On Friday, October 15, 2010, I chose to change my life.
Up until Friday, I had been living my life in secret. It was the path that I chose. I decided that I would not tell my family or friends that I had suffered from an eating and exercise disorder. I decided to internalize it. Part of me thought that no one would understand. Another part of me thought that no one would care. I’m not sure which part I feared more but I made my decision to keep my eating disorder in the closet because of that fear.
On Friday, I decided I was tired of hiding. After dealing with my eating disorder in secrecy for eight months, I picked up the phone and made my first phone call. When my mom answered the phone, I took a deep breath and talked faster than I’ve ever talked before. It was like I was trying to get everything out in one breath. She listened as I talked. When I was done, she asked questions. She cared. She didn’t judge.
My next call was to my grandfather. After that, I called my dad. Each phone call was difficult. I answered their questions to the best of my ability. No one understood, but I don’t think that anyone who hasn’t had an eating disorder could understand.
I always go for my long runs on Saturdays. Lately I have been running in the late afternoon/evenings, but this Saturday I decided to get out there early. I was on the road by 9:30. The first mile was tough. My body was cold. The wind whipped right through my jacket. The second mile, the wind calmed (or I acclimated). Each step became more ‘right’. By the third mile, I hit my stride. The wind didn’t affect me (whether I was running with or against it). The temperatures weren’t so cold. My breathing regulated. I wasn’t struggling to draw in each breath. I had finally reached found the famed “Runner’s High.” I’d be a fool to think it didn’t have something to do with the psychological calm that I found by divulging my secret. If there was nothing else, I could live for the feeling of that long run (which still makes my insides tingle now, just reliving it through words).
There was one person I hadn’t told yet: my older brother. For some reason, I found telling him to be the most difficult of everyone. I had no idea what his reaction would be and I figured with a pregnant wife he probably wouldn’t have any room left to care. He listened. He asked questions. He listened some more. Then he gave me the best advice he could ever give me: Live for the long run.
He didn’t know about my run on Saturday, but the fact that he chose those words to get his point across struck me. There was something special about those words. Those words encompassed everything I am trying to achieve. I want to be a runner. I want to eat healthy. I want to make the best decisions for my body. Not just now, but forever.
I want to live for the long run.