Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why the LWW Cousin Run Meant so Much to Me

Loopsters. Last. Weekend. Was. AWESOME. I’m still high on life from having such a wonderful time.

For you all to really understand why this weekend was particularly amazing to me, I have to give you a little background on my family and my own perception of myself within my family that I had for a very long time. I essentially had a few demons that I spent a lot of time trying to ignore. In the process, I also felt like everyone could see those demons and looked down on me for it (yes, I know completely ridiculous, but still the truth in my head). SO, I tried to be perfect. And failed, miserably. In the process, I also cut myself off from my family – sure, I’d sit down and talk with them and answer questions when they asked, but I rarely was able to carry on a conversation that was longer than a few minutes, for fear that they would find another reason to dislike me or think I was the black sheep of the family. I lost a lot of opportunities to get to know my cousins in particular who were my age.

A few years ago, I finally confronted the demons I needed to confront (with a lot of help) and when I started running, I was able to find something in myself that I think I had lost a long time ago - the essence of who I was. I was no longer trying to be perfect. I was just being me. Yes, I did start running because all of my friends were, but friends can’t make you enjoy something. It was the enjoyment of running, the ability to take time for myself, to do something that was completely and utterly selfish. I didn’t run to impress anyone (although I loved that people were impressed), I didn’t run to lose weight (although all of the “wow, you’ve gotten so skinny” comments are fantastic), and I didn’t run because I thought it would make my parents any more proud of me than they already were (although it’s so cute and embarrassing the way my papa brags about my times, even when I hate them).

Running and continuing to confront my own demons at the same time gave me an inner peace that I hadn’t had since I was a child – and I have been able to sit down and get to know my cousins in a way that I have never been able to. I was no longer afraid that they would see who I was, I could just be me and it didn’t matter. It seems silly that it was once hard for me to have a conversation with people who were my own family, but it was. These new conversations, however, allowed me to realize something incredibly amazing: one of the things we do have in common outside of our Irish-Catholic familyness was running! As Loopsters, we already know that running gives us a special bond, and with my family, it has been no different. There are cousins I really didn’t know well at all a few months ago, cousins I didn’t talk to at all, that I now talk to on a regular basis. This weekend, at the pasta party, at the race, afterwards … we all just sat around, chatting as if we were old friends. It was completely and utterly amazing. And what’s even more amazing is how many ‘thank yous’ I got for organizing this get-together. Really, it wasn’t much work, but everyone was so appreciative, I still get a little overwhelmed thinking about it. Actually, my heart is swelling and my eyes are tearing up as I’m writing this.

I have never felt this close to my extended family before, Loopsters. It’s one of the best feelings I have ever had, and it’s something I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for running.

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