In your face

November 5, 2012

It was all fun and games until he told me to take my right arm off the ground, holding a kettleball. And I couldn’t. I physically couldn’t. There was one point where I had to be held up. HELD UP from falling, forcing me to completely physically rely on someone else.

Oh my GOD that is not what I do.

In sport I am used to hard. My hard is the feeling of being shelled when you are running at mile 22 of 26, after swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112. The kind of hard where your spirit soars as you physically fade. In the weight room the new challenges I am facing are those of balance (and lack thereof)…. for me that brings on a new dimension. I don’t know how to deal with that well yet. I sure do drop a few good swear words though.

It got worse from there because that’s where my head was going. It wasn’t Steve poking holes in me…  it was me realizing that the holes were there.  When physical weakness is revealed it’s the entrance to the emotional weakness and then …. Well it gets better or it gets worse. It’s amazing where we can take it. And trust me it’s not like he gears up for our sessions with… let me see where I can bring Eggers down today. It’s more of a …. Here is the weakness and you need to strengthen it…. Or today we are going to raise the bar.  What I do with that in my own head is up to me.

I took it somewhere bad.

When I couldn’t lift a kettleball, he told me to do it without the kettleball. I could not lift up my arm without falling over.  I physically could not do something. But I could do it on the other side.

My entire left side has a severe amount of weakness (severe to me). I felt angry. This is what I have lost. This is what has failed me. How on earth will I get this back? Will I get it back? How could I possibly have this much imbalance, this much weakness? I was being encouraged too. You are doing fine, that’s better, all that stuff. The downward spiral was all mine.

Did I have a fucking stroke at some point and not know it?????? I have never been able to not physically do something.

I walked away mentally broken down.  So many of my weaknesses were revealed and I let it get to me. (and let me be clear……. He wasn’t trying to take me down, that’s my doing).

I was so broken down that I cried. Actually cried (how mortifying to admit, it’s the weight room Eggers!) in my goggles during my swim. All I kept thinking was what I lost. It was an incredibly selfish moment, but we all have them. We go through things like this at some level. Is this hill too big to climb? Am I going to be able to even make it? I swam as hard as I could and made sure to lap every single person in the pool. Twice. At the moment it was my only redemption. Sad but true. Sad sad sad.

As I said the physical is really a metaphor for the emotional. Am I strong enough to do this, was the real question. For the first time in months I doubted. When you are fighting the fight from the middle of the fire … you fight. You get to the other side and the fight is completely different. A whole new animal. You have to change it, you have to adapt. You need a new strategy. And I didn’t have one. I was swinging the same way at the same target and the target isn’t there anymore.

As I left the gym I had an email from a friend  just checking in. I reported that I was having a rough morning and gave my sob story. Poor Eggers. I was hoping for a pat on the back and a chin up!!!!  This pal is a very elite athlete and gets it, understands what it’s like to have been on top and to have fallen so far down that you wonder if it’s possible to get back up and move on again.

With just one paragraph they were  able to turn me around. I had been standing there looking back rather than focusing on looking forward. I realized I was focusing on what I believed to have been taken from me. Focusing on what I lost. What I should have been focusing on was what I gained.

You HAVE to work 10 times harder than ever, get more humbled than ever, and want it more than anyone else does Eggers. You have to earn it.”

It’s funny how people in my life work together without knowing that they work together. Each person I get to work with, be it one of my athletes, one of my mentors, one of my coaches, whomever. Each person gives something to me that I get to pull into my giant bouquet of moving forward. When they say people are in your life for a reason they are right.

It took one person revealing my physical weakness not to tell me I am weak but to tell me I can be stronger. It took another person to point out that I was looking back when my energy was better served looking forward, and then another person to say…… sister I have been there.

Then you stand in this strange limbo of feeling guilty for what you have come through and feeling grateful for what you have come through, and you straddle that line not really knowing which side to stand on.

This is all part of the comeback…. “ They told me. “No one ever said it would be easy…… but they did say it would be worth it.  There are those who will doubt you and those who will believe you are over. What matters is what YOU believe. “

At the end of the day it’s just a sport. But If you are me …  this is what you love with all of your heart. And sport is a metaphor for life. It’s life’s practice field. This is what you want so badly your heart aches for it. It’s so important to you that when you wake up at 3am on a Monday morning you get on your bike because it feels so good to do that.

At the end of the day I am blessed beyond words with what my body can do at all. I will never lose perspective of that and I will never forget that. But please know….. that as straight as my head is screwed on (and I believe it’s screwed on pretty well!) … I have moments of selfishness and self-righteousness too.  I am human. That’s all I can be.

What I learned is….. that’s it’s okay to get stuck. It’s okay to fall. It’s okay to have to rely on someone else to hold you up from time to time. That finish line in August is not something I will achieve alone. It’s this whole amazing team I have with me that will have made it possible. It won’t even really be about traveling 140.6 miles either. Those miles are just a metaphor.

As difficult and humbling as those sessions and moments and lessons are…. they are critical. It’s one thing to be told you are good enough and strong enough and you did a good job. I can tell myself that all day long.

By exposing your physical and then subsequent emotional weaknesses you have two choices…… succumb to them or take that as your cue…… to buck the hell up and rise up to meet it.


One comment

  1. As someone very new to consistently working out (about a year and a half with a trainer, yoga, pilates, cardio). I am so different from you yet experience the same thing in my workouts.

    I have had 3 knee surgeries and had the arch of my foot fused and my achilles lengthened – all on my left leg. Needless to say this made my left leg much weaker than my right. But it has also left my right knee taking the brunt of everything for years (my first knee surgery was at the age of 14 – 34 years ago). I walk around with my patella on the right knee in a permanent state of being half dislocated bone on bone – but that leg is stronger….

    I am also overweight and in a constant battle to change that, fighting against a few medical conditions that make it very difficult.

    There are days in the gym with my trainer that all I do is cry while she trains me. I remember being able to do things, I remember how to do things – but my body betrays me constantly. I see people squat all the way down to their heels and my heart sinks as I barely get to a 90 degree angle without pain, imbalance and weakness taking over trying to crush me. I know I will never be an athlete, but I fight every day the urge to stop trying. I can have an incredible workout, but then she can ask me to do one thing and I fail and if my mind is not in the right place I fall apart – it does not matter if up til that point it was the hardest workout I had ever done.

    But I also cry different tears when I am able to do something for the first time. In yoga last week I did a half handstand. I have NEVER done that! I am afraid to go upside down ever since I dislocated my neck as a 4 yr old. Anything where the neck could be compromised scares me. But I did it. My teacher helped me get my first leg up to the wall, but the rest was me. When I came down, my friend on the mat next to me told me she was so proud of me and I sat there in tears. For most people it is probably not a big thing, for me it was the world. I did it again and held it for 30 seconds! And I am so grateful for this teacher who pushes me and believes in me. I have been to a lot of yoga classes, different places, different teachers. Most walk around me and if they say anything it might be ‘nice effort’. This teacher and one or 2 others, walk up to me like any other student, correct me if I need it and challenge me if it looks like I can go further. Their expectation of me is the same as it is for anyone else in the class – to do my best and push my limits. For that I am grateful. It allowed me a safe place to try something that scared me to death, because she believed I could! She did not look at my physical appearance and just give me a pat on the back for making it to class.

    It is people like that that we all need in our lives – for the moments when we feel totally beaten and ready to walk away. My trainer, my yoga teachers, my friends…..they pick me up when I am to weak.

    I guess we are all fighting the same physical and emotional battles. Our courses may look completely different, but we face the same things.

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