It was pretty stupid.
To be angry with a city. Well, maybe not angry, but let’s just say I had some big feelings going on with Manchester.
Manchester is my home city. A city I turned my back on. I was always running away from it, you see. From all sorts of stuff. But mostly me. I did not like who I was when I lived in Manchester. And living in other countries, other cities, made it easy to disconnect somehow, to not have to face up to life and all that had happened in my past.
Manchester was the place my mum had died. And Manchester was also the place, seven years after her death, I mentally broke down, consumed by horrific anxiety, panic attacks and the relentlessness of obsessive compulsive disorder.
Just two years ago, I ran the Manchester Marathon. I was gunning for a sub-4 finish. My hip blew at mile 23. I was pissed. And although I hobbled along for another two miles, I walked off the course at mile 25. Fuck the medal. I was done.
I never went back to give it another shot. I flew to Frankfurt with friends the following October, achieving my marathon goal there instead. My friend Laurapaced me. The pressure was off and I gave everything I had over those 26.2 miles. It felt good. We drank beer at the finish line.
Something kept niggling at me though.
Big stuff I needed to resolve.
And so in a chair. Opposite my coach. We talked it out. She asked me questions and I found my answers. A new way of looking at what had happened. An acceptance that worked for me.
Her: “Liz, I’m going to give this to you straight up, no bullshit. Categorically, your mum took her own life, that is a fact. That is what happened. Everything from that point on is a result of your thinking about that fact.”
I called a truce with Manchester, sitting in that chair. I was tired of being tired of running away. Of dragging around years worth of shit. Of not living my life, and instead just kind of aimlessly lolling, – with absolutely no sense of direction or what I wanted – day-to-day, month-to-month, year-to-year.
I was blissfully unhappy.
And it was time to do something about it. I had this deep-down fear, you see. That I’d get to seventy, eighty, ninety, and look back at my life and think, “Was that it, Liz?”
It took a lot of work. I had to ask myself some big questions. And really fucking look at myself – at my life – and be honest. I had to learn some serious emotional discipline. To push through the challenging stuff, the resistance. And most of all, I had to get clear on what I wanted in life. I wanted to know how to know what moved me. What shifted me. What it meant to really live. To feel. To be. To do. I had to figure out how to make things happen.
And now I know, if you’re feeling like this, I want you to know too. And here’s how:
Manchester and me, we’re getting together again this October. On the 17th. It’s a Saturday.