Thursday, June 25, 2015

My Favorite Photo (Trigger Warning)

Let me be up front about this...I don't really know if I want to be writing this post. It's been swimming around in my head for ages and I know it's a topic that could create hope or change or empowerment for some people, so I should post it.

But it's also really private. Not to those who have known me a long time, not really; but it's not something I talk about much even with them. And while I do share a lot of my life here on the blog, there are some parts that I try not to delve into.

Still, I feel like sometimes being brave means putting things out there, and I've been wanting to put this out there for months. So here it is.

This is my favorite running photo.
It was taken after the Space Coast Marathon as I sat, recovering and crying a little, covered in glory and friends and flowers, sporting my brand new medal. Victorious.

The words on my arms are words from my sister, who wrote me a heart-wrenching good luck card, and Matt, whose usual blunt encouragement leaves no room for disagreement.

And those words, scrawled on my arms before I set off to do something totally life-affirming, something that epitomizes strength and determination, are written over dozens of self-inflicted scars.

You can barely tell in the photo. Most people don't really notice them in person, or if they notice, they have the tact not to ask about them.

But I see them. When I look at this photo, my eyes zero in on this strange meeting of my greatest time of weakness and my greatest moment of strength.

When I look at this photo, I see what my life was and what it has become. I am so grateful; I am humbled; I am in awe. I created those scars during a time in my life when I never imagined I could ever have the strength to turn my pain into something worthwhile. And here they are, obscured by words that prove the simple truth that, yes, I was able to do just that.

I don't know where my running will continue to take me, but I do know that it has already impacted my life in so many ways, and this picture is just one example of how completely I have changed...in part thanks to this sport and all it has given me. This March was my 10th anniversary of being..."clean", I guess you'd say. Some days are harder than others, and on those days, I run.

I know running has changed many of my runner-friends' lives for the better. Do you have a story to share?

ABK

32 comments:

  1. Wow. I didn't notice them at all until you wrote it and then...goosebumps. I know people always say this was 'brave' of you to write and post but seriously - IT IS. I hope by sharing it with the world, you feel a little freer and stronger. You should be SO proud of what you have gone though. Running is hard enough but running with a purpose like this is something else entirely. Thank you for writing this. I won't soon forget it.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, I definitely feel strong and freer for having shared.

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  2. Thank you for sharing. A while back, I shared my story about wanting to commit suicide in 2013 and I believe in 2014, I shared my story on how I use to be a cutter. I think it is a beautiful thing that you shared your story. It encourages other people to know that there is hope and beauty in this world. I'm so happy that you have found running as an outlet. Running is a gorgeous thing.

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    1. The more vocal people are about issues like this, the more people we can help and the faster we can get rid of the stigma.

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  3. 10 years...and those reminders like in the photo are fading more and more with every day, week, and years. Your strength and growth will continue to outshine those hints of that former life and time. "Run" away from that life with a smile on your face knowing what you have overcome.

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    1. In a way, I don't feel I'm running FROM that point in my life; instead, it's almost like a little engine inside me that keeps me going.

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  4. This post is so powerful, Ali. I think it is important that those who had/have similar struggles can read this and see recovery is possible. Thank you for sharing something that is so personal with us. I knew you were an amazing, strong woman but now I see you are even more amazing and strong than I ever knew.

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    1. Thank you...It's gratifying to know I can see myself as strong now, too, considering how weak I used to feel.

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  5. Thank you for sharing, Ali. I'm sure it wasn't easy to put this out there for everyone to see. But all of us really appreciate you sharing! Stories like this remind me that we never really know what someone has gone through or what their story is. You are inspiring, lady!!

    I loooooove the photo!

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    1. Thank you...I guess it is a good reminder that everyone is going through (or has been through) something, and it's good to remember that and be kind. I especially think of it when I'm racing and see people struggling, because I don't know their story and don't want to judge their journey.

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  6. Thanks for posting this really personal and brave post. This is really inspiring and I love the words on your arms. I have a post that I've been toying with writing, but haven't because I feel like it's a lot to share. I was diagnosed with a hypermobility disorder, which makes me very injury prone. Most people with it don't run because of how much pain they are in, but I found that running has helped me build strength and took away some of the mobility I had, which is a really good thing. It's amazing how running can change us. :-)

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    1. I'd love to hear about your hypermobility disorder. Is that what got you into yoga? I have such respect for people who live with a chronic disorder or disease and overcome it every day in order to do what they love.

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  7. Thank you, sweetie. Someday I'll post a photo of mine (someday only I don't have a smart phone and it's not easy for me to post photos). I used to wear longer shirts to cover them up (mine are all right above my right elbow) but many years ago I stopped caring. If anything they are marks of survival and in a weird way I love them - seeing them makes me think more kindly about the girl I was in college than I normally do. Whenever I do get my first tattoo it will lie next to them.

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    1. In a weird way, I love mine, too...when I think of them, which is rarely these days. But they're not something I'm ashamed of. They're part of my history and have made me who I am.

      I've considered getting a tattoo over them, but it would be hard to cover it up during the work day!

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  8. Thank you for sharing. You are a remarkably strong woman. By putting yourself out there, you may be able to help others too, it may help someone else reach out for help. It was a beautiful post, and a true testament to your strength!

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    1. I do hope that my story can help others, or at least offer some hope to those who think the hard times in their lives will never pass.

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  9. Those scars, my son has those scars and still struggles. I love that you are transformed, in a happier place, and strong. It does give hope!
    Running is really so much more than just exercise, it's a beautiful thing.
    Wonderful post.

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    1. I know many teenagers struggle with self-harm; I would say that a vast majority learn to leave it behind. I'm glad my post gave you hope for your son!

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  10. It feels like a million years ago, a different person, who I feel sad for but who I'm glad I left behind. My scar isn't something I discuss, and I've never even shown it to my husband. If he has noticed it, he wouldn't even know what it is. Talking about it with him might be good, but I just don't want to. It's private - my own story - but hold so much meaning. Thank you for sharing. I needed this reminder of how far I've come...

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    1. I understand not wanting to share that part of yourself with your husband...although I have a feeling he's noticed it and has never said anything. It's nearly impossible to hide things like this from those we're closest to. I don't often talk about it because there doesn't seem to be a need to these days.

      I'm glad you've been able to leave behind your painful past.

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  11. Thank you for sharing this. It's hard to think about things in our life that caused us so much pain but it's also cathartic in many ways to release our thoughts on paper (or computer lol). So glad you are in a better place and have much support. <3

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    1. Yes, definitely cathartic...and kind of unbelievable. There was a time I never thought I'd get to this point.

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  12. I am in awe of you, Ali. This blog was by far my favorite. You are an incredible young woman. I've been running fairly regularly for 38 years. It frees my mind and takes me to a place of inner peace and tranquility - until exhaustion sets in and brings me back to reality. You have so much to offer to the world. Stay strong, girl. You deserve the best.

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  13. A very moving post Ali...thank you for posting. Running has helped me with my constant anxiety that rears its' ugly head during stressful periods. It used to confine me to my house...not being able to walk around the block without thinking I was having a heart attack. Running now allows me another outlet for my stress and keeps my anxiety in check...most times. It's a power avenue...there is no doubt!!! Keep running Ali!!!!

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    1. That level of anxiety...yes, I can definitely identify with that. I'm so glad running has helped to bring you peace. Anxiety can get in the way of our being successful and happy, so I'm glad running has helped you overcome that!

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  14. I'm sorry that I'm just getting around to reading this and commenting. I know sharing can be so hard but I have found it to be very therapeutic as well. The first post was the hardest for me, but it's gotten easier over time. A big part of why it's become easier to share is because I always get at least one email after I post about my past struggles from someone who can relate.

    I know as bloggers it's not our responsibility to talk openly about the toughest parts of our lives, but I do think it's often worth doing. There's still such a stigma around depression and other mental disorders and when "normal" people talk about these situations I think it helps to chip away at the misconceptions.

    Thank you for sharing Ali. You're such an amazing person and I'm so glad to know you!

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    1. It's so true that the first time we share something personal (especially like this) it's really hard...And not because we think people won't be understanding or kind, but because it's a piece of us that we don't usually show off to anyone, let alone strangers. And you're right, it's always a little easier to share after once you realize you did help to touch someone.

      I'm glad to be working against the stigma of mental illness and depression, and I'm glad I'm not doing it alone.

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  15. I'm glad I found your blog. What a moving post and I'm happy for you and how far you have come. I can only imagine what a joyous feeling it is. As someone who struggled with social anxiety and depression in college, I know the stigma around mental health issue.

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    1. Thank you...I hope that you have found way to cope with your anxiety and depression as well!

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  16. Thanks for sharing your story, Ali. I know this must have been a difficult post to write.

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. It was hard to write, but I certainly feel better now that I've shared it.

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