Today is Wednesday, and Wednesdays are my long days. I teach every Wednesday morning for three hours, and every other Wednesday I head to Indianapolis immediately after to meet with my fellowship group at IUPUI. Today was one of the every others. I had to arrive to campus early this morning, an hour before the class I teach begins, because I was being interviewed for the IDS (Indiana Daily Student).
As interesting as I am, no, they're not doing a story on me. Rather, they're doing one on my brother, Wes. And they are doing one on him because they were doing one on Scott (our friend) regarding his running and interviewed Wes to learn more about Scott. The girl writing the story found Wes so interesting she decided to do a spin-off of Scott's story but make Wes the focus of it. Whew--complicated. Wes was asked by the interviewer to identify someone who probably knows most about him--past and present. That'd be me. So I met with the journalist at 8 am this morning at the Starbucks in the Union (where they seem to be chronically out of sugar free vanilla syrup...could someone fix this please?). She asked me a rather open-ended question to start things off, which was "What do you think running has done for Wes?" I had to think about that because, in my mind, Wes has had two running lives--when he was in junior high/high school and now (including the past few years). Those two lives have been very different as far as his experiences with them. As I'm sure Wes won't mind me sharing--Wes is a former drug addict. He's been completely sober for 3+ years. She was interested in how that phase of his life affected my family and my relationship with my brother. Many people know others who've struggled with addiction, and it literally turns a person you know and love into someone you don't even recognize. That's what happened to Wes. He was not Wes at all for those few years. It's hard to describe how it affected us, other than to say it was life-altering. There were certainly moments of anger, hopelessness, and despair for me.
I haven't revisited those memories in a very long time. Because Wes is BACK. He's the most sober person I know, and we both help each other face reality. It's not always easy, especially for control freaks like us. One thing Wes has taught me is that addiction is not about drugs. Or alcohol or food or whatever one's vice may be. It's about the way you think. Wes had to change his thinking. And while he (and I) will always have some neuroses, he now knows how to deal. So what does all that have to do with his running? I'm not sure. But, as I told her today, Wes is most himself when he's running. I am so much like my older brother in some ways that it is frightening...and I am so different in so many other ways. Even though I've never been an addict or even smoked a cigarette, I, on some level, understand what Wes experienced. And I couldn't be more proud and privileged to have him as my older (yes, he's older) brother. While it did take some time, I now trust my brother completely and he is my very best friend. So--I guess what I'm getting at is that if you know someone with an addiction, don't give up on that person just yet. And by that I do NOT mean enable him or her. I had to basically stop speaking to Wes to get him to treatment. And the day I dropped him off at an inpatient facility, knowing full well I wouldn't see or hear from him for months, I felt immeasurable relief.
Okay--onto MY running. I ran 12 yesterday. The weather was nice but my pain was pretty bad, especially early on in the run. Both sides of my abdomen. Today I was in quite a bit of pain all day, particularly on the right side. And it wrapped around to my lower back. This is the first time it's gotten this bad when I've done no running (today is a rest day). I kept feeling the urge to pull over during my drive to Indy to "stretch it out," even though I know whatever IT is cannot be stretched. It's a constant pain, and I'm getting fed up with it. I have to get some answers.