Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Use it or lose it

Use it or lose it is quite a well known saying and phenomenon.  It applies to many things, skills, talents, second language use etc.
Our muscles 'forget' some of what they know and become weaker, our neural paths become diminished.
This is particularly true of swimming - if you dont stay on top of it, the body can lose the feel for the water, the ability to catch the water quickly and efficiently can be lost, as can water specific fitness. 
I know I lose water fitness quickly - currently, I feel like someone has filled me with sand.  I am heavy and slow, my ability to drag myself through the water is less than impressive.
I have had about 3 weeks of hit and miss training - nothing consistent and nothing much of any real value training wise (drills, speed or endurance).
The age group nationals are this weekend.  I have entered 1500m Friday, 800m free and 50m Breaststroke on Saturday. While it was never my focal point for this year and indoor isn't really my 'thing' I do enjoy the nationals and it would be nice to go and perform better than I did last year.
The Universe has conspired against me lately.... and thats ok.  It has been throwing other fabulous (and some not so fabulous) stuff in my direction.
My head is a bit of a shed though currently.  I need to swim regularly.  It is a real need. I am happier when I have been submerged in water.  It is theraputic.  So when I can't or don't swim, I know I become a bit of a grump.
Combine this with the fact I suffer from SAD, which hasn't so much been knocking on my door this week - it has been throwing bricks at my window, leaning on the doorbell, shouting abuse through the letter box and generally following me round like a bad smell. 
Last year, for the first time in a long time, I managed to get a hold on it.  We became aquainted in a nicer, almost friendly way and found space to exist side-by-side without causing each other too much damage.  I beefed up, got myself strong and kicked some ass...... ish.
However, over the summer months, I haven't needed to use these SAD coping muscles and they have vanished.  I am as weak as a kitten.
So Monday rolled round with all the excitement of a job interview and the potential for more growth, more chaos, a new challenge and loveliness in my life (cos I havent got enough going on!).
I also had a visit from @TheIron_Bear, which started life as a chat about training plans over dinner and an airport run and quickly turned into a training session and dinner/discussion followed by abandonment while I (selfishly) raced off to better my career!
Monday was the first time in a while I was able to swim - shifts, hospital visits, falling off the face of the earth for a while all contibuted to this.  I missed it.
I was giddy to get in the water and found myself outside the pool at 6.45 on my day off, waiting for it to open.
Once submerged, there was nothing - no strength, no grip, no power, no speed, no happiness, no confidence, no excitement. 
Fuck. That wasnt meant to happen.  I knew my mojo had gone...... but WTF?
My inner conversation and rest of swim session went something like this.....
Swim another length or 2, warm up, do 200m, it'll come, its been a while.  
Yeah, its not though.
Give it a while.
Dont look at the clock.
I feel like lead
It'll come, keep going.
What if it doesnt?
Shit, look how far behind you are
You should be able to keep up.
You're not even near their toes.
Dave, Louise, Hannah and Andy all discuss the set -
"Count me out guys, I'll just get frustrated, I'll keep out of your way and do some drills. I havent swum in ages"
Ok Rach, c'mon now.  Sort it out.
You're just being stupid.
You're slower than last year.
You're using all this as an excuse. 
You're gonna show your self up at weekend.
I can't do this. I feel like shit.
Stops at end of lane - has positive words with self.
Right, youve been out of water, this bit isn't a race, this is your first session back.
Stop being so negative.
The feel for the water will come.
Just be kind to youself, focus on technique.
You knew this was going to happen
Sets off swimming. I am totally disconnected from myself, I have no feel in the water, my arms and legs are doing their own sweet thing and frankly, I am knackered. A little bit of me doesnt actually care.  I look at the clock and realise I am blowing out of my arse and 50s are taking me about a week to swim.
Remember, be kind to yourself.
Just give in, you can't do this.
Who are you kidding, you have no right to be there at weekend.
I have every right to be there at weekend.
Swimming like this?
No you dont, look at you, you're just gonna show your self up.
Keep going if you think that....
Misses tumble turn and stops dead at end of pool.
See peice of shit.
You wanna race 1500 Friday and then race again Saturday.

This went on till I got out.
I got out to make the voice stop.
I needed to cry.  I needed hot salty tears that refused to fall.  They wouldn't fall because I am not unhappy.  I am very happy - I have a lot I am greatful for right now and I have lots to look forward to.  But I am suffering from this fake depression once again.
AND IT ANNOYS ME.  I dont have time for it, I dont like it and I dont want it.
But it refuses to leave me.
So...... I must learn to love it again. And I will.  Eventually.  Hopefully soon. It is part of who I am.
It impacted on my training session with Bear.  I found myself saying 'no more' and hitting stop on the treadmill - that isnt like me.  I am stubborn. Incredibly stubborn. My body could've kept going.  My head was about to explode with all the noise going on in there. I did it to stop the noise.
Right now, I have lost all my muscle memory.  It will come back though - I have faith and I am prepared to work.  The work is easier than the crippling pain that seeps in if the SAD is allowed to take over.
So.... on top of everything else, I am going to war with myself. 
And I will win.
Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he's dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!!!

Recently I was described as

"bursting into [someone's] life like a rhino, riding an elephant with a bull tied to its tail, screaming silently, demanding to be loved."

Bit extreme, but that is how they experienced me.
My experience of them is slightly different. And hopefully more eloquent.

I have been pondering this phenomenon we call love.
It is, in essence, science. Nothing more than a chemical reaction.

Our senses absorb A. N. Other in every way possible - as we absorb,  if we are blessed, our receptors like what they see, smell, touch, taste and we become more aware, more alive. We become more in-tune,  primitive chemicals awaken which will (hopefully) ensure our mate is a good match. Thus this *thing* called love is experienced as an internal sensation. Its impact on our external world can be huge.

We say 'we are in love' and falsely assume that others know what we are talking about.  It is subjective.  Each chemical reaction is different.

Sometimes, we are attracted, we cannot help it. We can choose to try fight it, but this can be futile. We may be attracted to those we are 'not supposed to be attracted to'

Magical things happen, people cast their own unique spell on us and we become enchanted by them.

This can be a truely wonderous positive experience, or it can become destructive and harmful. The chemical balance can tip too far. It is easy for people to become addicted and greedy.

When we fall in love, we do not own the person, they are not obliged to love us in return. If they do return the love, we are blessed, but it might be a different shape and colour altogether. We cannot make someone love us. It happens.  Or not. 

If they dont return the love, it doesn't mean there is something wrong with us, nor does it mean there is something wrong with them. It means they have different chemicals and different needs. That's all.

A very dear friend spoke to me recently about new roller skates (by way of an analogy). He had seen the twinkle in my eye.
"Don't just keep looking at the skates in the box, Rach, take them out, try them on for size."
If I liked how they fit, I should play out on them for a little while. 

I took his advice. Problem being, once I'd put them on, I didn't want to take them off. I wanted to play on them EVERYDAY.

I felt comfortable and confident on them. My second and third outing on them made me feel alive.

I felt free. My world was fizzing with delight - it was gathering momentum and spinning in giddy, joyous circles.

I refuse to take my roller skates off.  I like them. They were comfy from the outset, if I fall over, I will get back up - it doesn't mean I have to take them off.

The friend who spoke to me about my new roller skates touched my soul and taught me about human goodness.  We sat one day and I offered him a piece of my soul and my past, he accepted it and has tucked it somewhere where I know it will be safe.  He taught me that no matter how big the magnetism, how delicious the chemical reaction may be, sometimes, it is better to not find out. Sometimes, the love contained within a friend is greater than the physical urge can ever be.  He taught me that it is safe to love.

In my ponderings, I have realised that some of the problem with relationships is that we don't communicate well enough.

I have recently done lots of training courses - some involved being blindfolded and drawing what a partner instructed - what I produced, what they said and what they were describing at were all very different things.  Similarly when I described something, it didn't translate to the picture being drawn.

Try it - then realise that actually, you may not communicate as well as you might.

Then consider your needs - what are these? Are they needs or are they wants?  Can you meet them yourself? Do you expect your partner to meet them? Do you expect a family member or friend to meet them?  What will happen if they are not met?

We all bring different things to the table and we all have different needs - these will change over time, often without us realising and certainly without warning.  When this happens, the kindest thing we can do is be honest with ourselves and each other.

I have mixed feelings about commitment.  I believe in marriage.  I believe in saying to the world;

'This is my mate - this is the person I have chosen - this is the place my soul feels at home and can twinkle its brightest.  This is the person who makes it safe for me to be who I truly am - they accept all my parts without wanting to change or fix them.'

What happens when love isn't enough?  What happens when the commitment has been made and needs change?  I think its possible for a relationship and people to evolve, for the love to change shape. Sometimes, this will never be possible.  The chemicals change.

So I have decided to trust again.  I am trusting my own judgement.  I am trusting my ability to stay upright on my roller skates. 

Every now and then, people surprise - this has been happening to me a lot lately.
Lots of people have surprised me in lots of ways.
I have been shown glimpses of human goodness.  I have been invited into a world that has been kept private from others.  Apparently, it wasn't so much invited, more the 'Ta-dah - I'm here' thing I spoke of, and as such, 'they' are helpless.

I blame the chemicals personally.  I didn't mean to burst into anyone's world. But I'm glad I did!!

My world has been infiltrated too.
But in a much more serene way.  Someone put a giant magnet in the foreground of my life and switched it onto full pull.  I am powerless to escape. I don't want to escape.

The feeling created by the magnet, I can only liken to a raisin being placed in a glass of Champagne.   It is, what appears to be endless bubbles n fizz, there is constant movement (which appears to be effortless).  There is more than a hint of sweetness and the celebration of life being good. Yet it is calm and unhurried.

My soul is currently shiny sparkly.  I hope it stays this way.

If for any reason, the chemicals change, I hope that there will be enough love to be honest - I hope that we will remain in love enough, that it will simply change shape, that we will evolve.
I hope I remain secure enough that I never try to contain or cling, that the rhythm we have settled into continues.

For now? Huzzah for chemicals!!!   ;-)

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Chaos, Change and Confusion

I'm not a completely heartless cow, although parts of this may read as if I am. I won't apologise for that. This is my blog.

I don't cope very well with change.
I never have.

Leaving work was never going to be pleasant and there were many tears at bedtime - I very nearly didn't go for my last shift - it would have been the easiest thing in the world.
Instead, i spent the night before wrapping presents for the kids, writing individual cards stuffed full of meaning and love while hot salty tears leaked from my eyes.

That was last Thursday.  The day my mum went to the Dr's.  The Dr sent her to the hospital.  The hospital sent her home.  Come back if you get worse.  Your x-ray results will be back in 10 days.
Friday she is worse, I can hear her shaking in her voice.  I phone for an ambulance as I am unable to take her.  She refuses to go to hospital. 

Saturday comes and I am tired, I am emotionally drained from leaving work, a difficult week of training and courses - domestic violence and restorative justice.

I need to swim, I need to swim in the cold.  I need to giggle with my friends.
So thats what we did. We laughed, we laughed lots.
Hannah must think we are all slightly unhinged.  She blends among us perfectly and I am glad she is there. She has a long way to go, but if anyone will get there, Hannah will.  Her determination is inspiring.  Lisa says she's like me, in that, she is told something, processes it, then repeats until she gets it..... then moves onto next task. She is like a sponge.
I cant wait to help her more with her open water swimming next year.  Her Outlaw performance will be awesome.  But more of that later.

So Saturday, I played - Sunday I did a muddy runny thingy (which was disappointing compared to the last one we did)... and then I got the message saying my mum had been rushed to hospital.

I arrived just as she was being transported to Intensive Care.  She had only just made it in time by the sounds of it.  Her blood pressure was through the floor (it is normally high) and she had pneumonia.
We now know it is legionnaires.  We know her heart isn't working properly due to all the drugs she is on.  We know her lungs are gonna be seriously damaged for a while.
But she is making progress.  Her resting HR is not longer 160.

Monday came and I went to enrol at Uni (was also invited for a job interview), Tuesday came and I was at Uni, Wednesday came and I started back at my old job, Thursday came and I was attending course on Sexual Health training.

I can't do the 'sitting at the end of the bed, waiting needlessly for something to happen while wailing thing' that so many others can do so well.  I can't effect change so I may as well be busy in ways I CAN effect change.

More than that though, I won't be a hypocrite.
We are not close. My relationship with my mother isn't 'all that' 
There are HUGE things we dont agree on regarding events that took place in the past - things that have shaped who we are individually and the shape our relationship takes.

I had a captive audience - I could say anything I needed and wanted to say to her.  She had to lay there and listen to every word.
I was mute.  There were no words.

What was the point?
Will this experience change her if she makes it? Does it matter?
She will still be the same woman who lied to me, let me down and failed me. Repeatedly.
She will still be the woman who gave me life.

I am who I am because of the things I have experienced.

I haven't seen her since Tuesday - I have been full of cold. They wouldnt let me in to ICU. It gave me reason not to go.
I dont need to go.
It took me a long time to break away, to forge a life, to be free from her.
She could have avoided this.  I am angry that she didnt take the ambulance I rang for on the Friday.  I am angry she didnt go on the Saturday.

My days are long, my sister is beside herself, my dad is breaking my heart. For the first time in about 5 years, he is wearing his hearing aid.  This shit is real.  That is my measure, my dad wearing his hearing aid.
I am having information overload.

I may dislike my mother, but she is still mine and there is an attachment, however disfunctional - I love her.  This confuses me..... and I think it always will.... and thats ok.

The support I have had from my friends has taken my breath away.
There are some people who simply rock me to the core with their amazingness. 
They know who they are and they touch my soul and if they dont, I will tell them in person and give them huge snogs and many squishes.

For now, I have a half Iron Distance Triathlon to train for (and a blog to write about my sprint tri), the Nationals are in a few weeks, I have homework to do for Uni and an assignment to set up, a swim coaching course to complete, a job interview to prepare for, new kids to learn about and fall in love with, old staff to protect myself from, a mother to visit and a dad to keep an eye on and teach some life skills to. I need to see my friends and keep some sort of normality (whatever that is) in my life.

I need time to myself, I need to paint, I need to sort my house and keep the SAD at bay for as long as possible (tidy house, tidy mind and all that).

I need to hibernate for a while.
I need another holiday.
I need a hug.  I need a hug from the one person who cant give me one right now.
But I can wait....