“Girl, you better get your head right,” said our strength trainer at the conclusion of group strength today.
This was after we were supposed to do some crazy ass ab/pike/thing with a giant blue ball. I put my feet on it, and proceeded to almost break my knees and face via the floor. (I am not his most coordinated participant.)
I got mad.
One of the girls in our group, Monica, loves it when I get mad. She calls it “the rage,” and she laughs at me all the time for it: “Oooooh, there it is! The rage!” I really get “the rage” when I try to do something–and I can’t do it–for lack of coordination, strength or whatever. Drives me insane. I think I operate from a fundamental belief that I can do anything (in the gym). Sure, I may not do it well and I may need to do a modified or assisted version–but in my mind, I can do anything (again, in the gym).
So when I set out to do an exercise and my clumsy body laughs and me and the exercise totally falls apart–that’s when “the rage” comes out. (Note: It’s not real rage. It’s frustration-at-myself-gym rage. It’s totally first world rage. There’s a difference in “the rage” and real rage–so let’s not discuss how I need to be in therapy. And yes, of course I need to be in therapy–who doesn’t? #weareallmessedup)
Anyway, so back to the giant blue ball. I tried it, failed and hollered at the trainer, frustrated, “I need another exercise. I can’t do this.”
The girls said, “Yes you can!” because, well, that’s what we do–we encourage each other.
And I was like, “No, no I can’t. I don’t want to injure myself before my race. And I want another exercise.”
So he gave me another exercise, which I did full-throttle with “the rage” – and then I went to leave. That’s when he called me over, and said that I needed to get my head straight.
I said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “You are way negative.”
I thought about it for a second. “Today? Or as a general proposition?”
He said, “Today …And generally.”
I almost burst into tears. I wanted to scream. I wanted to have all “the rage” all over again. Generally negative? Me? Hello? Really?
I blinked. “Okay. I am just exhausted. This is my last few days of hard workouts and then I get to taper for the race,” I said.
He goes on, “Get your head straight. You are annoyed and bothered and you need to figure out why, and get it straight.”
I said, “Yeah, okay. Maybe I am.”
“You can only change YOU. You can’t change anything else, you know. ”
I swallowed. And I said, literally choking back tears, “I feel like I have done nothing BUT change for the past two years.”
And that was the truth, and suddenly, I was really, really (really) exhausted. I feel like I have been incredibly positive over the last span of time. Despite injuries and issues, I have worked hard to get back racing, running and working on my nutrition. I’ve worked hard on relationships and mothering and all that. Super Mom. Positive Patty. Sober Sally. Nutrition Nancy.
I was sort of offended at the whole dialogue. I was offended in the way you are when you know someone is totally right. Offended because they nailed it. Offended because they pegged you.
- I had lunch the other day with a friend-triathlete who, at the conclusion of the meal said, “I was looking back at some pictures of you – with the long dark hair, and I have to say that you really look like YOU now. You just seem so much more happy and vibrant and together than before.” (It was a compliment. She meant it as a compliment. So I said, “thank you”).
- I have people remind me of how much “nicer” or “patient” or “calm” or “happy” I seem these days (as opposed to the “old me.”)
- I get a lot of “you look great” and “wow, look at the weight you have lost.”
And mind you… these are all FANTASTIC things to hear and receive. Trust me, I appreciate them. I am not saying that these are bad things.
BUT… what I am experiencing at the moment probably has a clinical term–but it’s almost a form of improvement and change depression.
I have made great progress/change/etc., and sure, I am proud of it. (Yay me. Back pats all around. Whatever.) But when I am reminded of how I “used to be”–just a few years ago, and I hear an audible sigh of relief from people like, “whew, I am glad you aren’t THAT person anymore”—I am sort of disarmed by it.
In the journey of worthiness, there’s a process that we have to learn. We must realize and accept that we are worthy of love, worthy of time and self-care and all these type wonderful things. Worthy of these things always. Worthy of these things no matter what job we have, what we weigh, or what car we drive. Worthiness. Tough one. And to make it through this worthiness process and find ourselves in a state of “worth,” we must cross a very weird bridge.
The bridge we must cross is scary. It’s one of those shaky-type-rope-over-a-ravine bridges.
The bridge we must cross? It’s the bridge of trying to love yourself–when you actually hate yourself.
I spent the better part of my life hating myself. Literally hating me. Hating myself for my weight, my looks, my choice of this and that. Wake up in the morning and avoid the mirrors at all cost, and then when I would accidentally see myself, it would ruin my day, or would be followed by “UGH” and “ICK” and “FOR THE LOVE.” That kind of hate. (Not pretty. Not easy to admit, I guess. Moving on…)
But now? In the wake of all the recent changes? Well, I have sort of emerged from the hate. I am still working on true love–but I have moved past hate and even indifference, and headed towards a sort of self-like. I feel as if I don’t mind hanging out with myself these days. I am okay. I am fun (most of the time) to be around, and I’m good with being in my skin–in all it’s saggy mom-glory. I am a-okay. I am swell. I like me in a Stuart Smalley sort of way.
But with that acceptance, and with all the new changes, I guess that I am still lost sometimes.
In other words, what was wrong with the “old” me? What happens next? Do I keep changing and growing until I am no longer any version of “me”? Do I “improve” until I can no longer see a shred of who I “was”? Or am I still me, just a healthier and more punctuated version? If the latter is the case, then is this new version of me more “worthy” of love–or was the old version just as worthy, but simply unseen, unknown and unappreciated (by me)?
My ultimately question: when we truly change–for the better, arguably–what does that mean about us as a person?
I think internally, I have been struggling with this and not even realizing it. So when my trainer said, “You can only change YOU”–I suddenly felt exhausted.
The word “change” echoed over and over again in my head.
Change. Change. Change. And yes, I was utterly pooped. Exhausted. Tired.
But suddenly, I was tired in all the right ways.
As if I was saying and feeling something new.
And this was it: “Actually, I don’t want to change anymore. I don’t want to keep up this quest to constantly improve. I am just fine. Right here, right now.”
And sitting here, writing this post and typing those words, came the actual breakthrough.
I think I have actually crossed the long-ass love bridge to the other side. I have come to the point where I am actually enough. And where I believe it.
Sure, we are always encouraged to say, “I am enough.”
To say, “I am enough, just as I am right here and right now.” We are encouraged to say this in order to give ourselves some grace, love, and learn to accept ourselves just as we are. Some of us can embrace it. Others (like me, usually) totally cringe at this “I am enough” sentiment because it feels like a form of complacency or laziness–that we are giving up. “I am enough, so I will stop trying and eat ice cream for every meal.”
But today, when I heard the words: You can only change YOU, I realized, that while I was having “the rage” and a sort of bad day, that I actually have come to the point in my life, in my relationship with me, where I am good.
[Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the trainer and all of our dialogue… so this is NOT to say that–at all. But it was a statement that clicked for me.]
And I realized that I don’t really want to do much more changing–in a large sense. Sure I have improvements I want to make. I want to run faster, etc. BUT major “change”? The massive “revamping” of the person formerly known as Meredith? The quest for fixing this intrinsically “flawed” girl?
When I had this thought, I felt like Forrest Gump when he just stopped running in the middle of the desert. He just stopped running. He had been running for years and years, and he stopped.
He stood, and turned around and said, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”
Today, I reached the point where I am pretty tired. I am tired of this self-imposed struggle. I am tired of fighting me.
Because as it turns out, I actually am enough.
So. I think for the first time in my life, I’ll go home now. Go home to me. To myself.
And honestly, after three decades of struggling with those words?
Well, I am not even too sure what to do with this information.