. With Love, From The Mother 'Hood: Running Full Circle

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Running Full Circle

My 15 year old daughter grouses about being the oldest (she is really preaching to the choir on this one - mama is the oldest, too), the one that has to "break me in" as Mom, but I think I have done an ok job in some most areas, especially in teaching her to face issues head-on instead of running from them, which is my tendency - like I said before, trying to raise winners, here. (It is hard to break habits that hail from childhood, but I'm workin' on it. The chicken suit is off, just don't know if I am ready to throw it away just yet.)

Running and I became intimate friends the year I was 12 and discovered my town summer track program. It was perfect - I could easily walk the mile to the cinder track from my house, I thought the ribbons they gave out were super cool and it was seemingly, FREE. I was hooked. Glory called as I imagined how many ribbons I would win, and I coveted that silky blue. Around and around she goes. Elusive silky blue passed by time and time again, and soon that track wasn't enough. I found myself running through town all the time, and the steady beat of my cheap sneakers on old, cracked sidewalks in harmony with my rhythmic breathing carried me away. Cut-rate ribbons quickly lost their allure, becoming nothing more than faux gold-stamped, polyester reminders of what I chased. Those ribbons are long gone, but I still have cinders in my knee from a fall on that track. Three little dots you can barely see, but I know they are there. Sometimes I can feel them through my skin.

I continued running on that same track all through high school, long after it stopped being fun - secretly dreaming of running fast enough to capture my worth. The off track runs were different - I became great at that kind of running. Those open road journeys became my go-to escape when things weren't right in life, but no matter how far I ran, nasty ol' self-doubt was always right there, nipping at my heels. It's no wonder I was so skinny back then. Often, my treks took me down Main Street at night, stolen glances affording a glimpse into the windows of grand old homes, and the perfect lives I imagined contained within them. Facades often misled me in the coming years, but I eventually grew to know deep down is the home of what matters.

In the 17+ years we have known each other, Marc and I have done our share of running in circles with each other. Once again, with the help of our amazing therapist we have explored how our childhoods affect us as adults and partners - looking at all the shtuff we bring to this crazy love - and how to effectively communicate and move past emotional roadblocks from our youth. Like I said in my previous post, we've learned sometimes "it isn't about you", but when it is - own it. This maxim has proven pivotal to our growth as a couple and parents.

This brings me around to the recent split from my best friend of the last 12 years and although this has been hard for Marc (we were friends as couples), he understands where I am coming from. Without going into all the really gory details, I'll just cut to the quick of it: this divide was building for quite some time, and would have eventually happened in its own time, but a landslide succession of events sped it up, culminating with me having the Grand Mal Mother of all anxiety attacks after 3 scary nights spent in the hospital with our son, arriving days late to our less than ideal (I'm being extremely generous here) shared vacation locale (her choosing) following weeks of her telling me “this is how we do it, and it works really well for us” while trying to hash out details of the "vacation". We tore out of there after Marc made an executive decision (I love him so much for this) to rescue what was left of our break and head to a better locale with his extended family to finish out our trip. That vacation ended up costing way more than we planned but in the end it bought us the precious realization that we needed to make some major changes, and we're working on them.

For me that friendship has run it's course. I have a really hard time with people who can't recognize and own their part of something and say "I'm sorry". This is HUGE for me - own your shtuff - loud and proud! (Yeah Marc!!! - for working so hard towards becoming better at this!!! Compliment about awesome Hubs - Check!) After we returned home I emailed a lengthy heartfelt explanation and apology to my friend and also shared without blaming her (I even had my therapist look it over to help me eliminate anything potentially blaming), where all of my built up hurt feelings had come from and the response I got was definitely not "Sorry my words made you feel this way", but rather something along the lines of "maybe we will talk in a few months and find the friendship we used to have once you (that would be Zoloft poppin' me) are feeling better." Huh.

Well, I feel great. Marc and I are the best we have ever been together in so many ways. I can honestly own my feelings and say, with confidence, “I don’t miss her”. Speaks volumes to me.

I recently began running again and it has been wonderful - a much needed break for me as a mom, and the pounding of my feet and sound of my breathing are welcome old friends, but instead of feeling like I am running away, trying to escape life, I feel strong, knowing I am running in the right direction, at peace with the recent choices I have made to eliminate what isn't working. (I have spent far too much of my life trying to squeeze myself into acceptable molds, hiding in that damn chicken suit. 1 ugly chicken suit shed - CHECK!! Again, this is me, take it or leave it.) I often think of all Marc and I have overcome, especially in regards to autism, and it pushes me along on these runs as I silently chant my mantra I am bigger than this. I am stronger than this. I imagine myself this whacky heroine and my super power is my snarky sense of humor - it certainly has carried me this far. I even have a blue t-shirt with a big "S" for Snarky (okay, it is Marc's Superman T we gave him for Father's Day that I scammed after it shrank in the wash, but it works).

Now, looking at the beautiful young woman my oldest daughter has become, and the amazing life Marc and I have built together despite all the hurdles (and those we have yet to cross, as I sit here writing, watching Max's increasing stims**) I know in my soul I have arrived exactly where I belong, and wish I could go back and tell that 12 year old girl: keep running dear heart -you'll get where you are going and speak your truth, even if you are the only one listening, and one day you will own it all, loud and proud. Maybe I'm ready to throw that chicken suit out after all.

**For those of you wondering what "stim" means: to self-stimulate; (specifically) among autistic people, to fixate on a comforting or compelling thing or action (such as rocking or humming); to perseverate. Also n., a (self-)stimulating thing or behavior. Max's stims have evolved over time, and presently he exhibits a complicated combination of hand and eye movements often combined with sounds.

1 comment:

  1. Can I say, I have had a bad breakup with my dearest friend. I know the feelings. We should sit down and discuss sometime. I bet mine was more costly than yours...


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