There is a triumph in pain, in driving yourself to a point physically that is not your normal. Some say its endorphins, Some say its distraction. There is sometimes a triumph in catharsis, regardless of the physical consequences. I am no expert. But just getting there, or in my case just getting back to where you started, shakes off that Black Dog running with you at least for a bit.
Its often a challenge to let people in. The dark chasms of a M-D's mind are not places easily shared. Ironically, not because you want to shut others out. In my mind its a care factor that says if they have shown enough care for you, you really don't want them to suffer exposure to what's down there. And in part, that's a good thing because stopping that is a gesture of respect and gratitude for someone actually finding a way of reaching out on your terms.
I ran last night. Alone and in the dark. It was wet, uncomfortable, quiet. The places you might run into many ppl doing the social things around iconic places where one is expected to be seen ... in the daylight. At this time as the dark descended, very few to be seen.
The harmful destruction of M-Ds often resides in the almighty attempt to seem normal and happy because most, apart from your inner circle, have hopes and expectations that you will snap out of it and be well again in their worlds. And whilst the effort in ‘normalising’ sometimes unconciously happens, all it does is burn the goodwill, kindness and care of that inner circle that is the very reason you have survived in the first place.
So there was nothing more than I wanted to do than run last night. A 12km figure 8 around our dear City. Dark, wet, lonely, but alone. Somewhere along the run there becomes a sense of dogedness and bloody minded determination that no matter how pathetic the pace or the distance, you are going to get it finished.
12km is not a particular challenge in the scheme of things. It isn't physically a particular challenge for any half fit person. But the mental game of defeat, retreat, regroup and run for cover, is sometimes overwhelming.
It was a very slow run. Dark, wet, dimly lit. Running through forested areas usually casting beautiful dances between light and shadows on the ground; running around the shores of a Lake lapping gently at the edges. Instead, the fading and forboding shadows of swaying trees and the unsettled pounding of small waves trying to invade the banks of that Lake. Strangely, I was not challenging myself to run through perhaps gently safe, but unfriendly territory, but actually running in environments that without articulation or justification, made me feel comfortable in a place I knew well. And I was alone and strangely comfortable.Familiar territory perhaps.
The catharsis, in a way, was getting back to where I started. It was a feeling that I have done what I needed to do and now I can go home, Spent but now facing a warm light in a number of ways, after burning off some unpretending and running in the dark.
I enjoy the happiness and joy of other runners. I enjoy the unequivocal and unjudgmental support and encouragement I have received from most all of the running community that has chosen to take me in. But as they allow me into their running journeys, I am increasingly being made aware of the worry and concern that I never knew about, of those closest, who wondered about that fascination for dark quiet and lonely places. And I am increasingly aware of my arrogance of not registering the fact that I have no exclusive ownership in this space.
My best and most memorable runs were with those who would not let me fail, those who allowed me not to let them fail, and those who ran with me because that's what they said they would do.
But I still do sometimes run in the dark, alone, not very well, but get it done.
There is always the possibility, no doubt, that I will always own a Black Dog. A big one at that. But once in a while, the literal act of running hard and long, isn't about running away, but more out running.
I think I get that.