One day, both literally and figuratively, I just started running.
I left the office at my job as a ninth and tenth grade English teacher and department chair, picked up both of my children from daycare, got home, kissed my husband hello, put on my work out clothes, and ran out the door. The most I had ever run at one time in my thirty-five years was three miles, and that was over ten years ago. I don’t know what it was; I just knew that if I didn’t run, I was going to explode. That was when I literally began running.
As I ran that evening, I didn’t listen to music. I didn’t think about my feet beating down on the warm Texas pavement. I breathed in, breathed out, and I thought about my life: my husband, my children, my profession, my lack of self-confidence. That was when I figuratively began running.
My husband and I had been married for only five years, but it seems that in that time, we had dealt with a lifetime’s worth of stress. We had moved from his hometown of Pittsburgh back to my home state of Texas. We had battled infertility for three years. My husband quit his job and started his own business. We had then adopted two children, my niece and nephew—my brother’s children—my nephew having been born cocaine-positive. It seems we had never been newlyweds. We had never been carefree.
In that year, I felt completely out of control of my life. I began to gravitate toward my job because it seemed the only aspect of my life that I could fully understand and improve and grow. As a new mother, my work as a teacher seemed to be the only thing I had confidence in. I dealt with the guilt of taking my children to daycare, children I had never stayed home with because they just seemed to fall into my lap one day. I had lost the woman I knew I was, and I didn’t know how to find her. I threw myself into my work, and when that didn’t help, I ran.
Everyday I ran. It was the only time I felt I could breathe. It was the only time I felt I was myself. It was the only time someone didn’t need something from me. I ran from my husband. I ran from my children. I ran from the stress of my job. I ran from the fact that I felt like my husband was the person who understood me the least. I ran from the fact that I didn’t want to be intimate with him anymore—that intimacy just felt like one more obligation. I ran from the fact that I didn’t know if I wanted to keep trying to have children, but my husband did. I just ran. I started listening to music, really loud, angry music. Nothing like the jazz I used to listen to at the end of the day.
Then something changed. The running I had been doing opened up a new door in my life. The unhealthy emotional and physical state I had been in for the past year started to improve. I started eating better. Best of all, my husband and I began running together. We signed up for a couple of 5K races, and then a half-marathon. We now had something new in common—something that had nothing to do with the kids or our jobs. We had a shared goal to work toward—something that we enjoyed and that made us healthy. We improved.
We completed our half-marathon and have signed up for another this fall. My husband is going to also run a full marathon. My kids and I will be on the sidelines cheering for him. Someday I may run a full marathon, but for now, I have found something that makes me feel good both inside and out. Something that gives me confidence and clarity. Something that makes me feel like myself again. I find that I am no longer running from anything; there is nothing to run from—only towards.