Down day

I had a down day yesterday. It happens. And as my gym friend Sara says, it passes; remember that it passes. But it hadn't yet passed, and every new thought made me feel like a lost four-year-old.

Overwhelmed. Weepy. Stupid. And I am here today to tell you that I was being a self-centered brat.

I suddenly had gotten overwhelmed. It seemed that all the work I've done to move past the damned eating disorder, culminating in this triathlon, was invisible and not all that important. (I can hear you now, rushing to reassure me that it IS an important journey, and it does matter to you, etc. PLEASE DON'T. Just wait.)

I had built up the triathlon to such a fever of importance in my own mind that I got weepy thinking it was going to come and go like a ripple in the pond. (Yes, I hear you telling me to be proud of my effort, etc. NO NEED. Wait.)

Ready for it? I was upset thinking that my friends who have watched me all along this journey weren't going to be there to see this triumph. That I would be just another race number to the spectators, and no one would know what this means to me.

There. I was throwing a tantrum because I couldn't imagine enough people watching me, me, me, me, me and understanding how special MY story was and how important MY participation was to ME, ME, ME.

Yeah. If you're one of the people who has been cheering for me every day, not to mention the husband who has supported me all along and is getting up at 3:30 in the morning to support me on the big day — well, if I were you I'd be insulted.

If you're one of the other women I've been training with, who is also looking at her first triathlon, and who has crossed whatever mountains and jungles of her own to get here — if I were you I'd be pissed at me.

If you're a friend, well, heaven almighty, do you think I would get up at 4 AM to drive an hour and go cheer for you? Have I ever done such a thing for you? If you came out to watch, do you think we would get to actually see each other for more than a few minutes afterward before we went home? How useless would that be?

Cheering friends are maybe the last thing I need right now. Clearly, I already am of the opinion that what I am doing is the most important thing EVER to happen to ANYONE. Cheering is just going to reinforce the delusion.

I know people who are going through really bad things: Grief. Major illness. Unemployment. Divorce. Near-homelessness. What right do I have to let my emotions run away with me over, let's be frank, not having my narcissism indulged? Especially when these friends, to the last one, are behaving with all the strength and grace possible?

Now, I've never liked belittling anyone's feelings by saying, "Just remember other people are going through worse." You feel what you feel. The voices in your head say what they say. But those voices can lie.

What was my lie? That this triathlon, all my work, are some kind of graduation ceremony out of compulsive eating behaviors. The truth? They are a step toward something else, something I can't even see right now.

The truth? I didn't do this for anybody to witness. I did this for me to know what I could do. It's natural to want witnesses to the events that matter most to us. But witnesses aren't my motivation.

The truth? I hope I have an inkling now how people all around me may be feeling about their own triumphs and struggles. Of course they want a witness. Of course they want someone who knows what they've been through to hug them at the finish line, whatever it may be. A return from grief. A respite from illness. A job interview.

All around us, people are living through the unthinkable, accomplishing what they thought was impossible. We don't even have to get up at 3:30 in the morning to bear witness for them, to say, "I see your life, and wow, I'm proud to know you."

I challenge you, and myself, to find one of those people today. To let them know you are on their sidelines watching them face their challenge. To be a witness to the meaning of someone else's life.

As for the down day, Sara was right. It passes. It passed. But I don't want to forget it.


Laurie Todd said...

What is the limit on insightfulness and brilliance?!!