You’ve probably seen pictures of me running marathons and other races. Running is part of my life and part of my fight against child sexual abuse. What you might not know is that I did a lot of running in my younger years, too. I ran every day, often farther than my longest training runs today.
The problem was that I never got anywhere.
I ran to find my next high…and the next, and the next. Drugs, women, stealing, or looking for a fight – it didn’t matter what it cost me or anyone else, I had to get my fix. I ran into trouble to live up to the no-good loser label everyone attached to me. I ran to prove to myself that I was not the terrified little boy my abuser controlled even long after the abuse stopped. I ran to escape the truth of who I was, where I had been, and where I was going: an early grave.
Overcoming my past took a lot of work and determination, but what it took more than anything else was believing that I was worth it – that I was deserving of health and happiness, and that such things were actually good.
The truth is that none of us can be a good parent, partner, employee, or friend unless we take care of ourselves. I can’t be successful in my career, I can’t be the responsible father my girls deserve, and I can’t be a warrior in the fight against child sexual abuse if I’ve got nothing in the tank. Being all these things takes everything I’ve got and I don’t intend to give anything less.
I run races and lift weights because it makes me healthier and stronger so I can live longer and be more productive. I spend as much time as I can exploring the outdoors with my girls because it’s a fun and healthy way to spend time together. I surround myself with positive people because they make me happy. And even though I’ve overcome the trauma of my past, I still seek therapy every once in a while because I want to maintain the health and happiness I’ve gained.
All those years I tried to prove I was a real man? This is what it means to be a man.
You can’t give away what you don’t already possess. You can’t truly love what you do or love other people unless you first love yourself. And that takes facing who you are – all of you – and choosing to see the masterpiece.
Don’t waste another minute of your life on self-hatred, fear, or regret. They are all liars! Embrace who you are and decide right now, today, that you’re worth being healthy, happy, and healed. Make it a priority, work for it every day, and don’t ever forget it!
Take care of yourself, friend. Gotta run!