I’m running and running and running. I can feel my heart trying to break the cage. If I can’t hear myself struggle I must be okay. I turn up the songs thumping into my brain to drown out my labored breathing. Don’t think. Just do. I’m good. It’s all good. I allow myself this run. That is it. Be where you are because this moment won’t last.
My life is bigger than me. It’s not about me at all. How did that happen? How did I get to a point where nothing about me is for me other than a 30 minute daily run? The run is the only measurable variable I can count on. Even then, I give it away in a prayer. I pray for guidance, solutions, peace, a miracle. I pray for those who can’t run, those whose battle is greater. I pray for his sobriety and my sanity. I pray for our children. God save our kids.
And just like that it’s done. I wash it all off and get on with whatever the day hurls at me. We’re in the thick of it and we’re all falling apart. I’m the clay pigeon tossed into the air. The bullets are screaming at me from every direction. The decisions I make are in real time with the goal of providing immediate relief. I don’t have the luxury of long term vision or prevention. I have a meeting with the vice principal at the high school… again. I get a call from my daughter’s second grade teacher about another stomach ache. What could be causing this? She’s healthy, ahead of her class, no social issues, and she adores her teacher. Money is missing. I’ve been locked out of our accounts. Another electronic glitch. He won’t answer my calls or texts. I guess I won’t go grocery shopping.
No, you’re the clay pigeon and I’m the sharp shooter. I hope you’re not the next one to tell me to eat a sandwich or better yet, have a piece of cake. I feel for you if you are the recipient of the sting of my tongue. Tell me one more time how all my kid needs is just a little one on one, how running doesn’t solve my problems, how you’re worried about me because I’ve lost too much weight and I don’t look so good. Yeah, well you’re still fat. I don’t hold that against you. How about this, ‘Guess what your kid said on social media.’ or ‘So, I’m sure you already know about her tattoo?’
I handed out the ultimatum and he didn’t last 24 hours. I swallowed what was left of my pride and made the dreaded calls for help with the kids. I’m denied. I’ve done too good a job in glossing over hell on earth. No one believes it’s as bad as it is. I’m simply another wife complaining about her husband. Or maybe it’s that I’ve come this far, surely I can do the rest on my own.
“I guess I have to do this one on my own.” That was a sentence uttered by both of us at different times. We were right on both occasions. He said it first as he left me in the mall foodcourt. He wanted to come back with conditions. I stood my ground. I said it last a year and a half later, as I hung up the phone. He had stopped talking. In retrospect, I hope he was already dead.
Regardless of how many people are with you in the end, you have to do death on your own. Even dying together, hand in hand, you will go separately. Someone always gets left behind. I was left behind.
What to do now that my life has become about me? I don’t know what to do with me. I’ve had four hard hard years of walking through grief with my children. They are remarkably resilient. I look at them with awe and envy. I am not where they are. I struggle with allowing me to be significant in my own life. Conversely, I am all they have. Make yourself a priority. You are all they have! I wrestle with every opportunity for me. How will this affect my kids? What are the ramifications of my actions? Will this bring about a hardship for them? Can I go for an early morning run while Claire is still sleeping? What about skydiving? Or Cuba? Is taking the opportunity to meet up with a treasured friend (who now lives in Singapore) in Havana, Cuba to run a marathon irresponsible? Let’s take the Cuba part out of the equation. I’m training for a marathon. That is a huge time commitment. This should be something that fills up my cup rather than leaving me with guilt for choosing me. I’m weary of martyrdom and I am committed to breaking the cycle of codependence. It’s my turn.