Wind at My Back

I didn’t stop. I focused on my breath, my counting, pressed down harder on the pavement, letting the tension propel my body forward.

The neighbor dude was boring holes into me with his eyes, gaping, his face clearly reading an expression of disbelief. It could have been one of any number of reasons. It was scorchingly hot and there I was exerting myself. And I’m an average-sized woman (perhaps on the chubby/curvy side of average on a bad day), and runners are generally thinner than I am. My large breasts aren’t exactly helping me fit the stereotype either.

In the past, I would have felt ashamed, worried that I was bothering him, making him feel uncomfortable, and in turn, become uncomfortable myself.

Instead, I flew away from him, light on my feet, feeling triumphant.

*

This afternoon on run #2 of my couch to 5 K program, it hit me. I love this about running, the clarity that washes over me, the effortless epiphanies when everything makes sense because there’s nothing to do but listen to my mind and breath and sink into the depths of memory. As far as soul searching goes, a run rarely comes up fruitless.

And today was no different.

I realized when I first started apologizing for things that weren’t my fault.

It was when I developed. When I went through puberty, and my body changed. All of a sudden, my body was offending nearly everyone I came in contact with, my classmates (male and female), my mother, other adults. Everyone was uncomfortable around me, upset with me all the time, and there was nothing I could do. I quickly learned that self-deprecation and apology lessened their ire. It kept me from my female peers considering me a threat. “Look, she’s weak. She says she’s sorry. She’s wrong all the time. She’s not competition.”

Even though I loved sports, especially running cross country, it was just easier to quit than to deal with people who’d decided my proper name was “Jiggle Jiggle.”

It’s an amazing connection to draw, something buried deep within, wrapped in shame and repression. I know it’s an important discovery even if I’m not quite exactly sure why just yet.

Good thing I go running again tomorrow.

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