Relying on and needing somebody else went so much deeper than any chemical dependence….I was beginning to realise the extent of my issues underneath the addictive behaviour. I felt trapped. I knew I had no option but to carry on the sober path, but I knew I needed support. I had to carry on however much I despised myself for my neediness. Why couldn’t I get sober “just like everyone else could”. That “just” meaning going to an AA group and reaching out in an occasional phone call…and just stopping and admitting “powerlessness” and following “the program” and being forever grateful to a “higher power” for maintaining their daily sobriety in some kind of mysterious fashion. However hard I had tried ( and I kept on coming back in the hope that if I worked it then it would work because I was worth it) Sadly, I either hadn’t thoroughly surrendered and admitted my powerlessness over alcohol or I wasn’t working “it” right or I (most definitely) wasn’t worth it. I don’t even think I was able to “pledge” to belle anymore that I could remain sober. I had lost all confidence in myself. Something however must have shifted. I was so horrified at what the relapse did to me and so scared at how it had impacted my mood, that I was prepared to do pretty much anything not to repeat that (and thankfully I continued to do 510 consecutive sober days after that). I suppose my running took off around about the same time. I think I have alluded to the fact that running felt very much the inverse of my sober life experience (which continued to be very difficult). I experienced a sense of freedom; a sense of working towards goals and managing to achieve them and was provided with the necessary sense of escape from my continuous churning brain. As I plodded along, I felt as if I was being rocked and soothed much like (I imagine) it feels to be a baby. As a child, I had had a love of swings and my parents have told me how I would cry inconsolably when taken away from them. (the swings, not my parents!) At 3 years old I had apparently disappeared from our caravan whilst on holiday; only to be found on the other side of the caravan park on the swings, in the park. (I have recently found out that feeling soothed by a steady rocking motion is particularly common for someone with Aspergers . It has something to do with a sensory part in my brain) I know I don’t feel soothed easily and I have only really felt soothed and satisfied by addiction (alcohol being one…excelling at school, working long hours, losing weight to the point of needing hospitalisation for 10 months, sweets as a child, anything that was done to excess).

I wonder if this craving for soothing and reassurance was somehow met when I went running at exactly the point of having to stop the so-called “soothing” I had gotten from drinking. It certainly became a necessity in my early days and I went out running ….and running….and running… THE GIFT OF RUNNING I find many joys when I run. Because it totally absorbs my attention I soon manage to forget my worries. Even better than that, is I begin to process my thoughts in a gentle and more manageable way. This is not intentional, it must have something to do with the chemical shifts in my brain (similar maybe to a walk in the country). Worries, musings and dreams just flow in and out, randomly but satisfyingly and get filed away neatly in the ‘thought about, considered’ pile. Its not that I have ‘solved’ anything; more a sense that I have faced things; and my life as it stands, does not feel as unmanageable as it previously did. Belle calls this ‘changing the channel in her head’. Another joy is the reminder that I can only deal with things step by step, literally. That my life is a journey of progress rather than a striving for perfection. There is sometimes a space/place/ moment where I experience a sense of complete satisfaction and peace. I have read about ‘runners high’ but I am convinced this is something subtly different. It resembles the feeling I have had after pouring out my worries in a counselling session, an aura of wellbeing and safety. A place I go to in my mind. I may be different to many runners in that I love to be alone. I enjoy knowing that I can slow down or speed up as I see fit; I can listen to a podcast, I can cry in desperation (I have been known to cry and scream out loud as I have expressed my pain to God ); I can stop midstride and email or reply to a friend as I get a sense of clarity over something that has been bothering me. I also love that I am out in nature, I forget my struggles to communicate to other humans and I feel connected to everything around me in a very earthly sense (duh). I sometimes burst out in song especially if I happen to be listening to a favourite tune and I can be watching the sunset or a rainbow appear over the horizon in front of me. I am filled with wonder and ‘awestruck praise’ of the beauty of creation. (‘awestruck praise’ is a borrowed phrase for the feeling I get when my soul is bursting with gratitude and overwhelmed with my experience of life- I interpret this as my desire to worship a God whom I believe loves and created me)

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