When I started running (and CrossFit, for that matter) I thought it was going to be about me pushing myself physically. And I suppose it has been.
But both have been so much more a journey of the heart. The physical changes – the visible changes – they are only a fraction of the battle and growth that has been happening in my heart.
I am plagued by self doubt, I’m terrified I don’t belong, and I’m mean to myself if I dare think ‘I can’. I’ve felt this way as long as I can remember, I have a lifetime of saying mean things to myself. And I never once questioned them.
If I thought, and I did, ugly things about my abilities – that I’m too fat, and too weak, and I can’t…. I just believed those things without so much as a second thought.
If I thought, and I did, ugly things about my value like I was too far gone to try, I wasn’t worth the effort, and I didn’t deserve to be invested in… I believed it without ever doubting.
If I carried, and I did, childhood messages about myself – that I’m unwanted, that I’m unloved, that I’m a reject – I just accepted them as the truth of my life without even questioning the motives of the person who gave me that message or whether they even have a right to make such calls about me. Without a fight.
Until now. Until I started running.
I had to fight back just to lace up my running shoes. I had to. When I thought I don’t belong, I had to fight back. When I thought I’m not worth it, I had to fight back. When I thought I’m not good enough and I’ll never be good enough, I had to fight back. I had to. If I didn’t I would have never even gotten my shoes on.
Once I started fighting back I realized these nasty things I tell myself, they aren’t true. They are lies. (I also happen to have really good friends who stone-faced tell me ‘that’s a lie’ when they these things).
Every run became a battleground.
Every single one.
And because I was having so much fun (if that reads sarcastic, it reads as intended) I soon found myself fighting back against the deeper, brutal beliefs I’ve held about myself for the majority of my life. That because my mom chose not to mother me, unwanted is who I am (not what I am, who I am). That because my dad was so detached and apathetic, unlovable is who I am. That because my step mom resented me for having to take care of me and made me an outsider in my own family, I’m not worth effort and I certainly don’t belong. That because these key relationships of my developmental years chose not to show me love and nurture me, there is something – everything about me is inherently unacceptable.
Can you believe I spent the first 37 years of my life just accepting these messages without questioning them? I mean, I didn’t know any different. But soon, the same fight in me that beat back my mean thoughts enough to lace up my shoes and go for a run – that same fight spilled over onto these lies. And I began to question where did these lies come from, who told me these things about myself, and what right did they have?!
It’s such a heart journey for me.
One evening I shared with my daughter, Abby, that sometimes when I need to dig deep, as I run, I visualize myself outrunning these bullying messages.
Sometimes I’m outrunning the people who made me believe these things. They aren’t chasing me, it’s not scary – I’m strong and empowered, they are running too and I’m just far outrunning them.
Sometimes I visualize the messages on billboards and signs, and I’m zooming past them. I’m leaving them all far behind me. (I’d like to think that’s what I’m doing in real life as well)
Anyway, I shared with Abby these images I picture in my mind while I run.
And she drew it for me. ☺