Come Undone

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”

― Cynthia Occelli

I have a therapist.  His name is Jake.  He doesn’t know he is my therapist.  Jake is a yoga instructor.  I’m sure that a person like him has many other roles, but that is the only role in which I know him.  He almost always starts class with a quote for us to think about.  For me, this is great.  Shutting my mind down completely has never seemed to be an option, so I can at least focus it on what the inspirational quote of the day means to me, rather than having my mind sprint back and forth through my to do list for the duration of his class.

Recently, he started class with the Cynthia Occelli’s quote above about a seed achieving it’s greatest expression.  I couldn’t remember it all when he said it, but I committed the words “seed” and “expression” and “destruction” to my brain so that I could come home and google the entire quote later.  During class, as soon as my mind would wonder to  thoughts such as pick up the dry cleaning today, or did I tell the sitter the kids have early dismissal tomorrow, or remember to reschedule your mammogram; I’d tell it to stop…think seed…think personal growth….refocus.  I manage to fit Jake’s class into my schedule about two to three times a month.  If I could take his class every day I would.  His class is not just therapy for my mind, it is also like physical therapy for my body.  Yoga is the perfect balance to my running.  It stretches and strengthens my entire body to allow it to continue to run.

When I run, my shell cracks.

When I run, every random thought I can think of, races through my brain.  I run through the day’s plan, the week’s plan, what am I going to feed these kids tonight, whatever happened to that news story the other day, my life goals, remember that time in 4th grade when I was unnecessarily mean to my friend, and maybe we should move to a third world country for a couple of years, or at least volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Sometimes, if I go on a really long run; when my body is spent; when every muscle fiber has used up all it’s stored glycogen and triglycerides and gotten multiple micro-tears; when my legs are becoming numb; and my brain has thought so much that it is finally out of thoughts; one vision comes to my mind.  I see my aunt’s face.  She was my champion.  She died unexpectedly about ten years ago, when she was way too young, had much more of the world left to experience, and had limitless more joy to bring to everyone who was around her.  Sometimes, when my body has run out of fuel, I see her face, clear as day.  When I can’t seem to run or think anymore, it seems that people and thoughts that I have been suppressing finally come to the surface.  My shell cracks.  And now I am still running and there are tears rolling down my face.  Fortunately, tears streaming and sweat dripping down your face are indistinguishable, so no one running past me notices.  I just let the tears flow.

Clearly I have still not fully processed this loss.  She was and is a big influence in my life.  As I continue to run, and let myself cry, I can also hear her laughter.  The iPod in my ears is blasting Meghan Trainor’s “All About that Bass,” but the sound in my head is her laughter.  Her infectious, contagious laughter, crystal clear in my head.  Now there is snot running down my face.  I’ve got new sweat and tears streaming over streaks of old dried sweat and sunscreen, and if that wasn’t enough, now there is snot. Who cares?  I’m a mess anyway.  I’ve come undone.

I suspect there are a few people very close to me who don’t understand why I need to come undone, why I’m a different person in the last few years than the one I was.  Why I need to go out of town for a weekend to run a race, try surfing for the first time at 41, try every margarita in LA, or write this.  Hopefully, in time, they will. There is one person who really matters the most.  He is my partner of 19 years, my husband of 15 years, the baby-daddy to my 3 beautiful children.  I think he mostly understands it; if not, he at least 100% supports it.  It intrudes on his life the most, but he tells me to just run with it.

*This post was originally published on 1/20/15.

Paria Hassouri