Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Going the Distance: Reflections on 8/1/1971-Playing the Hand I was Dealt and The Power of Endurance
The date might not mean anything to anyone else but to me, 8/1/1971 marks the day my father died by suicide. I woke up after the alarm went off at 5:45 to do core work and get Tom and Ruth Anne off on their morning run. Ordinarily I feel vibrant and excited to get breakfast ready and hear all about their run, but this morning, waves of emotions washed over me.
My body knows without even looking at a calendar that it's August 1st. Some years there is a quiet echo of the pain of that day. Today it was a tsunamai of emotions. I could have easily been swept away and immobilized by the emotions this year.
After a brief meditation, still feeling unsteady as I began my day, we went through our core work and I sent Tom and Ruth Anne off on their run. (I cross train in the pool on Tuesdays running two days/week which serves me well on the road to the Bermuda Marathon Weekend.)
I looked through my memories on Facebook and came across a poem I wrote in 2012 which I shared "on this date" several years ago. I then constructed this post:
Mary McManus feeling hopeful.
#hope #resilience #healing #loss #strength #gothedistance #endurance Good morning beautiful and lovely Facebook friends. This August 1 marks 46 years since my father died by suicide. It was a violent death that marked the end of a life riddled with violence, alcoholism and mental illness. But here I am - strong and resilient going the distance and living my life as an example of the power of endurance. While my heart and soul ache with the sadness of so much lost, of so much tragedy, I smile through the tears knowing that there is purpose in my pain and feeling surrounded by the love of all of you.
Here is a poem I wrote in 2012 that is most fitting on the anniversary of his death:
Royal Flush 2012
One could say I was dealt a hand of crummy cards to play
at first blush I would have to agree
bluffing became my way of life
playing my cards close to my chest
do I continue to play or fold?
The stakes were high
I could no longer up the ante
living on the edge
waiting to find freedom only in death
every day a living death
something had to give
releasing fear by experiencing fear
losing self consciousness
opening my heart.
I bet everything I had
riding on hope, faith and a prayer
“I’m all in”
putting my cards on the table
there it was
a royal flush.
I was blessed to connect with my dear friend, healer and chiropractor, Dr. Ryan in China via a Facebook call. As they say on Grey's Anatomy, he's my person whenever I need a lift!
I allowed the waves of grief to wax and wane during my cross training in the pool at Boston Sports Club. I allowed the fear and terror I experienced during the summer of 1971 to surface and be washed away by the rhythm of the waves in the pool. Every stroke brought me closer to the present moment and overwhelming gratitude for my life today.
I could have become bitter and hardened by what happened to me. I could have identified with the aggressors in my family who inflicted so much pain and suffering on me. Instead I choose to be vulnerable and soft; open and tender hearted to attend and tend to my wounds with tenderness and compassion. I choose to play the hand I was dealt with grace and finesse and to be a shining example of the power of endurance and what it means to go the distance on the roads and in my life.
Another anniversary of his death has come and gone. I feel the wounds healing and know that tomorrow will be a better day!
Go the distance with strength and courage!
Be sure to visit my website by following this link.
My books are available on Amazon.
Feel the Heal: An Anthology of Poems to Heal Your Life
Coming Home: A Memoir of Healing Hope and Possibility that chronicles the first 7 years of my healing journey:
And my latest and greatest book - Going the Distance: The Power of Endurance (With a Foreword by Jacqueline Hansen):