Tuesday, July 7, 2015

No Turning Back Now

"Also, stick around. Don't lose your heart. Keep going. Keep at it. ~ Mark Ruffalo
There will be junctions along our journey pathways where we are inspired to attempt unexpected leaps and accept challenges and adventures so unfamiliar to our life experience, the simple act of considering the leap, the headlong run, to close our eyes and enjoy the new ride lets us know we are growing in our recovery.

We will often experiment, covertly. We don't want to rock the boat. What will our family and friends think if they learn of our considered changes? They might realize we are contemplating a life as our Great Creator meant for us where we live true to our truest selves.

We've changed.

My love of writing was revived when I truly embraced recovery. A breakout through some major hedgerows blocking my pathway occurred when I committed to sharing my experience, strength and hope as a parent of a child who had fallen into addiction (The Journey of Parents in Recovery, posted January 6, 2014). This was a fellow traveller putting himself out there as many of us do as we grow along our journeys and shed, by degrees, our old behaviors and expectations.

When I gently, almost timidly hit PUBLISH there was no turning back. And I felt deep within an acknowledgement from somewhere:
"This is where you should be on you your journey."
Now, I have a secret to tell. I've been considering a new adventure for some time. Here goes ... I have begun to train for a half marathon to be run in October. It is early July and training begins later this month. There is much work to be done even before the official training begins. I have goals: transform my body to a healthier running configuration (read: body mass index), gently progress to a five-mile walk/run before I present myself to the trainers, carve out time for the aforementioned gentle progression, and sign up for professional training and consultation from our local running shoe and accessory emporium, Fleet Feet.

I have also committed to training smarter, not harder. I will not injure myself thus sabotaging my chances of being present at the start line in October as I have the past three years. I will listen to and trust that little voice that says, "Slow down, stop, OUCH!"

I had no idea the Universe had a surprise awaiting, a revelation. This race and the preceding training would be a part of my journey, a way to stretch boundaries, grow, to inspire those I love and perhaps even myself.

I didn't get it, of course, at first. This would require another Universal Gibbs slap to the back of my head, a not-so-gentle yet compassionate reminder of how much I've yet to travel though I've come so far. 

Once I signed up for the race, Fleet Feet, which will be my guide, coach and cheerleader throughout this adventure began sending me emails to keep me informed of events such as 10Ks, training sessions for other approaching runs, classes for stretching (there's a right way and a wrong way apparently), nutrition, even instructionals for using the barbaric Foam Roller to un-kink one's illiotibial (IT) band.
The bane of many runners, the IT band or tract is a thick strip of connective tissue linking the hip to the knee and is often the origin of the runner's limp you might see displayed after an organized run where participants have pushed themselves seeking their personal bests. The Foam Roller is a cylindrical piece of hard Styrofoam, some adorned with nubs like the cleats on a motocross bike tire. The runner is told to balance on the middle of the cylinder as he or she moves along the affected areas, hip to knee then knee to hip to apparently unravel the IT band gnarled from the preceding race or training session. 
The process is as excruciatingly painful as you might imagine. I have suggested the Foam Roller might sell better if it was offered with an optional dominatrix for a nominal fee. My proposal has fallen on deaf ears at Fleet Feet - so far.
But I digress.

My gentle reminder from the Universe was delivered in the form of the Fleet Feet newsletter I began to receive with the emails. One morning I clicked on the newsletter link and an article caught my attention. The article, published by Fleet Feet Sports and written by Amy Marxkors, author, runner and contributing writer to the Fleet Feet e-zine was titled, "Keep Moving."

"Hmmmm," I thought. "This sounds familiar."

As I began reading Amy's article I smiled at the notion of the universal nature of weariness, whether as a parent of an addict or a marathoner lacing up for another grueling 15-mile training run. She writes, "The ultimate challenge of endurance is not to win, it's simply to keep going."

As parents of children who have succumbed to the disease of addiction there is no win here. Our victory, like the runners', is the daily wonder we experience as we progress along our journey pathways. We are a community of parents struggling through an endurance sport where we commit ourselves to loving our children while hating The Addiction. This is not a sprint but a lifetime commitment to finding a new world for ourselves. There are finish lines to be sure, but as soon as we cross we look ahead toward our next horizon, our next exploit. We rest, we recover, then boldly go!

As I continued to read "Keep Going" I was encouraged to know that our experiences as parents of addicts is a shared human experience. As the writer expresses early on, "The truth is, sometimes, I don't want to be strong."

Sometimes, what we have endured is all we can take. We become weary, but we know to keep going. We have a community of parents, kindred, allied spirits we meet at Al Anon, other 12 Step and countless outreach meetings. There is also the unshared experiences of parents sitting not twenty feet from each other in coffee houses and theaters as a Higher Power intervenes and inspires one or both of them to give a nod of encouragement for reasons unknown.

It's like the start of race with perfect strangers lined up awaiting the piercing explosion of the starting gun. There is that shared experience that buoys the runners to a starting pace which if sustained would exhaust each of them halfway through the race. But this feeling, a pre-race visceral acceleration of heart, soul and body is consequential of the human experience - and a lot of pain felt along the way.

When we believe we are alone in our sadness, in our PAIN, know we are not. We are a part of humanity. It is our nature to endure life's struggles and overcome adversity, to move on and keep going to the next plateau, higher ground or mile marker. When we encounter someone with a smile, a nod and a "Nice to see you" greeting we are acknowledging this nature. This person may be a fellow parent, or a marathoner who didn't quite make it to that 15-mile mark that morning.

We may be on disparate journeys but we share something with the runner, or the 10K, half marathon or marathon trainee. We must keep going, keep moving. "Our struggle elevates the phrase" as Amy so eloquently writes, according to where we are on our travels. And together, as parents of addicted children, as runners, as human beings, we're better. We can take comfort in knowing we are never alone along our chosen pathways.

So the next time you see a runner, or a field of runners (I Googled this), smile, nod  and maybe even say. "It's good to see you."

Who knows, you may unknowingly catapult someone along their journey, or even to and through their next training run.

And it can be a means to keeping us moving along ours.
"If you're going through hell, keep moving." ~ Winston Churchill
... keep coming back 

This post was inspired by an article I stumbled upon while embarking on yet another recovery journey. This article was written by Amy L. Marxkors and was originally published by FLEET FEET Sports. You can find the original post here