warning: this pressure cooker is about to explode!

I was compelled to go for a run last night. It is usually quite easy to persuade myself not to run. At least it has been for the entire winter. Yesterday, I just had to. I have felt overwhelmed by grief this week and not felt well physically and emotionally.

Did you know that grief can feel a lot like intense stress? I felt like all these big emotions were balled up inside my chest being kneaded like dough by the ordinary demands of life. Just churning around inside with no way of escape. Intense anxiety and stress would overwhelm after just five minutes with my children.

The anger was back too. God help all those that live under the same roof.

In our family home that I grew up in, for a while there was this circular brown burn stain on the ceiling of the kitchen. My Mum had cooked apples I think it was, in her pressure cooker and took the lid off a bit too soon. The contents shot right up and hit the ceiling. Thankfully her face wasn’t hovering over the top as the burning apple made its bid for freedom. I felt like a pressure cooker this week. I was brimming over with stress and a slight provocation could cause it all to explode out.

So I went to run it out. About halfway through my mapped-out route my phone died. Great. No music and no run stats to either please or disappoint.

I had no distraction. No bouncing beat to keep in step with and feel motivated by. All I had to think about was the pain I could feel.

The usual thoughts that are normally drowned out some by music flooded in. “Why did I think this was a good idea?” “I don’t like running.” “I’ll just walk the rest of the way back, I don’t have music after all.”

But I rounded the corner on the seafront headed west and was confronted with a striking sunset. It wasn’t your typical beautiful sunset. The sky was bright pink, with an orangey-pink sun hovering over the horizon. But interrupting the pink were clouds that were deep blue and whipped into almost menacing clumps. The clouds were somewhat chaotic and ominous as if indicating a looming weather front.

040316 sunset
Credit: Sonja Fox (Beneath the Boughs)

I ran towards it and told myself that the pain was good. Apparently a bit of positive thinking goes a long way. Yes, I enjoy this pain. It feels nice when my legs burn and ache. When my lungs are on fire.

Said no one.

Then it struck me. If I could have asked Dad when he was alive if he’d rather be feeling pain and still be here, I think he would have said yes. I believe he’s fine where he is. I truly do. But to have had more time here? More of life as we know it in all its churned up and intertwined beauty and pain? Yes, he would, without a doubt. That thought spurred me on more than anything.

Better to be in pain and watching the mysterious beauty of the sunset than to not… be.

Against the backdrop of pain the beauty in life seems to glow brighter. The sunset was more magnificent because of the raw, angry clouds disrupting the colourful display.

What kept me running?

I’m in pain but I’m alive.

The photo is actually of last night’s (04/03/16) sunset taken by my friend Sonja Fox. She takes many stunning photographs of beautiful seascapes/landscapes and nature. My favourites are her photos of Worthing seafront and Worthing pier. Check them out on her website www.beneaththeboughs.co.uk. You can order framed prints, placemats, jigsaws, calendars etc. Her work is stocked in ‘Inspired by the Sea’ shop on Worthing seafront and also ‘Mrs Bramble and Friends’ in Worthing town. Also check out and like her Facebook page for news of craft fairs or community events she is selling her work at. Support local businesses and artists!

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