Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Becoming Your Own Hero

These last couple of weeks have been illuminating for me and I've debated sharing it, but, that's what we're about here in blog land so, without spilling all of it and at the risk of sounding self-absorbed, here goes:

I've been going through some somewhat serious "shtuff" lately and, in struggling to deal with that (no worries, by the way, its all good and all handleable and not life threatening or anything, just kind of . . . traumatic), I suddenly understand the "why" behind this training. In the last few years of my life, I have slowly been learning to trust in God, or Spirit or The Universe, or whatever you want to call the Mystery that churns through our lives and seems to alternately care for us and smash us against the rocks, depending on our point of view. I've found that when I let go and just follow that small voice, things tend to turn out better - or at least the way they are supposed to turn out. Sometimes that doesn't seem like "better" but, often, when I look back on things with perspective, I can at least see the lesson if not the reason. Last winter, when that small voice lead me to triathlon, I really didn't know the reason why - as I've said before, I was compelled and so I leapt. And, I learned to begin to look for my own strength, reminded by others to do so. Every day, I find a little more of it.

Anyway, last week, during a particularly difficult moment, I realized that this was why Spirit pushed me to train. Through all of this - what has passed and what is still to come - I have this underlying belief that I can handle it, that I will persevere, because I have proven myself on the training grounds. I have climbed the hills I didn't think I could climb, I have pushed myself past so many of the barriers I held in my mind on the run, I have put my face in the water again and again and again, even when that fearful voice in the back of my head screamed "Stay near the AIR!!!" These things are physical and tangible and, for me at least, they are proof. Proof that I am strong, proof that I can rescue myself. I can be my own hero.

When I was younger and hurting and didn't know how to make it stop, I looked for a hero - for someone, anyone to "save" me. It took two bad marriages and countless horrific mistakes for me to figure out that the "hero" wasn't coming. At first, that realization felt bleak but, eventually, I learned to care for my own needs, to be happy inside of my own head. Ironically, once I had this down, I met my husband. And I started to believe in heroes again. The thing about pain, though, it comes back until you've learned what it needs to teach you (and then you move on to the next lesson). And some things, even the most wonderful friends and lovers can't save you from. That's when you have to save yourself. You have to be your own hero.

I used to pretend to be tough - to the point of being cruel at times. I thought that this made me invulnerable, that cruelty equaled toughness. Its only now that I'm beginning to understand what it truly means to be "tough", both physically and mentally, and it has nothing to do with putting someone else down but with lifting yourself up - above your expectations, above your limitations, above the ill wishes of others and the random events of the world. I'm not there yet - and I suspect I never will truly arrive as "toughness" is a quality that can always be improved upon. But I've figured it out enough to know that I will get through this. I will come out on the other side knowing that I am saved - and that I was the one that saved me.

15 comments:

21stCenturyMom said...

Standing ovation! 3 cheers for inner strength and more cheers for you.

I had a somewhat similar epiphany out on the race course Sunday. Triathlon is good to us that way - even though sometimes it just seems cruel. And that brings us full circle.

Eric said...

Self-absorbed?!?! Nonsense. Sometimes people forget that once you make yourself happy you can make others happy.

Kindof nice knowing that your "hero" will always be there looking back at you in the mirror.

Tom said...

Eric pretty much said it all, Phoenix.

Vickie said...

Yes, you are learning that life and triathlon seem to go hand in hand--both are journies of discoveries--emotional, physical, spiritual. We get out of it what we put into it, but I believe, like you, that we have been led on this path. Why, I don't know. I just know it is one I must follow too. Enjoy the journey!

Bolder said...

insightful and provocative.

teacherwoman said...

Very nice post... eric did say it all! I know this post made me think... as it probably will for others...

Kim said...

fantastically honest. thank you for posting. you rule.

Krista said...

Great post. It's amazing how much a little training can literally change your life.

Donald said...

That whole idea of training being a metaphor for life's challenges is very powerful. Glad to hear you're coming to a better place lately.

RunningCrazyAfter3 said...

I could have written this post. I don't know about you, but for me once I have started to "get it", it is both empowering and intimidating. Sure seems like there is so much left still to learn, doesn't it?

Jane said...

Profound thoughts...nicely written. Thanks for opening up to us. I think that is incredibly brave.

IronJenny said...

Great post! Yes, you are strong, and you have a bunch of skills in your bag that only you can try out.
I think that once you learn to really love yourself (and not be ashamed to admit it!), and trust yourself, you can rally live a fuller life. The whole experience is enriched.
People love to be around people that "get it".
Jenny

LP said...

Perfect!

This is exactly what I have been meaning to write. So many people ask why triathlon and I start feeling like I am being selfish explaining how happy I am training and "tri"ing.

Anyway, your words are perfect.

Thanks!

Comm's said...

Sometimes the biggest leap of faith is trusting that something bigger than your feeling is controling the situation.

I think everyone in life, has to find themselves. Some do this quite early with traumatic experiences, other along their normal life by finding something they love. Others its takes longer and several experience pulled together.

But Know Thy Self is a long old quote and glad you touched on it today.

No Wetsuit Girl... overseas! said...

Thank you so much for putting into words what I feel, what I haven't realized that I've been feeling, and what I have yet to feel (although I believe in my mature 24 years that I have already felt). Especially those last 2 paragraphs echoed (except for the 2 marriages thing) exactly what I feel many days, even though some days I don't have the strength or experience to put words to it.

Whatever's going on, with the little seniority that I have to you in triathlon although I lack it in life, I can assure you that you ARE on the right path. Or at least one of them. Keep going and keep writing.