For much of my life I have chosen to hide. I was completely unwilling to show up & be seen. Vulnerability, to me, is a physical ache that is highly uncomfortable. Thankfully, I am learning to breathe through these necessarily uncomfortable moments, one by one.
Earlier this year, I was contacted by Yitka Winn, Assistant Editor of Trail Runner magazine. I met Yitka while pacing a mutual friend through the night of a very tough 100 miler. She is one of those women whose eyes sparkle & shine with a huge enthusiasm for life. I admire her guts and authenticity. Yitka asked if I would be willing to be interviewed for an upcoming issue of the magazine – an issue centered on one female elite ultrarunner’s struggle with eating disorders. Yitka had read my blog & knew of my bouts with anorexia, bulimia and depression. I agreed.
Ashley Arnold contacted me by phone one summer evening after work. She is a very accomplished runner with a thick resume of wins. She wanted an “everyday runner” (non-elite, back-of-the-pack) included in her piece on the relationship between eating disorders and running, and more specifically ultrarunning.
Ashley was wonderful. I was so so incredibly inspired by her honesty and willingness to share her story. This is the main thing I have learned through my process of addressing my tendency towards addictions and the resulting shame that follows: Telling my story helps. Not only does it help me – it helps others.
Still – I was a sweaty mess!! I was so nervous during that call. I do so much better in the written form. Speaking out to a relative stranger about the deepest, darkest, most shameful aspects of my growing up…OUCH. Vulnerability City. I knew she was taking notes and would eventually write HER story. The way she wove my words into her piece was not up to me. (that right there is the sweet spot of vulnerability – the part where I needed to let go of the eventual outcome – HOLY. SHIT.)
I am so proud of Ashley and her courage in sharing her story and the stories of so many. Mine is just one. When I pulled the issue from my mailbox & opened it up to see my photo…my story…for all to see….in someone else’s words….I had what I would consider a mini panic attack. The funny thing is, it was not at all how I expected to react! I thought it would be just like my blog. I pretty much lay it all out here in this blog, so what’s the difference? The difference is that I was being written about. A wise woman, with similar experiences, listened to my truths and shared them in her words. The leap of faith I took when I answered her phone call was monumental for me. Allowing her in was huge. Allowing my “stuff” to appear in print: major YIKES.
I have no regrets. If the article touches even just one person who is struggling with similar issues, I will be thrilled.
My years spent in the depths of depression, eating disordered behavior and alcoholism have all brought me to this moment. Each one has taught me something I needed to learn. I would not have gleaned anything from those experiences without the love, support & acceptance of friends and family. It would be inauthentic of me to deny those parts of my life & the scars they left.
Last weekend I finally saw Richard Linklater’s film “Boyhood”. In the final scene, Mason is sitting on a rock in the mountains with a girl he has just met during his first day at college. The girl says to him: “You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment?” she asks. “I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.”
The moment is seizing me.
And I’m ok.