If it takes a year…

Once upon a time I was a half marathon runner. I was also addicted to exercise, anorexic and teetering on clinical exhaustion. I refused to let my body rest when it needed it, and I suffered for it. I would take “breaks” that weren’t real breaks. When I did take a “Break,” I would leap back into activity and push myself even harder, because I took a break. Eventually, I stopped being able to use my right leg to drive, and I couldn’t sleep because of the pains in it waking me up.

You would think that I learned my lesson.

But the thing is, even after all that, even since I’ve basically had to give up running and I have learned how to relax on a vacation and I now know to sleep when I need it… there is still something that I struggle with. It bites me in the butt often, and I’m wondering if you do it too?

I push myself too hard when I start something.

It doesn’t matter when I know that I harbor an injury, when I start up a new physical goal for myself, I always ask way too much of myself from the get go.

It doesn’t matter if I didn’t know anything about running a profitable e-business yet, I would somehow tell myself I can figure this out in the next six months.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve never touched clay, if I wanted to begin doing pottery, I would inevitably tell myself that I was going to craft a perfect mug in the first week I took up this new hobby.

And so on.

There are so many ways and times I expect way too much of myself, too soon.

Do you do this? Why do we do this?

Yesterday, I was jogging in my neighborhood, and thinking about this very concept. About how I started a Couch to 5k and I couldn’t even do the first week of exercises. About how I just had a baby two months ago. About how my leg already hurts again and maybe this Couch to 5k might not happen in 2 months like it’s planned. In fact, as I was slowing to a walk after the two minutes of running (which is all I can do at present), I realized it might not happen in the next four months.  I reflected on what would happen if I pushed myself very hard. What I KNOW will happen: I would burn out before I ever reach my goal. And if I don’t push myself too hard, I will ache mentally SO much.

And that’s when I realized why and how we do this – or at least me!

Each time, when I know I’m pushing myself hard, I simultaneously work myself up with thought of this challenge that I’m going to tackle, and conquer, and I also push out any of the possibility of discomfort. Despite what dozens of previous episodes prove, I still manage to lie to myself every time by saying, “This time, I will do it.” And I know it’s specifically because I don’t want to feel the discomfort of doing something slowly, baby stepping my way. It doesn’t feel sexy. It doesn’t feel like something I’m going to puff my chest out with pride over. Running a 5k 6 months from now? How is that an accomplishment?

That’s what I hear in my head.

So I opt to push myself. My ego lets me lie to myself every single time, because I want to feel that “look at me go” energy. And I don’t want to feel the slogging mentality of taking something slow and steady.

And that’s why I’m able to conveniently forget that I haven’t met a physical goal (in this case) in the last three years. Or that, every single time, I push myself too hard, too fast, and I burn out too soon. Or I get hurt again.

This time, somehow, I heard a different voice.

Maybe I’m growing up finally. Maybe my body is insisting on truth, when my mind wants to avoid it, but this time, slowing down to a gentle walk, I heard a voice say, “If it takes a year.”

What if I remove my ego. What if I don’t push myself, or even, really, challenge myself. What if I let myself take as long as it takes. As long as it needs. Truthfully, it comes down to this: What’s my rush?

What’s your rush?

 

Comments

  1. Thank you for this! Xo

  2. hi Jess

    i never thought i’d get to write you.. ages ago you wrote a bit about not wearing lipstick for ages… and i got it… i got i did the same thing re painting.. it was taboo… and that actually broke the tabboo – well, it made huge cracks in it for me… so when you think you’ve always had to achieve something by effort SURPRISE ~ you did it by osmosis, helping me without even knowing it….or resonance.. or whatever.. For the first time ever, like in decades,, i am painting…probably crappy paintings, but i like them and i am doing it just to paint – just little watercolours in my dollarama cheapo sketchbook… .started last summer
    So, thank you for that… thought you’d like to know.

    So! where the heck do you get this “i have to be the biggest the best the most instantly perfect, right now” tape? i betcha our parents went to the same school… sheesh… all these crappy unconscious patterns we pick up and don’t even know it… I am sick of it, every time i turn around and i find myself efforting, and yes i trash myself too, over and over and over again (you’d think we’d learn it doesn’t work by now – pancake on the floor, oh it hurts just to walk down the hall to the loo…)…. i was just contemplating tonight, what if i’m wrong.. what if all the effort is for nothing, nobody cares… what if i start doing like you said, ya wear lipstick coz it’s fun, paint coz it’s fun.. .just for fun…Fun sure was a foreign concept in my family (you have to work hard, you have to achieve greatness… oh mummy it’s impossible – so i fulfilled all her worst expecations of me)…

    Wait, you had a baby? two months ago? and you say in the same breath you have not met a physical goal in the last three years? liar!!!! You are a goddess!! Baby trumps EVERYTHING!
    you had a baby… treasure yourself for the miracle that you are.. take another look at the mirror at your goddess self, coz i see it… ask your body what it wants, it will tell you.. xoxoxo thanks a millioni yet again xo :) h

  3. Thanks Jessica – these words were just a perfect message for me today, Terri xx

  4. Well said, sister. As I’ve hit, cough, 50, I’ve had to accept that there are just some things I can’t do anymore. Like you, I used to be very athletic. I grew up playing sports, I’ve run a marathon, I did triathlons for years … and then I blew out my knee. Tore both my medial and lateral meniscus in my right knee, pieces of which lodged under my kneecap and started growing bone spurs, causing my doc to have to shave the bone on the underside of my kneecap. Instead of the usual 4-day recovery that normally comes with a scoped knee surgery, I woke up to hear my doc tell me it was far worse than he thought in there, I would be on the couch for at the least three weeks, and my running days were over. 6 months after that surgery, I signed my girls and me up for a fun little 5K. Talk about an ego burst. This former triathlete didn’t get more than 1/4 of a mile before my knee buckled and I hit the ground. I’ve tried some gentle running since (that was four years ago), but I have to admit I still don’t get more than a 1/4 of a mile before my knee buckles yet again and I have to catch myself from tumbling to the ground. So I’ve had to admit my doctor was right. My running days are over. Without that meniscus, I have no cushioning.

    But I think that’s where we have to accept ourselves for where we are, do what we can, and be happy with that. Just because we can’t do something that we used to do doesn’t mean we’re a failure. It just means we’re just at a different stage in our lives. I now walk three miles, a hard fast walk, just about every morning. Like Helen said above, you just had a baby! That’s one of the most wonderful and physically challenging things any human can ever do! And you have a beautiful baby girl to show for it. So maybe as you said, it does come with growing up. Though I live by the Jimmy Buffet song, “I’m growing older but not up,” I know there are things I just can’t do anymore. And that’s okay. Whether it’s physical things or even creative things. With my new job and all the travel involved, I don’t have the time to do as much creative activities as I used to. And that’s okay. I’m working through that. I’ll be able to retire one day! So as you said, “What’s the rush?” :-)

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