Yesterday I remained curled up in a chair for 8 unbearable hours unable to do anything even close to productive. I sat, pen in hand, notebook open and all I accomplished in those hours was two sentences. One of them makes no sense to me now because I couldn’t keep a train of thought going and the second was an attempt at prayer but I only got as far as “God please…” It hurt to think because the darkness that enveloped me suffocated my brain preventing coherent thought from forming. Random thoughts would intrude my mind in bursts reminding me of all I SHOULD be doing especially in preparation for Thanksgiving which was only two days away. The thought of cleaning anything, especially when I couldn’t even summon the energy to shower, made me wince. The only thing I longed for was a deep sleep from which I’d never return.
Today I woke up and ran 7 miles in below freezing temps and now here I sit as words are flowing effortlessly onto the paper. Who was that shell of a person yesterday? I remember WANTING to run yesterday because I knew it would make me feel better…I simply COULDN’T. I caught glimpses of my running magazines mocking me from the coffee table as I fought back tears that threatened to flow as I was reminded of my weakness.
When my son came home and said he had track practice in the morning I initially cringed. But then I realized that I needed something to force me out of the house so I heard myself telling him I would be the one to take him in the hope I would force myself to run while I waited.
After a fitful night’s sleep I woke up to the howling wind and immediately regretted my offer. However, my duties as a mom couldn’t be ignored so I dressed in my winter gear and tried to think positive thoughts. Thank God I somehow managed because today it saved me from the pit.
The first mile was freezing and difficult but I was grateful that I was at least moving…a huge improvement from yesterday. The wind stung my face and froze my neck but oddly I loved it. The cold fresh air felt so REAL and INTENSE. My quads burned as I ran up each hill and I found myself focusing on each footstep as I tried to avoid slipping on the ice. I realized in that moment I was light years away from the chair I was paralyzed in just 24 hours ago. The physical exertion took me out of my mind and kept me in the moment.
All I wanted to do was continue putting one foot in front of the other, breathe in the fresh air and get lost in my music and the moment. I was actually free from the grip of my mind that always had to fight so hard just to stay alive.
I realized that this opportunity was a gift so I needed to embrace it because if I was honest with myself, history shows these moments can be few and far between. That’s one of the things I absolutely hate about this illness — the ups and downs can be maddening and most of the time come out of nowhere. BUT, despite how awful I feel during a “down” and am convinced I will never make it out alive — a day like today DOES eventually come. When it arrives I have to remind myself to enjoy every moment, welcome the discomfort that comes with pushing my body beyond its limits, take extra time to breathe in the air and appreciate the singer screaming about hope in my ear. I can’t spend time worrying about what I will face when I wake up tomorrow –something I am not very good at but am trying to work on.
I finished my run exhilarated and proud of myself for taking the leap from my chair to a freedom run. The cobwebs and demons that haunted me just hours before had been left behind at the starting line. The darkness that’s relentlessly chasing me was unable to catch me and for that I am truly grateful. Yesterday I wished every breath I took would be my last. Today I am intentionally breathing deeply and with each one holding on to the knowledge that at least for right now, in this very moment everything is ok.
Matthew 6:34 — Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.