The Ghosts of Columbus


Why did she have to ask that? I stared at the blinking cursor in the little box at the bottom of my Facebook page. I had only wanted to leave a message. I wasn’t prepared for this conversation. I knew it was coming, But Lord, I’m not ready!

Are you still running? It blinked again. How on earth to answer? What would she think of me? I have a reputation to uphold!

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If you’ve been reading around here recently, you know that my husband and I just completed our PCS (the Army’s version of a move) to Columbus, GA. We’ve been here before. In 2006, we moved into a teensy-weensy, one bedroom apartment off of Moon Road. Partly by accident and mostly by deceiving myself, I found myself part of the local running club.

Surely, I can handle it, I told myself. I’m making such good friends here in the running club. All I have to do to “stay recovered” is eat more. 

And I did make such good friends, such very good friends. We didn’t stay in close touch when I moved away, but every now and then we bumped into each other on Facebook and said, “Hi.”

So I thought it was only appropriate to let them know I’m back in town and I’d love to see them again. Hence, my initial message to K, “Hi! How are you? I’d love to meet for coffee and catch up!”

“Love to see you again! Are you still running? We could meet for a morning run!”

How to answer? No, I don’t run much anymore. Leave it at that?
No, I can’t handle running emotionally. I tend to relapse.
No, I started doing other kinds of exercise, so I’m still fit! (justification)

We managed to sign off with a mutual invitation to coffee – sometime. But as I got in my car to go run a couple errands, my nerves stood on end.

When we lived here before, I got into crazy long distance running. I lost weight, almost back to what I weighed before my first hospitalization. Now, every main road, every side street, every gravel turn, bridge, public park, and roadside bush (for bladder emergencies) has a memory.

And they’re not all good memories. Even though I made great friends in the running club, in all honesty, that’s not what it was about for me. Committing to see the group on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday for whatever distance, gave me an excuse to exercise beyond what was good for me. When I won a race, completed a marathon, or was congratulated for my endurance, I pushed that much harder.

Relapse picked up speed.

Exercise addiction…is a chronic loss of perspective of the role of exercise in a full life. A healthy athlete and an exercise addict may share similar levels of training volume — the difference is in the attitude.An addicted individual isn’t able to see value in unrelated activities and pursues his sport even when it is against his best interest. (American Running Association)

Most streets in Columbus, GA, are haunted, for me. This first week in town, my dog andIMG_0656-1 I have made it our mission to banish the ghosts that lurk in Britt David Park, Flat Rock Park and on the Riverwalk.

We’ve walked their trails, stopping at every puddle, funny smell and potential pee-pole. We’ve sat on the rocks and watched other people running. I wonder what their motivation is?

There are still a lot of ghosts here. Like I said, I traversed most of this town in my running shoes. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that these memories scare me a little.

From my journal:
There’s a hole in my heart as I drive around Columbus. It’s such a weird feeling, like a cavern that’s been covered over, sealed and the healing of that gaping hole has felt secure and relieving and good. Or a wound that once scabbed over, healed and remains a white, filmy scar. A bone healed, that again bears weight and mostly, the pain is gone. I feel debris and water slipping beneath the crevices and trying to re-open the hole in my heart. Scar tissue pulls and growth hurts. The weather here is just right, making the bone ache, and I see how and where I was broken once before.

And here is what Abba said:
Abby, those days are long gone. See, not only have I changed your body, I am changing your desires, changing your vision of beautiful.
There is no one like me who has doused you with life. Even in accepting your limits you feel more free than ever before. I have brought you far love. Rest and enjoy wide open spaces, green pastures and fresh water. Love, Father

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3 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Columbus

  1. I know and understand your feelings all too well. Whenever I return to visit friends in the town I used to live in (and which there is a good chance I will move back to in January once I finish school) every street, every traffic light, and every sidewalk is full of memories of the early mornings I used to run up and down, all around the city. It was my way to clear my head, start my day “right”, and appease the beast within me. Now, a few years later, in recovery, I run only occasionally and no where near the distances I used to. So when I return to that town, as much as I want to run my old routes, I stop myself. Knowing that if even just driving past them leads to so many memories and dredges up so many feelings, that it is not the healthiest thing to do to dredge up the demons of the past by actually running the old routes. Instead, I can process what occurred in the past, journal, talk about it, mourn what I have lost, and then be thankful for where I am now.

    1. OH Brynna,

      You could have written my post yourself. Thank you for your empathy and camaraderie. I feel like sisters (:

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