This past three (THREE) years have been about reconstructing myself into something new. Something better. Something unrecognizable from my past. I wanted to be far removed from my recollection of a fat, slow, unattractive person with flaws and faults and hang-ups and so many self-erected barricades to personal growth and success. I assumed running would be the salvation from that past. For the most part it has worked.
My physical being is not the same. The scale and my clothing sizes would support that statement. However I am plagued by the ongoing knowledge that I am still - emotionally - a shell of the person I want to be. That change is proving to be the tougher challenge.
As I have mentioned before, this spring I became a fan of The Mental Illness Happy Hour, a podcast created by comedian Paul Gilmartin. The amazing thing about Paul's show is how he has brought together a collection of people that all yield insights into my own life and personality. I have been struck dumb on more than one occasion upon hearing my own words or thoughts flung back at me by a veritable stranger through the magic of the internet. Such a thunderbolt struck on Saturday.
The last Friday's interview subject was Teresa Strasser. You may know her from Adam Carrola's radio show or various programs on cable television. Which stood out most about Teresa's story is the self-doubt she possesses. She is capable and successful in her craft, yet holds on tightly to the fear that she is a disappointment to those around her. In the past she has avoided assignments to avoid failing those whom count on her. The ridiculous point is that avoiding the work creates the disappointment.
This is something I must deal with as well. I am clueless as to the cause. My childhood was not burdensome or pressurized, nor particularly stressful. My parents were not tyrants. They were proud of me, though I sensed that I could have always been a tiny bit better. They saw promise. They total me I had promise. Promise that when realized would - should -yield success in my future, in whatever manner I chose to utilize that promise.
Yet nothing stirred me. I did okay in school so long as I was engaged, but I rarely chose to excel. In my professional career I set my limitations based on the expectations of others and my other perceived weaknesses. If I could not envision success I did not pursue the dream. Just getting by was my code. Not a great code by which to live a life.
The fear inside me was that I am truly not a capable or talented or gifted as people perceive, and that when I fail they will realize as much and either pity me or worse, realize their mistake and cast me aside as some loser not worth their time or effort. The fear is that I am really a small person inside - mentally, intellectually, emotionally - and that everyone around me has overestimated my abilities.
Then I became a runner. On the course is the only time I don't fear disappointing people. Sure, the lead up to a race may be a source of nerves or jitters. How will people respond if my time is slower than expected, if I am not able to finish the race? The first mile is usually burdened by these stupid thoughts. Then slowly they are supplanted by thoughts of chasing the other runners ahead of me, like a dog after the mail truck. I forget that I am in danger of showing weakness. I realized that I am not running for anyone but myself. On Saturday I raced no one but my own inhibitions and the clock. And I won.
The truth is that no one every pushed me to run. Physical activity was not a focus as a kid. I tried team sports but that is different. Had I felt the true thrill of running as a kid, a teenager or even a young adult there is no telling how differently I may see myself today. Maybe I would feel more capable, more complete.
The epiphany of Saturday is that my running is not able to disappoint anyone other than myself. I have to live up to expectations established by me alone.
If I had but one desire in life to be fulfilled, it would be to walk as tall today as I did Saturday. To be as fast and determined and dedicated in my non-running life as I am when barreling toward that finish line. To know that I am what other people see when they look at me.
I do fear that I am becoming redundant in my writing of late. I may have trouble recalling the subject and tone of previous posts and am probably repeating the same tired drivel. In truth I rarely read (i.e. proofread) my posts once they are published. Call it a shotgun approach. Double barreled buckshot. Sawed off.
There is a lot of good anxiety at the moment in my life. I have been working with clients and making a little money. I am selling stuff only and emboldening people to tear down self-imposed obstacles. I have been communicating with friends and family on a somewhat better level, really getting to the root of matters and trying earnestly to learn where I became the me that struggles to be anything other than me.
Cactus Rose is drawing close. Beyond that I do not know for certain. The road is twisted and I do not see clear of the bend.