I ran this morning for the first time in two weeks.
Every step of the first five hundred meters was exquisite pain.
My mind raced—I hurt. Why am I still running if it hurts?
My heart raced, but not from exertion. Tears welled up in my eyes. I changed my playlist three times: a mix of old classics, Bob Dylan, and Matt Maeson.
I kept running—contemplating everything.
My legs shook. But oh my god, I couldn’t stop. Despite the aching reminder of a recent injury, I kept running. I needed time and space to be alone with myself.
The pain eased slowly as I continued.
My thoughts took priority for thirty consecutive minutes. At first, they felt like an expansive, sparkling cloud, and then they contracted to a crystal clear, star-like focus. The words and poetry were calming, breaking me free from the cage I was locked in.
I refused to stop.
In conjunction with the space for my thoughts, my body’s movement made something so obvious: I can’t keep fighting other people’s battles. I need to fight my own.
For my entire past—two months, two years, 35 years—I have been tirelessly fighting battles that are not my own. I am really good at this.
I work selflessly for my team. Everyone knows I will show up and be highly involved. I enthusiastically rise to the challenge, and I love it. It feels good to be at the top of the list and invited into the ring because I am a winner. A gold star is placed. An A+ is given.
The alluring doors appear, but they are only illusory.
Fighting other’s battles are such a welcomed distraction. These battles are so great because they fill the void, provide satisfaction, enlighten, expand, and stimulate.
There is never a win or exaltation on the other side of a battle. A piece of me is gone—time-lapsed, bored, and in anguishing frustration.
It is a proverbial lose-lose situation. I can’t play games anymore. I cannot serve when I am held to rules outside of my own.
I follow all the rules, and they keep me in line.
I was blind in seeing the rules, but not anymore. Every battle has a consistent pattern. I enter the ring slaying; the team feels jubilation–victory is in sight.
I feel my insides churning.
I yearn, and I try.
I try to speak. I try to help others understand–and I fail.
I always fail. I take a seat, dimming my inner light.
God, I cannot do this anymore.
When we follow other people’s rules, we are unable to feel alive in our own choices.
We cannot thrive without boundaries.
As I flipped through the Polaroids of my past, I remember saying f*ck it to the rules. I stepped out of the game and confidently let off my guard. I felt electric, free, and loved.
This morning, I asked my eldest to make a schedule for herself to stay focused while she is not in school. I asked her to consider a few realistic goals that she may want to improve upon over the course of a week.
When I returned from my run, I checked in on her plan. She said she couldn’t do it—she wasn’t good at being realistic like me.
My husband and I both spat out what we were drinking.
“Honey, your mom is the least realistic person there is.”
“Yes, Isla, there is nothing that I do that is realistic. In fact, being unrealistic is the entire essence of my every problem.”
And there it was.
Mentally, I began going down the list—energy, work, time, peers, the world—my limits.
This is my truth. I need so much more from everything—from all of you.
Consider my sword laid down—armor off.
I will not give away my passion, expertise, strength, or power. This leaves me lacking, wanting, and searching.
I am so tired. God, I need my voice.
A good friend sent an Instagram post of a dog, laying on its back, in the lush grass—sun shining on its belly—wagging its tail in pure bliss captioned, “Find something that makes you feel like this.”
I am giving myself permission to find my “thing.” I have earned the right.
Off I go under the ropes and down from the ring. Opening wide, I swallow all that arouses my desires. I direct all that I have toward myself on this agenda. I will worship it all.
It may appear selfish and dramatic. People may wonder if I am depressed or in crisis.
Only those who really see me will understand that none of this is the case at all. It is time this leader bows out.
As an old part of me dissolves and the veil falls, another curtain rises, revealing the vibrancy, depth, and love that I’ve refused to show until now.