What Are You Running From?

A woman running on a treadmill in a gym looking pensive about her love life

Each morning Wendy does her usual routine. She awakens to an eighties soft rock tune or the annoying zest of an eager D.J. announcing that the 7th caller will receive free tickets to a baseball game when her alarm clock goes off. After lying there, under the warm old quilt in her over-sized t-shirt with an illustration of a salmon-colored cat wearing a rhinestone collar that reads, “It’s Hard Being the Cat’s Meow,” she finally slides out from under the quilt and stumbles to her bathroom to begin preparations for her day. This includes a 14-minute shower, a 2-minute dry-off, Bath and Body lotion rub down, and hair dried and brushed for 6 minutes. She painstakingly slides on her Spanx body-forming undergarment, and dons a fitted pale yellow suit and rose dust pearls passed down from her grandmother. Then she feeds Tulip and Berserk, her dutiful tabbies. She grabs her keys and briefcase and heads to Starbucks with 12 minutes to spare before walking into the front glass doors of her high stress corporate job, holding her BlackBerry while coveting a new iPad held by a passerby.

After 3 unnecessary meetings with 4 mini-teams that consist mostly of backwards and revolving door discussions regarding protocol and public relations control, a hurried lunch of chips, soda and half of a tuna sandwich, she is able to go home. But before doing so, there is a stop at the gym. This consists of 45 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes of weight lifting and hurried yoga moves, and 20 minutes doing laps in the pool. Then comes the shower, the quick stop at the grocery store to purchase a frozen, high sodium bland meal that she downs with a glass of over-priced wine. The rest of the evening is: Wendy in bed, glasses tilted, almost asleep, with a romance novel folded gingerly over her quilted lap.

This may sound totally normal. For many of us, it is. As a matter of fact, that is the whole point. This is normal for many, if not most of us, yet it is a perfect illustration of “running.” Many of us are running from ourselves. Our daily lives may scream success and beauty to the unknowing eye, but it is actually a spiritual failure, over and over and over again. The truth of our lives is too painful to bear. We run by hitting the snooze button day in and day out instead of being excited about the blessing of a new day. It would be dreadful, and almost impossible to face another day that we feel we have no control over. The promise that a distraction is right around the corner helps us to cope. This way, we do not have to focus on healing, loving, self-improvement and motivation. We can run to a job that works us. We can run to a gym without getting to the heart of why we are trying to keep yo-yo dieting from happening once again, and why we are obsessed with body image vs. true health: MBS (Mind, body and soul). We can run to various meetings, parties, stores, etc., so that we do not have to think about anything but the grocery list at hand, the person to whom we need to R.S.V.P., and the dress that should be on sale by now. We are Wendy.

Some part of us needs to do these routines, so that we do not have to face the pain of things that have happened. We can run away from the ex that hit us with his fists or who emotionally abused and manipulated us. It is too painful to look at that closely and accept it, forgive ourselves and move forward. We don’t want to forgive ourselves for not reporting the rape due to shame – why did we wear that skirt? We should not have gone out drinking, we must have asked for it. We have not forgiven ourselves for not calling the police when we saw that man being mugged – we were scared, afraid the criminal could see us and attack us as well. We don’t want to think about how our father was never really there for us, or how our mother valued her reputation and keeping up with the Joneses more than our safety and well-being.

It is a journey. It is a process. It is a procedure. It is life.

Stop hitting the snooze button. Stop running. Do not run from yourself. You deserve to be loved, forgiven and to forgive. To be acknowledged and accepted. To be loved … exactly as you are, right now. Not after you lose another 20 lbs. Not after you get that promotion. Not after you get that new man or woman. You need it right now.

Take off the running shoes and take your soul out on a date. I will keep the light on for you, but I won’t wait up. Take as much time as you need. If you kiss on this first date, trust me, it is totally okay and long overdue.

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