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The Healing Crisis, part 11

Somehow I’ve been misusing the word “catharsis” all these years, and now that I’ve looked up what it originally means (“cleansing” or “purification” in Greek), I am finally using it correctly. I haven’t had coffee or booze since I’ve been back to Nashville a few weeks ago, and I’ve been working out five or six times a week. Been running six to 10 miles a week, and my 5k time has been improving steadily. Never thought I could give up coffee because I love it so much, but now I drink tea and I love that too.

Every time I go to NY I put on a few pounds, and I really went nuts with the ice cream and beer my last trip. I’m doing by best to undo all that, plus undoing the years of smoke and comfort eating. I was ready to start really cleaning up my act last year after my arm was injured, but then my mom passed and I decided I would opt for comfort while I grieved. It helped a lot, and now I’m finally in a good place emotionally and ready to live lean and to be lean.

Purification is a lofty goal in a world so polluted, and to call oneself a puritan has so many connotations of judgment and violence, but I realized that I am a puritan. I would love to lead a life that was so good that I rarely needed substances to help me feel good. I still think every drug has its place, and there’s nothing wrong with using drugs, only with abusing drugs. But I have a great life at the moment: comfortable living, good job, total independence. So why should I need substances to try to enhance my life? The endorphins I get from running and exercising feel so damn good, and there are so many other benefits, the least of which is looking good naked.

Saturday evening I went for a 5k run at a park with a paved loop. It was below freezing and foggy out, and the sun was about to set, so besides the few deer I saw I basically had the park to myself. I have learned to really love running. It’s a strange and intense meditation, and I can literally feel the difference in my body before and after the run. My breathing opens up, my stride becomes more elegant and natural, and my mind quiets all the chatter when I’m just focused on running as gracefully as a dancer moves. It was an intense run, and I got my 2nd best ever time for a 5k.

As soon as my run was done, I got into my car to drive back home and immediately my nose started running. This seems to happen pretty often after my intense cardio exercises, and I’m pretty sure it’s because whatever pathogens are lodged in my body from my self-destructive periods are being rattled around inside me during a workout before they are expelled. This time though, my nose was just relentlessly dripping all night, and then I came down with a fever, which lasted all the next day. Plus, my back and neck started hurting so badly that I could barely move. I was in bed all day the next day, and thankfully today I am back on my feet with only a little stiffness in my back and neck.

I’ve been struggling with my singing voice for over two years now, battling this endless stream of sticky gunk that remains in my chest and prevents me from belting the way I once was able to. I think strengthening my breathing and losing weight will help me figure out if I’ll ever be able to sing freely again, so mark my words when I say I’m determined to get in the best shape of my life (assuming I don’t have to face anymore unexpected tragedies). I recognize that I went through a self-destructive period over the past couple of years, mostly due to having my heart so badly shattered that I didn’t want to live. I’m finally discovering life as I was meant to live it: on my own terms. Even though I’m alone almost all the time, the upside is that I live exactly as I want to, without having to compromise for anyone. I eat how I want, I get the whole bed to myself, and I make my own schedule.

So the healing crisis continues — sometimes undoing the damage you’ve done causes discomfort, and you gotta pay for all the good feelings when all that bad shit finds its way out of you. I’m ok with that, because if I can’t sing again then I’ll probably give up on everything but I am happy to die trying to get there.