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Run Wild

Written by Tara Coumoundouros


Posted on May 04 2020

           Today I ran.  Running for me has always felt like a piece of my wild was allowed to roam, to soar free.  The shape of my running, however has taken on many an animistic form throughout my life.  When I was younger it was for the simple pleasure of the dopamine rush you exude, like a spring bunny who bounces gleefully as you watch it flee and sprint across the wilds releasing all of its pent-up joy with each fluffy bound.  Moving the ecstasy through your breath with the pounding of your bare feet on the earth and sending it off into the world.  Chasing with exuberance the pure pleasure brought by the wild and active machinations of a youthful imagination who was keeping pace with the spirit of the land.  Running to your touch tree to give him a hug or a quick climb, running to the fields to see the bursts of new buttercups that you held under your chin, or chasing the fireflies beneath the falling sun.  It served its purpose. My parents provided for me vast open space, and it gave me the strong roots of freedom and a wild place to exist.  Running wild is one of my “seed memories” as my teacher calls them which bind us to our truest form of self, but even youth fades away and sometimes sudden changes take its place.

                My childhood home was sold in the familial quest for a bigger, better, upgraded house one to suit the rise in family members and job status.  It wasn’t done to harm me, but when one is so connected to the land, to the trees, and to the fields it hurt deeply.  It was one of the greatest losses I’ve ever experienced in my life.  It’s a grief which has never left me.  I lost a piece of myself in the move that I’ve been searching to find ever since.  I can’t remember how much of the sense and feeling of loss I voiced to my parents or not but I harbored it deep within my soul.  We are taught at a very young age as women to be self-sacrificial, and as men to never cry.  My newly adolescent-self did what she was told and chose a new paint color, the color of expectations, the color pink for her new caged walls.  She left her wild purple heather colored youth and headed into a place of filling larger space, greater importance.  She left to explore her societal placement and she did so willingly alongside the rest of her family, but with a never shaken inner sadness in her soul.  In the move we left my fields, my woods, my trees, my mother’s lilac bushes, the pears, and my sense of home.  I mourned the old house and would cry in the quiet hours of the night not wanting to upset anyone with my tears of loss for everything I once loved so deeply, for the loss of my sense of place and I still mourn to this day for it.  I still search for it.  There’s something inside a Celtic soul that mourns deeply, they know how to invoke the sense of longing, but more importantly they know the deep bonds a soul forms with the land itself and I am a Celt if nothing else so I became still and I mourned.

                Idleness came in its place.  I didn’t run anymore.  Or at least not in the same way, the totally free and wild way of the limitless spaces occupied in youth.  We didn’t have the big open yard or fields so now I ran in place mostly, around buildings and down astro-turf tracks with militant sports teams full of competition, ego and shame complex-building structures.  My body grew fatter with puberty and emotion and my pent up wild.  The weight of it felt heavier than the 20 something pounds which always seems to creep on when I’m sitting in a state of stagnant misery and off again when I’m running away from it.  When it comes to the natural fight, flight or freeze, for me it’s the freezing that is the worst.  It makes me feel like I’m being buried alive beneath layers of my own melancholia.  Like I can’t escape from the sea of fear and depth.  I was now not yet an adult but no longer a child, dying, drowning inside of my own self.  I was spiraling down until I touched bottom.  Bottom, in that moment for me was precipitated by the heartache of the first deep love I’d been in painfully ripped apart in the ways of teenage love.  A relationship which I had been in for years and in the span of youth is eons.  I stayed there for a long time living as a bottom dweller. 

                I never surfaced.  It wasn’t the loss of youthful love which had brought me there but an endless compilation of feminine woundings, years of conditioning, the priming for self-loathing and the loss of my sense of home.  In the bottom there are voices that scream at you about your lack of worth, your unlovability, your undeservedness and they are deafeningly loud.  It’s been years of slowly clawing my way up and back down again into the raging sea of endless depths.  It’s been a long drawn out battle of will as I was spiraling up a few steps and then down even more.  After my first major heartbreak I felt the weight of what I had become both energetically and now I was really looking hard at myself through mirror images.  When had I become a monster?   I was disgusting and it’s all my eyes could see, a fat beast and so I ran.  I ran to outrun the monster that was me.  I ran to outrun the demons and those bottom-dwelling voices who chased me.  I ran to outrun my thoughts.  I ran to outrun the pain.  I discovered once again the dopaminergic release of a good bunny like flee as I began to run once again off into the wilds alone, but this time I didn’t run to the trees or the fields instead I ran past them as fast as I could.  It’s funny how things can become so addictive quickly.  I saw the physical weight melt off, I felt a touch of the emotions burn away, and so my feet pounded pavement regularly.  I even found a new small space of wild to grieve at when I occasioned to stop for a moment, a certain tree at a certain edge of a small man-made lake that I could run to or drive to and go there to cry.  I’m not going to fill in the story with the tales of all of the other ways I found to chase off or run from my problems such as alcohol etc., today I am speaking only of the literal act of running but know that there are other ways to run from things and I at this time used them all.  I continued to use them all for nearly two decades and occasionally still do.  The running melted off the fat and I was hooked again, but this time the youthful bunny sprint had taken an animistic shape of something more sinister.  It became some sort of creature who wore a hard-military helmet and chased me around screaming in the tones of the underworld “you’re too fat run harder, you’re too naughty run faster, you’re too big take up less space woman.”  So, I ran from everything.  I ran myself straight into a place of body dysmorphia, eating disorders and self-hatred.  I can look back at pictures of my youthful self and say “wow you were so skinny, you were so pretty, how could you not know that?  Why would you abuse yourself so badly?” My heart hurts so badly for her, but I also remember what she thought at the time.  I can still see through her eyes, and I can see her looking into the mirror and what she saw was disgusting rolls of fat, and ugliness everywhere she dared to gaze.  She didn’t see her light.  She didn’t see her soft heart.  She saw only the images of all of the women that she was told not to be lurking and creeping in the corners of her eyes. 

                She is older now.  Grown so much and changed and is on the brink of her full resurrection.  The hour is now and it is time to unlearn the voices that have haunted her and tethered her to world of toxicity.  She has awoken under the deep dark volatile sea into a creature that is knowing.  She knows she is a product of tainted societal norms but her heart is still soft and her soul is still wild.  I want to know right in this moment that I am perfect and beautiful, because something inside of me tells me it is true. I don’t want to have to wait another 20 years to see images of myself who I fall in love with in past tenses.  I want to be present in my form and see love reflected back and inwards.  I still cannot look into a mirror at my naked body all of the time and say “damn girl you’re amazing.”  However, there are more moments of love and less of hate these days.  I am doing it. I will do epic things.  I am spiraling upwards and back towards my original self and I am so close to the surface and the light.  My youngest self didn’t look into mirrors and judge, my adolescent-self looked constantly and hated what she saw, my adult self still looks but is working towards loving fully what she sees with a more knowing eye.  Yesterday, I quit my job, one of the last tethers to a life I no longer want to live.  Today, I ran.  When I began to run I did so partly to chase off the roiling emotions that I could feel tugging me below, and partly to reclaim my wilds.  I recognize the wolf like urge to run within me and now I honor her as the glorious beast that she is and I let her go without judgement.  I’ve become a running blend of all of my former selves, and it is a more beautiful, truer version of me. A convergence of the shadowy depths of sea monsters with the joyful leap of the bunny and the original feral wildness of the wolf in my soul.  I ran and acknowledged my pace has slowed considerably since my twenties as I am nearing forty, but it didn’t feel like I was chasing my youth anymore.  I also wasn’t competing against myself in a perpetual struggle of self-loathing, instead I was sinking into my new natural and comfortable pace.  I could sense myself running towards joy and towards freedom.  I ran just to run.  I want to age beautifully, joyfully with love.  I know that I will regress at some point because healing isn’t linear, but just for today, I ran in joy.  As I said before I am a Celt through and through and I know my heart will rage, and grieve and long because it’s those emotions which create a more whole story, the best myths, but just for today I ran with a light heart. I acknowledged the wilds around me, the blooms, the dandelions and the growth within.  I have caught scent of what I believe could be home.  It’s a smell which makes me yearn for it, and one day I will know it again.  Some will say it is within you, the home that you search for, but I believe for me it lays in the connection between.  The whispers from the threads which touch my heart to the flowers and my feet to the mud.  Home would be a place where I am free to completely tear down all of the societal inputs, and to emerge from the watery depths, briny and soaked but full of knowledge, stories and ready to be authentically me.  Today is a good day.  Today I can taste free.  Namaste.