Running With Tears In My Eyes
Today was not about kilometres, it was about how long will it take to shake off those heavy feelings.Amanda Mandry, AKA The Simple Mindful Runner
I run without listening to music. Running for me is mindfulness in motion. I like to tune in to my mind, my breathing and my body like doing a deep scan without music to distract me. I observe my physiology. Are there any aches, tensions, discomfort, heaviness in my body? I shake out the tension. I imagine a healing liquid refreshing and smoothing out aches in my joints. Are there any recurring thoughts? Yes. And recurring images and sounds. Lots. And beliefs? Yes, which aren’t very productive.
I observe that I am clearly altered and I have tears in my eyes. They want to fall but they can’t. They just stay there. I put names to my feelings. There’s sadness, there’s anger, there’s frustration.
I’m the sort of person that needs to move my body to think more clearly. I’m not at my best sat at a desk working on a computer. I guess this is partly why running has become part of my life, and cold showers, and active meditation. I need to jiggle my brain and vigorously move my body into firing it up, to get the right chemicals flowing. Then I can put the world and myself to rights and get on with the rest of the day. Sitting for long amounts of time doesn’t work for me so well.
Back to the non-falling tears.
I have a fear of hairdressers. I have a fear of someone taking a pair of scissors and wreaking havoc on my hair. I have only felt satisfied and comfortable with two hairdressers and curiously they were both male, and gay. I haven’t been to a hairdressers in a long time as a result. I finally decided it was time to give my hair some TLC and a much needed cut and chance one of the local hairdressers in the village I am now living in.
I explained to the young female hairdresser I have had long hair for many years and I prefer it that way. I stressed I wanted my hair no shorter than my shoulders. She said people “my age” should have shorter hair as it makes them look younger, then SNIP went the scissors! She striked straight across a large length of hair and then said “I’ve taken all this off” whilst holding it in her hand! I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know how to react in this moment. I said I don’t want it short. She snipped away and started thinning out my wavy hair. It was the kind of end result I had feared.
Two days later…
Today I run. I run with the sadness of having lost my long wavy hair. I reframe that thought of loss with summer’s coming and it will grow back fast and healthy. I can also jazz it up with some colourful scarfs and accesories in the meantime. But there’s still a heavy feeling. The feeling of frustration of not having asserted myself clearly to the hairdresser and say exactly how I felt about my haircut. The anger of such disrespect and disregard towards my own personal wishes, taking authority over my hair and saying how people “my age” should have their hair! Snipping it off unsensitively with one sheer strike without asking how much to cut. Every person is a world, with their own personal preferences. Seeking advice from a professional is good, but to take over and make someone look like how they think they ought to look in their world is SO WRONG!
I grew up feeling like an oddball, the black sheep, and it’s only been in my later years that I have learnt that to be my authentic quirky self is a virtue and not a curse, regardless of how “different” I may seem in other people’s eyes. Now I’ve been moulded into a certain look by the hairdresser that’s certainly not my look. I’m not happy…
A flashback on my run came to me. When I was a teacher in a private school I had a student who was regarded by other members of staff as a low-ability child, a struggler, with very little concentration and hyperactive. He did struggle, especially with reading. Normally the children came to my desk and sat and read to me. I decided one day to try something different with this particular student. I told him he could read standing beside my desk and wiggle his body at the same time. He started jiggling and wiggling and it turned into a funny kind of dance. And guess what happened? His reading flowed, he was absorbed and concentrated. It was incredible…until the headmistress passed my window, stormed in, bellowed at me and the student for allowing such ridiculous behaviour and that it must never happen again , despite me trying to explain my motive for his wiggling whilst reading.
In her world, it wasn’t the type of behaviour that a student should display in class, and certainly not whilst reading. What he did was harmless. He was doing so well with the reading. Unfortunately, fixed ideas are part of many other people’s worlds too. However, I understand how important it is not to try and fit everyone into the same box, and allow for individual expression if it doesn’t harm themself or others, rather than imposing authority. I wonder if he felt disregarded and disrespected for not being allowed to express and be himself?
14km later. The tears have gone. I struggle to have a good cathartic cry these days anyway. I think about my crisis as a mini trivial one in comparison to what other people may be suffering. I’ve moved my body and my mind has cleared a lot garbage and it feels better, but not quite 100%. I probably started off my run on a scale of 8 out of 10 in terms of feeling low and finished the run bringing it down to a 3 which is more than half. The cold shower to finish brought that down to a 2 and writing this a 1! Sometimes getting your thoughts out there on paper or on a computer screen is therapeutic!