That peace I found during my car accident is still there in some respects (I’m not freaking out about the ambulance bill), but it slowly dissolved into mud and murk. And that’s why I’ve been avoiding writing lately: I felt too dirty to share with you.
The dirty truth about self care is that it isn’t always as simple as running a hot bath or having a latte at your favourite coffee shop: it’s uncomfortable and awkward and can require more strength than you think you have. Self care may bring you to the very limits of your self awareness and push you over the edge. I needed to fall before I could pick myself up again, and I didn’t do it alone this time. I lay there face down in the mud before I took the hand that was offered to me. Self care is real and raw and honest, even when you’re begging for someone to lie to you.
I remember slowly crawling on to the stretcher and hearing my mom (yes, she drove to the accident scene to be with me because she’s Mom) tell the paramedics that I had sustained 3 concussions in the past. The fact my head was hurting was a concern to both of us…her probably more about long lasting brain damage and me about my run goals for the remainder of the year.
It’s been five weeks since the accident and I’m forgetting a few words here and there, only in French though and my students forgive me, and when a friend asked me to determine his half marathon splits I struggled for a couple of minutes but math has never been a friend of mine so no big concern. The running, however, is another story.
I kept setting dates to attempt a run and the day would arrive and the headache and brain fog was still hanging around. This happened maybe 3 times before I admitted (temporary) defeat and allowed myself an entire 48 hours of rest and darkness. My grey matter needed the rest but my soul needed the light. I’m a runner afterall…how can I promote myself as a fitpreneur when I can’t get out and move?
*My family doctor said I could run once I felt “good enough to run”, but my concussion knowledge knew I should be at least 3 days symptom free. I should address this in a future post, but please seek advice from a health professional TRAINED in concussion protocol!!! Most GPs know less than many children’s hockey coaches do.
I texted a friend one day saying “I’m pretty sure I haven’t had a headache in two days!” He laughed that I wasn’t sure, but the cloudiness and ache had become so much a part of me that I sorta lost the idea of what “normal” felt like. I knew that when I got back to running, I would feel like myself again.
I’m grateful for Jeff’s Birthday Challenge which served as the incentive for me to lace up and push myself again: I adjusted my original goal of 50km in a week to 20km and completed my kilometres earlier than expected! I even indulged in cake as directed by Jeff, but once the challenge was over I realized the darkness wasn’t clearing.
I felt disconnected from my body and it started to feel like the bridge between my body and soul was crumbling. It’s not an exaggeration when I say that I feel most alive when I’m running: it’s the freedom and the discomfort that work together to remind me I am human. Running is my time to think and feel and process things, so when a friend confided some very heavy news to me, I fell under its weight.
This was one of those falls where you can’t believe it just happened because you’ve been so graceful for years. One which triggered my deepest insecurities and left me feeling exposed and alone, but like it was happening on stage in front of an audience. I lost sight of my worth and my purpose and questioned what business I had in sharing my story and speaking to others with a view to motivating and inspiring change within them.
A mental health advocate who encourages others to speak openly and #endthestigma and I’m feeling embarrassed and ashamed I don’t feel like myself?
Someone who inspires others to see the bright side and know your worth feels dark and worthless?
I promote self care and was unable to show myself compassion and kindness when I needed it most?
I held it together until my weekend alone when the kindest friend I wasn’t sure I had gave me the permission I was craving to let it out. Once the tears washed away the mud and murk, there was room for me to return. I got up the next morning and went for a run.
Holy sh*t, that run felt hard but I felt the sun on my skin and the wind in my face and I felt so happy to be home. I’m grateful for the ability to run because it’s more than my activity of choice: it’s at the very core of my mental health. I am grateful for my friend’s gift of acceptance and for seeing me when I couldn’t see a damned thing. I set aside my shame in exchange for vulnerability (who reads Brene Brown?) and it was the detour I needed to find my way back.