Once upon a time, I was addicted to listening to music while running. So addicted, in fact, that a last-second decision to run without my ipod in my first 5K helped contribute to my complete breakdown in the race. After that, I tried forcing myself to run without music every once in a while, just so I could do it if I ever needed to again.
Things are different now. I am different now.
Even though I was always careful with my music -- volume low enough and only one ear bud in so I could still hear sounds around me -- being assaulted has caused me to obsess about situational awareness. I didn't really do anything "wrong" in that situation, but still I feel compelled to be even more aware, to the point of hypervigilance.
And so I no longer run with music when I'm outside.
The downside of the silence is that I'm forced to spend all that time inside my own head. As I've shown many times before, that can be a dangerous place for me. I have to dig much deeper to push through my natural inclination to quit when the going gets tough. I also have to face all the demons that lurk inside me.
My head has been an even scarier place of late, full of dark and depressing thoughts. Some of these thoughts are directly related to the psychological trauma I experienced, but many others are only related because the experience has brought them to the forefront of my mind. I've taken stock of my life and been confronted with abandoned dreams, unfulfilled hopes, and a great deal of frustration and disappointment with who I've become and how my life has turned out thus far.
Ultimately, I think it's good for me to face these demons. I am bolstered by a homily I heard at mass recently, about how we shouldn't be afraid to suffer. Suffering unites us to Christ on the cross, and purifies us, much like precious metals are purified in a refinery. I would not do the homily justice if I tried to explain it further, but it really resonated with me and encouraged me not to escape or dull any of the pain I'm enduring.
If I were to try to fill my head with music instead of thoughts, then my running would be an escape -- I'd be running away from the pain. Instead, I need to run to it, and through it. This reminds me of the popular children's song/book, "Going on a Bear Hunt" -- with each obstacle they face on their journey, they discover they can't go over it or under it, so they have to go through it.
I must face all of the obstacles in my head the same way -- the recent trauma and the other issues alike. I can't block them out with music. I can't dull them with alcohol (and thankfully I haven't really been too tempted to try). At some point I'll have to stop trying to escape them by emotional eating, but I'm not *quite* ready yet.
I can't go over them. I can't go under them. I have to go through them. And with every prayer I utter, every word I type here, and every silent step that I run, I am.