I just don't like to run. I got myself quite addicted to it before getting pregnant with Silas. I thought it wasn't possible...but I did it. Then I became pregnant and fell out of the habit...had a good three weeks of loving it again this fall. And now its back to grueling. But I did it tonight...and on my first lap it started to rain. By lap three I could really feel the cool rain hitting my forehead and the crown of my head. I began to think how uncomfortable it was and realized very quickly how adept I have become at pushing bad feelings aside, both physically and emotionally. I think part of it is being a parent. My kids feel EVERYTHING. Especially, the little ones...a hang nail, a split hair, a sliver, a bleeding owie, a bruise, even a mosquito bite. But these overwhelming sensations wear off with time and we learn to push the pain to the side so that its not so all consuming. This is good because if an adult were whining to me about their hang nail like my little kids do, I am quite sure I would have to restrain myself from slapping them silly. Anyway...in a matter of seconds I literally could not feel the cold rain anymore. And I was amazed. And then I realized how I have become so good at this. When I was pregnant, with each child, I became more and more able to push through situations and feelings that I had prior to, thought impossible. With Silas, I would literally convince myself that I simply didn't have the time or energy to feel...anything. It worked enough to get me through each day (and I threw up more spontaneously with him than any other one), but it wasn't all good. In June of last year (I was 7 months pregnant), I was sitting on the couch feeling nothing but my daily nausea, when all of a sudden I was cast into the worse pain I have ever felt. It was immediate. I literally crawled into my room (so as not to scare the boys), and texted my good friend (and neighbor) to come over...NOW. I thought I was dying...nothing relieved the pain, it was my entire abdomen, and while it hurt to the degree of contractions, it didn't feel like a contraction and there was no break... it was just constant pain. My doctor told me to wait a half hour and to come in if it was still that bad. I waited 5 minutes and went in. I knew it was bad. I was checked in and monitored. I was contracting, but that was a secondary issue...my body was in trauma and it was inducing labor. After two hours of nothing except writhing in pain on the bed, it stopped as quickly as it had started. At that time, the nurse said she needed a urine sample. I told her I didn't want to move for fear it would start again. She said I had to. So I went into the bathroom, did my business and in the process, delivered a stone. Yep, you read that correctly. I passed a kidney stone on my own, unmedicated, in the span (start to finish) of 3-4 hours start to finish. Most intense pain of my entire life...worse than natural labor.
I think looking back, the reason it happened so intensely, is because I missed all the warning signs. I had never had one before or any kidney issue, in fact. But beyond that, I was so focused on survival, and not feeling (either physically or emotionally), that I was just happy to get through each day. So I missed it. And now I see how good I have become at not feeling. But I also realize that this is not healthy. It is like anything else, we can take it too far. And I have. Pain is an indicator of a greater problem. We don't want to miss those valuable warning signs. But if we have ourselves numb to the pain (physically or emotionally), we will miss the warning signs and be waist deep in trauma before we even realize it.
For as much as I hate physically running, I am an emotional runner. Its what I do. Its what I have always done. When I feel scared or vulnerable or hurt, I run. I hide. I cloak myself in anger and isolation and build walls of safety in an instant. And I hide behind those walls. Taking those walls down is so very difficult. And the more times I try to take those walls down brick by brick, the higher they go if a wound is reopened. And before I know it, I look around at my walls and realize that I am safe...nothing is getting through those walls...but I am all alone. Safe...but alone.
We were made for community. For relationships. But those of us that have been hurt in relationships (ok, so that is anyone and everyone reading these words), sometimes we start sliding down the slope of cynicism. Bitterness creeps in and robs us of every bit of beauty we once saw so easily in this world, in others, in relationships. So how do we stop it? How do we reengage? Is it worth the risk? I read today that "Happiness is an act of courage." Stop and think about that for a moment.
Joy requires hope.
Hope requires faith.
Faith requires belief.
Belief requires knowledge
Knowledge requires wisdom
Happiness isn't something that just happens to us. It is something we have to be purposeful about. Joy is all around us, but we have to actively tune into it and often, actively choose it. Which is no small feat in this crazy world. It takes an act of courage to begin again. To try again. To feel again. To love again. Courage to hope.
So lets lift our faces up to the rain. Stop running. Choose a path, and follow it, embracing the decision to rebuild rather than destroy and start anew. These are lovely words. But so very difficult in practice. Only the courageous will survive. After all, "Joy is an act of courage."