Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What Makes You Happy?

Shit. I started this post a long time ago.

Yesterday I tripped on the trails because my foot still likes to disconnect from my brain now and then. I didn't really fall, though I put my hands on the ground in order to avoid doing a full face plant. Somehow I stumbled enough to strain my butt. I'm sure everyone who runs has done this. The pain is right at the attachment of the hamstring. I'll be OK in a day or two, but I was on the bike today just to be safe. I've been so fucking sore since ...forever.. that it was probably good to be off my feet a bit. I hate when I start shuffling instead of running. Uggh.

Before I get to the post I left hanging, I thought I would share what someone deposited in my inbox the other day:

The whole time I was watching it, I was thinking that the guy serving her was pretty fucking remarkable and awesome in the way he handled the situation. I don't know if I would have been as kind. What's weird is that she seems to think she has the right to treat others like that. I mean, that's it? This is your big contribution to the world? I have a hard time understand why so many people are incredibly self righteous and so fucking full of themselves. It seems that more and more people are just fine cutting others off, crossing lines they shouldn't, demanding their way, cheating and being all kinds of shady. I find it really sad. But this isn't really what my post was about.

Here's the post I started. I sound like I should be narrating one of those sad cat diaries:

It's a dreary day. My mood is matching the weather. Things have been going better, though. Still, I struggle with where I'm at with my running and in life. I often come back to the question: What makes me happy? There have been times in my life when I could no longer determine what made me happy. It still happens today, though obviously I have moments of being happy. During the down times, thoughts of being cheerful or even content were replaced with thoughts about how to get through the day. When my life slides, it's hard to show up at all. Even taking a shower becomes a difficult task.

Recently, I binged watched a few seasons of Shameless on Netflix. (Uhh, I actually finished the whole thing, I'm not proud to report.) Distraction is OK during times of depression, though I tend to take it too far (obviously). Despite it being a great show, at times it's really difficult to watch because of all the drinking one of the main characters does. Some of it hits too close to home, especially when it comes to the scenes in the first season. For someone who has grown up and been around alcoholics a lot, the show stirs up much resentment, anger and sadness.

One of many things the show captures well (perhaps unintentionally, though I suspect someone involved in the production is in the know) is how everything centers around the addict, even though he's out of it much of the time. In later episodes of the show, the main alcoholic occasionally comes through, and despite all the shit that goes down, people seem to still like the guy. He's human, after all.

Growing up with an alcoholic father and other addicts in and out of the house meant major events such as birthdays and holidays were spent wondering if X would make a scene and if Y would keep his shit together long enough to avoid a fight. That makes us sound like trailer trash, but this was hidden, as well as possible anyway. It was that typical suburbia type shit that wasn't always obvious to others. It never is when addicts are somewhat functional. Going to restaurants was the worst with everyone who wasn't drinking worried about what other people would think.The disgust, the worry, the disappointment, the embarrassment and the pain, the fucking, fucking pain of watching people wreck their lives and the lives of those around them was fairly constant.

I've noticed that many people who are in the throes of an eating disorder get stuck focusing on a certain statement that feels true to them. I see it, because I did it, too, and if I'm not careful, I can slip back into those kinds of patterns. All addicts hurt. Hell, people in general are wounded by life in some way or another. What I'm finding is that focusing on the symptoms doesn't resolve the issue.

When you blurt out, "I feel fat" or "I hate my life" ask yourself what you are seeking. What self reflection or introspection is taking place? When you state to others, "I didn't eat" or "I skipped a meal," how do you want and expect others to respond? Are you considering how these comments may affect those around you, and are you asking yourself what is it really that you need? Is it comfort, confirmation or acknowledgment? Or are you expecting the people listening to help you and tell you how to take care of yourself? I ask, because sometimes I haven't been clear when I have complained about certain situations.

Perhaps instead of repeating a phrase about our symptoms, we can begin to define the feeling, fear or concern in another way and get to the root of the issue. I mentioned before that early in my recovery, I used to always say, "I feel fat." If I'm not careful, this still comes out, and I'm forced to look at what it really means. Am I uncomfortable, afraid, tired or angry? Usually there's something deeper.

Yesterday, just as I was thinking about how uncomfortable I was feeling, someone else said that she was feeling out of sorts. Another lady agreed and we figured it must have been related to the changing pressure in the atmosphere or something. I often attribute everything to my thoughts and emotions. Sometimes there are physical causes relating to our experiences.

I don't think I'm alone when it comes to having trouble defining what makes me happy. Sometimes it's clear, and sometimes it's more vague. I can say that I'm happier when I'm in less pain, and because I tend to have some chronic conditions, it's not always easy to focus on what brings me joy. I do think that it's important to continually examine this question. For example, I wish I had someone asking me about my happiness when I was so miserable with my running.

I've lost my steam. Recently I have been writing and reading some fiction, and I can't seem to think straight at the moment.

Words and sayings that annoy this week:

Manifest - This is the new age version of prayer (with about the same results), only more centered around the self and wishing rather than working to achieve desired outcomes. (See Betty Bowers or George Carlin on prayer)
Blessed - I'm not sure what this means, but people seem to use this word as some kind of euphemism for "My life sucks."

I know, I know, positive thinking and all that can have good effects. I don't dispute that. What bothers me is how people toss sayings around these days and expect change without taking any action. It reminds of of a great South park quote:

Cartman: Hippies.They're everywhere. They wanna save the earth, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad.

I will say that I like original hippies from the 60s. They're a dying breed, though. Unfortunately, they are being pushed out by the new-age "I'm SO spiritual" hippie and the Whole Foods going, fake hippie. Oh shit. I occasionally shop at Whole Foods! Uh oh.

Wow, I'm all over the place in this post. I'm a little bit crabby, too. I better stop here.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Tripping Over Myself

Blogging for writers is like practicing the scales for musicians. Virginia Woolf even said, “The habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. These days, blogs have replaced journals and are public, but the concept is the same.

I used to be incredibly consistent in my running, sort of like a machine. My coach used to say that I only had good or great races. I was undeniably predictable until my senior year in high school. That's when things got difficult. I could no longer will my body to perform when I was feeling off or tired. Before that, I could run while sick or injured and put in a good and usually successful effort. These days I seem to curl up in the fetal position any time I experience discomfort of any kind, but that's probably because I've had enough, maybe too much.

My body hurts jogging. Ouch. I never needed a coach to tell me that everyone hurts the same, like we're all in this big pool of pain on the race course; I needed someone to remind me that it doesn't hurt when you are ready and having a great race. At least it shouldn't hurt.

If you are ever lucky enough to have a race in which everything falls into place, you know that pain isn't what you remember most. In fact, you might notice that you get past any discomfort to a place where it no longer hurts. You trust yourself to test your physical limits, face your inner demons and conquer your fears. It almost feels good. 

I haven't been able to do this in any area of my life in years and years, because my physical limits are so restrictive that it makes testing my mental limits nearly impossible. Still, it's not like I'm without any progress at all. Even in my compromised state, I do have good or at least OK days. 

One issue I have had in the past is falling apart after big events. It's more of a challenge to go for it when past attempts to find some level of improvement or success are marred with unpleasant experiences. It's easy to get caught up in the negative and let fears grow. Last year, I did this after racing. I had a breakthrough at the Rocky Mountain Shootout, feeling like I was stepping back into competing instead of just trying to survive a race. I saw my strengths and weaknesses. After it was over, though, I sort of fell apart. I see some mistakes I made, but this is a bit of a theme in the last few years with me. I'm not always able to regroup and recover after races. 

I remember a few years ago when I got to the start line after many, many years away from the sport. During the days after the race, I struggled on all levels: emotional, physical and even spiritual. I wasn't sure how to take care of myself in the right way. 

The same thing happens with my writing. I get into writing a short story, and it consumes me. I write during nearly every spare moment I have until it's done. When I come to the end, though, I trip over myself and  get so lost that I can't seem to even write a coherent sentence in an email. So I distract myself and avoid anything writing related. This might not be the best approach. I sleep or avoid sleep, binge watch whatever I can find on Netflix, feel frustrated and wait for the brain fog to clear. During these times, I can have good ideas about writing, but when it comes to putting them down, it's a disaster, and whoops! there goes my confidence. Just like with running, I don't know if the best approach is to force it or let it go and wait for inspiration.

Training is always about finding the right balance of pushing it and rest. You can only do what the body will allow. I guess in some ways writing is no different. The book On Writing by Stephen King helped me see that forcing things, whether it's attempting to use fancy words that don't quite fit or not offing your little darlings, won't produce the best literature. One has to stretch without overstretching. I fight it less with writing, but I notice that the more I get into it, the harder I am on myself during down times. I get caught up in the "I should" syndrome.

In other news, I think I need some rehab/PT on my foot. The problem is finding a place that is both affordable and good.

I rarely LOL for real at stuff on the internet, but this about made me fall over. I can't explain why I find it so hilarious, but I do: