The memory makes me cringe.
As I am working I can feel the tenseness and pressure of life start to heap in my chest. It oozes up my neck and down my spine and into the crevasses of my body. Previously it would have been easy to reach for alcohol as I arrived home; that’s what would make everything ok. Alcohol would slowly quiet my angst, deaden the pressure of my day. But alcohol only masked who I was and fraudulently freed me from my burdens and worries.
Now, running gives me real freedom.
As I reach for my running shoes, lace them up, and take the first step out the door, the pressures of life slowly retreat, my breathing labors and my steps intensify; I am no longer deadening myself but instead resolving to live.
I have pushed myself farther than I ever thought I could go, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. The self confidence I gain from running far exceeds the self confidence that I believed I gained from drinking.
As I sipped cocktails delusions of a healthy, well-rounded, popular woman swirled inside my head. Eventually, however, saturating myself with alcohol could not hide the reality of someone who was desperate and slowly dying. When my lungs gasp for oxygen, and the adrenaline pumps through my blood, I realize I can run as far as I want to run, and go as far as I want to go in life. The alcoholic delusions are now gone, and a truly healthy, well-rounded, popular woman strides on.
The freedom that allows me to propel around the next corner, up each hill, and fly over the roughest terrain is a freedom that alcohol never genuinely allowed me. I realize now that alcohol kept me prisoner, and it’s strange that the same anxiety and fear haunts me when I do not get to run as it did when I did not get to drink. With my newfound freedom, I have a choice. I have a choice to no longer feel anxiety and fear, and to feel more alive than I ever thought possible as my runners high kicks in.
Being a new runner, the aches and pains kick in after a few miles. They are similar to the aches and pains of life that I used to experience shortly after becoming sober. Whether one step, one mile, or one day at a time, I know I can do this. The Miami Marathon in January 2015 is now my goal. Even though I know that there are unseen obstacles in front of me, the obstacles will never compare to those of being a practicing alcoholic.
Every day, at the end of my run, a like-new calmness comes over me. I know part of that tranquility comes from the fact that the feelings of desperation and regret due to drinking are long gone, and the other part comes from the strength and courage I found within myself to take that first step. I only wish I’d done it sooner!
Alison is sober and still Running Well.