BECAUSE I HAVE TO
Running gives me the space and the quiet that I need to feel and process. Even after all this time, I need to actively manage my pain, trauma, and grief. I am not trying to make sense of it or to be at peace with it - that's not the idea. But, I have to spend time in that darkness. If I don't give myself time and permission to grieve regularly, it will overwhelm me, washing over me like a tidal wave. My mental health and my ability to be a joyful, present friend, wife, and mom depend on finding time on the road.
IT IS MY PRIVILEGE
When my Mom was murdered, I had a job that gave me a month off with pay. I was fortunate to be able to navigate the state of Virginia's mental health services benefit, reimbursing me for up to $2500 of counseling, and to be able to pay for continuing support on my own, with support from employer-paid health insurance. When my mother's killer was brought to trial, I again was privileged to be in a job with benefits that allowed me to be there every day to bear witness and to be surrounded by a community that also had the time and resources to support my family.
I can feel every day how important ongoing mental health support has been for me. I run now because I can- and hope to draw attention to my own story and experience - because I want to create more and better supports for other victims of gun violence and their families. While also working to prevent the violence in the first place.