Recovery; or, Harder Than You Think
I know, I know. I’ve been off the radar for a solid month, following the overwhelming high of running my very first 10k at the end of May. Man, that was a good day. A really good day. And I don’t regret it, even though a possibly misjudged plod somewhere around St. Paul’s Cathedral gave me an iddy-biddy stress fracture which I ignored for a week, before seeing a doctor and discovering I had to spend a lil’ bit of time with my old nemesis.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: The Crutches.
Damn it, I hate those things. I think given the three and a half years I spent on ‘em previously, I’ve spent enough time using crutches to last me a lifetime – and every time I use them, I’m reminded of a time when I was twice my size, and things seemed hopeless.
A couple o’things to say on that. Things were not hopeless because of the crutches themselves, nor because I was overweight – but because I didn’t have enough faith in myself to believe anything better could happen. Let nobody think I’m saying your life’s gotta suck because you’re on crutches; but for me, they’re associated with a total lack of self-belief – even though some sliver of hope must’ve started things moving for me to end up where I am today.
(On a side note – people treat you totally differently when you say you’ve got a ‘running injury’ than when you’re pushing 300lbs and ‘had a fall.’ We have some serious work to do on the judgement front.)
Anyway, in addition to the crutches, I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants across the board. Some of this post was written on a plane last Monday morning; some on a different plane on Tuesday night; and a lil’ bit over the weekend at my parents’ house – and over the last few weeks, I’ve had both a sickness bug and (currently) a cold; plus, I have a to-do list of writerly business as long as my arm that just ain’t getting done. In other words, I’ve been hella busy – and while this ain’t a bad thing (my job is fabulous, if I do say so myself) I’ve been coasting along with my well-being, whilst sneezing and hobbling around on one leg.
(Another side note – the moment when you’re on crutches and realise you’ve gotta sneeze is the Very Definition of Torture, I swear.)
And y’know, it hasn’t been pretty. The trouble, for me, when I’m on my crutches, is that those ol’ negative thoughts creep back in. I have enough perspective to know that they’re a minor problem in themselves – but for me, it’s like the opposite of the Battle Pose, where you get in a strong position, and feel stronger as a result. My crutches represent me at a low – and when I’m hunched over trying to get from A to B, in my head, I’m myself four years ago, whether the mirror reflects that or not.
So, for a couple of weeks, I was what you might call blue; because the intoxicating joy of the run, followed by the inevitable low of being told I had to stop – plus the fact that, without a good bit of cardio in my life, I feel like a dog that needs takin’ for a walk – meant emotionally, I felt wound up, and frankly, not quite myself. There were a good three or four days where I just wanted to stay in bed, order pizza, and watch TV – reverting back to type, and emotionally eating my way through the discomfort. Briefly, the fact that I’d been offered a prescription of codeine – to all intents and purposes, my god damn kryptonite – seemed like an appealing option.
But – and this is a very big but – the theme of the last few months seems to have been been Big Challenges. With capital letters, and everything.
I’ve learned to run, sure – and before I injured myself, I signed up to a 60k cycle with an Olympian (which I still have every intention of doing, this October, despite the fact that, right now, I can’t actually ride a bike.) These are challenges that are all about being stronger, fitter, and faster.
At no point did it occur to me, though, that the biggest challenge would come along in that moment of weakness.
Talking myself back round to my usual place of positivity and good stuff – from a place of self-doubt and what I’d say was my lowest ebb for a good two or three years – was a delicate operation, and one I didn’t think I could do, even while I was doing it. I’ve experienced wobbles before, obviously – but this was one of the first times where I’d say I’ve felt really, properly like my old self. Like I’d lost too much of that all-important optimism.
But I hadn’t.
In the end, Domino’s got precisely none of my hard-earned cash, and my prescription remained unfilled (before being torn up and dispatched to the bin) – and I had one glorious freakin’ opportunity to realise the way my hard work has paid off off the scale, beyond the mirror, and in a way I’m pretty sure will fortify me for the rest o’my life.
See, it turned out I’m not who I was four years ago. I don’t have to revert to type, just because things aren’t going my way. I’m stronger than I look, and harder than I think – and hell, realising that has only made me feel even more bad-ass.
I’ve said before that the journey is long, but joyous – and I think if you’re not in it for the little moments, but the end result, chances are you’ll miss some of the hidden shots at happiness that come along when you least expect it. Never has that been more true, for me, than on realising that – even when I’m at a low ebb, and when I just don’t have time to do things like yoga, or cooking, or any of the million lil’ things I lean on to make my day awesome – I can draw on those reserves of positivity I’ve been shoring up this whole damn time.
Every minute you spend investing in yourself – every positive choice you make, whether it has an impact in that moment or not – is worthwhile. Every time you decide to look after yourself, and make a choice to put stock in your own well-being, you’re not just generating results for now, or next Tuesday, or even a few months down the line. Nope – those good decisions, and that positive energy really go somewhere, deep down, and they’ll come on back to give you strength in those moments when you least expect it.
And soon enough, you’ll be back. Back to seeing the world positively oozing potential, and to everything around you seeming like an opportunity.
In other words: I’m back, y’all.