Run For Your Life

My face hit the pavement on Clark Street where Chinese elders were practicing tai chi.  One of them stopped to help me.  My earphones had skidded across the street, and I thanked him as I limped over to pick them up.

Image Credit

Image credit

I assessed the damage: most of the skin was missing from my right elbow and my right knee was turning an unnatural shade of violet.  I couldn’t see my cheek, but I picked some gravel out of it.

My only thought: How am I going to hide this from my therapist?

He’d grown quite un-fond of my running. He called it an obsession; I called it a hobby. Tomato, Tam-ah-to.  I was training for my second marathon of the year, and he seemed to think I was trying to outrun demons or avoid my issues.  I thought he should shut the Freud up about the running and treat my “deeper” issues.

But I’d started falling.  Skinned knees.  A bruised tailbone.  It was getting hard to defend my “hobby” when it was costing me my epidermis. I started going through a Costco-sized box of Band-aids on a bi-monthly basis.

My tai chi fall was the worst.  I actually thought I’d broken my hand, but I figured I could hide that.  I’ll just stop gesturing during therapy, and he’ll never notice.  The tai chi fall was also terrible timing: I was running to therapy when it happened.

When I walked in, I saw him glance at my mangled body, and then we played chicken.

I wasn’t going to bring it up. Was he? I didn’t schlep my ass to therapy to discuss flesh wounds.  I wanted to talk about the deeper stuff.  Like how to find my life partner and have a family before my unused eggs rotted in my body.

He, however, wanted to talk about my knee.  And my elbow.  When my hand started to swell up, he wanted to talk about that too.

“Are we going to talk about it?” He asked in that calm therapist-y way.  Asshole.

“What?” I said, hoping that playing dumb would be a smart move.

It wasn’t.  He seemed to think that something self-destructive was obviously going on.  I told him he should ask for a refund from Yale Medical School because he was so off base he might get sued for mal-practice. You know, from another patient who didn’t have the tolerance for bullsh*t that I did.

“I’m not here to learn how to keep from skinning my knee,” I said.  Around we went, until I looked down and saw a trail of blood snaking from my knee to my ankle, where it was absorbed into my cotton sock.  Finally, I let the tears fall because I was ridiculous and I knew it.  So did he.

“No more running alone. You run with other people or you don’t run at all. Period.”  I knew he understood the connection between running, falling and my chronic aloneness.  I didn’t.  Maybe I never would.  I agreed but I was fuming. I hated running with other people. I run alone.

But I started begging people to run with me. I made running dates with people I hated.  I woke up at 5 AM to run with the hardcore running psychos.

I cursed my therapist every step of the way.

But I went weeks without falling.  Six months later I met my husband.  I never admitted to my Good Doctor that his advice had anything to do with it.  And I never will.

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59 thoughts on “Run For Your Life

  1. I love your blog, and look forward to it all the time. “Shut the Freud up” = BRILLIANT. Thanks! 🙂

  2. July 1998. I fell running for a bus whose driver saw me but pulled away even after I bit it and slid within inches of the door. Skinned knee, palm, and right side of my back. Because of reasons. OK, it was because I tried to stop the fall. Incorrectly. I don’t run for running’s sake so that part I cannot comment on but the fall? Oh, I got you because April 2005…

    • Why are bus drivers so sadistic? I am always super duper nice and grateful for them, but they are some of the scariest, meanest people to me. Usually, they are nice to my daughter so that counts for something.

  3. Whoa! Your post brings tears to my eyes and gives me goosebumps. I remember those days. My, how far you and your life have come!!! I hope you share this awesome post with your “therapist.” He seems to know a thing or two about you. Smiling lots thinking of you. Thank you for brighting my morning. Much love, T.

    • Awww, think of all the blog posts that will be written about YOU one day! You therapists have such a great opportunity to change lives. Thank you for being there every step of my journey!

      On Tue, May 21, 2013 at 10:49 AM, Outlaw Mama

  4. God, if someone told me to run with other people or not at all I would fly into a murderous rage, so I totally get you. But I think the fact that you joined a running group then and met your husband soon after, and run alone now, happily, shows that running, when done right, can be completely magical.

    • I think that’s right. I was always so afraid he’s day stop running completely that when I got the orders for running with others I balked and figured out a way to take in the company of other runners. It was actually fun, but there’s something sublime about doing it alone.

      On Tue, May 21, 2013 at 11:00 AM, Outlaw Mama

  5. Awww!! That story is so much better than how my husband and I met!! I’m about to start a couch to 5k thing and I’m expecting a LOT of scrapes and bruises. Hopefully no broken bones though…

  6. So good! I didn’t know this part of your story though I remember you running with friends of ours. Talk about surrender. I relate to needing epidermis removal to get my attention. Great post!

  7. That is truly fascinating. I guess his Yale medical degree wasn’t for naught after all. Did you invite him to your wedding? 🙂

  8. Your therapist sounds brilliant — he knew that you needed to learn to run in rhythm with the rest of the world, and he got you there. A drum solo is all well and good, but it sounds much better with the rest of the band…

  9. Of course I love this. I love all of your posts!
    But what really hit me today was even though I’ve always loved reading your entries it still seems like they are getting better by the week. Not only are you not running out of great things to write about but you are getting better at telling the stories too.
    That is awesome.
    YOU are awesome!

    • That’s funny that you say that because I just was in the elevator saying to myself that my stories suck and that they are never dramatic or funny or clever enough. I was thinking of turning to fiction since my real life is sort of a string of stories about therapy, being neurotic, raising my Costco-loving-nose-picking kids and being generally happy.

      So thank you. Maybe I’ll give it one more week.

  10. “Shut the Freud up!” That’s stellar. And the calm therapisty asshole thing? Amen. Damn straight you’re not going to tell him. I wouldn’t either. 😉 My thing? Falling down steps. I don’t know what the deal is. I’ve either missed my stunt woman calling or I’m channeling Jerry Lewis.

  11. Did you ever figure out why you fell when you were by yourself and not with other people? I’m sure your therapist had his thoughts on this but I wonder why you think it happened.

  12. You show that therapist by not telling him! I love this. The voice, descriptions, and the attitude–so well-conveyed. I never would have thought about the alone connection. I guess that’s why we hire those people, huh? “We” as in other people. You and I are fine now.

    • Hubs is not a runner. He’s to sane for such extreme sports. I fell alone bc I was self destructive and wanted to do it my way, on my terms. I guess. I needed to surrender.

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