Sunday, March 17, 2013

Running for Isabel

   After we lost Isabel and was forced to go on with our lives, all anybody could say to us was that we were so strong. Mark and I would look at each other and think "THIS is strong?" We didn't feel strong. We weren't strong. All we were doing was going through the motions that society said we have to go through to get through life. And even then we weren't doing that great of a job. Our house was a mess, with dishes piling up for a week or even longer before one of us was forced to spend the 4 hours doing them. We had Isabel's pictures all over our living room floor where we were slowly making her scrapbook pages. We never dusted. The only time our clothes got washed was when we ran out of everything, and even then we just pulled what we needed from the drier until we were forced to pull the rest out to put a new load in. I couldn't function well around others. How dare everyone else keep living? And that was just the first few numb months.
  Around the time Isabel would have been 4 months old, the numb began to wear off and the anger set in. And boy howdy, did I get angry. How dare my damn body do this! How dare my doctors not do more to get her here alive! How dare people not stop everything because I couldn't function! And the worst offenders, how dare people tell me anything religious concerning Isabel! I consider myself quite religious, but not in the traditional LDS sense. I don't feel like it is important to go to love Relief Society and find it comfort enough that we will all be together again one day. While I recognize that Isabel was too special to be here with us, I also don't understand why Mark and I have to be tested like this. And finding comfort around people that insisted I should rejoice when I don't feel like rejoicing was hard. I began to question people, "If someone killed your kid today, would you really find comfort in the fact that you kid doesn't have to be tried anymore???" Yeah, I didn't make friends or influence people.
   But I learned a lot about the people around me at that time too. My real friends never gave me all the religious platitudes that obviously were hurting Mark and I. They were there, even if that meant staying on the phone when all I could do was sob uncontrollably.  They never questioned why I couldn't go to church and sit through church talks about other peoples "trials" and watch women who pop out kids like most people change their shoes. All they did was hug me and keep me safe at a time when I couldn't and wasn't functioning. Because I wasn't.
   Most people assured us when I got pregnant again that everything would get better. But losing Addison's twin and our doctor putting us in constant fear that something was wrong with me or Addison didn't help anything. And while holding my newborn healthy baby laid to rest all my fears of Addison dying, it brought to the surface all the loss I still felt from Isabel. I found myself crying while I nursed Addison because I never could nurse Isabel. I laid awake at night sometimes just watching Addison to make sure she would live through the night. And as I saw my body post pregnancy 2 in 2 years, I started to hate my body even more. I couldn't love it for everything it was doing right, like being Addison's only food source, I could only focus on how stupid it was for making me lose 2 babies to get one here.
   One very late night while nursing Addison, I found the Insanity infomercial. In my groggy, just had a baby a couple of weeks ago state, I thought I could punish my body like that. I really thought that maybe it I worked it to hell, I could punish it for being such a piece of crap. That was just where I was mentally. Luckily, a new baby meant we had no money to buy the workout video. But eventually, I felt ready to do SOMETHING. So I came up with a new idea inspired by my friend Josh, we could run a 5k! I mentioned a way that I could run, then Mark could run to train. Mark was a no go. So I tried to run on my own. And after a few weeks, I too gave up. It is no fun to train alone.
  Then we moved to Orem. We moved right next to a running path and our marathon training friend Ryan. AND, we moved right in the middle of running heaven. There is a race somewhere in the area almost every weekend. And while I still wasn't a runner, I could walk. So I started a walking program. And I talked to Ryan and Josh who both said there was no reason we couldn't run. Then I started. Then Mark started. We worked together. And while all this was going on, I still was struggling with being a mother. How can you be a mother to a baby that isn't there? I still hated my body because I was now realizing that even though Addison was healthy, I couldn't lose two more babies to get another one here. So we ran. We started going to races our friends were in and got inspired to train for a half marathon taking place in December.
  Then we moved, again. This time, we were not by friends, or a nice running trail, but we kept trucking. Then I got sick. After being down two months, I got plantar fasciitis. It soon became apparent that I just couldn't train enough for the race. So instead of running the race, we sat on the sidelines cheering on Josh. And I carried around guilt that I promised myself and Isabel that I would run the race for her.
  Then Josh and I had a long chat on the way home from Vegas. He reminded me that losing weight has nothing to do with the weight. It is about fixing all the stuff that got you fat in the first place. It was Isabel's message to me that I could no longer eat myself to death. I wasn't going to feel better by eating, so do what made me feel better, which was running and exercise. So the next day, I started again. Do I stumble? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Am I worth it? Isabel thinks so.
   Today as I was checking Facebook, I found this and it stopped me in my tracks. Yes, this could just be about running through the physical discomfort that comes from running. But for me, it is about going even when we don't want to anymore. And even though this picture brought up some painful memories, it also shows me how much I have learned about grief and myself through the simple act of running. So, run on!

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