I have had many experiences throughout my life that have shaped who I am today. It is easy to recall many of them and I’m sure there are countless others that I haven’t realized the full significance of yet. I seem to recall many of these while I am running or doing any number of the active things I do. It seems to be a trigger for me – a good trigger. Many times, the recollection helps give me perspective, not only on those memories but on anything that is currently going on in my life.
When I began running I had no idea what a significant impact that activity would have on my life, my well-being, and my journey from some of my darkest moments. I didn’t start out like most people by beginning with a 5K or 10K. No, when I decided to take up distance running, my first race was a half marathon. After that, I continued to run longer and longer without training for anything in particular. After running 20 miles one day with a friend he asked why I just didn’t sign up to do a marathon, so I did. It was also during that time that my world was falling apart. My seemingly good marriage was crumbling. I told very few people, if any, about it. Running seemed to helped take away the incredible pain with which I was dealing. I didn’t have to face it when I was out there. Initially, running allowed me to run from that which I was most afraid.
In more ways than one a new chapter had begun to be written in my life. A chapter which, although extremely difficult and painful, would lead to significant change and growth. I experienced a lot of struggles and self doubt during that time. Eventually, I became acutely aware that knowing, accepting and loving yourself is, many times, a difficult thing to do. However, you need to do that in order to be a healthy and complete individual.
I was devastated and shocked the night my wife told me she wasn’t in love with me anymore. I had so many questions. I was frantic for answers that she couldn’t and wasn’t willing to give me. I had so lost who I was that I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I couldn’t imagine why it was happening. How was I going to go on? How would our kids survive this? What would this do to our parents? There seemed to never be an end to the questions, the fears, the huge apprehension.
Eventually, and I can remember this vividly, I decided that it was time to live. I was tired of being a victim. I wasn’t sure how to do it, but knew I needed to change. I wasn’t going to sit helplessly in the corner anymore feeling empty and alone.
It was at that point that I realized for a long time, probably years, I was so focused on my wife and trying to get her to love me that I stopped loving myself. Wow! What a humbling realization! Talk about a decision point in life. I am good and I am of value! It reminded me of a homemade banner that my parents had hanging in my room when I was growing up. It read: “I am good and I am great ‘cause God don’t make junk!” Words that I had read probably hundreds of thousands of times, but as I became an adult, somehow forgot.
It was shortly thereafter that I heard a simple but rather profound statement – “Tomorrow heals yesterday!” Very powerful words and the reason I believe I have grown so much and become a much stronger person in the years since. I am a better man, better son, better father, better brother and better friend.
I believe now more than ever that I have a purpose. There is something that will define me and that I will leave for those that follow. My divorce was definitely a defining moment in my life but it does not define me. I won’t allow it to. In fact, it very well could have been the catalyst to thrust me forward. The push I needed to not be afraid of taking risks to reach my full potential.
Many of the journeys that we are thrust into aren’t ones that we would necessarily choose but we have to travel them nonetheless. Several years ago I remember hearing that the only way to deal with your fear is to go through it. It reminds me of the old phrase, “When you are going through hell, keep going.” If you can do that, then afterwards, it doesn’t have the same hold on you. That is the challenge for many. Do you have enough intestinal fortitude to keep going? When faced with seemingly insurmountable and challenging obstacles in life I hope that every one of you have the strength to do just that – keep moving forward and refusing to quit!
I want to leave you with a quote from Jillian Michaels when she was talking to a contestant on The Biggest Loser. I heard it shortly after my divorce was final and it has had a profound impact on me.
“This is why overcoming fears is so important, because if you don’t overcome them you will bring them about in a dangerous way. It’s strength to show vulnerability. Only strong people can accept when they are hurting. Your emotions exist for a reason.
Your feelings exist for a reason. They tell you when things are out of balance, when you’re going in the wrong direction. They are a compass. They are meant to be felt and expressed and moved through so that you can grow. And when you don’t, this is what happens to you.
Quitting is weak. True strength is digging into what is coming up inside of you right now because your feelings are real. The feelings you are having are there for a reason and the more you deny them the more you end up here.”
It was at that point that running changed for me. Rather than running from my pain, my problems and my fears, I started running towards them. I used it as one of many ways to face all those things and move forward – to heal. My hope is that you have found something in your life that has done the same thing and you can stop running from it.
Be Great! Be Strong!
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