Since my foster daughter had a social engagement this afternoon, I took advantage of the kid-less time to get some miles in on the gym’s treadmill. And I realised just how much I needed not only the workout, but the time to work through some thoughts.

As many runners will tell you, there is something cathartic about pounding the pavement—or in my case, the treadmill’s conveyor belt. So whilst my body was thriving on the adrenaline and endorphins during my five-mile run, my mind was getting a workout of its own.

First, the work out breakdown:
I put 70 minutes in on the treadmill (10 of those were cool-down minutes) today. It was a run-walk combination, though I did run more than walk. In the end, I put in 5.25 miles. With the exception of a short burst of speed at the end (and three walk breaks) I kept a steady running pace of a 12-minute mile. This is slower than my ideal 5K race pace, but I am going for endurance at the moment so will be keeping a slow pace for a while. And I felt good throughout the work out, which is awesome!

Now for the work through part of the story:
I tried to keep my mind focused on my running and breathing as much as possible, but by mile two my mind was completely immersed in a thought pattern that I couldn’t ignore, which is actually a good thing, because I was able to work through the thoughts.

You see, I’ve been beating myself up in recent months over a couple of my personal relationships. In a nut shell, I have allowed relationships to continue even though they ultimately make me feel bad about myself. The old Frances never would have put up with it, but I guess that I’ve been so hopeful that these relationships would flourish that I’ve let my standards slide.

It’s hard, because the friends in question aren’t necessarily bad friends, they’re just unable (or unwilling) to be what I want or need. They have priorities that don’t include me: Spouses, children, jobs, families, and closer friends. And that means that my needs are often placed at the end of their lists. (Which is OK—we all have to triage our lives!)

There’ve been cancelled plans, un-returned phone calls and emails, broken promises, and (in some cases) flagrant disregard of feelings. And I’ve accepted those things because I know that these friends have other priorities and I don’t want to be a burden.

So, I worked through what I want from each of these relationships and what I am getting from them now. And I’ve decided that at least one needs to go immediately, another may end up gone soon, and the other needs a lot more thought—because I really don’t want to lose that one.

I know I sound harsh, but in all three cases I’ve tried to be open with communication and I’ve made myself available to them around the clock. But I feel neglected over and over again, and it makes me feel like a burden. The majority of our communications are initiated by me, which makes me feel that I am being tolerated rather than wanted. And it really hurts.

By mile four I’d resolved to act on these broken relationships. But I also began to think about the positive new relationships in my life. You see, since Paul died I have gained new friends and re-found old ones. I am excited about the direction that some of my new friendships are going because I feel so happy and secure in them; I feel wanted and needed in them. And I’m thrilled to have found renewed friendships with people I know from school—though our communications are mostly electronic now, I feel loved and wanted and cared for by them. In all cases with these new and renewed friendships, I know that they would be there to support me when I need them without me feeling like a burden. (And I will be there for them.)

[I accept that relationships are a two-way street and that I am not an innocent bystander in the breakdown of friendships. I also don’t think that dissolving friendships is a bad thing—you know, ebbs and flows and all that. Also, I don’t believe that they read my blog, so I’m not posting this as some passive-aggressive message. I promise!]

OK, I know that this may seem like a negative post, but it’s not really negative in my mind. You see, I decided that 2011 was going to be a year of taking care of my needs: my emotional needs, my mental needs, and my physical needs. Part of that means that I need to address things that are burdens in my life. Sadly, that means that I need to get rid of things that upset me. But it also means that I am focusing more on the things that make me happy. And ultimately, these steps will help me to find peace in my world.