I had a moment on Saturday while running the Two Oceans Half Marathon…I was at the 18km mark on […]
I had a moment on Saturday while running the Two Oceans Half Marathon…I was at the 18km mark on Rhodes Drive, looking out for my friend, Nicole, cheering on the sidelines. I knew it would be easier for me to spot her, than for her to spot me in the ragged crowd of runners all panting to push on through those last three kilometres. I spotted Nicole before she saw me, and ran past her, screaming her name and she held up the sign “Run Somebodies Run” and as I looked at her and smiled, I just started to cry.
In January I ruptured an ovarian cyst, while on my first training run of the year. Anyone who has ever experienced this will know that the pain is not only excruciating but indescribably so. It was the third time it had happened to me, and the second time in 9 months, which is how I knew what the excruciating pain meant. A visit to the gynaecologist revealed that there was another cyst, 3cm wide. They don’t know what causes ovarian cysts. They can’t tell you what to do prevent them. They can only suggest putting you on the contraceptive pill to help regulate your hormones to clear them and prevent them from recurring. The ones I had are not dangerous in the long-term and they tend to just work themselves out on their own. But they are frustrating and they are frightening. I rested the entire month of January, my body happy for the rest while at the same time itching for the endorphins, the emotional and mental release of exercise.
I had another scare while hiking later that month – a slight incident while climbing Lion’s Head. After feeling the onset of the pain coming, my friend and I made our way down. I honestly believe it was a divine blessing that two doctors were on their way up and discovered me doubled over in pain on the path. They told me to lay on my back with my legs in the air to alleviate the pain. It worked. I couldn’t believe it but it worked. I walked back down. No pain. But in that moment I was so utterly disheartened I was convinced I wouldn’t be able to run and hike freely again, and that I wouldn’t be able to run Two Oceans this year.
But on Saturday I did run. I ran stronger and lighter than I ever have. I ran at a steady, easy pace unconcerned by time, completely enthralled by the joy of running. I ran to celebrate me, to celebrate my life and all I have let go of and left behind. The past three years have seen significant change in my life. I co-founded an NGO and a year ago, resigned from it to listen to my heart’s call to be a poet. I found love in the most extraordinary man. We have created a partnership in so many ways – he is my best friend, my creative equal and he challenges me to face all the parts of myself I would rather turn away from. I have said goodbye to dear, long-held friendships and I have reshaped and returned to others. I have found the courage to listen to my heart, to take the risk of daring to live out my dream no matter where the road may lead, and to embrace the uncertainty that this brings. In January, I turned 30 and I felt the shift – not because of the number of years I have lived, but because of the lessons and growth and choices I have made in the past few years. I found the courage to speak. I found the courage to share my truth, and to stand against whatever criticism or ridicule it might encounter. I found freedom.
And on Saturday I ran to celebrate that freedom. I ran to celebrate the liberation from my own limitations – self-imposed through my own self-doubt, lack of self-belief and trust. I ran to embrace joy – that deep sense of quiet that fills me for no reason when I open my eyes each morning and choose to say thank you for this gift, for the chance to be alive another day. I ran to celebrate letting go of fear and to be comfortable with the new hollowness that fear’s leaving has created. I do not run to fill this hollow but simply to watch it and embrace it, for emptiness is in all of us and I do not need to fill it with something else.
I ran to embrace the love I have invited into my life and to accept that I am deserving of this love, that I am worthy of it and that it is enough that is here, there is no need to fear or worry over it’s leaving. I ran to feel the deep gratitude for my life and all the parts of it – the bits in progress and the bits that are flourishing, the bits I am ashamed of and the bits I would rather hide from. I ran to see them and accept them all, and in doing so, accepted all the parts of me too. I ran to hear my heart. I ran to listen to it, to allow it’s beating to lead me and carry me home.
On Saturday I also ran to raise money for I Am Somebody! – the NGO I co-founded with Nicole. Our campaign I Am Somebody! Because I Run saw 13 runners all run their Two Oceans events to raise over R32 000 for the organisation. They now have the funds they need to complete their Rites of Passage programme with 10 young adults this year. This is why Nicole stood cheering for us on Saturday, to say thank you, to witness our statement “I Am Somebody because I run” to say, “Yes you are I Am Somebody!”.
And this is why I cried when I saw Nicole’s face. In that moment, I felt every part of me come together in acceptance and true understanding of that statement, I… Am… Somebody. I felt the deepest part of me truly believe it, and the emptiness in me opened to accept it. And something in me let go, and learnt to trust again. Trust in my own body. Trust in others’ love and support for me. Trust in my heart and it’s call. Trust in myself.
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