I’ve spoken before about what hard graft it is to change a lifestyle. Particularly when you’re changing it to something that’s completely foreign to you.
I have no muscle memory for lunges. Not that anyone would want that memory. It’s more of a nightmare — I kid… kinda.
I struggle from time to time. It’s normal. It can be a bit of a roller coaster. There are days when I can set the world aflame with positive thinking. It’s as if Dr. Norman Vincent Peale has taken over my brain. And then there are days where I’m frustrated with how long it’s taking. And I whip myself for not being farther ahead.
I’m trying to learn to give myself a break. To love me a little more — as hokey and Oprah Winfrey as that sounds. I’ve spent years and years being ashamed of my body, and the core of who I was as a person. The addiction to food was the mechanism I employed to protect myself. And as most ironies are cruel, it also contributed to the self-loathing I had already deeply established.
When I say I’ve been ashamed of my body. I mean it. (This is going to sound a little odd, so be warned. It’s odd to write about, trust me.)
I avoided mirrors. If I did stand in front of a mirror I’d shut my eyes so I wouldn’t have to see myself. I’d wear two shirts all the time (still do). One as a protective layer, just in case a button were to fly off and reveal what lay beneath. I’d try and hide in clothes that are much too large for me. When I was in public, I’d sometimes contort my body to try and make myself smaller — which, for those who know me, is an impossible feat.
When this is part of your routine, it’s impossible to be happy. There’s no joy in mudville, or anywhere else for that matter.
How does this happen? How does somebody develop this kind of self-loathing?
I was subject to what can only be described as extreme bullying. I spent a fairly good chunk of my childhood being pelted with words like fat, ugly, useless, stupid, idiot, etc. I’ve endured schoolyard beatings. I’ve been spat upon. I was once held down in a driveway while a young man urinated on me.
That’s the image.
That’s what was drawn for me.
And that’s what I’ve spent the first 36+ years of my life fulfilling. It’s put a wall between myself and everything that I love. It’s what brings anxiety into my life. It’s why I sweat bullets in a closed room filled with people, even to this day. The trauma of being preyed upon like that ended at the age of 15, but the reality has reverberated into my mid-to-late thirties.
But you know something? I’m so fucking done with it.
These days I look into the mirror a little more each day. I’d be lying if I said I was healed. Because I’m not. It doesn’t happen over night. It’s a process.
It was Bob Dylan’s birthday over the weekend. I listened to a couple of songs. Just to mark Bob’s big day. One of my favourites is “To Ramona.”
I came across this lyric from it. It struck me on Saturday in a very profound way. Here it is:
“You’ve been fooled into thinking
That the finishin’ end is at hand.
Yet there’s no one to beat you
No one t’ defeat you
’Cept the thoughts of yourself feeling bad.”
Ain’t that the truth?
So, do you know what I did when I woke up Sunday morning? I went straight to the Running Room and signed up for the Learn to Run Program.
Because if I want to run, I’m going to run. And God help the poor bastard that says I can’t.
And you know what? While I’m running, I plan on loving myself in every huff and puff along the way.