I had the most terrifying dream last night. Between waking with chills and feverish-sweating, I dreamt I was assaulted while out running. It was so visceral and real and terrifying.
Dreams are so weird, but I think the seed for this one was planted when I kissed my son good night and said, “See you in the morning.” And that small anxious voice inside me, that creeps around in the background of everything I do, whispered “What if you don’t see him in the morning?”
“Do you ever feel like something really tragic and terrible is about to happen at any moment that will completely devastate your life?” I asked my husband last week after we finally made it out the door for a date. I often feel that way, especially when things are going well. Like life is “too good” and something bad is about to happen to level the playing field. I think I’ve felt that way since Jack was born. When a joyous moment suddenly became a scary unknown.
Most of the time I just have to tell myself that I’m being unreasonable, that if you were to scientifically calculate the risk that it would show that my anxious fears are far-fetched. And then I tell myself that I’d rise to the occasion, like I have in the past when scary and tragic things have happened I’ve somehow made it through.
When I woke this morning I didn’t have to suppress any anxiety, because in the moments before my alarm went off I knew there would be no run. My whole body ached, my head pounded and my chest felt a heavy soreness that was reminiscent of when I had bronchitis two years ago.
I ditched the run and slept through most of the day, finally rousing myself at 4:30pm to make a smoothie and then crash back into bed.
Being sick is one of the few times when I slow down long enough to sit with some of my fears. I take on so many tasks, busy myself with perfecting everything because somehow clouding my mind with details and to-do’s will somehow drowned out the anxious voice that whispers when I’m still.
Sometimes that voice crops up when I’m running alone out on the trails, or on those dark winter mornings when the only thing standing between me and the unknown is the narrow swath of light from my headlamp. But somehow when I bring my focus to the moment and my effort, my breath, the anxious thoughts dissipate. And then I get to the top of the mountain, a beautiful vista unfolding before me or I see the first golden rays of the sunrise and suddenly I’m filled with gratitude.
Thankful that I can move. Thankful that I can breathe. Thankful that this body carries me up mountains and down country roads. Thankful that when you really stop and take it all in the world is a stunning and spectacular place.
And the anxiety melts away.
Do you struggle with anxiety? What does running do for you to help you deal with it?
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