Note: This post is not meant to be depressing, but it might sound that way. It’s more about the many realizations I’ve had during my back issues and coming to terms with how running will be changing for me in the future.
I hate the saying “running is cheaper than therapy.” I know maybe like three people for whom that sentence would actually be true, and they are not people who need therapy in the first place. “Running is my therapy” has also been a historically irritating phrase to me. While I’d like to say it’s because it’s overused, it’s actually because running has never been enough on its own to get me through difficult spots in my life. I’ve seen more therapists than I can even name thanks to moves (mine), maternity leaves (theirs), and insurance fraud (theirs, and I’m still so effing bitter about that. I can’t even. Ugh.). I think I was jealous of the people who seemed to get through all of their problems just by gutting out a few miles on the roads or trails.
Until recently, I couldn’t identify with either of those phrases at all, aside from the fact that I’ve seen them printed on a lot of t-shirts. But as you may have noticed from the tone of many of my posts lately, I haven’t been in my most fun mood as of late. Fine, that’s putting it mildly. If AJ wasn’t the most relaxed person in the world, he would already have murdered me, I think. It’s not just because of my back, although being in pain all the time does have a tendency to fill people with a Hulk-like amount of rage. Work is pretty busy right now (although when is it not? #StartupProblems) and traveling all the time, while fun, has been difficult with the amount of stuff I have going on. For example, I will only be in the country for one day (this past Saturday) during an entire 3 week span, and in case you were wondering, the surgery pre-registration hotline is apparently not open on Saturdays. I’m on the cusp of making many difficult decisions in multiple areas of my life, and sometimes I feel like I’m about to lose it.
Suddenly, I get it. Running probably isn’t really people’s therapy, it’s what keeps them from going over the edge. It’s like a safety net. It’s a workout for your conscience and your common sense. Instead of plotting and executing ways to kill your neighbor’s dog because it won’t stop crapping in your yard, running enables you to politely walk over to their house and address the issue in person, or by yelling, but definitely not by killing the offending dog. I never realized how important this safety net was until I didn’t have it anymore for a long period of time and things in my life went nuts.
The other day, I nearly had a meltdown when CVS wouldn’t fill my sleeping pill prescription because it was one day before I was apparently allowed to and Ambien is a controlled substance. Well, what the hell are you supposed to do if you’re leaving the country for 10 days and there are no CVS’s in said country? If I had thought it would help in even the smallest way (or even just not hurt the situation), I would have launched myself onto the ground and finally thrown the temper tantrum I’ve been prepping for since I was a child. I was obviously far too dignified to as a child to lower myself to the level of throwing tantrums. Good news, though! I feel that I am no longer too dignified at age 28.
The fact of the matter is that for many of us, running is a coping mechanism that has replaced another, potentially more destructive coping mechanism. For me, it is my eating disorder and possibly online shopping. For others, it might be alcohol or drug abuse, or gambling, or compulsive overeating. The past few weeks have been a pretty rude awakening for me; I need more coping mechanisms, or possibly a large supply of pills. No, coping mechanisms. I need coping mechanisms. SEE?
So, runners who rely on running in order to not murder things, I totally get it now. And I’m sorry I judged your sayings. I take that back. Sorry, I’m not sorry. Please get new sayings. And new shirts.
Only 14 days til surgery! I bet you’re counting down just as much as AJ and CVS are.