Muddy trails, Billy, my dog, followed me. She ran slower, took time to sniff the scent of coyote and Jack rabbit. I smelt the fresh rain-soaked air, listened to the bird’s chirp, was careful on my descent down the slippery hillsides. Fingers icy cold, heart beats quickly as I go up-hill. Clouds and blue sky mixed above, worms crawled below. I felt free, I was almost the only person on the trail this morning. Memories came up, as I scaled across the single track, where once, a long time ago, my dogs ran down the ravine, followed a coyote back to her den. I was so frightened, I thought the coyotes would eat my dogs, but my dogs ran back to me eventually. Or the time they ran after the raccoon, I could see the raccoon and my two big dogs through the trees, the dogs barked, the raccoon hissed, I screamed and cried, I couldn’t stop them, I couldn’t run into the brush, it was thick with poison oak. I was so upset. I was upset with my dogs. I was upset with myself for getting so upset. I was supposed to stay calm, I was pregnant, I should have thought about the baby before I got upset. I was so worried would have a miscarriage because I made myself so distraught. I was worried the park ranger would come and give me a ticket or take my dogs away because they killed wildlife.
Today was the opposite kind of day, I had no worries. Today I ran free, my children at preschool, healthy and safe. I was able to absorb my muddy morning run. Take in all the beauty around me. I was able to be thankful for my strong body. I’m turning 47 on Monday, but today I didn’t worry about getting older, I didn’t feel older, I felt younger. I felt healthy and optimistic. I didn’t worry about wrinkles. I didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant, being pregnant, or being unable to get pregnant, worries that have dominated recent times in my life. My emotional state didn’t clog my eyes with self-doubt and confusion. I didn’t let the rainy skies, muddy ground or the icy air prevent me from my run. I was free, mind and body.
I don’t know how one day can be relaxing and mentally beautiful and one day can be so stressful and mentally unstable. I know it’s hard not to let things that happen to us dominate our whole being, bad things, sad things, terrible things. When I wrote my chapter for my new book the other day, one of the saddest chapters, I noticed it stuck with me. I became that chapter again. I felt sad and drained and started to worry about things that aren’t going well. I started to doubt myself as a writer and artist, that’s what I do. That trauma from so many years ago and all the little traumas along the way, like when my dogs killed the raccoon, stuck with me, I think. Writing about my past I found, is very intense, writing about tragedy. It’s like an actor in character, they sometimes totally absorb the character and role they are playing. Sometimes the actor needs to take a break because they become that character. I became my character, again, slightly. I touched the surface, and some of the things I remembered, that I have never let myself feel before, I let myself feel. Am I healthier now? Even though it took a few days to recover after writing the chapter? Maybe.
Am I stronger after everything? I thought yesterday about the experience I had, that I wrote about. At the time the event happened, the very next day the whole thing that happened was never to be mentioned again. I went along with it, I buried it deep down inside, never to examine, until recently. I was thinking I wasted a good opportunity for growth. But I was only fifteen, I had no way to know what to do. If only I would have been encouraged to write or do something creative, to grow from the tragedy, I could have done something amazing. I looked back like that. This thinking brought me down. Just like I look back and wonder if a certain thing didn’t happen, if I made a different decision, how would my life look? I doubt myself a lot.
I made it though. I am here, now I run free, most of the time. And the self-doubt, I’m working on it.