This morning I ran about 2.5 miles. I ran at a snails pace and even walked a few times. I have been going out about three mornings a week for the last few weeks. For the last 4 months, I was basically doing nothing for exercise other than chasing my toddler, which is a workout some days. I used to run all the time before I had kids. It was my thing. I was semi-obsessed. If any of you have ever had a love-affair with your thing you understand. Maybe for you it was cycling, or gardening, or surfing etc. The thing where you feel connected to all that is and all that was and ever will be. If you have not experienced this thing, I'm sorry and I hope you get to. Running is this place that I go to be with myself and The Universe (God, Higher Power, Nature, Great Spirit, Creation, Life). It is where I work it all out. All the problems I think I currently have such as my latest flavor of resentment with my husband, or what goals I want to accomplish that day, and how I really feel about pretty much anything. This morning I was thinking about my Dad towards the end. My Dad and I have drifted apart over the time I have lived in Florida. Some of that is simply because of the distance, but a lot is that I've got two littles, a business, recovery, and all kinds of things that drag my attention away, but also because I'm a different person than I was 7 years ago when we moved. But I miss him everyday. I miss my Daddy. I miss the person who loves me so much, and was my everything when I was little. I miss his laugh and his terrible jokes. I even miss his cursing and occasional political rants. So I texted him to ask him to show me some digital photography when I come home for Thanksgiving. I asked if we could take an afternoon or two together to go shoot. When I was finishing my run and thinking of him, hot tears were running down my cheeks and I thought how weird it is that every time I think of the love I have for him it is such a mix of pain and gratitude topped off with some longing and a deep, deep sadness that he is not here (physically) for me to talk to on a daily basis. If I ever untangle all those feelings and get clarity on all the emotions of the relationship with my father I'm sure I'd have a interesting and poignant book. I'm not sure if any of you have complicated relationships with your parents, but if you do, you are in good company. You see, my lifestyle choices seem to pull at the very thread of my family's fabric and love. I am sober, plant-based, exercise loving minimalist, growing my own food, buying second-hand, tree-hugging hippie. Oh and I became a trauma therapist, so if you were thinking you wanted to have awkward conversations everywhere you go, feel free to follow me! In my deeply southern extended family, I tend to be the odd-man out. And my Dad, well he smokes like a chimney, owns a BBQ restaurant, does not talk about feelings let alone traumas, shops like it's free, and is more a couch and Netflix kinda guy (we don't own a TV by the way.) So yeah, our common ground gets thinner by the year. But the love is there, I can feel it in all his random texts. Telling me about what his crazy rescue dog is up to these days. Keeping me updated on the restaurant and who he's currently pissed at. The void of all the things left unsaid threatens me frequently when I think of it all. I guess I'm writing because I want to know what happens to people whose fathers never really knew them, like knew them, knew them. What happens when you get older and your parent lives somewhere else and they don't get to see you growing up anymore? Does this bother other people like it does me? What is this pain in my chest about? Why do I feel so sad when I think about him alone in his house or alone in his life? Why do I want to rescue him the way I would one of my kids who'd just skinned their knee for the first time? Our love is deep, and I never questioned his love for me the way I did with my mother. I think as a recent (10 mos) mother of two, I sometimes feel like I'm fucking it all up and I just want him to laugh at my seriousness and hug me and make some terrible joke and change the subject because he can't go down that road comfortably, so he'll just swerve and move on. Is it weird the same thing that makes me sad about our relationship also brings me comfort in its familiarity? In the quiet moments of my life (the very few these days) I think my brain jumps at the opportunity to process my me-ness. I'm so engaged in the lives of my babies and my husband that my time alone is like waking up from a weird dream where I'm no longer a mom or a wife, I'm just Lauren again, and sometimes I'm back in Austin with all that I knew. I can feel the other timelines, the parallel Universes, brushing up against this one and I can glimpse the what-ifs a little closer. What if I tried to talk about the unmentionables with my Dad? What if I never when to that company party and blew off Jason and we never got together? What if after that marathon I had trained for an Ultra? Then I walk back through our front door and I'm rushed by little smiles and big hugs and I know it is how it had to be. I turn off my Rich Roll podcast and I make sure to hug them a little longer and look in their eyes when they talk and I make sure I say out loud how much I love them. Healing the wounds of my childhood has involved me being physically and verbally more present with my family even though it chafes to do so, but only because it was not the kind of affection or availability I was given that I so desperately needed. The reason I don't have a TV is because my kind of addiction doesn't stop at substances. It morphs into getting lost in the relationships on the screen and neglecting the ones at hand, or mindlessly scrolling while my little one is learning to crawl. I miss out. I'm so used to numbing myself that it has become my primary nature. But karmically (not a word?), I don't think healing is meant to be without effort so I got rid of it. Today on my run, I got the time I needed to sew one more loop on my father wound, and in turn sew gratitude into my mother hood. It is unfortunate that I feel guilt when I take care of myself and go for a run. However, if the time comes, either of my girls ever want to talk about any pain they may have felt in my absence, I will lovingly listen and talk and stay even if I want to make jokes and sweep it away.
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