As children we read fairy tales, hear bedtime stories and create our own magical world with our vivid imaginations.
At school we are taught the fundamentals required in education; arithmetic, spelling, reading and writing, as well as certain rules and standards we should embrace. At home, values are instilled in us – how to act, behave and what we should and should not do, all determined by our parents version of right and wrong. A sometimes confusing array of other people’s beliefs, values, morals and attitudes program and mould our young brains from an early age. Is it any wonder that when we grow up, we sometimes get confused, lost, make ‘mistakes’, and beat ourselves up if we are anything less than perfect?
Once upon a time I believed in fairy tales.
I believed that if you married it was meant to be forever. You were supposed to be loyal, supportive, share your journey together and have fun doing so!
Having preferred to take what I believed to be a much more exciting road of world travels, freedom and adventures, that belief lay dormant, only surfacing shortly after I hung up my backpack, settled down and fell in love, marrying a man who I thought was my soul mate.
It was only a few days into the marriage when I woke up to the fact that my husband had a severe drinking problem, stirring doubt, fear and a deep panic within. Deep-seated beliefs started to stir and cause chaos and confusion – this wasn’t what marriage was supposed to be like! My conscious mind told me to leave, to run away, yet there was an even deeper pull from my subconscious mind, beliefs that seemed to bind me to stay even though I couldn’t work out why. One part felt obliged, bound by duty, to stick with this man, while the other part wanted freedom and a life of fun, love and happiness. My husband hid behind a veil of addiction. Smoking, drinking and dark, negative thoughts – black moods only alleviated by a bottle or three of wine. This is when I started running.
Running to experience a sense of freedom, for temporary relief and to escape the black cloud of my home life. The loss of what I thought a marriage was supposed to be, and the confusion of feeling weak-willed because I couldn’t find the strength to leave.
Running became my pillar of strength.
Running led me to meet new people, friends who became my support team. I joined a triathlon club and participated in my first triathlon, adding swimming and cycling to my list. Running was my saviour, my escape from the harsh, unhappy part of my life. From feeling trapped in a situation that I desperately wanted to flee but felt stuck and unable to do so.
Running and the friends I met gave me joy. The mental toughness required in the training sessions and the exhilaration of race day gave me strength, excitement and purpose. Running helped me cope with my husband’s black moods, his drunken behaviour at social situations and glassy alcoholic glazed eyes. It gave me an escape from the time he tried to kill himself, a sad and sorry cry for help. Running helped me to do what I now term my greatest act of compassion – to let him go and to allow him to choose his own path of self-destruction. And so running became my springboard for courage to finally walk away and to forgive myself for doing so.
Running also became medicine for my soul, my motivator. It inspired me to challenge and push myself, and took me on an incredible journey which included representing Australia in a long distance triathlon and competing in one of the toughest races in the world – the Hawaiian Ironman.
Running was my saviour until I left my marriage.
It was at that moment that the Universe, somehow knowing that I had learnt what was necessary, decided it was time for a new chapter and a new lesson. And so one day, virtually instantaneously, I was unable to physically run. My tortured soul had manifested in my physical body and I had to stop. Although that story is for another day, I look back now and realise it was meant to be so I could grow and transform.
Running was and always will be a reminder of the part it played in helping me to find the strength to let go and move on. Today, running symbolises the freedom and power we all have inside of us, as well as the choices we have and the paths we can carve in life. Running was integral in creating my amazing life today. One with a beautiful caring husband, my dream business and a deep inner peace and calm. Today, when it feels tough to run, or when I am having a ‘scrunchy’ day, I smile because having healed myself, I now run because I can!
Whatever challenge you are going through, know it will pass. It will not stay forever. There is a higher power at work out there, so believe in yourself and hold on to the truth that something amazing will rise up out of your adversity. Set yourself an intention to learn the hidden lesson and be open to receive greater wisdom. Find something that inspires you and focus on it. Whether it’s a physical pursuit, a hobby, music, art or reading inspirational books, know that in your darkest moments you will get through it. Imagine it like a fuel that propels you towards something bigger and better.
I know because I have experienced and lived it and have come through the other side, shining and happy. I know you can too.
About Mandy Napier BSc
Mandy Napier BSc (Hons) is a coach, educator and speaker. As a former Ironman triathlete she understands the commitment required to be successful. Dubbed the ‘Mindset Alchemist,’ Mandy now inspires, educates and coaches people to re-program their mindset for success, tap into their limitless potential and change for good. She is a columnist in a Sunshine Coast publication, ‘Business Matters ‘, and frequently writes about mindset, health and wellness in a variety of publications. Recently, she co-authored a book called ‘Heart to Heart: The Path to Wellness’ with other inspirational people, including Janine Ripper.
If you would like to learn powerful mind tools to help you deal with life’s ups and downs, achieve more, be and do more, then check out Mandy’s self-paced online course which is a great starting point for transformation.