I felt like playing with sound waves for today’s owl. Yesterday’s Shatter the Silence made recognize the power of having a voice–no matter what that “voice” may look like. At packet pick-up, I was handed a bag with a white supporter shirt instead of the purple survivor shirt. I was somewhat relieved at first–I didn’t have to reveal my secrets. The thought of continuing to keep quiet ate at me. If I denied what I had been through, I would be telling other survivors that we should be ashamed. That we should shut up and deal with it. So I spoke up and pointed out the mistake. I waited for “the look”–either complete surprise or pity. Instead, the volunteers smiled, apologized for the mistake, and exchanged the shirt. They didn’t treat me any differently than any other runner.
I slipped on the purple shirt and felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from my life. A quick glance around revealed that no one was staring or pointing at me…or pitying me. More relief. Letting this secret free wasn’t so bad after all. (It was too hot to race in the shirt, so I had to leave it behind.)
With my secrets racing through my mind, I knew I was pretty likely to panic. I tried to convince myself that it was just another run. No big deal. But while running, I caught the scent of a male runner’s cologne as he passed me and suddenly I could feel the past pulling me back. I had a sudden urge to turn around and sprint to safety, but I was able to fight it and keep moving. I had to finish this race no matter what. For a bit of the race, I purposely stayed far enough behind him that I could not smell his cologne. At times that meant walking when I really wanted to keep running, which frustrated me to no end. The third or fourth time we caught up to him, I could feel my running buddy’s pace drop, but I didn’t want to slow down. I decided to see if I had the strength to take out this ridiculous fear and picked up my pace. I held my breath as I bolted past him. It felt awesome to sail past my fear. We kept that pace until we made it to another killer hill (my ankle is all sorts of messed up so I had to walk the worst of the hills). I’m sure this seems silly to some people, but it really was huge to me. I had stood up to that fearful voice in my head and silenced it.
As we finished the race, I felt like screaming, “Take that!”
Mikey, Scott, Nate, Larry, John, & others, I will keep my silence no more. The statute of limitations may have run out, but my voice and strength never will. Take that! I have mixed emotions about listing the names. One day, I’ll come back to this and set the text color to black. For now, it’s public just somewhat secretive. One step at a time.