I was running on the street but I felt like I was screaming inside and no-one could hear me, like I was treading water and waving for help and about to go down for what could be the last time. I didn't know what would happen or who would save me.
I ran, but as I ran all I could see was my struggling self screaming for help. I felt overwhelmed with anxiety. I didn't know what my next steps were. I didn't know where to look for help.
Then a sudden thought struck me. Fuck this, I thought.
"I will save you," I said out loud to my struggling self. My voice choked up, but it was right, so I said it again. "I will save you." I said.
I imagined myself striding over to where my drowning self floundered, grabbing myself by the scruff of the neck, and lifting myself out of the water.
"Now, we're going to walk out of here together," my calm self told my soaking wet self. My voice trembled as I continued. "Because this is the only way."
Anxiety is no stranger to me, but I am not sure why it has been hounding me so persistently recently. I'm not sure it even does much good to ponder why. The reality is that anxiety comes and goes, leaving me to do my best to manage it and ideally, prevent it, at least from occurring at such levels.
It helps to remember that I am surrounded by friends who love me and want what's best for me. What also helps are moments like the above, when I remember that I am not a victim. I am not drowning, I will not fall - I can put my legs out and stand up from that pool of water anytime I decide to. I will not be overwhelmed, nor need wait for someone to save me.
What does this have to do with running? I don't know - except that this is something I sometimes go through, and that other people go through. It's not uncommon for runners to run to relieve stress or anxiety. I have not been able to run as much recently, and perhaps I am feeling the effects of that more. That's ok, these times will come, when running cannot be as much of a priority.
Regardless of this, what I liked coming back to was remembering that running is tool for managing that anxiety, and a place where clarity comes - in this case, serving up the vivid reminder that I no longer need to flounder. I can get up and save myself.