I’m such a fricking downer lately. Well, okay, sometimes there’s a glimmer of happiness and relief, yet most of the time I’m in a I-hate-the-world-and-the-world-hates-me state of mind and, obviously, I’m not too proud to admit it. We lost Allan, my dear father-in-law, in January and Grief just went ahead and moved in, took a very strong hold, hasn’t let go, and has affected pretty much every aspect of my life ever since: my relationships, my writing, my social life, and- of course- my running. Therefore, I can say (and have been saying and will continue to keep saying until it is no longer true) that 2015 has been The WORST Year Ever and I really, truly mean it.
I’m not writing this post for sympathy or for advice or as a passive aggressive attempt to reveal my true feelings (as I share my true feelings all the time, much to the delight/dismay of my friends and family) but as an attempt to understand this whole grieving process and how it has directly affected my motivation and how, exactly, I’m going to work to steer myself back towards a “normal” path.
I want to laugh out loud at that word “normal”. I’m not sure I believe in “normal” anymore, there’s just stasis- brief moments of contentment wherein you’re on the right path, with the right people, doing the right thing- while everything else is just noise. Grief- just noise. Learning (or re-learning, in my case) to amplify the moments of stasis while turning the volume down on the rest of life’s noise is incredibly difficult but, thanks to running, I’m able to dedicate my miles to Allan, to this process, and to my “normal” self- I know she’s still in there somewhere! When Allan died, I stopped running. Didn’t have the heart or the will or the desire to do anything except pull the covers over my head, cry, and eat a lot of comfort foods. After a month of that, I decided it was time to get back to it in order to train for the Oakland and SLO halfs so in February, I started getting my miles in again but it sure was a struggle- miles alone with just my own thoughts to combat is a fairly overwhelming situation as I think WAY too much… happy memories about Allan easily spiral into sad memories leading to even sadder memories of when I lost my dad, Harry, and then I stop my labored run to start the cleansing cry by the side of the road.
So for the first time, thanks to the stupidity that is 2015 and the jerk that is Grief, I came up with a lot of reasons NOT to run, here are just a few:
1) I don’t wanna.
2) You can’t make me.
3) Running = thinking, thinking = sadness and sadness = something I am trying to avoid.
4) Grief prefers I stay home, wear pajamas all day, and eat a pint of ice cream.
5) Because life is fleeting therefore running is meaningless since we’re all gonna die someday so what’s the point anyway.
Aren’t I a joy???
Despite myself, I trained for and completed the Oakland and SLO half marathons, felt GREAT about both races but, right after SLO, Grief snuck up on me again, just when I wasn’t expecting it to, and WHAM! Grief trampled all over those personal victories, stole my motivation and I was right back to feeling sad and angry at everyone and everything, running included, so I stopped running again.
And then I realized that the best way to help myself and honor Allan’s memory was to reach out and help others. As Allan died from heart disease, I decided to join the American Heart Association’s Start Training Program and raise funds to promote building healthier lives through physical activity, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. I will be running my first race with AHA tomorrow morning.
To some, that may not seem like much- raise some money, run a race- but for me, it’s everything right now, it’s something to focus on outside myself, it keeps me going. Grief is still hanging around, like a gloomy cloud just waiting to start the storm and I know Grief will be there to rain all over my “normal” moments but I also know that I just have to let it. Right now, I have to let Grief be my best friend and worst enemy, I need to learn from this, I need to mourn, I need to get angry, I need to be alone, and I don’t need to run. I need to just be.
I’m fighting to hold on to “normal” but I’m also fighting to let go of Grief… either way, the love remains. Forever.