I woke up at 5.30am this morning, as I have every other day this week, with the realisation that, like it or not, my life will never be the same again. It is not bad that life changes, and that you have to deal with the difficult and painful. It is a measure of your own strength and composure, in the end. How you then transmit that to the World becomes really rather important. What I see right now is a lot of people struggling to cope with what has been presented to them. I’d say, at least in my experience, that the most sensible approach when this happens is to go back to the basics, and work out first off how to better communicate with the World.
Today, I realised that my life is not about proving I’m capable any more.
At the Gym today, I looked at myself in the floor to ceiling mirrors, and this time really stared hard. I can see the roll of skin and fat that sits between waist and hips that is my next effort to shift. I can see a stomach reducing, but still pronounced. The top half of my body however I am beyond proud of, and finally comes a sense that hard work really is its own reward. There are glimmers of what I really am, peeking out from under what I was trapped in for such a long time, and it gives me renewed enthusiasm when I’m low on energy and sleep, when my step count is woeful and there’s just the temptation to go fuck it and reach for the chocolate biscuits. Today I had a second protein bar because I need the energy and finally I grasped that a cheap fix is just that.
However, it is more than just seeing where to travel. The motivation to go there has changed.
My husband has suggested I need a goal: perhaps to do a ride in the ‘real’ world that’s a concerted effort to improve everything. He has suggested London to our home, which is 54 miles, and fortunately has a race pre-arranged for this every year. I know what he’s trying to do: it’s encouragement and motivation, and something we could do together. I realised this morning however I don’t need to prove to anybody I can cycle 54 miles in one go. There is no need to ‘define’ a goal for my fitness like this, or ensure that people are aware that I’ve ‘achieved’ anything. This is not about a large, public display of ‘look at me people, I’m going to do this.’ I no longer shirk my fitness responsibilities, I am aware of what needs to be done. I work better when I’m not being timed, and if my PT asks me if I want to know a PB to beat, I will ALWAYS say no, because it finally happened. I stopped making this a contest. I don’t need to prove anything to anybody, except myself, and a large event where everybody else is putting me at the centre of attention is absolutely the last thing I would ever end up enjoying or excelling at.
I get why people do charity work, that raising money matters, and if this is just about fund raising I’ll write you a cheque for however much you want and hand it over, because this isn’t something I’ll ever be good at. I can be fit, do the exercise, and I can set goals now for myself that matter and are attainable, but putting me in a spotlight is just guaranteed to send me screaming away into the shadows. It is not the fitness that is the problem, it’s the ability to cope with everybody else that I can’t do, and when you add that to having to ride a bike? I do love my husband so very much, but ever since he suggested it, that’s what’s been waking me up at 5 am… it’s not the state of the World that’s getting to me, but the fear in myself.
However well you think you’re doing, it’s often never as black and white as you believe.
Once upon a time I was frightened of running, but now I have fixed that. Cycling is fine for me in a casual capacity: I’m more than happy to ride with the family, or in the shed on Zwift, but I’m never going to enjoy it as much as my husband is, and maybe I should just tell him this straight out. I get his enjoyment because he can be alone, and push himself. I don’t like being alone. Social cycling is great, but given a choice I’d walk everywhere because I enjoy that more. Part of me is infinitely grateful he cares enough to suggest a goal and to care enough to support me with what I do. I just wish that I was able to match mental and physical strength in the same manner he does, every single day, except I can’t.
At least not yet.