Friday, April 12, 2013

The 5 stages: #1 Denial and Isolation

I had never thought of myself as a runner until I could no longer run.  I only took it up in middle age and, let's just say I was never built for speed. The running itself was boring interspersed with exhausting and a little painful at times when I was forced to push muyself. But I ran with a running club, initially because it had a 'learn to run' program and thus provided me with community.

Working at home, there have been days when I haven't left the house or said one word out loud.  I get a lot done this way, but I don't get that social interaction that I wanted and needed.  Running a few times with a group was a perfect way to get it.  I would ask a question of someone and get a chance to listen to them talk, ramble even as a distraction from the strenuous tediousness of running.

Then I got injured.  Or what I thought was injured, but really it was my scoliosis starting to protest against the impact of bobbling along on hard surfaces.  As soon as I found out that was the source of the pain and had to come to terms with having a 'condition' or 'disability', I admit sheepishly that my reaction was not unlike that of those suffering real grief or loss.  What?  No way!  Not me.  I've always been able to do whatever I wanted physically (even if I didn't do it particularly well!)

So I lost my sport and thus lost my community, which was the largest stalk of straw on my lumpy camels back and I tipped over into depression. Running buddies, just like golfing buddies or bird watching buddies or basketball buddies, are an activity-specific relationship and when you lose the activity you lose the relationship. 

But feeling part of a social network is imperative. For me, I decided to find walking buddies, and I started to take yoga classes, and I decided I wanted to get back to something I loved but stopped doing many years ago: singing.  I found a choir that suited me  ( - new CD available for purchase!) and started to take private singing lessons through the local community centre, which also had a fitness room I went to once a week.  Dancing was my first and lasting passion, but it hurt a bit too much to do most of the form of swing dancing I did (Ceroc: never heard of it?  Try it! , but I went on occasion and danced when I could and then hung out and talked to the others and watched the great dancing.  Martin had a running group that suited him, and I met them for coffee sometimes, or at their prolific social events. 

I was immature enough to still feel the need to compete and be part of an event.  I regreted not having run a race as fast as I could; the few half marathons I ran was always with others at their pace, because it suited me more to have someone to run with than to run that bit faster.  I found a 5km race, a distance I could walk without too much pain.  Martin's group was keen to do it too, and it was such a good feeling to feel as valid a participant as the fastest runner of the group.  And I pushed myself as far as possible physically, which hurt a bit, but it felt great!

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