Discovering my WHY was bullshit.
The minute she said that "your WHY is soul deep" I knew I was in trouble.
Let's back up a bit. By now you know I was (am? it's an on going debate) a runner. It's one of the core components of this blog. It's a huge part of my survival story, my healing, and...my downfall. Apparently. How did I come to this realization? I listened to a badass ultrarunner named Sarah break down the 'WHY.' Her entire talk was a freaking gut punch. And that is when I knew, the layers of the onion that is Jessica's healing and recovery just got even more complex.
This latest layer peeling begins with something called the Women's Movement Collaborative (click the link womxn to join up!!), and a 2nd life altering weekend at OSI in Fuquay-Varina, NC. A gift from the universe. There have been a lot of these lately, and y'all, I won't even pretend to understand. I am just going to say I have mountains of gratitude. Ok, so there is this WMC thing, there are all these amazing female presenters, each of whom imparted their own wisdom. I felt like an over-filled sponge after two days, brimming with inspiration and new reflections and new interests. I may write more on that later, but first things first: Running.
I once thought of running as how I stayed sane. How I healed. How I survived. I love running, deeply. I didn't really figure that out until I was in my 20s, I take a little longer to catch on, in case you haven't noticed. Distance running allowed me the mental and emotional relief I needed. It wasn't just a break, a time out from all the stuff. It was a reprieve. One more way to numb. And so I sunk into it, time and time again. After my marathon in 2016, and the infamous yoga injury (seriously, true story), I bailed on running. Partly because of the necessity to heal my leg strain, partly because I had burned myself out. I would dabble, a run here and there. Next thing I know 2 years have gone by and I was still not finding my way back to it, and I was beginning to miss it. As luck would have it, it was during this period that I would find natural movement, the real facilitator of my healing journey. Well, I didn't find it so much as my spouse shipped me out for a solo weekend in...wait for it...Fuquay-Varina, NC.
**Have you been there? No. Well it's the centerpiece of my origin story, you should visit.**
I fell really hard for natural movement, MovNat. The community, the connection amidst participants at the events, the ease of the teaching style, and the challenge of the progressions. What's more, I found a strength and capability that I never knew I had. I signed up for my first certification before I even left NC. When I won my second certification (yes, WON), I was both terrified and ecstatic. So of course I dove right into training. By then, I was also moving my way through early sobriety. Literally. (Read more about my MovNat experience here.)
I've mentioned before that I don't do emotions well, especially hard ones or intense ones. Emotions suck, I know because I spent the better part of my life trying to tame them in various ways. Cutting, drugs, men, sex, alcohol, academia, work, running. All served as emotional masks. Each one was a different sized bandage for the deep, vast wound festering within me. Running was a bit more of a purge than a mask. I didn't realize this until I heard Sarah (@drtyrunner on IG), the badass ultrarunner jedi master, say it out loud. I had thought of purging only in the sense of how it pertained to food and eating disorders...but for me, it was about emotionally purging. I could NOT live with my emotions. I refused to acknowledge them, any of them. I swallowed them down and let them sit, until they inevitably started coming up and all over anyone too close. Often in very unhealthy and damaging ways. Running allowed the purge to happen away from everyone else. The pounding of feet on pavement or trail, the ache of my muscles, the air in and out of my hardworking lungs. I ran out my emotions. It didn't always get the job done, but it softened it enough to passably survive day to day. Running also helped me find my words and inner strength, so it wasn't all bad, but it wasn't true movement. And my 'why' was a whole lot of bullshit. My 'why' wasn't even really about me, it was about that damn gaping wound. The one I couldn't let anyone see, the one I couldn't face, the one slowly killing me. Then, thankfully, I got injured. It's amazing what the universe will do for you when you cannot. Yea, if you know AA, you get me. I almost died of a drug overdose once and my boyfriend stole from me, so I lost my access to my favorite drug - meth (insert your loud gasps, the big stories have yet to make their debut). When I was pregnant the very smell of alcohol repulsed me, no relaxing glass of wine for this mama to be. I injured my leg in a yoga class after running 18 miles, and I was forced to let go of my running outlet for a while, only to find movement. I had a bad reaction to birth control, so I gave myself a time out on alcohol, which turned into a hard lesson on addiction. I didn't choose any of these shifts, I couldn't. It took a heck of a nudge each time.
This past weekend I was once again nudged. I was nudged to really look at my 'why' again. And then another amazing woman, Julie Angel, PhD, said the words that are now seared into my soul: "Movement IS emotion."
I haven't asked her yet, but I see this on a shirt in my future. Maybe even permanently etched in my skin. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. Y'all, I have never heard a truer sentiment.
Movement is emotion.
I not only buy into this, I am a living example of it. Movement healed me, and it did so by forcing me to face MY emotions. Move with my emotions. When you learn new and challenging ways to move, whether it's climbing or lifting really heavy shit or swinging weight around or jumping from a height or balancing on crazy stuff, it's emotional. There is fear and there is self-doubt, there is joy and there is excitement. This big ball of conflicting emotions. And if you DON'T face them, if you DON'T feel them...they WILL OWN YOU. Your movement will falter, if not fail altogether. That's it. I found my 'why.' I found out that movement wasn't just what I love, it is not just who I am, it is how I am capable of standing here today. My 'why' is to make sure everyone I encounter knows just how powerful movement is for life, healing, and simply being human. We are MEANT to MOVE.
I also realized that I am ready to run again, which is awesome because the universe bestowed a free pair of shoes on me to make sure I do. I won't let her down, I just may throw in some wall running and log jumping into the mix.
That's my story. That's my big AHA moment. I can't think of any other way to express just how important it was than to encourage you to dig deep too. What is your 'why?' What drives you?
And of course plug natural movement. 😉
Are you curious about natural movement? Do you want to hang out with me for a WHOLE day learning all about it? You know you do. I promise it will be the absolute most fun you have had in a long time. We can laugh, cry, and FEEL the whole day. Join me November 3rd as I offer a MovNat Elements Workshop here in beautiful northeast Georgia. Learn how movement is emotion.
Be strong to be useful.
Waiting to meet you,