The first time I remembered running, adrenaline, endorphins on high alert, lungs working in full force, arms and legs feeling like dead weight was at 7 years old. That was the day Edmund’s sexual abuse took my virginity.
It actually started out as a walk of bewildered shame, and in the midst of this foggy mindset of not knowing where to go, or what to do I ended up doing a shortcut next to my brother Eric’s friend house, the drizzle from the sky that matched the tears behind my eyes started to get stronger. I was startled out of my zombie like state, by one of his dogs, who got loose and bit me on my leg. I stared at him not in anger or fear but in wonder… why are you biting me as you know who I am. I read the response loud and clear from those beautiful brown eyes. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you. When I saw you running past me, scared, lost, and crying, I did not know how else to stop you. Please take me with you, I’m here to protect you.”
I knelt to cup his face reassuring him that I am not upset, and he did not hurt me. I urged him to go home and I watched, looked back to make sure he followed my directions. He did, with hesitation and I picked up my feet off the pavement, drawing from the multitude of emotions that I have encountered and the trauma I endured and in, what usually was a few miles of distance, felt like mere seconds. I landed my feet on the doorstep of our neighborhood church. I contemplated whether I should seek refuge there (or if it was even open) or to brave the elements on the basketball court or playground located next to it. I took my chance and the door creaked open. I walked in and sat down at first not wanting to sit so close to the altar for fear, shame, and guilt, but my legs coaxed me to the first row. I sat down, collapsed, and composed at the same time in a sobbing heap. I did not want to disturb the peaceful sanctuary but at the same time embraced the echo of my cries. My knees buckled, my calves stiffened, my arms and hands both embracing my young body, clutching for dear life, my chest rising and falling in rapid speed and slow pace, gasping for breath. I wanted so badly to stop but I did not and let myself go.
As painful as it is to recall how I discovered running, it is also a blessed reminder of how it has saved me, shaped me, help me cope in stressful situations. It has provided me with the therapeutic escape to ease my anxiety and ADHD. It has taught me valuable life lessons, one of my favorites: “You Are IN CONTROL of Your Own Heaven and Hell”-You are the master of your own destiny. You may not always be able to control your circumstances and environment, but how you respond is always within your control.” The physical and emotional aspect of running impacts my life each time I lace up. I have learned to celebrate my triumphs, forgive myself, accept defeat, move on, JUST BE, LET GO and LOVE MYSELF. Being grateful to recognize the balance between loving and yes sometimes dreading the sport is one I do every single time I look outside or at my running shoes. Despite of horrific start of my running journey, allowing myself to recognize all the wonderful things it has given and continue to gift me is why I will always identify myself as a RUNNER….one who is also a Resilient Survivor.