I wrote this post back in April, 2012 but I want to share it again, because it still rings so true!
Where do you carry your stress? I carry mine in my stomach…I always have. When I was a little girl I would get such bad stomach aches that my mom took me to the doctor to see what was up. I’m sure he said something about anxiety and stress but as a doctor back then, he did what he could do and ruled out food allergies. I was taken off of dairy and for several months I was forced to dunk my cookies in that sweetened soy milk stuff and yet I still got stomach aches.
Some people eat more when they’re stressed out as if somehow the food they’re consuming is going to slide off track somewhere in the middle of their esophagus and fill up that gaping hole in their heart left by the boy who called them fat in grade 4. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not judging, because I fill up that gaping hole too but in different ways. Nobody called me fat, but just like every other human on the planet, I got hurt. And we all have our coping mechanisms.
Mine is running. I know, right? Shocking. But it’s not just the physical *grunt* outlet that does it for me–it makes my stomach feel normal. If I carry my stress in my stomach and running takes care of that anxious, nauseous feeling, then I keep running. People think I’m skinny because I run so much but it’s the opposite—I actually put on a couple of pounds during the super high mileage weeks. When I get injured and can’t run? I get stressed out, I get stomach aches, and then I lose weight.
When life rocks my happy life boat, I pound pavement. I do it to remind myself that I am on solid ground. I do it to sweat out the angst… but I also do it to feel normal. I want to feel hungry, to eat a satisfying meal, and to fall asleep exhausted. It’s like, basic life stuff. We sleep, we wake up, we work, we eat, we go back to sleep. If my life turns upside down or even hits some turbulence, I widen my stance, stare it in the eyes, and then beat it. After I run, my tummy settles and then it growls, and then I feed it. It’s like what wild animals do out there, you know? They’re all crazy and hungry in the jungle feeling super pissed off and irritated that it rained all day or something, and then all of a sudden they see a little bunny bounce around in their peripheral vision and it’s all BAM!… blood and guts and dinner. Normalcy returns, and they collapse into a pile of hot bodies in their dens and fall fast asleep, peacefully.
You see, there’s no possible way for me to run a 20 miler and not be freaking starving. When I’m stressed out and anxious and worried about life, there’s nothing more comforting to me than feeling something normal. When tragedy happens and people ask me, “Suzy! What do I do NOW?” I tell them to do something normal. Go to the grocery store and buy milk and bread. Bake cookies. Pet your dog. Get the mail.
My first car was an ’87 Pontiac Firefly, and when it would stall, I’d stick it in neutral and I’d get people to push me down a hill and as my car would roll and gain momentum, I’d start her up. That’s what running does for me and for my stress. Sometimes I can’t feel my face for the stress I’m carrying, but I robotically lace up my runners and walk out the front door. I put it into neutral, and with the help and support of people around me, I start her up.
What was your first car? Did you name it?