Today, I am 36 years old. I am closer to 40 than 30… and I am great with that. I look forward to my forties more than I could ever have imagined… which is bizarre. I am thankful to have each breath and each day, regardless of the extra “I’m thinking hard” forehead wrinkle that is really taking up residence.
Last year, around this time, I was in a really dark place. Depression, maybe. Post-race blues, maybe. Physical illness, yes.
Just lots going on, and I wrote this post, which continues to be a pretty popular post… so I thought I would re-share—because I do like the message at the end. Which I am reposting here:
Dear ____________ (this is the part where you enter your name):
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.
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. 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.
So I write, yes. I am a writer? Maybe.
For whatever reason, I have found it important for me to share my feelings out with the world since 2010, and even before that with the kids’ blog.
I don’t know why, but it’s a sort of compulsion. I don’t think that I am that “important” to say things and have people listen. I really started writing as a way of journalism for my kids (the five-year long kid blog was here), and then when I started triathlon, the Swim Bike Mom blog was sort of my journal for that part of my life.
I’m fat and I think I can ride a bike, carry on.
And now, Swim Bike Mom has a big ole crazy life of its own, which is amazing. [And terrifying.]
Because I had someone remind me recently that I have apparently “lost sight” of what “we have started this for…”
We? I’m sorry… we? I didn’t understand what in the hell that meant. We.
I mean, the thousands (not exaggerating) of blog posts and book and articles and emails and messages … how was that a “we” effort? Did “we” stay awake together for hours and hours working long after the day job was over and the kids were asleep… writing and planning and talking and responding? Did “we” have any idea what in the world type of energy and effort and loans and debt and the years of work behind what this (whatever it is) has become? Were “we” really together during all of this?
Yes …and no.
I realized this weekend at Ironman Arizona that the reason people are belong to the Swim Bike Mom “Army” is because they feel that they have a friend and a kindred spirit in “we”—that “hey I’ve been there” is a very real part of Swim Bike Mom and our TriFecta community.
When I write something, people are like: wow, she’s crazy too. And I am not alone. And I can do this triathlon thing too. And Swim Bike Mom and the community understands.
And as I flip through the opening of my book–that is exactly why I wrote the book and have continued to write and spend every single free second in this world. I never wanted any woman (and now, later, man) out there to feel alone and helpless and fat and angry–like I did back in 2010. I wanted to share that life could be better, “we” could find a place in this sport that helps us be better people… survivors and thrivers and triathletes!
So in that regard, I understand completely the “we” behind it.
But here’s where I am starting to fade and wonder… I can write a post about how I hate a particular race. And I get a response: “This very cynical post (yup I said it) has my friends and I reconsidering SBM as a positive Tri influence.”
I’ll be honest. I’m reconsidering whether SBM is a positive tri influence as well.
You know why?
Well, because people beat the shit out of you via social media and email for the good you try and do, and you get flipping sick of it. No one sees what it really takes, and you know what? I don’t know that anyone really cares. And that’s fine.
But maybe in holding up others, I am getting tired.
And I wonder who is going to hold me–Meredith–up. Not Swim Bike Mom. Me. As a person. Not a social media entity, where people can hide behind comments and show their true colors, but not look at someone in the face while they do it.
Maybe I get tired of spending my time and energy working towards something, writing to be funny and comical and ironical… to be told that I may not be supported going forward, or that I am no longer a positive influence in the world. Maybe I don’t want to be flipping sunshine and rainbows for the collective “we.” Maybe I want to be honest and cynical if a race is terrible, if my day is long and if my hair is bad.
Maybe I want to call out the bullshit.
Maybe that’s “who I am.”
Maybe I’m tired of the “haters gonna hate.” Why? Why hate on Swim Bike Mom? What’s the point?
Maybe, after five years of writing, and then writing a very truthful race report, that I get blasted for MY OPINION….maybe I don’t want to write or share my opinions anymore. You have your opinions …but I can’t have mine.
Because I’m now being “reconsidered” as a positive tri influence… when I just returned from Ironman Arizona where I flew out to cheer on the athletes, be there for my own athlete and volunteer for our tri community.
If dogging me out for all of these things is what “we” are… Well, then I don’t want to be a part of a community that I started.
So instead of burning the bridge and deleting this entire blog in celebration of my birthday, I wrote this post early this morning… then I walked away from it, not sure if I wanted to post it.
But I am posting it. And I am moving on.
Head up, chin up, and cupcakes ready to light the candles.
I choose instead to look back at my birthday post–and the letter I wrote to you, to myself–the collective “we” this time last year.
And I realize that there is a lot of good “work” to be done and continued. I don’t know what work, but there’s plenty to be done. 🙂
So I pull myself up by the bootstraps, hit “delete” or “ignore”, and I will plow on, in the only way I know how.
With words and hashtags and selfies, hoping that at least one more woman will be reached by the book or a straggler post… and maybe it will all be worth it in the end.