The universe tends to dole out “bitch slaps” to me at the most perfectly calculated times, and today was no exception.
This afternoon at work we were visited by one of our friends and teammates who had been dining at the restaurant next door with a friend. When he saw me, said friend stepped out of the group conversation to ask me how I was doing. He, along with many other friends, had seen the status update I posted on Facebook last night about how I’m not really doing well with this “no running, no lifting, no exercise period” phase of my life, due to this hernia.
The truth is, I have zero coping mechanisms for stress, anxiety, parenthood, and general life dealings such as aggressive drivers and world politics, when I can’t exercise. (And as a brief update, consultation with a surgeon confirms that my intestines are indeed incarcerated, and I have to take it easy. Surgery scheduled for the 27th). Some may see this as a weakness, an inability to be a decent adult human being (at least by our societies standards), but I like to call it a win over other coping mechanisms, such as drugs, alcohol, or self harm. I realize that sounds pretty harsh, but I also realize with my addictive personality…it’s likely not far from reality. To top it off, today was the day I was supposed to be flying to Utah for the Desert Rats Kokopeli 150 mile stage race. To say I’m not in a good head space would be an understatement.
So anyway, friend asks how I’m doing. I answer, in my best melodramatic, runner who isn’t able to run, voice:
“Ehhh. I’m alive. So there’s that.”
Friend nods sympathetically. I see the sincerity in his face, I truly do. And then he turns our attention to the other gentlemen he brought with him into the store, whom I have never met before.
“That’s my friend _____(name withheld for privacy). He’s a runner too. He just had a brain tumor removed”.
I look over at the man, and suddenly take in the fact that he’s wearing winter cap on his head, even though it’s 85 degrees outside. I notice a pale, weathered face, one that resembles someone making the comeback from the harsh realities of chemo (and of course, having your entire skull opened up and operated on). My gut hits the floor with the feeling of guilt.
Universe’s palm: meet my ungrateful, in need of some serious perspective, cheek. Suddenly I feel like a giant asshole…and I know I deserve it.
I cannot 100% confirm, but I am almost certain that my friend did not mean for our conversation to transpire in such a way to provide me a much needed reality check…but a reality check I was given, none the less.
Now don’t get me wrong, I believe we are each allowed to mourn the loss of things we love, no matter how temporary. I believe our feelings never need justification, and I don’t believe that just because “someone else has it worse”, our feelings or experiences should suddenly be less or invalid.
But, I also believe that the universe (and James) gave me exactly what I needed today.
As if I needed just a hint of reaffirmation that “this too shall pass”, one of my favorite elite ultra runners, Sally McRae, posted the following on her Facebook page today:
The best way to get up a mountain is to Embrace it,
Lean into it,
Let it show you your weakness and then be grateful for the truth.
Because the truth is, you’re not perfect; you’re not always strong;
you’re not always confident.
And if you are wise, you’ll never stop looking for ways to grow; to learn; to improve.
So don’t fear the mountain; be grateful for it.
For without it…whatever your mountain may be;
You would miss the great joy and fulfillment of getting to the top;
You would miss the overcoming.
The best way to get up your mountain is to embrace it;
lean into it;
then keep climbing.
She was talking about a literal mountain, of course, but the same thought process can be applied to the climb I have ahead of me: a waiting period, surgery, and recovery…time off from one of the big things that makes me who I am.
(That would be running, incase there was any uncertainty.)
There is no doubt in my mind that time off from running…or lifting…or exercise in general…is going to suck. Learning how to face my stressors and problems head on, without the buffer of a good runner’s high, isn’t going to be easy. But I can choose to let this time off break me, or I can let it help build the stronger version of me that I am becoming every single day.
Lean into it girl. You’re gonna be OK. You’re going to come out stronger. You always, always do.