Bullies…they are everywhere. I have been the victim for much of my life and perhaps this is why I am who I am today. There are bullies I never confronted from my past and issues I have never dealt with that are all coming to the forefront now. Why now? Who knows. Everyone thinks of bullies as something kids deal with but there are plenty of adult bullies. I deal with those folks on a regular basis. Perhaps it is the bullies who made me into the person I am today. Perhaps I am who I am in spite of them. I am not sure but I think about it often like on a recent run.
Sunday I took off for what I thought was going to be an easy 5 mile run. I had not run in a week and was anxious to get out and hit the pavement. I had planned out my route in my head and took off. I felt as though I was at the starting line of a long awaited race …. this was the first real run of summer! I was soon lost in my thoughts and the music. Strangely enough when I got a little over a mile in, I found myself heading off my planned route and towards a trail I normally run with my group. I had not been to the trail in months. I realized my feet were in charge, not my head. But then I heard a voice in the distance….taunting me…teasing me. Every bully and every mean comment every directed at me started to flood into my head. I started to wonder where the voice was coming from. Was I crazy? Was it a person in a passing car?
I soon saw the trailhead and wondered if I should turn and head back home. But then I heard that voice again…the teasing and taunting…. So I headed onto the trail. I am not sure what possessed me but I started to get angry. As my feet pounded out the miles, the voice grew louder and my anger grew like a fire fed with gasoline.
I realized I was going faster than my normal pace and was struggling but the voice in my head was so loud now, I could not drowned it out. That is when I passed a sign on the trail that said, “Run through them like a Tank”. I smiled and kept going. The fire of anger continued to grow as I recognized the voice taunting me….it was Wanda! That brutal bridge on the path was the one that was causing me to doubt myself and my ability.
As I got closer, her voice grew louder. I paused at the base and took one last look….it was decision time…fight or flight. I took a deep breath and ran….head first, full steam ahead into Wanda as she teased me. “You can’t take me!” “You’ll give up!” “the top? You can’t get there without walking!” “You are fat and slow!” “You are not good enough to get to the top”….and on and on…. Until I realized that I was at the top. Without a word, I ran to the top and then caught my breath. As I stood there keeled over, hands on my knees huffing and puffing, I realized something. I realized that I have rarely confronted the bullies in my life. I just walk away and let things go. I turn and just ignore them and it just doesn’t ever end. The bully may go away but the words have stayed with me for a lifetime.
I caught my breath and continued on for a few miles before turning and heading back home. This was not a fast nor effortless run that turned out to be 8 miles but I needed it. I had to take on Wanda again on the return trip but this time she didn’t say too much, and what she did say was not all that loud. I know that there will be days where she rears her ugly Bully head again but I am more confident that I will be able handle her. I am more confident that I will be able to battle back the demons each time. Dealing with the bullies of the past and present will never be easy but I feel like I can stand a bit taller and remember the messages I teach my Girls on the Run. Be Strong. Be Confident. Be YOU. No matter what others think or say. Forward is a Pace. Peace.