Yesterday I overcame an obstacle that has been heavy in my heart for quite some time. My last race was in Italy, April 2018. 70.3 Ironman distance race. Branded under Challenge Roma. It was the first of 3 finish lines to symbolise healing from domestic violence. To me, the 70.3 was practice. The open water swim in Malaysia was conquering my biggest fear (water). And then the goal for the full distance IM was finishing time of 12hr18min or better. My 2016 race was a gift to my father. It wasn’t for me, it was for him. After the first race in my series, I was raped. With many things in my life, I brushed it off. I cannot honestly say I processed it. I kind of ignored it. I did the bare minimum to deal and went on with my life. When things do not add up, I like to subtract. That situation didn’t add up so I decided to scrap the other races. I decided to refocus on the things I could control. In addition to clearing my race schedule, I stepped away from running altogether. It was too much to deal with. Granted, I was in the thick of things with processing family dysfunction and making sense of domestic violence. Being raped kind of seemed par for the course. Being 100% honest, being attacked was not just a violation to me, it threatened a part of my world that I thought was sacred. My athletic communities have traditionally always been a safe place. A community where things are dealt with by building an unbreakable machine of excellence. It’s a community where I can run around in spandex and not even think twice about being sexualised. Rather, I’m embraced with compliments on my quad game or teased about my kankles. The athletic communities were pure. Are pure. Were pure. Sacred.
Running has been an important part of my life for 20+ years/Triathlon since 2015. And yesterday, was the first day that I laced up my shoes and went running. Last August, I joined some friends for a weekend of wakeboarding. During the long weekend, I tried to run. Pretty sure I managed a few miles with a fellow college runner. My heart was heavy because my mother was in the hospital and I was forced to deal with my very unhealthy biological brother. Put simply, life is simple when he does not have information about me. It’s peaceful when he is not actively obsessing over me and trying to create disharmony. That said, I am not sure if, during the summer run, I had an emotional release because of all the stuff that happened in Italy? or because of all the stuff that was happening with my mother? The uncertainty: does spiritual death also mean physical death? Perhaps, larger picture, running brought an idea to my consciousness: I was completely out of control. Running is a way to build a machine and control myself. Dealing with unhealthy people is not… building a machine or helping me control myself.
Fast forward, it’s been about a year. I thought I was ok but it didn’t sink in that I wasn’t ok until just now. I wrote the letter of gratitude, I was able to talk about it, I even cleared out my phone without an emotional response to seeing his name… all things indicate that I was OK? Well, if I was OK then why had I been carrying around my shoes for about a year but didn’t put them on? Why did I prefer to grab my bike? What lie had I been telling myself? Why was I avoiding doing something that brought me so much joy?
I dunno. The run brought an emotional release. Shortly after the run, there was a message in my heart: I fucking love running. It’s my favourite drug. My favourite pastime. My favourite way to build muscles. Running brings me back to the present moment whilst also forcing me to regain perspective on life. It’s the one activity where I could be 100% clouded, broken-hearted, and drowning in some bullshit and come out about 45 minutes later pooping rainbows. For real. Running is my favourite drug.
Reflecting on where my head/heart was about a year ago. Dear Rapist, I forgive you.
#EmotionalHealth #Resilience #SelfCare #Health #Running #Recovery #DomesticViolence