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Two Feet.

 

I’ve spent the past week filling my days with running, work, activities with Lillian, baking and even a trip to New Jersey to visit the family. Each day has been chock full of things to do as I’ve made new memories with my little Lillian and yet each day still feels a little empty. I’m adjusting, but it’s hard. I’m not in a rush to pretend that everything’s ok. I spent the better part of a week in shock and the next week trying to grapple with my new reality. Yea, I’m not ok- and that’s ok. I’m functioning. I’m going to work, getting my sleepies in, running, talking to friends and taking care of myself. I’m doing what I need to do, but I’m sad and I’m not afraid to say it or feel it.

Last week I walked into a coffee shop at work and heard Ingrid Michaelson’s The Way I Am on the radio and left with tears in my eyes. On the drive down to Jersey Lillian heard Pink’s, Just Give me a Reason song on the radio and out of nowhere told me, “one day you’ll learn to love again too Mommy.” Holy Moses. Talk about instant tears.

Time. Everyone says it just takes time. Well, I’ve got nothing but time so…. silver lining?

It’s always okay in the end. If it’s not ok, then it’s not the end. (or something like that).

***

Never Stop Running.

 

I’ve spent most of my free time brainstorming what’s next for me personally and professionally. I started off the week with various awesome, but unrealistic and somewhat outrageous ideas like writing a book, going full force into my own coaching business and even going back to school. Then the dust settled, the emotions calmed and I started to truly reflect on what I need right now for my life and the years ahead. Here’s what I have figured out thus far….

 

The security I experience when running is a beautiful escape from the rest of my life where other things feel foggy and confusing. Running is my sanctuary. It is my second home. It is where I feel found.  When I’m running my mind quiets down and I allow my life worries to disappear. I don’t have to worry about Lillian’s college fund, my career, my clients or even tomorrow. When I run I get to look at the clouds, breathe in the fresh air, scream woohoo at the top of mountains race garbage trucks and T-buses from stop to stop and feel like a bad-ass as I kick hard to beat red lights at an intersection. I get out of my head and get into my shoes and I feel life coursing through my veins. There is no doubt in my mind that running is where I am my best self. It’s my peace and quiet in a busy day. It’s my happy place in an emotional week. It’s my sanctuary in a daunting life. At its core running is where I feel found.

But at some point I have to stop running and reenter daily life as a functioning, working adult. Well crap, so what do I do then? And this is where I’ve been stumped for 2 years… if not longer. At some point I have to believe in myself, my own strength and take action in life. I had enough strength to leave a marriage and face the world anew. I need to find that strength again and build on it tenfold (times infinity).

While Chris and I were dating I often experienced fears and worries about being alone. He consistently assured me that even if I was physically alone that he was there with me in spirit. His words washed over me without ever truly sinking in. Being alone. Why did I- why do I fear this SO much? I guess I’ve never really been alone in my life. I went straight from a college dorm room to living with my boyfriend (now exhusband). I’ve never had to pay the bills 100% on my own. In all honesty I never thought I would have to truly stand on my own two feet without a partner. Ridiculous I know, but it’s the truth. When you get married at 24 years old you assume it will be forever. You assume that you will lean on each other, pay the bills, raise the family, prepare for retirement and pay for your kid’s college- together. And then it doesn’t work out, you’re alone and you’re now in charge with little to no experience. Well, shit. That’s scary. Fuck yes I’m scared of being alone!! Haha. Seriously! Wouldn’t you be!?!

I need to know that I can stand on my own two feet, and not just when I’m running. I need to assume that it will be just me for the rest of my life- I sincerely hope it won’t be, but if I build a career and a life for myself based on that assumption and the right partner comes along, well that will be a cherry on top.  I need to develop my career to create stable future for Lillian and myself. I do have a job and I am currently working, however I do not receive benefits, vacation time or a retirement plan. This past weekend my brother put it into perspective when he said, “Kass, you’re a mouse on a wheel. You stop running and the wheel stops turning. You get sick- no money. Your client doesn’t show- you don’t get paid. Vacation, snow storm, Lillian gets sick- all no money. Mouse on a wheel, Kass. Mouse on a wheel!” It’s a tough pill to swallow, but in many regards he’s right. Even though I love what I do there is a lot of financial instability within my current position. This financial set up has been a breeding ground for my anxiety that has only increased throughout the past year. I’m not sure how, but something will need to shift. I need to learn how to stand on my own two feet and have confidence that I can do it on my own.

Lastly-begrudgingly- I need to stay single for a good long while. This part makes me sad. I’m a snuggler. I’m an affectionate woman with a lot of love to give. I love laughing, hugging and loving. I desperately want to find a partner who I can share all parts of myself with- good and bad. Heck, I thought I did.  But I need to heal. I need to grow. I need to be alone. For now.

 

So what will I do with all of my newfound free time? I have some ideas…

*I’m determined to finish watching the entire series of Grey’s Anatomy- I’m currently on season 7. I know, I know, BIG plans. But this will keep me busy.

*Learning to actually cook. I’m going to buy a cookbook and cook my way through it- that will make for some fun blogging adventures, I’m sure.

*Connect with local friends. When you’re out of town most weekends you tend to lose touch with your local friends. Well, I’m here and I’m free every other weekend, play with me!

*Run somewhere new. My last relationship taught me how much running can enhance your life and bring you to new, unseen places if you let it! Your run can be a mini-vacation in your weekend simply by running somewhere new. It’s my goal to continue to do this and see new places all over Boston.

* This weekend I’m signed up to take the USATF Coaching Certification course. No matter how much I fight it I LOVE coaching runners. I’m SUPER excited to take this course- except for the fact that it goes until 10 pm on Saturday night- cough cough, I go to bed by 9 – yikes.

 

A change is definitely on the horizon folks. I feel it coming. I’ll let you know when I get there :). But for now I’ll be running. Next post will be about running, promise!!

Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Kass

My favorite time and place to write… in bed at 5 am 🙂

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Beginning Again.

World’s End Reservation. Hingham, MA

 

Life has been harder than usual this past week. My body has felt heavy and my heart broken. It’s been tough adjusting, but that’s exactly what I’m doing – adjusting, growing, learning. This morning I went for my first solo long run in a long time. It was quiet and peaceful. Even though I didn’t feel lonely out there I missed my running partner. I missed hearing the sound of his feet crunching the leaves behind me. I missed climbing hills shoulder to shoulder in sync. I missed the stories he would he would rattle off that filled the space between us. I just missed him. I still miss him. And I expect to continue missing him for a long time.

But I’ll be ok.

I know I’ll do just fine. I’ve fallen before and I know that Kass’ always land on their feet. Today’s run reminded me of just that. Sure, I spent some of the run missing my running partner, but not the entire run. My mind mostly fluttered around from point to point as I worked to enjoy the moment I was in. At times I reflected on the shock and pain of this past week, but that was only a smaller subset of the run. Mostly I thought about how thankful I am to be able to go out and run for two hours without question. My body is a well-oiled machine that will go whenever, wherever and however long I want it to; what an amazing gift I have been given.

 

Lilly dancing during a picnic at World’s End

 

With the cool air filling my lungs I ran from the Trader Joes in the Hingham Shipyard through the back trails of Bare Cove Park, to downtown Hingham, around the entirety of World’s End Reservation and back again. World’s End is a spacious peninsula that overlooks Hingham Harbor with a backdrop of the busy Boston skyline. Peace. The storm in my soul felt at peace within the World’s End’s wide open space. Just me, myself and I searching for the path, searching for my path ahead into the next adventure. A hilly park with paths ranging from dirt trails to crushed gravel to straight grass, World’s End is a utopia for runners looking to begin again. I think that’s what I’m doing. No, that’s definitely what I’m doing. Today I’m beginning again.

This past week has been a blur complete with final goodbyes, overtired tears and more Grey’s Anatomy reruns than I care to admit. But something else came to light this week: In addition to my supportive family in New Jersey I have a network of people here in Boston. I may feel alone at times, but I’m not. I’m not alone. Several of my athletes and true friends reached out to me with past week to help me mourn the sudden loss of this relationship and for these friends I am forever grateful. Two days after the breakup Lisa took the day that is typically devoted to family time to drive over an hour to sit with me and my tears. While managing their own families and jobs Sarah, Molly, Alan and Lisa have answered every single text message that I have sent their way. I even enjoyed the distraction of handing out candy on Halloween and playing board games at Greg and Lauren’s home earlier in the week. Lastly, Kristi and Philip opened up their home and hearts to me on Sunday as they cooked me dinner, listened to my ramblings and shared their own experiences on what true love looks like.

Every day this past week I have woken up with this tightness in my chest and sorrow in my heart. Is this really happening? Did he really just up and leave? Is the man with whom I kissed passionately, loved furiously, and laughed endlessly truly gone from my life? Without fail the tears came.

But not today. No tears yet this morning. Progress, right?

The initial shock has finally worn off.  My heart is starting to heal.

I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.

Today is the day I begin again.

 

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

 

My current stance on men and dating.

*Cheers to Monday, seeing Lillian this afternoon and a much needed trip to New Jersey planned for this upcoming weekend.*

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A million little pieces.

 

A special place. Providence, RI

 

I sit here in front of this keyboard with my heart broken into a million little pieces. I saw my divorce coming like a car crash happening in slow-motion, but this- I never saw this coming. Should I have seen this coming? I sit here searching for answers as to how I am suddenly on my own again in this world.

I thought I had found my match- a man who is as passionate about running and loving life as I am- but how could that be if he just walked away from me, from us?  I feel so confused, so lost. I spent this weekend with a pit in my stomach, a deep sadness enveloping my heart and tears in my eyes. After a year and a half of being in a deeply committed relationship my boyfriend and I have parted ways.

My relationship with Chris was no ordinary relationship- it was passionate, loving and life changing. Over the past year and a half I have learned so much about how to love and allow myself to be truly loved. Chris and I danced in the kitchen nightly. He picked me up off the ground to kiss me often. At times he tickled me to the point when I was laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. He was tender and kind with my heart and body, and I with his. We would sit on the couch and rub each others’ feet for hours post-long run while chatting the night away. In the snow, the sleet, the deep cold, the heat- we ran. We ran long on Sundays together, we napped like puppies in the middle of the day and then we watched movies at night. We enjoyed each other. We truly loved.

I shared with him my strengths (my passion, my laughter, my determination on the road and my baking skills) and my weaknesses (my endless worries, my fears, and my limited cooking abilities). Despite these revelations I felt accepted, seen and loved. Through hundreds of love letters and hours of running side by side he shared with me his own fears, hopes, frustrations and passions. It was because of these revelations I undoubtedly loved him, all of him.  His honesty allowed for me to love all of him, even the parts that were more challenging- because everyone has challenging stuff. The beauty in our relationship rested in the fact that we both acknowledged that each of us has “stuff”/emotional baggage; we didn’t try to change each other or feel jealous or insecure because of our previous marriages/experiences. There was a fundamental level of acceptance of who we are as individuals within our relationship. I believe that all of these facets comprise a healthy, strong relationship. And yet I suppose ours wasn’t strong enough. This is where I start to feel confused. How was all of this not enough?

I can tell you that Chris has peace in his heart and I have a storm in my soul. Growing up he would hop on his bike and ride for hours and hours to find his peace of mind, whereas I was a perfectionist in my studies and spent most of my time in the library and in my head. His serene energy was the calm to my storm. I had a lot to learn from this man. I learned that beans and rice is a completely acceptable dinner option, that you’re not going to die from drinking tap water and life is too short to not put half and half in your coffee. He never got angry or raised his voice. I learned to pick my battles with him and quickly realized that there aren’t too many battles really worth picking in life.

For a long while his sheer presence put me at ease, but then I believe my storm disrupted his tranquility. My worries were relentless and he felt helpless. The distance made things harder as I often left Connecticut in tears. On top of parenting Lillian, marathon training, coaching and working at the counseling center I was in a long distance relationship with a man who lived 2.5 hours away. I was overtired, at my limit and my weekly tears demonstrated that I was starting to unravel. I needed more of a commitment than I had; I wanted more than he could give. Something had to give. I knew it. Chris knew it. But I never, ever thought that it would be the relationship. We wanted to move closer to each other sooner, but we couldn’t. We are both parents with children who need us close by. We knew this from the start. We thought we could handle the distance. I thought I could handle the distance. But I couldn’t. He couldn’t. We couldn’t. Ultimately he wouldn’t do it anymore.

This relationship isn’t healthy for either of us. There’s too much pressure on us; it’s not balanced.” 

I understand each of his words separately. I hear them. I see them written out above. I know the words and yet I’m having trouble stringing them together in a sentence and processing them. I would have chosen a different path. I would have chosen to work together to smooth out the bumps, to carry each other through the tough times. He saw things differently. There’s not much you can do to maintain a relationship when one person wants it and the other has left the room.

I need to be clear here: there will be NO Chris-bashing here. No “you’re better off without him” comments allowed on this post. I’m not better off without him. I am better off BECAUSE of him and because of our relationship. I feel strongly about this. I’m hurt. I’m emotionally wounded and feeling just plain sad right now and yet this relationship has taught me so much about love and life. Feeling loved in my future is non-negotiable. Being accepted for who I am- my strengths and vulnerabilities, my intensity and my emotion- is a must. Running together through the streets, peeing together in the woods and pausing our Garmins to kiss midrun- simply making the small special moments last a little bit longer is a beautiful approach to living. I may be deeply hurt right now but I know that I am a strong woman and will be a better partner in the future because of this relationship.

I keep having flashes of memories that we made together full of so much love, laughter and fun and wonder- how did we get here? The relationship wasn’t perfect. No relationship is. There were bumps along the way. Many times he held me as I cried over the loss of my marriage or the stress I was experiencing as a single mother. He was there. He put in work. And yet my fears were so intense that his reassurance often fell on deaf ears. He had his own stuff that threw curve balls to the relationship; but curve balls make a relationship solid. You need to be able to weather the tough stuff together.

Did we spend too much time together on weekends? Possibly.

Did we get together too soon after our respective divorces? Maybe… probably.

Did I put too much pressure on him? I think so.

Do we both need time to be alone and learn how to stand on our own two feet? Yes, I’d definitely say so.

Did I ever see this coming? Nope.

I am sitting here in front of this keyboard with a deep pain in my heart and tears in my eyes trying to figure out what went wrong and how on Earth I begin to rebuild again.

***

A few months ago I had a session with a young girl in her 20’s. She lost her parents as a teenager and has been living with her elderly grandparents ever since. Full of anxiety and a deep sorrow herself she stated, “What’s the point of all of this?” That’s the question, isn’t it? What is the point of all of this- of life? The simplicity of her question stuck with me as did the pain in her voice. Much like myself she was searching for an answer to the most complicated and yet so simple question: What is the point of life? 

For the past year and a half my answer was: to love and be loved, to see and feel seen, to accept and be accepted. My relationship taught me the crucial importance of looking into your partner’s eyes, seeing them for all that they are and accepting them- strengths and weaknesses alike.

But now? Humph. I’m not sure, because being loved isn’t enough. I am starting to believe that the point IS to love and be loved, but also to love yourself and be able to stand on your own two feet. If I felt more confident and was more independent things might have worked out differently in my relationship. I need to learn to believe in myself and my strengths like I believe in my abilities when I’m on the road. I cannot let my fears overtake me and I can not ask another person to calm my fears for me. It has to come from within. How? I don’t know. But I’m working on it. As always I’m a work in progress.

I know I need to invest in myself like I have invested in this relationship. I need to stand on my own two feet, focus on my career and really start to believe in myself. Chris always told me, “You’re a motivator Kass, you bring people together. You bring good to the world.” I’m doing it now as a clinician, but I feel like I’m still missing the mark. It’s time to find myself and go all in.  Is it coaching? Is it counseling? Is it something in-between? I think so. I know that I’ve been able to bring over 20  athletes together to become each others’ support system on the road- 20 complete strangers who reached out to me because of this blog. Twenty strangers who live as close as Braintree, MA and as far as Florida and California. That’s something amazing and I did that. I created that. I need to build on that. Because Chris is right- I love bringing together, motivating them and helping them believe (and see) that they are capable of more. In due time.

 

***

Our final run took us through the back roads of Middlefield and two surrounding towns. We ran by a dead snake (I HATE SNAKES!), through the center of town, by vast open cornfields on back roads and beneath the warmth of the hemlock trees that grew by the stream and the together we tackled two NASTY hills in sync. I shoved my worries to the back of my mind in an effort to enjoy the scenery and just be present in the moment with Chris- no complaints about the hills or my higher than normal heart rate- just be present. I was trying. And then he said, “Who would have ever thought that you would run so many miles around Middlefield Connecticut?” My heart sank. I don’t know why but this statement had an air of finality to it, as if I wouldn’t be coming back to Connecticut anytime soon. Angry at myself for being so pessimistic I shoved the thought to the back of my mind and chirped back, “Who would have thought that you would spend so much time running in Quincy, Mass.?!” We laughed. We tolerate Quincy, but it is totes not my fav. Less than a week later we parted ways.

Goodbye Connecticut. Thank you for the lessons, the love and all of the new race t-shirts to add to my growing collection. It’s been one amazing long run.

 

Never stop running,

Kass

 

If Swifty can be a badass billionaire who reinvents herself after each breakup, then so can I, right?? Here’s hoping…

It me. Right here, right now.