Goodbye 2016, it’s been swell. Truly, it’s been a great year. My favorite so far since starting adulthood, so I owe you a thank you.
When I think back to where I was mentally and emotionally in January of 2016, I was just starting to paddle my way out of a riptide of anxiety and depression that I didn’t realize I was swept away in until I was too far away from the shore. I didn’t share about here on this blog because, well, I was in it, trying to figure out what to do next – be swept out to sea until it spits me out on it’s own, go under, or remember how to get out of it and implement a plan. Being a full-time working Mama of 3 kids had taken its heavy toll on me and I was struggling in my marriage in so many ways. I was angry and hated everything, but I couldn’t pinpoint any one main issue or problem that I could fix. It was the compounding pressure of every responsibility that I had to shoulder and my perception of having to carry the weight of the world on my own. It was crushing. My only solace was running with my Mamas and heading to the box 3 times a week. I was hanging on by a thread, praying for a change…any change. I didn’t care what form it came in – a new job, a divorce, winning $10,000 from Christmas lottery tickets. Anything. I was desperate. (I realize now, those things would’ve just been escapes and I’m glad those things didn’t happen.) My body grew physically stronger, but my mind grew weaker. With every decision I made each day, big or small, resentment tightened it’s grip on my heart. I had become selfish and absorbed in things that fed my desire to feel young, pretty, and free. I was focused on all the wrong things, but that was the space I occupied at the time. It was the riptide.
Countless nights I would cry and I screamed at God…a lot. Sometimes I knew why I was crying and screaming, sometimes I didn’t. All I ever heard was Be still. Wait. This made me even angrier.
WAIT??!?!? YOU WANT ME TO KEEP WAITING? I’VE BEEN WAITING ON YOU FOR YEARS.
I was venomous. I was ugly. Last New Year’s Eve I was practically crippled with anxiety and exhausted from all the worry. I didn’t want to deal with another year of the same. I couldn’t handle it. In January 2016 I did a lot of research and I started taking medication. I made a lot of different road maps and where they might take me and tried to decipher which, if any, would lead me to what I want in “the end”. I sat and looked at those maps a lot. In February, I went to marriage counseling sessions with my husband. It was another step. A good step. But I still blamed him for a lot of what I was feeling and I couldn’t let those feelings go. I was in my own way and my faith had practically been snuffed out.
At the end of February 3 of the Mamas went to the Disney Princess Half Marathon race weekend. We didn’t have any expectations, we knew it would be fun girls getaway. It was Disney, after all, and we were going to see the sunshine and a palm tree. That was good enough for us. There were no heavy responsibilities on this trip. Just one bag of running clothes, a swimsuit, and a toothbrush. We just had to show up, move forward, and enjoy the big event that someone else had carefully planned for us. No “I have to’s”, no “I can’t forget to’s” or any other thought that would put us back in charge…and once we hit packet pickup, we realized there was one purpose of this trip, and one purpose only. Let the magic of Disney seep into every fiber of our beings so we could have the most fun ever. Simple. Perfect. This was the weekend I remembered who I was at my core. A playful, joyful, ridiculously silly girl who lives for adventure and dreaming big. It was both divine intervention and a serendipitous occasion.
I got mad again in March. Still waiting. Luckily, I was still sneezing pixie dust so it was less anger and more of a frustration of not knowing how to solve the problems I felt I had. I was changing. As I managed my frustrations, the Mamas and I continued training for our races. Our long runs served as hours of therapy that were priceless – more emotions and tears were worked through during those runs than any amount of time I could’ve spent in a counselor’s office. My sole sisters carried me through the weeks of early spring more than they’ll ever realize.
The last weekend in April, we went to my fellow Mama K’s house in Delaware and stayed with her for our Coastal Delaware Running Festival. It was my birthday weekend and my best college friends came from a few different states to race and spend time with me.
This was the weekend my heart shattered. Not from sadness or because of a tragic event, but because it got too big with joy and it just burst. I was so grateful for the forgiveness and acceptance that these women had showed me. I was so thankful that they allowed me to be raw and open and dangerously vulnerable with them and they did nothing but heal me. I PR’d my half marathon time and I felt more grounded. I was starting to feel that my inner strength was balancing my physical strength… Okay, this was worth waiting for.
May, June, July, and August brought more women out to Track Night Tuesdays and more new women to our group. This is when we started to realize on a deeper level that so many of us are struggling with similar issues. Or, even if we weren’t struggling with the same issues, we were all struggling with something. We became anchors for each other. My little ember of faith was stoked and I began sharing my stories with anyone who needed some compassion. This is when I really started to feel grounded and our group really started to transform from just a social club to a tribe. We were all running toward the same goal: be fully supported and loved…to feel whole and accepted just as we were…all hot messes who’ve seen the depths of Davey Jones’ locker and with tales to tell. Okay, okay. This was definitely worth waiting for.
Tribe /trīb/ noun :
A social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader. *A distinctive close-knit group. (definitions found on Google’s first search result, I don’t know how to properly cite this.)
September….Oh, September. I can’t even write about the Ragnar Trail Event without tearing up. September was the month that I found courage. September was the month that my definitions of success and endurance were completely rewritten.
October was a wonderful month spent in the afterglow of Lake Wawayanda. October brought me closer to some of the Mamas. They brought clarity to many issues and gave me hope. A fellow Mama recited this Bible verse to me in Giant Food Stores (of all places) one night…
Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Oh…. Oh….So that’s why I’m supposed to be still. You have been and are fighting for me. I get it now. I will wait.
This was the kindling that Mama S threw onto my little glowing embers. October was the month my faith had a flame and I had hope. Big hope. I had found big hope through running and through the Mamas. Yep, totally worth waiting for.
November was the month any bondage that had it’s hold on me no longer existed. A battle won perhaps? Money worries, resentment, bitterness, anger, fear, frustration with parenthood, work stress, any of it and all of it. The chains were broken and those free and young feelings I was desperately chasing a year ago? Well, I finally felt them… for real. How unexpected… I can only assume it was because I was willing (though reluctantly) to be still.
December… This past month I’ve been able to freely share my joy and my heart with others, without fear of being hurt or disappointed. Without any expectation of reciprocity and just because… I have found love in places and ways I never knew love could exist. This month of abundant giving has felt so good and so nourishing for my soul. It’s where I’m supposed to be. Finally. This morning, on our last run of 2016, 9 crazy beautiful women showed up for a really cold 8 mile run on the trail. I know many people wouldn’t feel this way, but this morning was my heaven on earth.
I now wear two necklaces, one silver and one gold. I got them for Christmas. They don’t belong together, but I put them together as a reminder. One has a small arrow charm and the other has a delicate cross on a delicate chain. They are reminders to stay focused and keep the faith. These will be my mantras for 2017 because Soleful Mamas has lots of big ideas for the next year. And though I ‘m still a tired working Mama, it’s not an exhaustion that comes with the crushing weight of being a grown up, it’s because I’m in the flow and there is much work to be done. It’s going to be an exciting adventure that hope you’ll join us on!
So if you’ve made it this far – wow! Thank you for reading! If there’s anything you take with you from this post, I hope it’s that you can start this new year off feeling encouraged and understood….and when in doubt, be still. Be ready, but be still. Better times are coming.
Cheers to all the awesomeness coming in 2017,