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To Meredith, on Her 35th Birthday

Today, I turn 35.

“A spring chicken!” “You have light years ahead of you!” (Please, do keep THOSE comments coming).

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In my last post, I outlined some darkness that’s been pinging around in my head. I don’t know if it’s had anything to do with the birthday. I don’t really think so. I never thought of myself as someone who gave two craps about getting older. And I don’t feel that way now. So I think birthday and darkness–totes unrelated.

What is funny, though, is when I write something “sad” or not “on par” with making everyone full of sunshine and rainbows, something that reads more like “just keep drinking wine and laying in bed with covers over head” versus “just keep moving forward” …I receive (usually) one of two responses.

The first response is: “Been there, sistah. I feel you. I am human too, and I understand.”

The next set of responses are: “You are ungrateful and don’t know what you have.”

I think the second response is hilarious for a few reasons.

Being in this uniquely situated role as ole “Swim Bike Mom,” I see (read) a lot of interesting things. And I also know that–when someone lays their feelings on the line–when someone is vulnerable and open–that the last helpful thing in the universe is to be told that those feelings are wrong, crude or worthless. When someone is struggling with their very worth, you don’t tell them, “You are ________.”

For the record, that’s not a nice thing to do. I mean, really, to tell someone that a place of darkness is unwarranted, unnecessary or a figment of imagination… and we wonder why mental illness and depression and tragedy abounds in society… really?

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[^^^Just thought I’d interject a picture of this amazing homemade Chicken Soup. Carry on.]

Anyway… why can’t we say how we feel? Why is it judged? We can’t reach out and say, “Hey guess what? I’m in a sad place. And I could use a hug or a cookie or a few shots of tequila, hold the lime…” We aren’t “allowed” to be in places of sadness, without judgment and with lots of hugs? Why the hell not? Because it makes other people uncomfortable? What kind of world is that?

Granted, for the 99% of my “I’m breaking down posts,” I feel nothing but supported and loved.

But the other 1% of comments or emails, I am left scratching my head… I am left thinking, Wow, if someone cares enough to write this to a stranger/blogger, what do these people actually say to their struggling family members…

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And believe me, I have always struggled with the “honest” posts…

Hitting “publish” on some of them is tough, believe it or not.

…Though at dinner with girlfriends and the Expert on Saturday for my birthday, I said something like, “Well, I have ooodles of Facebook friends, but I don’t write anything personal anyway, so I don’t think it matters who sees what” – and literally, all four of them burst out laughing. Yoda said, “If you don’t write anything personal…” and the Expert wailed, “… then what ARE you hiding,” and Sweet Red laughed a little too loud at that comment, and Mountain Goat spit out her veggies, and then I laughed…

Well, okay. Touche. 🙂

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I just write things that are hard because maybe, just maybe, someone else will benefit from the insanity in my head. That all my fears and sadnesses and craziness will matter just to let someone else know they aren’t alone.  That’s why I do it.

So yes, my birthday.  (I always digress. I’m sure that’s a sign of crazy too.)

For a present to myself, this morning, I woke up in the freezing cold (literally, 25 degrees!) and went for a run.  I went for a run because I am struggling and I am in a rut and dammit, I needed to freeze this shit out. Or something.  The demons had to run out and I had to cry or something.11

So today, on my birthday, I ran in the cold.  I didn’t cry for fear of icicles.  But it was a really chilly 4 miles. Not fast. Not anything remarkable, but it was what I wanted to do on my birthday morning.

And then I got home, took a hot shower, and before I started to work, I took 15 minutes and I wrote a little birthday letter to myself, today at 35.  As weird and self-serving as it may seem.  Aw, hell – it’s my birthday. Give me a crazy break.

So I typed up a letter to myself:  To Meredith, on Her 35th Birthday.

I wrote it.  I read it.  And then it felt weird to write a letter to myself, and then I thought, “Well, really now you really are crazy.”

So instead of publishing the Dear Meredith/Crazy  version, I am writing the letter to YOU.

I hope that YOU, my dear blog reading friend, will read this letter to YOU.   Because it’s one of those reminders that I think we can all use sometimes. And I mean every word of it.  About me.  About you.  About this community.  We matter.  We have a purpose.

For all the uplifting you do for ME.  Thank you. I love you guys.  Thanks for being a part of my journey.

+ + +

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Dear ____________:

[Ah-hem… ^^^ this is where you insert your name in case you were wondering]

Did you know that today you are alive?  No matter what negative thoughts or things that are happening, you are here? You are alive.  And do you know what an amazing body you have?  I mean, look at it.  It works.  It breathes.  That heart beats.  That brain thinks. And it makes your body run and cycle and swim, no matter how slow or painful or ugly. You work. Your body works.

No matter what the scale says. No matter how those pants fit…  even if you are sick and in pain and a ball on the floor of depression, as long as you are breathing, you are still here… you are still working, even if you feel like you aren’t.  And you matter.  You are somebody. You exist. Don’t take that for granted.

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Do you also know that someone, somewhere, right now thinks you are amazing.  A-maz-ing.  Somebody does.  And they may not tell you, but somebody does.  Breathe that in and accept it. Because it’s true.

Do you know that today is the first day… of the rest of your life?  Lyrics from an amazing Thriving Ivory song.  But think about it. Every day is new. The first day of the next part.  Every second is another chance.  Don’t waste it.

You have a purpose.

Finally, all that silence, the pain, the sadness and the darkness?

Those terrible dark things in your heart and head?  They pass too.  Darkness before dawn.  All those quotes… that you can see the stars only because the night is black.  The fears and anxiety and things that make life “too much” —they will pass too.  You are not alone. You are not ungrateful.  You are not crazy.  You are human.

And one of the most amazing human conditions is not only the ability to love—but also the ability to feel deep emotions—ALL kinds of emotions.

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The recognition that emotions are not only happy things is important.

Emotions include the darkness… the sadness, grief, fear, heartbreak and anxiety.  These are things to feel too. These are emotions. These are real.  Don’t be ashamed.  You are not alone.

Today, on your birthday [or non-birthday], you are not alone.  You are alive. You are here. You have a purpose. You are amazing.

#thatisall

Love, Me.

 

 

46 Comments

  • Kayla

    November 18, 2014 at 11:56 am

    You are awesome. Happy Birthday!

    PS your post the other day was great timing for me. In a rut as well and it really helped light a fire under me.

    Reply
  • Wendy C

    November 18, 2014 at 11:59 am

    If depression was merely about wanting things or not being alone then it would be the EASIEST THING EVER to fix. But that’s not what causes it, and people who think that folks who seem to have it good aren’t allowed to be down are idiots. Happy birthday, and keep your chin up… we’re here for you. <3

    Reply
  • Tina

    November 18, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    I love this. Thank you for the birthday present. To me. On your birthday. And here I didn’t get you anything. Well, my admiration and appreciation. There’s definitely that. Have a beautiful day.

    Reply
  • Margi

    November 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    LOVE this Meredith!!! I am sure your words will reach someone somewhere who is curled in a ball on the floor believing they are crazy for hurting and it will give them strength and hope and the will to get up and keep moving forward to a better day!! I plan to read this letter to the process group I facilitate at drug court tonight. We love you!! Big hugs on your birthday!!!

    Reply
  • Michele @ Micheleontherun

    November 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    How do you always manage to post the same things I’m thinking? The other day a friend was feeling down and we were talking and feeling bad about ourselves when she tried to rationalize with herself by saying something to the tune, “I guess I should stop complaining, I mean, there are others out there suffering way worse than I am. People die of cancer each day and here I am moaning about a stress fracture.”

    I stopped her because while I do understand that others have it “worse” in technical terms, we ALL have our own struggles currently. We should not categorize struggles as being harder than others or worthy of feeling down. We all struggle with whatever is our current struggle. We all have reason to need motivation, pick-me-ups, or pity parties every once in awhile and it’s acceptable! There is no need to compare struggles- only to help each other overcome whatever is bothering them.

    Thank God I have great friends who don’t judge me when I’m complaining about the little things!

    Reply
  • Angie

    November 18, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    I actually think that those negative comments on your blog posts are easier for many than being negative like that to people in person. Too often people forget that there is a real, live person behind the computer screen. I commend you for your honesty about your feelings all the time, both good and bad.

    Happy Birthday! And thanks for that lovely letter. I try to remind myself of the positives about my body, but sometimes it’s hard to look past these thighs 🙂 What’s takes my breath away frequently is that I have these almost full-grown people in my house that I grew inside my very own body! That 5’6″ 14 year old boy came from me – wow!

    Reply
    • Jill

      November 19, 2014 at 9:15 am

      This times about a million. People act like they’re 10 feet tall behind a computer screen. The turkeys who are unkind to you when you most need kindness wouldn’t dare say a word if they faced you in person.

      Happy birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day, full of light and love and maybe some cake, if you’re into that sort of thing. Carb-loading, no? 🙂

      Hugs!
      Jill

      Reply
  • Laura

    November 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    Thank you Meredith ! It’s been a constant struggle of emotions for me lately. You are a constant reminder that we are so worth it and this journey is ours to own.

    Reply
  • Amanda

    November 18, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Thank you for the honesty and telling people not to tell you how to feel. I have times of deep depression and I have family or friends tell me how lucky I am and can not understand why I can not get out of bed. The harshness makes me go deeper into the darkness and less likely to share how I feel or say when I need help.

    Reply
  • Meredyth

    November 18, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Happy birthday Meredith with an I.

    I too have been so struggling with the darkness of late. I tend to just keep it all to myself and act as if everything is great. I have not been able to keep it all inside this time. You have reminded me that I don’t need to … expressing myself, running, biking, swimming, however that may be. I am here and I am fine just he way I am.

    THANKS.

    Reply
  • Dianne

    November 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    You know just what to say when so many of us, or just me, need it. Thank you- I may never do more than sprint or a 5K, but I find inspiration to continue and be thankful that st 62.5 I can.

    Reply
  • Annabelle

    November 18, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Annnddd…now I’m trying not to cry at work. This was exactly what I needed to read, so thank you Meredith for your kind words. If only we could all muster up what it takes to say those things to ourselves more often. I struggle every day to ‘see the light’, and to appreciate what I have and what I am capable of if I try. Happy birthday! Enjoy the cake and goodies! And of course, ignore the hateful people who spread negativity to your blog the best you can, they just feel the need to bring you down to their level for some reason.

    Reply
  • Lisa

    November 18, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Depression is a real illness and doesn’t take into consideration how much money, or luck, or good looks you have. If someone has cancer or MS we don’t tell them to “get overit” but for some reason we don’t look at depression the same way. Hope you’re feeling better!

    Reply
  • Heather

    November 18, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Happy Birthday! And thank you for your honest posts!! As a Christian we are sometimes made to feel that we always are supposed to act cheerful and that all is groovy. I have found that I would rather be honest and share some of what is really going on (selectively) – knowing that I may just help someone that is going through the same thing. Also these are our life stories and they make us who we are ❤️

    Reply
  • Nora

    November 18, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    You certainly hit a nerve with someone out there to have that kind of reaction. I’ve admired your endurance, strength, energy and ability to carry on. I now add to that, your honesty and respect you even more for setting the bar for each of us each day. Thank you Meredith and happy birthday to you. Glad you were born today as well and thanks for reminding me that life is a mixture of dark and light.

    Reply
  • Sara

    November 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Happy birthday and thanks for the reminder. I think I tend to tell myself I don’t have a dark place but I think allowing yourself one allows you to experience all life has to offer. How does one really know success without failure? I appreciate you!

    Reply
  • Rebecca

    November 18, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Happy birthday Meredith! You easily put into words what so many of us feel. Don’t stop. Put it out there every time you feel up to it. We all benefit from it and more often than not, your words have a positive trickle-down effect! Put aside the nay-Sayers…don’t waste your time. Celebrate another year of life and I wish many blessings to you and yours!

    Reply
  • Sue C

    November 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you! I will be 48 on Thaksgiving day. Usually my birthday is a good day for me but for some reason I’m not that excited about this one. I’m in a little bit of a funk.. Both my kids are grown (22 & 19) and not around and I’m not feeling needed. I am trying to look at the positive stuff in my life….I’m trainng for my second half marathon, my husband and I are starting to do some traveling, and I’m healthy.

    You are an inspiration!

    Reply
  • Paula Stoddard

    November 18, 2014 at 10:46 pm

    I’ve never left a comment here-tho I read religiously, but from my heart, I want you to know that you-and others who struggle-are not alone. I’ve been there. And still go there occasionally. I found myself thru running and finding my strong, and I am so grateful. But we still need each other! You said it so we’ll-thank you and happy birthday!!

    Reply
  • Barb

    November 18, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    For me “keep moving” means ignoring those people and comments that are uncalled for! You inspire me daily! And I try to do the same for others. KEEP MOVING!!

    Reply
  • Beth

    November 19, 2014 at 10:28 am

    <3
    I love your posts — all of them. I love that you are so authentic and put it all out there. Many, many, many of us relate, but not everyone provides feedback. Keep it up. We're all pulling for you.

    Reply
  • shelly

    November 20, 2014 at 9:46 am

    It’s not crazy to write notes to yourself. Every time I order ANYTHING on Amazon, I send a gift receipt to myself. I just ordered to vitamin-y things. I was very excited that they are coming from different shippers…TWO GIFT NOTES to myself! WOOHOO!

    And, you are right. It’s okay to have a shit day and to say you have a shit day. 🙂

    Reply
  • Dawn

    November 20, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    I normally just read and observe your blog in which I came across one day searching for the meaning of Athena class btw thank you google search.
    Lately, I’ve found this remarkable connection with your writing and thoughts. I’ve been in a rather dark place lately. I cannot seem to find my match to light the fire back to training for a tri. It’s there, the wick waiting to be lite but I cannot do it…not right now. I know what’s keeping me from it all…me, my head and my crazy thoughts.
    Thank you for your thoughts and thank you for sharing and being real. Those are real feelings and thank you for sharing. Happy Birthday too! Mines on the 23rd. 32 on the 23rd, is that like a half golden birthday?

    Reply
  • Natascha_runner's Law

    November 20, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Beautifully written. You touched my heart and crack me up – at the same time. Keep up being awesome. Aaaand HAPPY BIRTHDAY, lady, may your miles be many and your injuries few. Here’s to PR’s a plenty, happy birthday to youuuuuu. xoxo, Natascha

    Reply
  • Mo

    November 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Somehow I missed this post but could not have read it on a more needed day. I’m having a tough time with many things right now…the end of a semester chaos, holidays, eating clean, family issues, money issues, trying to figure out how to be a good parent, do I want to push thru school or drop out now, why can’t I put my family first, and so many other things. I’ve cried more today than I have in a long time. I don’t really know why. I’m under a lot of stress right now. I need a break from life but know that will not happen, and I hate cancer. FUCancer. There is too much of it. Everywhere. I’m tired of seeing the FB posts about hospice and young adults dying. And children dying, and cancer. it sucks. Sorry for the rant. I’m so tired of always giving, giving, giving. Where is everyone when I’m down and need some help?

    Ok, what a f-uped post from me. Sorry, but I LOVED the letter to me! Thank you! You ROCK! And I’m sorry I’m just seeing it.

    Reply
  • Kristen

    November 26, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Gosh I needed to read this today. Funny – I totally missed it the day you published, but today – today, it speaks to me.
    Thanks so much for being brave and honest enough to share with all of us out here.
    Have a happy Thanksgiving.
    (I’m gonna go read that letter again.)

    Reply
  • Carrie @gotcha Covered Quilting

    November 26, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Every post is the best post, but this one really is. It’s real and raw and true! I’ve been on the floor curled up in a ball fighting just to get through the next 2 minutes. I know! And your words would have been the greatest gift because you know too, and you’re brave enough to write a birthday letter to yourself and let the world see it. You’re a blessing to so many. You’re certainly a blessing to me. *hug*

    Reply
  • Madison

    April 28, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Meredith,

    I was hoping to contact you by email but I couldn’t figure out how, so I’m just posting this here.

    I have been a silent lurker on your blog for the last 2 years. I have been curious about triathlons, but my fears about my weight (a seemingly ENDLESS battle) and self-esteem and fitness insecurities have stopped me more times than I care to count. I finally decided to be brave and signed up for a local open water swimming group, and the process of buying a wetsuit was horrifying. I ordered some XL suits online and none of them fit, and this sent me into a pit of darkness and shame about my body and “Why are you even trying to do this, look how fat you are” thoughts.

    So first of all, I wanted to thank you for writing about your weight struggles because I have thought about you and your story MANY times as I’ve tried to find the courage to overcome my weight insecurities and actually TRY this damn sport once and for all.

    I am also writing because I was hoping you might have some advice about buying a wetsuit for a plus size girl? I am 5’7″ and ~205 lbs and wear a 16 in pants. The XL women’s suits don’t seem to fit (can’t get them over my junk in the trunk). Do you have any brand recommendations? Should I try men’s suits?

    I don’t want to let my inability to find gear that fits get in the way of trying this sport.

    Again, thanks for writing about your weight struggles. I have felt EXACTLY the same thoughts you have written about and struggled with the same demons. It’s nice to know someone else out there is going through the same thing.

    Reply

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