Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 13

Exploring Trauma, Healing and the Importance of Trusting Your Intuition

In this episode of the Runner Moms podcast, we explore trauma, healing and the importance of learning to trust our intuition. **Disclaimer: We dive into some heavy topics, so just a forewarning in case you typically listen to the show around your kiddos.**

This episode’s guest is Rebel, who discusses her journey of overcoming the trauma of rape. She shares her story of being raped six years ago and how running, therapy, and a solid support system helped her to emerge from that dark time in her life. Through an immense amount of hard work and a commitment to self-care, Rebel stands strong today and is serving as an inspiration to other women who have experienced trauma to also do the hard work of facing their experiences and healing from them. It’s a heavy episode, but it’s also a massively inspirational one that you don’t want to miss. 

Connect with Rebel on Instagram: @rebel.running

Visit the Runner Moms website: https://runnermoms.com

Support the show: https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms

Episode Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world. 

Shayla:

Hey there, Runner Moms! I’m Shayla, your host as well as the founder of the Runner Moms community. Before I introduce today’s topic and guest, I want to send some love to everyone who has taken the time to leave a review of the podcast on your Apple Podcasts player. Your feedback means the world to me and I so greatly appreciate it. 

Also, I wanted to mention that the Runner Moms shop over at runnermoms.com is stocked with fresh shirts including a new design that I’m really excited about and I hope you love it to. You can browse the selections and check out the new shirt at runnermoms.com. A portion of proceeds from all sales will be donated to provide shoes for youth in need. 

Now, let’s dive into the show. Today, we’re going to explore trauma, healing and the importance of learning to trust our intuition. I want to give the disclaimer that we dive into some heavy topics, so just a forewarning in case you typically listen to the show around your kiddos. 

Our guest today is Rebel, who’s here to discuss her journey of overcoming the trauma of rape. She shares her story of being raped six years ago and how running, therapy, and a solid support system helped her to emerge from that dark time in her life. Through an immense amount of hard work and a commitment to self-care, Rebel stands strong today and is serving as an inspiration to other women who have experienced trauma to also do the hard work of facing their experiences and healing from them. 

As I mentioned, it’s a heavy episode, but it’s also a massively inspirational one so, let’s meet Rebel. 

I guess, just to get us started, I know you live in the United Kingdom but maybe tell the Runner Moms community a little about yourself. What you do, how many kids you have and any other background tidbits that you want to share.

Rebel:

Ok, well, hi and thank you for having me. I am originally from London but I went to university in the states. I went to university in Missoula, Montana. That was a long time ago. I’m 37 now. So, I left after I graduated and traveled for a bit and then went back to England to stay with my grandparents because they were sick. I had been very close with them when I was younger and I got pregnant and I was 24. No, I was 23. I gave birth when I was 24. So, at that point, I decided to stay in the UK. 

So, my daughter is 12 now and I was a single mom from when she was about a year old. I became a single mom on benefits. I really struggled because I hadn’t started my career at the time. I had kind of finished university and traveled and intended to go back to the states to do a masters. Then, that wasn’t going to happen. So, it was a recession. It was like 2008. There was a big recession and there were no jobs and it was just really hard to try and start a career when you’ve got a young baby. So, I didn’t have full-time work until she was six and I moved to the southwest of the UK to an area which reminded me a bit of Montana and I’ve settled down in Devon now. So, that’s my background. 

Running. I started, I discovered sports in Montana. I started cycling because I couldn’t afford a car and that continued when I was in the UK. I still couldn’t afford a car so I just cycled everywhere and I cycled with my daughter on the back in all different formats as she has grown up. It was a relief when she finally started riding her own bike. Then, I discovered climbing and that was really great but quite difficult with a young baby. So, I started running basically because it was really convenient with a child. If you only have half an hour, you can ditch your child with somebody else and just take half an hour for yourself. Or, if you have longer, that’s great, but it’s just a very efficient use of your time where other sports are less so. 

Shayla:

Yeah, absolutely! And going back to your mention of trying to start you career in that 2008 timeframe. That’s when I graduated college as well and was trying to get a job and start my career. Gosh, yeah, that was a very stressful time without having a child to take care of. I can’t imagine the stress that came with trying to find, you know, start your career and provide for her. I mean, that had to of brought a lot of anxiety and stress at that time of your life. 

Rebel:

It’s hard having a young baby. I don’t know what the benefits system is like in the United States personally. But, from what I saw when I lived there, and I was young, I was in university so just observing from the outside, I think the British benefits system is a lot better. So, I was very much looked after. I had a young child and I wasn’t pressured to get a job. I was just allowed to be a single mom on benefits until she was of school age. So, while I didn’t enjoy the attitude of society towards single moms on benefits, and I really struggled with that and only told certain people, I felt happy. I’m really comfortable with living on a shoe string. I lived in a house with no central heating and I foraged for food as much as I could and I went to the supermarket at closing hour to get food that was really cheap. I cycled everywhere and I didn’t have a car. But, I was happy. I had my baby and I had all of my time with her and I feel like it was a massive privilege, really, to have all of those years at home as a stay at home mom with her. I might have lived with very little but I got to be with my baby and be with her until she was at school and didn’t need me as much. 

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s a great way to look at it. And, yeah, the benefits system is definitely different between here and there. I won’t get into it too much, but definitely a good thing for you to have that. That’s wonderful! So, you mentioned that you started running when you were in Montana. Is that right?

Rebel:

No, I started running, I got my first pair of running shoes after I gave birth. I had put on 2 stone of weight because, when I was pregnant, I felt nauseous unless I was eating. So, I just ate everything. Like, literally, all the time! 

Shayla:

Sounds like my pregnancies!

Rebel:

I’m quite small, I’m 5 foot 2 and my normal weight is around 105 pounds. So, I’ve always been really small and then all of the sudden I had put on 2 stone, after I gave birth, I was 2 stone heavier and I just had like this foreign body that I wasn’t very used to. So, I bought running shoes and I tried running but my knees hurt. I got runner’s knee. I didn’t know it was runner’s knee at the time. I just said, “Well, my knees hurt.” And I didn’t get really very far and I tried a few times and then I just gave up. I said, “Well, running is just not my sport because my knees hurt.”

Nobody told me that it was something that I could get past. So, I let running go for a while and really, just, I didn’t have too much time anyways. So, I needed to be active. I’m a very active person. I cycled everywhere with my daughter on the back and I did gardening and I was constantly walking everywhere. So, I was active but not really doing much sport. And then when I moved down to the southwest of the UK, so I was a little bit more in the countryside, I moved to a new city. I say it’s a city, but it’s a really small city in the UK. I call it like a pretend city. It’s like one of the smallest cities in the UK. 

Shayla:

We have a lot of those here too. 

Rebel:

Yeah, it’s really great and it’s surrounded by countryside. So, it’s very easy to get into the countryside. I moved there and I just wanted to meet people and make new friends because I didn’t know anybody at all. So, I joined a running club called Hashing. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Hashing. 

Shayla:

No, I haven’t. 

Rebel:

Around the world, there are Hashing clubs and I think it was started in the military like years ago. Everyone has got a silly name and that was kind of like the military’s way of not having ranks. So, everyone has a silly name and you run. But, you’re following a trail. So, somebody in the group each week will nominate themselves to lay a trail with flower. So, you do dots of flower every so often and then when you get to a crossroads, you do a circle of flower and that means that the trail could go any direction. The fast runners run off in all different directions trying to find a few dots of flower in a row which means that they found the trail. If they find one dot and then the trail disappears, they run for a bit, and then they realize that’s not the right direction so they run back to the circle. By that time, everybody else has caught up. So, they cross the circle out. They kick it out so that everyone knows what direction to go in. 

It’s a really nice way of keeping the group together. It’s always in the countryside. It’s always off the beaten track a bit and it’s always a bit of an adventure. So, I joined this Hashing club and they were completely fine with the fact that I showed up and was like, “I’m not very good at running and my knees hurt when I run.” It was OK. I could just run. Stop. Run. Stop. If I decided that today wasn’t my day, I could just walk a bit. And it was just a really friendly group. So, they got me into it. 

So, I joined that club and then shortly after that, I was raped. Ugh. Sorry. Just, saying that out loud. That was like a really dark period in my life that was the point where I needed something. When I was younger, when I was 16, I’d struggled with anorexia. I’d been in rehab and I’m very aware that I’m capable of not eating when I’m stressed. So, when this happened, I was dating a guy and he took me home from the police station and I said to him, “I need to eat because I know that right now, I don’t want to eat.” So, my main goal at the time was to try and not fall into that black hole of not eating. 

So, I focused on running and it became this really positive thing that I could do for myself that also helped deal with my anxiety. So, I would go with my running club once a week, maybe twice a week. Then, in between, I had to take my daughter to school. That was about a mile to the school. So, I would run her to the school. She would cycle and then I would run home. Then, at the end of the day, I’d run back to the school and pick her up and she’d cycle and I’d run home. So, I’d get four miles in a day but it was, again, it was efficient. I was just taking my daughter to school. It was every day and I just got my fix of adrenaline and it made me feel good and it helped me cope with everything else that was going on. And I had to cope because I had a daughter. It wasn’t like when I was 16 and I could be self indulgent and depressed and I could just not eat and hide in my bedroom and not talk to anybody. I had a child. So, I had to carry on. So, running became my crutch. It helped me to carry on and continue being a present parent. 

Shayla:

So, going back to that story, to when you were raped. I don’t know how comfortable you are, we don’t have to go far into the details, but I don’t know how comfortable you are with talking through that story with the Runner Moms community. What are your thoughts on that?

Rebel:

Sure. It was six years ago now and what I’ve learned is that talking about it openly makes it just something that happened to me in my past. It’s not who I am. It has definitely made me stronger. It’s a big black hole that I’ve dug myself out of but it’s not who I am today. I’m such a different person and the more I talk about it, the more it’s just like a fact of my past. The other thing that I’ve learned is that, especially with crimes like rape and sexual assault, there’s a lot of shame that surrounds it. Everybody who is listening to this podcast, you might not know this, but everyone around you has a dark story that they’re not walking around telling everybody because they feel shame.

So, when I talk openly about this thing that happened to me in the past, all of the sudden, I have all of these people who wrote to me or talk to me and say, “Me too. This is what happened to me and I can’t tell anybody and I don’t have anybody and I never went to the police.” Or, “I did go to the police and this is what’s going on, but nobody knows.”

And, so, that make me feel good about myself that I’ve been able to give other women an ability to have someone that they can share with that they don’t feel alone because it can be so lonely. So, I think I get a lot out of sharing my story. It’s not completely altruistic. It’s helping me to feel like I can help other people with their own experiences. 

Shayla:

Well, I completely understand your comments about bringing it to the forefront and talking about it. Just the understanding that it takes that power away. That, I guess, control over you away. I’ve never been through something as traumatic as what you’ve been through but I completely understand being able to talk through things and the healing that it brings. Yeah, that completely resonates with me. Yeah, I don’t know if you’re comfortable going into the story of what happened?

Rebel:

Yeah, I can try. So, as I said, I moved to this new city and I started internet dating and I dated the guy. I dated him maybe twice and then I said to him I wasn’t interested. He wasn’t my type. But, I needed friends, so I basically friend zoned him. We hung out a few times with friends. I remember hanging out with his friends and I remember them trying to persuade me to be with him and they were like, “Why are you not?” and I was like, “He’s just not my type.” And he wasn’t, at all. But I really needed friends. 

Then I started dating this other guy and I was really excited about dating this other guy. He invited me to this ball. A party and I had said yes and I was excited to go to this party and then I started dating this new guy and I was like, “Oh, I feel like I shouldn’t be going to that party.” And I felt wrong about it. 

So, you know when you feel wrong about something? Like, my gut told me not to go. But, my new boyfriend said, “Go. It’s fine. I trust you.” And I didn’t want to say yes to someone and then say no. I didn’t want to be flaky. So, even though my gut told me not to go, I didn’t want to be flaky. So, anyway, I went to the party and it was a dinner thing. I’d expected a five-course meal and because of my history with food, I’m not comfortable eating a five-course meal. So, I hadn’t eaten all day so that I could be hungry when I got there. Then, it was like tiny food. It wasn’t really something I liked. I didn’t eat much. I drank loads. But, I remember being there and telling him, “Oh, I’m dating this new guy and I’m so excited about him.” I made a point of telling him all about the new guy I was dating. 

When I sat at the table, I was telling the people around me about this new guy that I was dating and I made it bluntly clear so many times through that party to everybody there. I think because, in my gut I felt nervous about being there and I kind of felt like I shouldn’t be there, I made a point of telling everybody. 

The next thing I knew, I woke up and he was on top of me. My arms were across me and I was saying, “No.” and I was saying, “Stop.” And he wasn’t and I didn’t really understand why he wasn’t stopping and I was crying. Then, I just got the energy and I rolled over and pushed him away and I grabbed my stuff and I ran out. I ran out. I was crying. It was like 2:30 in the morning and there was this warden in the building that we were at and the warden looked after me and took care of me. I called my boyfriend who drove to come and pick me up. The warden sat with me the whole time and I remember sitting on the steps saying, “Nobody’s going to believe me. It’s my word against his.”

But, my boyfriend picked me up and there was a moment in the car that I thought, “What if I’ve been drugged?” because there was a big period that I didn’t remember and I was very unsure about how I’d got to that room. There was a lot of stuff that I didn’t know. But, in the moment that I thought I’d been drugged, I decided to go to the police station because I was like, “Oh, I can pee in a cup and then there’s evidence.” So, we went straight to the police station in the middle of the night and gave my story and then I got examined and then my boyfriend took me home. Then, I had to go back to the police station the next day and give my statement again. He was arrested and I think we had, it did go to court, the police decided that there was enough evidence to go to court because there were so many people around. They took my phone, so they had all the evidence on my phone of my life. That was really hard because I lost my phone and I thought I was going to lose it for like a week while they looked at it. But, I didn’t get it back for months. 

Shayla:

Oh wow. 

Rebel:

Yeah, that was really hard. So, when I went home, I called my sister and she came. She lived about an hour away from me and she came and picked my daughter up and took her back to her house for four days or something and just looked after her so that I could just have a time out. I remember that first time she came back and she went to school and I was just in such a state. I didn’t really know what I was doing with myself and I didn’t have a phone and I didn’t know the time and I showed up to her school 10 minutes late. At the point when I realized what the time was and I realized I was late, I ran to her school and I showed up kind of shaking and crying because I was so upset that I was 10 minutes late. So, then her school knew what happened and they looked after me. So, I had so many people – my family, my boyfriend, the school – everybody around me looked after me. 

Then, I just ran lots. Not far at the time and not fast, but I ran like every day because I just needed to. It just calmed me and it was a positive thing that I could do for my body. Then, it went to court about a year and a half later. So, that was really hard, having to go through that. And then kind of drag it out for another year and a half because, at that point, you just want to shut the door and pretend like that never happened and forget about it. 

Shayla:

Yeah, I can’t imagine waiting a year and a half. 

Rebel:

Yeah. Yeah. 

Shayla:

So, what did that year and a half look like for you before it went to trial? How did you even begin to move forward with trying to heal from that trauma, knowing that this trial was also hanging out there?

Rebel:

Yeah. Well, the police put me in touch with a psychologist who I went to see about a week later and honestly, it was a week too late. I was like, I don’t know why I wasn’t given somebody to talk to immediately. And then I went to see her and she was young and she looked timid and I walked down this dark hallway into this little box room with no windows and it was like the most awful experience. So, I didn’t go back to see her. I called a charity. I was just googling stuff. I wanted to be proactive about my recovery because I had post traumatic stress disorder and I was having flashbacks. So, at any point in my day, I would have memories of what happened and it would just hit me like a brick and I would just start crying. I had panic attacks and I was just a bit of a mess. 

But, I wanted to be proactive about recovering. So, I called this charity, Devon Rape Crisis Service, and I explained what happened and the girl on the end of the phone was really lovely. She was listening and she was saying all of the right things and she was like, “Your feelings are valid. Of course you feel this way.” She was very good at listening. And I was like, “This is not what I want. I know my feelings are valid. I want more than this. I need you, I’m asking you to give me a productive, positive way that I can move forward to get out of this because, of course I feel crap, I was raped. I get that. But, give me something.” So, she put me in touch with a therapist who did, I can’t remember what it’s called, she held her fingers in front of my face and move them from left to right in front of me and I had to follow her fingers with my eyes while I went back to what happened. And the idea is that it was so traumatic that your brain doesn’t really have a chance to process what happened. It’s something about, oh, I’m not describing it very well. It’s something about when you sleep and your brain processes information from what’s happened during the day. 

I don’t know if it was that or if it was that I went back to that place so many times that my brain got sick of it. I really don’t know. But, having her talk to me and I had this safe space that I could go to a couple times a week and just cry and be angry and, I’m not an angry violent person, but I had a lot of violence come out in those sessions. I told her, in my head, I was stamping on him. I was kicking him. I was beating him up so much. I was so angry and we just went over it again and again and again until I had no more tears to cry. I’d go to work and then cycle to hers really quickly to get there just in time and then have this process of just letting it all go. And then I could go home and be a good mom. 

So, I did that up until the court date. Then, after the court, we kept in touch as friends, but I let her go. There was a waiting list of people who needed to see her. I called her and I said, “I’m not like 100 percent, but I’m someplace where I can let you go. Look after somebody else who needs you now.”

Shayla:

So when, you know, looking ahead to the year and a half later when the court date arrived, what did that experience look like or how did that all unfold?

Rebel:

Phew, that was really hard. I was going through exams at work at the time. I had been a trainee and I had all of my exams coming up like right after the court date. I wasn’t very present at work but I really needed to work. It was a really good distraction from that. But, they gave me a week of special paid leave so I could go to the court and the court were great. They gave me different options for how I could show up. So, it could be a video call if I wanted or the option that I went for was that I was in the room but there was this screen up. So, I couldn’t see him and I couldn’t see other people who sat in there. I could see the jury. They were in front of me. Again, I don’t know how it is in the states, but, in the UK, it’s tried by jury, which I think actually is a bit of a problem because you get not necessarily people who fully understand it. You’ve got cultural biases and stuff that got brought into the courtroom. 

But, anyway, yeah, I could see the jury but I couldn’t see him and I couldn’t hear him. The questioning was hard but they were also quite respectful of me. Then, I said my bit, and then I left. So, I didn’t say for the whole process. I didn’t hear him talk, I didn’t hear him, none of that. I just, I went in, said my bit, and then I left. So, I didn’t see the jury get any other evidence other than just what I said. My therapist with me so she held me and I had my boyfriend there. So, I felt held while I did that. 

My daughter was with her father. So, we’ve been coparenting since she was a baby and he has also been really supportive. So, I’m really fortunate that I’ve had so many people around me who’ve really hung onto me so that I couldn’t fall into that dark hole where I wouldn’t have been able to get out. 

So, I did the court thing and left and it was reported in the papers and I know you’re not supposed to read the papers, but I did. I think, because I didn’t know so much about what had happened, I think I wanted to know what else happened in the court when I wasn’t there. While I didn’t want to be in the court, I wanted to read about it. So, I did read the papers. There was evidence that came out that I didn’t know about. I didn’t know that I had vomited everywhere. I think that was a key thing that the police realized because I had given my statement so many times, they realized that I had no idea that I had vomited everywhere. So, that was quite key in the fact that I was clearly too drunk to give consent and also not innocent. Because that was his argument, was that I had wanted it. So, that was quite key. 

The papers were actually really respectful of me and my story. They didn’t give my name and they were, it was factual. So, it was OK reading it and I’m glad I read it because of those details. I realized details that had helped my story that I didn’t even know about. The other thing that happened was because it was printed in the papers with his name, after that, he got off. The jury couldn’t, apparently they argued for a while, but in the end they couldn’t convict him. So, he got not guilty. That was really, really cutting. I learned afterwards, again because of the papers, that two more women had come forward and they’d gone to the police and reported him because they’d read about my story and his name was printed in the papers. So, they went forward to the police and told them about historical cases. One of those women was a minor but I don’t know anything else. I did call the police and ask, but the police wouldn’t give me any details. 

So, I know that he was arrested a couple more times. I know that it didn’t go to court so I imagine there wasn’t enough evidence because it had been too far in the past. But, because he was arrested then three times from three different women’s stories, nobody believes him now. So, while, when he got not guilty, it just felt like, “Oh god, nobody is going to believe me. People are going to think I was lying.” But, when three women say the same thing about a guy, nobody believes him. So, the last I heard, his business collapsed and I think he moved to India which really helps me because I still live in the same city. It he hadn’t moved, maybe I would have needed to move because I was always looking over my shoulder expecting to bump into him. 

Shayla:

Yeah, I can’t imagine living in a smaller place and just that worry of randomly running into him. That would have been awful. It’s really inspiring to hear that your bravery inspired other women to come forward about him. I mean, I can’t even fathom how difficult it was to sit in that same court room with him even though you couldn’t see him or hear him. Just, feeling that presence. I can’t imagine how disgusting that would feel and just going through all of the mental and physical trauma not only of the rape, like you said, but also the not guilty verdict. But then, at the end of it, at least there is the silver lining of other women coming through and kind of your bravery fueling them to come forward as well. That’s really good to hear. 

Rebel:

Thanks. Yeah, I’m very aware that I only went to the police because I thought there was evidence. I think a lot of people don’t go to the police because they’re worried that there’s not enough evidence. If nobody saw it happen, how can you argue that it definitely wasn’t something that you chose to happen? But, even though that’s the reason that I went to the police, I’m really glad that I did. And I’m really glad that I gave those women a reason to go to the police also. I hope, if any kind of rape or sexual assault happens to anybody, you might not think that there’s enough evidence, but, even if there’s not, just giving the police that person’s name means that the police will have it on a record somewhere and you have no idea if they’re going to hurt somebody else again in the future. Then, the police get that name twice. Then, you don’t know there’s evidence, but there might be evidence from somebody else. 

Shayla:

Absolutely. That’s a wonderful point. So, how did this trauma change your view of the world or change you as a person in the end?

Rebel:

Well, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and when you have to dig yourself out of a hole like that, it definitely builds an inner strength. I think having my daughter as the main reason that I had to get better. I had to stay present for her. I had to be a good mother. It kind of makes, it makes your own stuff, your own problems, just not that important. Also, you realize, “Oh, so many people have problems in this world. So many people, not just sexual assault and rape, but, you look around the world, there are awful atrocities happening everywhere.” You’ve just got to put stuff into perspective. 

So, I remind myself how lucky I am. Yes, that was awful. But that’s just an awful thing that happened to me once in my life at some point. But, I’m loved by lots of people and I have this wonderful child and I have a home and I have a job now and I have a lot to be grateful for. It’s those difficult things in my past that are kind of the things that really make me aware of my strength. You can be a strong person, but are you really aware of how strong you are? I just, I feel like I’ll always know that I’m a strong person and I’m capable of at least trying anything. I’m also completely comfortable with failing. I think that’s a good inner strength to know, that it’s, you know, I’ve fallen down so many times in my life, and I’ve picked myself up. 

That means that, in the future, whatever life throws at me, I don’t know I’ll give it a try. If I fail. If I fall down. If I end up in another horrendous situation, I know that I can get myself out again. I know I can get myself back to a good place. I’ve got a good strong toolkit of things that I can do to keep myself level headed. So, things like focusing on my daughter. You don’t have to have a child really, just focusing on other people. Doing nice things for other people and not making your life all about yourself. But, at the same time, making sure you always do allow time in your day for yourself. So, going for a run is all about me. It’s just, that’s time for myself so that I can look after myself so I can come back and I can be present for other people. Always trying to focus on positivity. I can dwell on all of the dark, horrible things that have happened in my life if I want to but I’m choosing not to because it doesn’t serve me. My life is a lot better when I focus on all of the really wonderful positive things in my life and all of the positive people in my life. 

Shayla:

Are there lessons from your life experiences that you hope to teach your daughter as she grows older?

Rebel:

I hope to teach her to always try her hardest. I don’t care if she wins. I don’t care if she’s the best. I don’t care if she’s good at things. Just always try your hardest and never be afraid to fall over. I’m dyslexic and I struggled through school. I always had to work twice as hard as everybody else and I think that taught me that I could be as good as everybody else if I worked really hard. I hope that’s a value that I teach her. It’s really hard as a parent because you can be passionate about things, but your children aren’t necessarily going to be passionate about the same things. 

My daughter definitely isn’t. She’s her own person. She’s really independent. She’s not into running! She has this new best friend at secondary school who is into running. She did a 5k with her dad. She’s now running a 10k and I got really excited when they became friends. I was like, “Yay! She’s going to be into running and I didn’t have to push her or pressure her.” Nope, she’s still not into running. She has very little interest in it. 

Shayla:

I was going to say that the peer influence can sometimes be more, but I guess not!

Rebel:

I was hoping for peer influence, but it didn’t work! I mean, there’s still time. She’s 12. I didn’t discover running or start enjoying running until I was 31. So, there’s time. But, that’s my job is to give her the possibilities of doing things and options and then just really encourage her to do whatever she’s into. So, at the moment, she’s really into crocheting. And I can’t crochet. I can knit, but I can’t crochet. 

Shayla:

Same here. Not my thing. 

Rebel:

So, I bought her everything she needs to crochet and I’m like, “You want to crochet? Crochet!” She’s a big bookworm. She’d much rather lay in bed and read a book than go for a run and that’s ok. She is into climbing now, after 12 years of trying to encourage her to climb, we’re making that a possibility for her. She’s a little bit more encouraged by that. But, we’ve just gone into lockdown again. So, climbing is not so much an option at the moment. Eh. Lockdown.

Shayla:

Hopefully it will all be over here in the near future. Yeah, lockdown. Eh. That’s all I have to say about that. 

Rebel:

But, running is a good lockdown sport. Yet again, it’s like an efficient use of your time and it’s something you’re allowed to do on your own. I say that, but I know that some countries were not allowed out of their houses or their homes. But, at the moment, I’m allowed out, and that’s good. 

Shayla:

Speaking about running, in the past, running helped you overcome the trauma of your experiences, helped you deal with anxiety and stress. Is that still what running brings you today, or what do you enjoy about running now? What does it bring you now?

Rebel:

Yeah, 100 percent. When I started and when I was really struggling, I ran at a really casual pace. Just, whenever I had a chance, I’d go running. I really appreciated running in nature. I’m not much of a road runner. I like getting fresh air and being in the woods. I used to run with people. I liked running and chatting and I never thought that I wanted to run on my own and then, actually, when lockdown happened in March, that was when I got forced to start running on my own. I say running on my own other than that one mile that I’d run my daughter to school or back. I would never go on a six mile run on my own. Then, because of lockdown, I had to. So, I got good headphones and I started listening to a podcast called the Guilty Feminist. She’s just very very funny. 

Shayla:

I’ll have to check that out. I haven’t heard of that. 

Rebel:

It’s great. It’s really great. It’s quite a few years old as well, which meant that I could binge listen to it. Just listen to 4 hours a day of this podcast. I got a watch. I think that was a big game changer for me. Getting a watch that has maps on it because then I didn’t need other people. I didn’t need to know where I was going. I could map out a route and then my watch would basically tell me where to go. It buzzes when your wrist. So, I could get lost in the woods on trails and it was completely fine. I felt very comfortable that I could just follow the route on my watch and I wasn’t lost, it would take me back to where I needed to be and I’d do the distance that I needed to do. 

So, lockdown at the beginning was really stressful. I had a lot of anxiety about my parents who are both older now and I wouldn’t say they are the healthiest. So, in the beginning nobody knew what was going to happen. We still don’t really know what is going to happen. But, at the beginning, a lot less. I really again, leaned on running to cope with my anxiety and there wasn’t much that we were allowed to do. So, between working and being a parent, when I had free time, I would go for my run. I started marathon training at the beginning of lockdown kind of just for something to do and it was great. I googled a marathon training program and it gave me this schedule of what to do each day which really helped me because sometimes my physical health and my mental health need something different. So, if my body needs to rest but my head is really anxious and I just want to go, there’s a bit of a conundrum. So, this training program took of the decision making process away from me and I knew that I could trust the program to progress my training at a sensible pace rather than me just wanting to go and go and go. I followed the program quite religiously. 

If it said that I had to have a rest day or cross training, then I did. If it said do a long run, then I would. I really liked it when my legs were tired and I wasn’t in the mood for a run but it would tell me that I should be doing this distance or this pace and I would do it knowing that I was supposed to be running on tired legs because that was part of the training. There was no guesswork in, should I really be doing this? Is this what my body needs or is this what my head needs? I don’t know. So, yeah, the training program helped me massively and got me out every day regardless of the whether. Regardless of what was going on. I could get out and have that time to myself in nature with my podcast, laughing out loud because my podcast is very funny. Just time on my own and I never used to enjoy time on my own but now I really do. 

So, running has changed for me quite a lot in the last year but in quite a beautiful way. I think my relationship with it is, I wouldn’t say better, but it’s just different. It serves me in a different way because it has needed to because all of the running clubs have stopped. 

Shayla:

So, looking to the future, what are your goals with running or with motherhood or with life in general?

Rebel:

Ooo, big questions. Goals with running, so I ran my first marathon a few weeks ago and I did all of this training since March and it was going so well. But, because I’m a trail runner, my body is very used to running trails. Then, I was just feeling really good and I just told you that I followed my training program religiously. But, on this particular week, I just felt really great and I wanted to see how fast I could go if I ran a flat run on tarmac. I ran fast and hard on tarmac for a few days in a row and I gave myself shin splints. I didn’t really know what it was at the time. I’ve never had shin splints. So, eventually, once I was limping, I went to a physiotherapist who told me to rest. So, I had 16 days of rest before my marathon. She said, “Just rest. Don’t run at all. Don’t run to see how your legs are. Just rest and ice. Then, try running a marathon. If the pain gets worse, you have to stop.” 

So, I did what she said and my shin splints didn’t get worse during my marathon but, because I’d had 16 days of rest, my body was in a bit of shock about running. I don’t know. It just didn’t feel good. That runner’s high that I usually get was completely absent on my marathon and obviously it wasn’t a normal marathon. It was on my own from my house with no cheering crowds. 

Shayla:

No adrenaline. Nothing!

Rebel:

Yeah! So, I still don’t know what a normal marathon looks like, really. I did do the distance but, honestly, every moment of that marathon was hard. I just did it out of pure determination and like stubbornness. I was like, well, my shin splints aren’t getting worse, so I’m just going to run through all of the other pain. Like, my knees were hurting again. My knees hadn’t hurt in ages. Like, I had built up whatever strength around my knees. They hadn’t bothered me in about a year and all of the sudden, I had runner’s knee again. So, I finished it but I didn’t enjoy it. So, my main running goal is that I want to do a marathon and I want to enjoy it. I want to get runner’s high. I want to have the adrenaline of having people around me. Like, actual real people around me in a close proximity. 

Shayla:

Not just random wildlife or people walking.

Rebel:

Yeah! I love running so much. Everyone has those bad runs. That’s just part of running. You have good ones. You have bad runs and you appreciate the good runs because you know that you’ve had to like grit through those bad runs. But, my first marathon, the whole thing was just hard work. So, that’s my running goal.

Goals, being a mother. It’s hard being a mother. I constantly feel like I could be doing better and it’s constant work to remind myself I’m doing the best I possibly can. My daughter is great. She really is great. So, I want to just continue making a constant daily effort to be present. Not to fall in those little dark holes of negativity. I try to be a positive person but it’s a daily effort. To continue to allow her to grow to be her own independent self. It’s really hard actually, like wanting to teach your child all the lessons you’ve learned and knowing that I’ve got to let her make her own mistakes, but I really hope she doesn’t make the same mistakes that I’ve made. Oh my god, it hurts when I think about all of the mistakes I’ve made. 

You know, thinking about when I was raped. I have to live with the fact that I got myself that drunk. I’m not proud of that. I’m not at all to blame. I an analogy. It’s like if you left your house unlocked and you left your front door open, you’re an idiot because you – actually, I say this, I know in some parts of the states, it’s very common and normal to leave your house unlocked!

Shayla:

Not anymore!

Rebel:

But, when you live in a city… Imagine you live in a city where you shouldn’t leave your house unlocked. You leave your door, and you shouldn’t. Everyone knows you shouldn’t, but you did. Because you’re a bit of an idiot. But, that doesn’t make you a bad person. It just makes you a bit silly. But, you know, the person who walks into your house and steals all of your jewelry from your bedroom, they’re a bad person. They’re the one who committed a crime. But, I also know that I didn’t listen to my gut. My gut instinct was that I shouldn’t have been there, and I was there because I had said yes to going to a party. Then, I wanted to back out but I didn’t want to be flaky. So, I hope in the future that I can learn from that mistake. Learn that I should listen to my gut. If I don’t want to be somewhere, I need to be bluntly honest with people and I can back out of stuff and I can say no. I don’t always have to be polite and nice to people if it’s not right for me. I hope I can teach my daughter that without terrifying her because I still want her to be independent and go out. All of the experiences that I’ve had in my life. I’ve taken a lot of risks. Like, lots of traveling. You know, I went off to live in Montana for university where I didn’t know anybody and then I went and lived in Sri Lanka for six months where I was living in this completely different culture. I’ve done so many things where I’ve had incredible experiences because I was willing to take risks. So, I hope that I can teach her to take risks but also make sure that she’s safe. It’s finding that balance. Then, when she does make mistakes, hopefully small ones, I hope that I can provide that safe space that she can come back to. I hope that she always feels that she can talk to me about everything. That’s the parent I try to be. The parent who she can talk to because I won’t be judgmental and I’ll try and be a good listener. 

Shayla:

Well, it sounds like she is very lucky to have a mother like you. 

Rebel:

Thanks.

Shayla

And I also just have to say, getting drunk or getting that drunk is not a sentence for women to be raped or be sexually assaulted. Men can go and get as drunk as they want anytime they want and that’s never anything that they have to worry about. So, yeah, I hope you don’t, it doesn’t sound like you do, but, I hope you don’t carry any guilt or shame from that experience because it was obviously in no way your fault or anything that you did wrong. 

Rebel:

Thank you for saying that. I think I really struggled with feeling shame. I definitely struggled with feeling shame. Talking about it openly has really helped me move on from feeling shame. Talking bluntly about it. Because of talking bluntly about it and having people come to me and say, “Oh, this happened to me. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can’t tell anyone this but I can tell you because it’s a shared experience.” That has helped me move on from really feeling shame because there are so many women around who have had awful experiences also. 

We just don’t talk about it because our culture has taught us to feel shame because there’s so much judgment. You know, “What were you wearing? How much were you.. oh, you were drunk.” And that’s sad. But, I think now, obviously it has taken me six years and a lot of work, a lot of running and a lot of therapy and a lot of love from people around me. But, I think I don’t feel shame generally now. Maybe occasionally I might have a little dip and then I’ll pick myself up again or remind myself that I don’t need to feel that way. 

Shayla:

Well, thank you again for your bravery in telling your story to the Runner Moms community. I just hope that your courage will serve as fuel for anyone listening who needs it, you know, to speak up for themselves or others and also to listen to their intuition, to their gut, like you said. Is there a main takeaway or message from today that you’d like to leave with the Runner Moms community?

Rebel:

It doesn’t matter how far you go or how fast you are, just doing it. Just get out and do it. Whatever it is. You know, running is great because it’s serving me at this moment but there has been other times in my life when other things have been more convenient. Whatever you can fit into your life. Just crack on and try your hardest. Don’t worry about the outcome. It’s the trying that matters the most. There’s also, there’s a really great quote from a philosopher. Jean-Paul Sartre. I think I pronounced that correctly. It’s, freedom is what you do with what has been done to you. 

Shayla:

That’s extremely powerful. I’ve never heard that and that’s really incredible. Well, if others would like to connect with you online, Rebel, where should they go?

Rebel:

Sure. So, I have an Instagram account and my handle is @rebel.running. 

Shayla:

And I will be sure to link to that in the show notes for anyone who would like to go out and connect with you online, Rebel. And, again, I appreciate you being here today and sharing your story with the Runner Moms community. 

Rebel:

Thank you very much for having me. 

Shayla:

I really love Rebel’s takeaway quote from this episode. Freedom is what you do with what has been done to you. 

I also want to circle back briefly to our discussion about trusting your intuition and being brave enough to follow it. 

One of my favorite albums from this past year is Folklore by Taylor Swift. In particular, one set of lyrics from that album in the song Peace hit my heart and reverberated into my soul. It goes like this:

I never had the courage of my convictions
As long as danger is near
And it’s just around the corner, darling
‘Cause it lives in me
No, I could never give you peace

Here’s the meaning that I took from those lyrics:

We as women have been groomed to not follow our intuition and to doubt our convictions. Through that grooming, we’ve come to mistrust ourselves and, instead, to remain quiet even when our soul is pleading with us to speak. Similar to Rebel, one of my goals moving forward is to tune into my intuition and trust it. That’s so much easier said than done, but I think it’s one of the most important things that we as women can do. I believe that following the path of our intuition will guide us to inner peace. 

That’s all for today’s show. I’m currently looking for guests to feature on upcoming episodes. If you’d like to share your story or have an idea for a topic you’d like me to explore in an upcoming episode, I’d love to hear from you. Send a not to shayla at runner moms dot com. That’s s h a y l a at runner moms dot com. 

Until next time, happy running and happy momming!

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