Almost every week I run a six to seven mile loop around a lake in the woods. It is one of my most favorite places in the world. I rarely meet up with anyone else, and it close enough that I can get there all year round. I have run it in snow, rain and sun. I have been doing this weekly run for about seven years. I ran it every week of my first pregnancy, until week 23 when I went into preterm labor.
And that is where the pause is. I ran it every week of my first pregnancy. I ran it in the snow, I ran it in the rain, and I ran it completely pregnant. I remember running down a fairly steep hill, with a hand on my small belly and my other hand with my dogs leashes. My little growing baby would kick, and I would say to myself we are having a fun little run Kate (I had her name picked out from the moment I knew she was girl). I was hoping to run around that lake every week until at least the third trimester.
I didn't blame many people for the having a premature baby. Really I didn't blame anyone except one person. I had some slightly angry feelings at the nurse I talked to about the strange feeling I had earlier in the week, and again when I talked to somebody about changes in discharge. I was generous with everybody though, and realized that they didn't have all the information and they did the best they could. No, I let everyone else off the hook. I was the only person I blamed.
I blamed myself for every aspect of it. My body had failed me. My mind and decisions had been poor. I had not said the right description on the phone. I had worked too hard during my pregnancy. I didn't ask the right questions or read the right books prior to my pregnancy. These and countless other thoughts are what I have and had thought for the last four years.
Funny the stories we tell ourselves. And how we believe them. I have quieted the blame voice in my mind a lot in the last year. Honestly I thought that I had made peace with myself over a lot of it. Then I realized that once a week, I let the story replay over and over. On my run.
There I was on my run, like I do every week. I realized that every time I get to that steep hill, I don't smile and think of a nice little memory of my baby kicking as I run down it with my dogs. I think, SHOULD I HAVE BEEN RUNNING? DID I CAUSE PRETERM LABOR BECAUSE OF THIS DAMN WEEKLY RUN I LOVE? I DID. I DID. I DID.
Every week I have been turning part of a great pleasure into a way to blame myself. I bend what could be a happy memory from my first pregnancy (which lets be honest there aren't a lot of happy memories there) into a way to villainize myself.
I have decided this story needs to stop. I have to forgive myself. I have to run my run and say that it was okay maybe even great that I ran that run every week. I have to remember that my daughter was born at 25 weeks, 1 lb 14 oz and was able to breath without a ventilator or surfactant. She came out screaming. She developed those strong lungs during my runs. My daughter learned to fight on trail runs that her mother loves.
The stories we tell ourselves sometimes are all we have. Often there isn't the answer to why something happens. We get to fill in the answers. Like the choose your own adventure books, does she continue to beat herself up for the next forty years or does she decide to forgive herself for being human and move one. Does she jump into the underwater cave or does she finish the laundry? Everyday we are choosing how we live and replay the stories of our lives.
The blame story isn't working well for me. Takes me directly to the end of the book, and the books is depressingly over. I want to decide to go in another way, I think that most people would agree that even if you are to blame for a situation at some point in time you have to forgive yourself. You have to accept that this is the journey you are one, and it is good place to be no matter how you got there.