There was this idea that took root when I was in the throws of an eating disorder: control, discipline, restrict. Control, discipline, restrict. A thumping mantra that played over and over and over and allowed me to be very successful in many areas of my life.
It still hasn’t left. Those roots went deep and so letting go has been hard. Really hard.
And, in the last 4 years, I’ve had to let go of a lot of control.
I couldn’t control the outcome of my pregnancy. It felt as though my body was betraying me.
I couldn’t control the 27 week, 5 day birth of my girls, as hard as I tried.
I couldn’t control their progress in the NICU.
I couldn’t make Mila get off oxygen any sooner than she was ready.
I couldn’t control the fact that my daughter was born deaf and that her life wouldn’t be “normal.”
I couldn’t control the multiple infections that happened after her first surgery- infections that took me out of work for weeks at a time.
I couldn’t control other people’s perceptions at that time- perceptions that I wasn’t good at my job or that I had too much on my plate.
I couldn’t make parenting or hospital stays or my child’s progress predictable or linear.
I couldn’t control the huge bills that were mounting that literally made me feel like I was suffocating.
So all I wanted to control was my running. Running was sweet relief from the uncontrollable. It was predictable. It was release. In fact, there were many runs where I cried out of sheer frustration from the other shoe that dropped or the fact that, once again, one of the girls was sick.
It gave me a sense of accomplishment and an appreciation for my body- which after years or struggling with an ED and feeling guilty for having my girls so early- was something I desperately needed. I needed to know that my body was worth loving. And, as silly as this sounds, running helped me tremendously with my eating disorder. When running, fueling my body was easy. I made healthier choices all around and didn’t feel the need to restrict. When I couldn’t? Well, that’s a whole other story. All of a sudden, those old ED rules started coming back and I either overate or underate or vacillated between both.
So, I think that’s why it’s so hard when well-meaning people tell me to “let go” of the control. Let go of the expectation. Let go of what you want. Try something else. Do it another way. Give it up.
I don’t think that it’s wrong to want to have something to control. For me, my need for security is wrapped up in running. When I’m doing it I feel strong and powerful and in charge of my destiny. It’s something I needed at a time when I felt like I had no predictability or structure. It gave me back power when I didn’t feel like I had much. Running gave me hope.
And, that’s the hardest part about having an injury like this (for me). I, at times, feel hopeless. It’s this viscous cycle of understanding that I need to run so I’m not stressed, but I need to not be so stressed so I can run. It’s hard having complete faith (and MAN do I want to have complete faith) that I will be running strong again and putting in the work. It’s hard having faith in my body or finding the beauty of the struggle when I’m in the thick of it.
However, under all the frustration there still remains faith. Complete and utter faith in myself that running will return to me. That my ability to run fast and hard and strong WILL come back. And what I’ve learned through this process is that I do not need to convince anyone otherwise.
Someone once said that faith and fear cannot live in the same heart. I think they can. I have complete faith that I will run again, but I am fearful and cautious and worried about it. What matters though is that I push past that fear, learn to trust myself, learn to back off when needed while still being unrelenting. I think the key is to let the faith be greater than the fear.