Your Desire to Heal
“Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” ― Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things
Your back is up against the wall and your firsts are in the air. You’re afraid, but something inside of you is pushing you to fight. This is the moment that changes everything. Someone or something has brought you to this place and now you’re faced with two choices. Give up or fight like hell to get better.
For me, this is a familiar place. I’ve been here at the end of relationships, I’ve been here when I look in the mirror and am surprised by how my body looks, and more recently in my journey of sobriety. There is always one common denominator in this land of fight or flight — PAIN.
In March of 2012, I was on a tour bus with several musicians traveling from Texas to Missouri for the next night of the tour. I was at a place in my life that was very sad and lonely, so I intentionally went out on the road with some of our artists for relief from my every day life. I had gained a ton of weight over the previous year and was very numb and in some ways, unaware of how sad I really was.
I crawled into my middle bunk on the bus that night to get some sleep, and glanced at my email on my phone before calling it a night. It was there that my life took a detour. No one died, there wasn’t some major catastrophe at work that needed attention… no, nothing like that. I received an email from a client friend of mine that worked at a radio station in Tampa that simply said that she signed me up for a 10k happening three months later in Atlanta. She signed off with some sort of ridiculous response like
“Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!” I stared at those words and all the outlandish exclamation marks while whispering expletives at my phone screen.
She did what?
I could feel something welling up in me. It felt like anger… oh, let’s be honest — RAGE. My name was on a list somewhere to RUN a freaking race! What about this voluptuous body confused my friend to think I would ever want to do such a thing, much less that I could do such a thing? Wait, why didn’t she ask if I wanted to do this race, instead of just signing us up? The rage was flowing through my bloodstream, I could literally feel my blood pressure rising.
I quickly googled “10k” on my phone because I didn’t even know how far it was. 6.2 miles stared back at me. RAGE. Six-point-two-miles!!??
My mind and heart began to race.
Who does she think she is?
She clearly did this to tell me I need to lose weight.
This isn’t funny.
How am I going to get out of this?
I hate myself.
How did I gain all this weight?
Oh my gosh, I want to die.
Who runs a race in Hotlanta in July?
I hate my friend.
This happened on Thursday, March 15th 2012. Three weeks later on Thursday, April 5th 2012, I began training to run the 10k. I downloaded a couch to 5k app on my phone, put on my workout clothes and began the first day of training. It was only 90 seconds of jogging at a time, but I remember crying through the entire 24 minutes. I didn’t know why I was crying, but it was flowing out of me like a fountain. I know now that it was pain and hurt and shame and loss that flowed out of me. My mind and heart didn’t match my body and it all came crashing down on me in that moment.
I can’t tell you exactly why I decided to lean in and begin running. All I know is that I felt a tiny spark inside of me that felt familiar. I had felt it before. It was the same spark that I felt the first time I realized my love for people’s stories and knew at a very young age that I wanted to tell these stories through film. I felt it when I was a kid playing softball and finally understood the timing between when pitcher through the ball to when I smacked it into left field. That same spark was inside of me begging me to make the effort. I never actually ran that 10k, because we weren’t chosen through the race lottery system, but I ran 6 races that year and lost over 70 pounds by choosing to face my fears and my pain, one day at a time.
We are all faced with these catalyst moments when we are offered another chance. It’s amazing what can happen if we pay attention to the pain — it’s there to tell us something.