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That Damn Business of “I Am Enough”

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)

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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.

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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.

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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?

That’s done.

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.

11 Comments

  • Darra

    September 8, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    “or was the old version just as worthy, but simply unseen, unknown and unappreciated (by me)?” Always worthy. But I can see how it would be hard to hear so much about how Version 2.0 is so much greater than Version 1.0, the overweight, drinking version. Other people may think that after losing 40 pounds, if I would just drop another 20 that I would be perfect, but I have to be ok with myself even if I never lose another tenth of a pound. When you lie down to sleep at night it’s just your own voice in your head. Said voice needs to be OK the skull it’s in cause that’s the only one I have.

    Reply
  • Lauren

    September 8, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    I can relate to this SOOOOOO much. I had a manager a few years back is very in to fashion, and is also very petite and thin. When I started working for her, I wasn’t very active, and am about 5’10, and was slightly overweight. I started running half marathons, then marathons, then triathlons, and did my first Ironman last year. In the process, I lost about 25 pounds, and gained a ton of muscle. When the weight loss started, I couldn’t walk into her office without the first words out of her mouth being about how I was looking thinner. At first, I was very appreciative of the compliments…I was working very hard, so it was nice to have that recognized. But, as time went on, it really started to bother me that my outward appearance was the thing that caught her attention first, and not all the hard work that I was doing with our engineering team to keep our systems up and running. It made me feel like my brains or any of the other things about my work or personality were not nearly as important as the fact that I’d lost weight. I transferred to another team about 2 years ago just for a different job opportunity, and occasionally still run into this woman. And, I cringe when I see her because it never fails…every single time I see her, she comments on my weight, and sometimes that’s the only thing she has to say to me. It makes me wonder what was so bad about the old me that version 1.0 wasn’t worthy of praise. It makes me feel like the person that I am on the inside isn’t worthy if the only thing that is ever complimented is the outward appearance. And, it makes me feel like if I ever let up in the journey for change, I’ll no longer be worthy of praise, anymore, even if it is only of the shallow variety. And, that’s where my own inner voice needs to kick in and say, “You know what? To hell with all of that. Love yourself, and forget everyone else.” Some days, that’s harder than others. One of these days, hopefully, I’ll get to the point where it’s easier.

    Reply
  • Elaine (Nottingham, UK)

    September 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I love, love, love this post Meredith. I was actually moved to tears by the end of it, in a “YESSSS” fist pumping way.

    You have been on such an amazing journey, and you have had the guts, and the strength, and the determination to do it. You have done it, nobody else. So when other people say stuff to you, it’s usually not even about you, it’s about them! The only person you need validation from is yourself. Truly.

    Just imagine going over that bridge, (in the style of Forrest Gump) and the person there to meet you is young Meredith. How proud would she be of the person you are now, and what you have achieved? It’s mind blowing really.

    When I was reading your book, I kept thinking “How does she have the strength and guts to do all this stuff???”

    You are such an inspiration. But you don’t need me to say that. I believe that the day you decide that you don’t care about other peoples’ opinions, positive or negative, that’s when you will truly feel like you’ve come home, and you know that journey has been worth every single step. Much love & big hugs to you Xxx

    Reply
  • Elizabeth

    September 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Awesome. You have become the friend to yourself that you have always deserved! Stay true to yourself, no need to keep chasing a ‘better’ you. There’s always growth and learning, but you now seem to get it that self worth isn’t something you have to beat out of yourself or chase down by setting bigger and bigger goals. I’ve read and followed you for years, and always wished you would see how awesome you always have been. I’m 20 years your senior, and l have learned that peace isn’t a met goal, or a mistake-free life. Times can be hard and life can be sad, but why the hell make it harder on ourselves by piling on the self-hate and pressure. I try hard to avoid doing things or making decisions that make me feel ashamed or bad about myself, and if I do f-up, I try to forgive myself and not do it again. AND my latest is listening to whether i WANT to do something, versus feel I SHOULD do something. Do I want to sign up for a 70.3 this year? Yes. But last year I was burnt out and the answer was no, so I didn’t. Do I want to go to dinner with that couple I don’t enjoy? Hell no, life is too short. Do I have to deal with kid and work drama? Yes, no choice on that one. But I can be kind and forgiving to myself in my head. And know, we all are just doing our best. ‘Keep moving forward’ – you have given me that mantra that keeps me going when life keeps dropping stuff on my head. Thank you!!!!! We all have so much to learn from each other 🙂

    Reply
  • Crystal

    September 8, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    I have done the yo-yo thing…I was over 250lb and became a body builder, and heard about how great I looked, blah blah blah. Broke my back, yo-yo’d back to 250lb and felt sorry for myself for *coughyearscough* but came out of it a couple of years ago after my marriage finally went kaboom and started back down. Then I got cancer and BOY talk about weight loss!! I have a rule…I let someone comment on my weight loss three times or tell me how great I look and ask my secret before I finally scream “I HAVE FUCKING CANCER!” at them. But I digress. The thing I learned from all this, that I’ll keep with me when I finally get back on the damn bike and back in the damn pool (I gave myself a hernia…seriously I think you and I may be related and when you described that exercise up there I went NO Meredith!! Don’t!!) it doesn’t matter how much you weigh. Yep, a lot of our weight comes from issues in our heads…but it doesn’t really change a freaking thing. Skinny, fat (don’t start with me girls), middle of the road…the issues are still there. BUT…exercise is a great output isn’t it? I feel so much better after a work out, I can leave a lot of my stuff at the gym if I let myself. I just wanted to remind you that people telling you “stop being negative” aren’t living your life and shouldn’t have shite to say about your life..only you know what you are going through. You are still, and will always be, my hero. When I fell off my bicycle into dog crap you are the reason I kept going and didn’t go home and cry, because hey…we can do any freaking thing. Except maybe that ball thing.

    Reply
  • SoAnyway

    September 12, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    As I recall, The Expert once told you “You *are* beautiful, and always have been.” I would add to that that “You *are* enough, and (really), you always have been.”

    I’m very happy to hear that you are seeing yourself in a more positive light. But I think that it’s less a question of extinguishing the “old” you, but more a matter or refining your view of yourself and your approach to life to gain an appreciation of the outstanding person you’ve always been.

    Anyway, you’re super. I like you.

    Reply
  • DeLeslyn

    September 12, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I have read this post 4 times.
    Each time I cry because I just don’t know if I can ever stop “running”.
    I don’t feel like I will ever be enough. I so envy you in that “ahhhhhhhhhhh- hahhhhhhhaaaaa” moment. What a joy to be able to be comfortable in your skin and be ok with “me”.
    YOU ROCK!!!!!!!!!!
    I, on the other hand, will just keep moving forward.

    Reply

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