maybe you can relate.
What things have you used to cope or how have you run away from things in your life? Comment below!