Running is so good for my brain. It calms me, helps me to feel productive; it even makes my dog happier. When I run, I feel healthier, better able to cope with the Everydayness of being not only a stay at home mom, but a human, too. Running makes me a better person.
Not running? …well…not running makes my brain sort of feel like that Woody Harrelson movie: Natural Born Killers. I feel all pent up, cranky, volatile; a tiger pacing a zoo cage. I’m snappy, ugly. I feel gross, no fun… I am not a nice human when I don’t run.
It’s interesting, then, that I feel incredibly guilty when I run…
When my husband was deployed, I’d wait until the kids were asleep and run around the block in front of my house. I knew this made me better able to cope with the stresses of having three kids and a husband in an airborne infantry unit. We did alright through this deployment.
And then he came home and now when I think about going for a run, all I can think about were the long days without him. I think about The Fear of The Knock. I think about all the mortars and shells and the IEDs that came so close to taking him… I don’t want to have alone time, I want to sit and stare at his face and rejoice that his is alive. I don’t even want to run while he sleeps because that’s time I could be snuggling up to his back, soaking up all the warmth that was missing while he was gone.
I know it’s alright that I run. I know I am a better wife when I run. He encourages me to run and is very proud of my accomplishments. …that phone call, though… The phone call that started out with, “I’m fine, but you should know…” It’s the phone call that keeps me from enjoying a solitary trip to Target. It’s the phone call that could have been The Knock.
So I’m working on this weird thing that seems a lot like vicarious PTSD. I try to think of it logically, concentrate on the being grateful part (because I am very, very grateful!). I’m recognizing it when I see it, taking a deep breath…
…and then I kiss his cheek and head out for a run. And I do my best to make it worth the time.