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