I’ve had a particularly tough week.
If you caught me 2 or 3 weeks ago this post would have been super upbeat as I was riding the post-half marathon high after the Surftown Half in RI on September 10th. I had come in 7th place overall and managed super steady splits around 7 min pace with a final time of 1:32:35. I was also able to race with my athletes and boyfriend, my second families. The race was tough but good. My athletes were passionate and determined. My boyfriend was supportive and loving- especially when he ran me in for the final mile. When our eyes met at mile 12 I gave him the evil stare of death and put my pointer finger up to my lips to inform him that we are in the Don’t you dare try to talk to me or else phase of the race and yet he still happily trotted right along side me. Yep, I love him. I love my athletes. And I sure as hell love running. Ahhhh, three weeks ago felt so damn good.
After the race was done and over the life’s nuances started bopping me on the head one day at a time. The challenging client and job related stress. Getting Lillian ready to start a new school and organize her birthday party stress. Some divorce stress. The boyfriend working 2 out of the past 3 weekends stress… ugh. And then on Monday my first dog as an adult, Sydney, died at age 9. Sydney’s death broke me. I spent a lot of Monday and Tuesday just plain emotionally exhausted. The tough part is that therapists kinda have to be upbeat and cheerful- I’m pretty sure it’s part of our core business model. But then Syd just stirred up so much within me that by Monday night I secretly wanted to take a day off from being a responsible adult.
I spun into a rough space for a solid 2 days. A space where the vast majority of my thoughts were a cascade of negativity…
I didn’t get to spend time with Syd for the past 2 years. I miss her. I remember when I picked her out and named her after Sydney Bristow on Alias- a strong female leader, naturally. She was my dog for so long and then she became Owen’s dog. What if I never have another dog? She used to sleep on my side of the bed. We went on so many walks together through Bare Cove Park during my pregnancy and now she’s gone forever. That part of my life is gone forever.
Chris has to work this weekend- again. Will I ever be able to just wake up with him and not have to drive 2-3 hours every weekend to see him. Being apart is so so hard. What if I can’t make it another two years? What if… what if…
Thumper (aka- evil upstairs neighbor who NEVER SLEEPS) woke me up again at 5 am. I’m going to live in this GD apartment forever and Thumper will be waking me up at 5 am every morning. I miss living in a house. This apartment infuriates me. How am I still here- at 33 years old now divorced and renting an apartment. It’s starting to feel like forever. Should I buy a place? Is that smarter than renting? But what about in this market? Can I handle a home on my own? What if I live in the apartment for the rest of my life? What if I can’t hack it on my own as an adult?
The thoughts steamrolled from there into senseless ramblings that were purely based in emotion and fueled by my deepest fears. Worries that I’ll never have another baby (even though I’m not even sure I want another baby). Worries about not making enough money. Worries about feeling alone and just being lonely from time to time. Worries about having a successful career. Worries about being able to be a good mom while being a single mom. Worries about not being able to handle the stress. I can’t explain it in any other way except that my mind wouldn’t stop churning out worries.
I very well know what these worries mean: I have anxiety. It’s no surprise and not necessarily a secret, however it’s something I don’t write about often here. I am well aware of my own history with anxiety and I typically manage it on my own very well. This time simply took me by surprise.
On Wednesday I dropped Lilly off at school and then headed out to Quincy’s Wollaston beach for a 8 mile run with a few tempo miles intermixed (it’s a workout I call over/unders. You run easy for 1 mile/tempo for 1 mile and repeat- perfect for taper). Sunny and a steamy 80 degrees I set an intention at the start of run to complete the run to the best of my ability with what my body, mind and the weather had in store for me today. I started to complain to myself about the spicy temps when I head my dad’s voice in my mind, “WE HAVE WHAT WE HAVE.” My body may have been running along Wollaston beach but my mind was sitting in my childhood kitchen surrounded by my parents, brother and sister at dinner time.
I was the kid who was a pain in the butt at the dinner table. The kid who really just wanted to eat the Purdue chicken fingers made in fun shapes 7 nights a week. I am only now beginning to wonder if I was really eating chicken. At first I was catered to; I mean, I was the baby of the family after all. My sister wasn’t picky and kindly ate whatever she was served. My brother often pushed food around on his plate but never actually complained about meals. I on the other hand was the pain in the tush at the table, the bane of mom’s existence who had no problem saying, “This is gross. Can I have something else??? Anything else??? Pleaseeee. I can’t eat this. It’s too [crunchy, cheesy, juicy, chewy… insert any adjective here that described delicious food that a punk child won’t eat].” While my mom would cater to my request, if my my dad was present he would hold his hands up to his mouth to create a megaphone-like effect and in a monotone voice firmly state, “WE HAVE WHAT WE HAVE.” In other words, Princess-Kass: Eat the food on your plate or don’t eat at all. XOXO, Management.
WE HAVE WHAT WE HAVE.
Oh Dad, you were right back then and you are so right even now.
I have what I have today. No more, no less. I may be able to create more for tomorrow, but today- this is what I have to work with. I kept running along Wollaston and let my dad’s words soften my stubborn negativity. I waved to the few other runners out there who were also sweating it out and kept on pushing forward. 7:27 for my first tempo. Not so great as I was aiming for 7:20-7:25. I have what I have… hmmm… I have quite a lot. An amazing daughter. A boyfriend who above all else is a good person though and through. A steady job. A loving family…
As I entered my second recovery mile I thought of a quote from Oprah I recently encountered, “If you look at what you have in life you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have, you’ll never have enough.” I’ve sat with that quote a lot lately and it bounced back and forth in my head for the easy 8:25 paced mile.
What DO I have?
I have spent A LOT of time over the past few days focusing on what I DON’T have. Dwelling on it, in fact. And yet I have given little attention to how full my life is. At that moment during my run I set an intention to spend the rest of the run thinking of things that I have in my life in an effort to show myself some compassion and get out of my own way.
What do I have?
I have a boyfriend who looks into my eyes, catches me off guard and suddenly dips me in his arms for a kiss in the kitchen. A boyfriend who will rub my feet even without me asking. A boyfriend who will run my pace over his so that we can spend more time together each weekend. A boyfriend who accepts me with all of my worries. A boyfriend who tells me he loves me time and time again.
I have a daughter who jumps off of the couch to say “how can I help mama!?!” when I spilled a cup of coffee on the couch earlier this week. I have a daughter who makes me so immensely proud of the woman she is becoming as she is warm, loving, kind and she even shares her desert with me– what kid does that???
I have a black cat who after 2.5 years is starting to warm up to me and even sleeps at the foot of my bed. 🙂
I may have an apartment, but I am making a home here. It is colorful, clean and full of love. Lillian and I eat dinner at the table every night, bake cookies together on weekend and just started reading the Harry Potter series together. It may be small and full of loud thumping noises, but it is our home.
I have a family who is far away but insanely supportive. They call often. They listen to me. They accept me. We love each other.
I have a second family of athletes who notice that something is up even if I don’t say so. They email. They check in. They are amazing. I have athletes who overnight me fresh made bagels when whey PR (thank you SM!!! yum!!). I have athletes who once were internet strangers but who are now my close friends and really my second family.
As I ran along the sun-kissed waters of Wollaston beach I reminded myself over and over again that I have an incredibly full life. The combination of physically and emotionally decompressing helped kicked me into an upswing. Life isn’t nearly perfect. It’s true I’ve had really tough time adjusting to this divorce. I am learning that when I set my sights on the future and what it may hold I feel uneasy, overwhelmed and wave of fear takes over my body. I try to have faith and remind myself that everything will be ok, because it has always been ok. But mostly I try to focus on today, this moment right here that I’m in- at this moment I’m in sitting in my bed with Snowball resting at the foot and Lillian is soundly asleep in the other room- yes, I can handle today. I am in love with today. Because today I have what I have. And honestly, I have quite a lot.
Can’t stop, won’t stop.
The Lone Runner
*The take away here is that my dad is the next Oprah. Heck, he may even be Oprah.