Pain and Purpose

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. ~Winston Churchill

I don’t even know what prompted it, but I was thinking today about the injuries I’ve been trying to recover from, and the pain they cause. And it got me to thinking about my purpose.

Yes, I run for myself. It’s become a habit. A bit of a necessity for my own personal health and sanity. Which is part of my purpose. But then I think about my half marathon. And why I signed up for that in the first place. How I had decided to add fundraising to the mix. To do what I can, in my own small way, to help prevent child abuse.

And I think of the pain. The pain that those children endure, that sometimes know no other way. The pain that I witnessed in the eyes of my own child. And I think, “my pain is nothing”. Because it isn’t.

I know I have to take things easy to an extent. I don’t want any further injuries and I want to be sure I can continue to run. But I’m reminded of the pain of those children. That there’s so much I can tolerate. And I will. For them.

For more on my why, you can read about it here. And if you can find it in your heart to contribute to my purpose, visit my fundraising page here. Thank you.

5 and 1

Forgive me. This is going to be long, personal, and full of pain.

It’s been five years. Anyone that knows me probably knows exactly what happened five years ago today. Anyone that’s read this blog has seen me allude to the events of that time in my life.

April 6, 2011. I came home after picking up my then-husband from work, to be greeted shortly thereafter by a police officer and representative from DCFS (Department of Child and Family Services in Illinois). We were only told there was an investigation, and that he had to leave the house. I was to take both children to the child advocacy center the next day for questioning. At the time, my son had just turned 14, and my daughter just 11.

We were given no information. Don’t ask questions, they said.

In the events of the following 48 hours, I found out my daughter had disclosed abuse at the hands of her father. I was in a fog. I was in denial. I was hurt. But nothing prepared me for the pain to follow.

Two days later, they came and took my children and placed them into a foster home. So much I won’t go into now. I could write a book. Yes, I made some mistakes. I panicked. And for those that don’t know, you aren’t allowed to make choices, or God forbid mistakes, when DCFS is involved. (So how, then, do children die at the hands of abusive parents, even when DCFS has been called to investigate? Don’t even get me started on THAT!)

DISCLOSURE: To avoid any accusations, and in the interest of full disclosure, I have to state that he still claims his innocence, and was acquitted of all charges by a jury.

This is one of my character flaws at times. No matter what I have been through or what it has caused me, I will always give somebody the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t deserve it. I will always treat people with kindness. I will always do the right thing as best as I can. I will say, whole-heartedly, I believe everything my daughter said. I have seen too much pain, been through too much with her, to feel any other way.

When all hell broke loose, there was a time I clung to whatever I could. Whatever was left. The only thing I knew. That which I was comfortable with. I quickly realized though that I had to leave that comfort zone. I knew I was going to face challenges. But it was time to do what needed done.

For the past 5 years, I have struggled. Trying to figure out how or where I went wrong. Feelings of intense pain. Guilt. Feelings of acceptance. Forgiveness. Finding joy and happiness where there seems to be nothing but hurt and sadness.

Only during the past year have I really felt like I’ve moved past it. I realized over the course of the year that I never truly processed the pain. The divorce. I did what I had to do. I pushed through and accomplished what I needed to do for my daughter. I went from a stay-at-home mom, to a full-time working mom, supporting myself. And right back into Mom mode, having to work through everything with my daughter.

Let me tell you, as a parent, there is no greater pain than seeing the intense pain of your child. I didn’t have time for myself. I spent two solid years worrying and hurting for her.

But this past year was different. She is doing fantastic, all things considered. And I’ve been able to take care of myself. And find what truly makes me happy.

In running, I have found an outlet. A stress relief. A time for myself. A few months ago, it occurred to me that I started running almost to the day of the events of 2011. My first run this time around was on April 5, 2015. Maybe I knew. I needed to revisit that outlet.

You see, I started running back in 2012 also. Before my daughter moved back home. And even after, she was in school during the week, and I worked weekend nights, so I had a lot of time on my hands during the weekdays. After I changed jobs, however, things were more difficult. Scheduling was more complicated. I was working a regular day job, and adjusting to a new schedule.

But this time, it was different. I was focused more on improving myself. Taking care of myself. And through that process, I learned about myself. I learned to love and accept myself, first and foremost. Faults and all. I learned to care less what other people think. To stay true to myself. I know the right people will love and accept me for who I am, regardless of my faults and failures.

I know we are all unique and different in our own way. I found running to be a great outlet for me, as I know several other people have. But I also know it’s not for everyone. What’s important, is that you find something. Especially when you are going through a stressful, painful time. Whether it’s swimming, running, biking. Or even non-fitness related, like art. Painting, photography (which also helped me immensely), drawing. Something. I don’t expect everyone to follow the same path, make the same choices as I have. I only ask for support for my choices. And I, likewise, will support anyone in the choices they feel best for themselves.

Running also helped me to cope with being alone, when I had no one to turn to, no one to lean on. Before all my friends and family get on me about that statement, I know I had people, to an extent. But it’s different. When the one person you had to talk to every day, about everything, is suddenly out of your life, there is no other person you feel you can talk to. Not every day. At least not for me. I had to find a way to cope. To fill that void. For a long time, even though I seemingly had all the time in the world, I still had none. So much driving to visits. Working. Court. Counseling. It seemed to be never ending. But there always came a time, when I needed something to fill my time.

For a while I focused on scrapbooking. I can’t do it anymore. It was good at first, when I didn’t have my kids, it gave me something to focus on them. But now, I can’t go back. That’s part of my moving on. I still have all the photos, all the memories, when I’m ready to relive those moments. But for now, that part of me is gone. So the focus became fitness. And running. The one thing that has always been there for me in some way.

Part of me can’t believe I’ve actually stuck with it for an entire year. But that’s part of my growth. It’s become a part of who I am. And I can’t imagine it any other way.

Over the past 5 years, I’ve learned so much. Not only loving myself, but I’ve learned to be alone and love that too. I always said I’d like to find someone else, but I was perfectly ok and happy doing things on my own. But now, 5 years later, I feel like I can finally accept the fact that I don’t have to. I never thought I could be this happy. But I’ve found a place. A sweet spot. And I love every bit and piece of my life. I’m happier than I ever thought possible.

So here’s to several more years. Of running and racing. Living and loving. Healthy. Happy.

Running for a Purpose

The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race. It’s to test the limits of the human heart.

Sometimes I can be a bit spontaneous. I tend to get a bug up my butt, so to speak, and jump at opportunities without much thought. I had been toying with the idea of training for something bigger. Working towards a larger goal than just 5k’s on the weekends. I wanted more, but I wasn’t sure what. I didn’t think I had it in me to run a marathon. But with so many events offering half marathons now, I thought this would be perfect for me. I mean, let’s get real here. 13.1 sounds so much more doable than 26.2!

I have looked at lots of race options. RunDisney (so pricey), Rock ‘n Roll series, Vacation Races (run in/around national parks), and of course the ones local to me in Illinois, among various others. So back in June, I saw the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll race weekend had taken place, and they were offering an early registration discount to sign up for next year. Let me take you back a minute. Christmas 2013, after everything had been completed in court, I treated my daughter to a trip to San Diego. I had been planning a trip for some time, and everything just came together to make the trip that Christmas. We both fell in love, and had a blast! So when I saw that, I felt like it would be the perfect opportunity to get back there. That, and she has her sights set on California for college. So I decided we could go visit some schools, I could run my half, and we’d have a great excuse to return to San Diego.

Which brings me to this post. When I first started running, it was as a means to deal with everything going on. It was me time. Time to clear my head, and get rid of the frustrations in my life. So when I was signing up for the race, there was an option to sign up and fundraise for a charity. Because child abuse hits so close to home, and has significant ties to my own running, I decided to sign up to fundraise. There are so many organizations you can raise funds for, and so many different opportunities out there for runners. I figure if I’m going to run anyway, I would like to give it more meaning, than just my own personal triumph. So with that, I hope you will take a look at my fundraising page, and consider donating to the cause. Child abuse is much too prevalent in today’s society. And I would like to do anything I can to contribute to the cause of raising awareness. Thank you!

Half Marathon Fundraising to Prevent Child Abuse

deena3web

When we were in San Diego that Christmas, I met up with a friend I know from online that lives there, and is also a photographer. She took some photos of us at the beach, and this is one of those photos. Thanks so much to Rebecca for giving us these memories!