Today’s guest post is brought to you by Jennifer Luitwieler. She writes a brilliant blog and is currently hosting a series of guest posts having to do with identity. Today I’m fortunate enough to be guest posting on the topic, so after you read her post here, you can catch the link to my guest post over at her site. Enjoy!

Yesterday I ran my second half marathon in two weeks. To mark the occasion, my sister gave me a brand new running tank in a bright orange color. I know that real runners chide dummies like me; they suggest not wearing or trying anything new when running. It could hurt or give you a blister or make you sick, as is the case with those little fuel pouches. But, my sister wanted to celebrate and I wanted to honor that. So I wore the bright orange tank top. The bright orange tank top had low slung armholes with seams that were roughly the size of the Continental Divide. Or at least that’s how it seemed at about mile 8.

As I shuffled along, feeling great, enjoying a light sprinkle of rain that helped stave off the sweat and the mild warmth, I noticed a sharp pang under my fishbelly white arm. I knew what it was right away. The seams pulled against the tender parts of my body that don’t usually get pulled or tugged or see the sun. Nothing compares to the minor and all encompassing annoyance of chaffing. Nothing makes it feel better, and once it starts, it’s only going to get worse until it can heal. And that won’t start until after I stop running.

I tried to pull up the armholes, to make them rise up higher on my body. It seemed like the seam grew as I tugged, a mountain of tiny razor blades abrading my skin. Then I tried holding my arms away from my body, akimbo, just to get some air up in there. I experimented shortly with several different methods until I finally gave up and did my best to ignore it. There was nothing to be done. It was going to hurt, and badly.

After the race, I couldn’t wait to change into the soft, long sleeved tee shirt I had left in my car. This at last would comfort my skin, sticky with sweat and water and probably no small amount of sports drink. The skin continued to contort into nasty welts as I drove home, whereupon I enjoyed an unnecessarily hot and long shower. I enjoyed it, that it until I used the abrasive surface of the shower scrubby to wash my arms. All of my arms. Including the already hurting marks I’d inflicted during the race.

It is no mere overstatement to suggest that this hurt. Some ugly words tumbled from my lips as I winced and waited for the pain to stop. A smart person, with smart brain particles, would make a mental note of this in an effort to prevent this happening again. I am not a smart person. I repeated the self inflicted shower wound again this morning. Yes. Less than 24 hours after the first time I scrubbed the life out of sore skin, I did it again.

As I stood in the hot water cursing myself and the bright orange shirt, I wondered how else I do that. You know: forget about a wound until it is suddenly present in my mind or heart, made noticeable by an out-of-the-blue memory or unfriendly spoken word. I knew not to test the limits, but I wore the shirt. I knew it hurt in the shower the first time, but I did it again.

Have you ever experienced a hurt, forgotten about it only to have it rise up in demanding flickers of regret or sadness or anger? Have you learned a lesson the hard way and then had to learn it again the hard way?

I love Jennifer’s writing because it’s totally my style: literary and reflective. So head on over there and check out my guest post entitled “Finding Yourself in Your Parent’s Basement,” and while you’re there, have a look around. There’s also a link to her blog in my blog roll – another easy way to catch up with her on a regular basis.

Incidentally, if you’re one of Jen’s regular readers and are visiting here for the first time, you can read the entire story of my wife and I’s decision to move into my parent’s basement here: Falling Through.

6 Replies to “Chaffing”

  1. I have definitely had the same feelings. And had to learn the same lesson twice. The hard way! It’s not what God intends for us. But we are human. Great post!

  2. What a great approach to such an important truth which I sidetrack myself with more than not. Feeling pain afresh when I almost fall into the same trap or forget the warning signs.

    I also learned from this post that running might hurt, so another good reason to avoid it :-)

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