Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the making of action in spite of fear.

First: I finally ran. 5k last night. Nice and easy. No time, no watch, no pace. Just to get it in. I was going to try to do it again today but it got away from me. I'm not worried about it. I'm going to get in a long run tomorrow and swap today for Monday's rest day. And, yes, I am going to try to run Philadelphia on heart alone. Which means I better get on the hotel and flight-booking!

Which brings me to: it's time for some house cleaning.

IM Able had a great blog entry in the weeks leading up to her Ironman debut at IM Wisconsin. It was all about being at peace with not finishing before you even start. Well, this blog is about being okay with not starting before you even start.

I hope everyone knows by now that my latest woes, my daily funks, depressions or whatever you'd like to call them, are not spurred by my inability to train or lack of training. I'm not that shallow. Yes, it contributes, and greatly, but it isn't the biggest cause, and certainly isn't the sole cause, of my struggle. Most of you have read the dirty-laundry airing that I've been doing a lot of lately, so it should go without saying that most of you know what I'm up against. But I do have access to my faculties and I am not in a wheelchair, nor am I terminally ill, mentally or physically. However, there are many days when I would almost - ALMOST - prefer that alternative.

I STRONGLY urge any and all of you who know nothing about NCS or EDS to go to a forum and read some conversations about how debilitating these conditions are. Then imagine having both of them together. Then study the side effects for the medicines I'm on and imagine that you can't even nap when you're tired because one of your medicines requires you to remain standing for 4 hours after taking it. Then read up on vestibular disorders and imagine what it would be like to add all of those together with irregular heartbeats and plain old depression, a pending divorce, trying to put yourself through college, and a battle against an eating disorder that has been quietly developing for about 16 years. Then imagine that you've been diagnosed with the disease that causes cervical cancer, and that you'll never be 100% sure if it's not the strain that causes cervical cancer - until you some day get or don't get cervical cancer. And imagine that your closest aunt, your godmother, is just now going into remission from - guess what? - cervical cancer. (It is NOT genetic, by the way. This is just one of my life's many unbelievable coincidences.)

Now, imagine that you have no one in your immediate personal life, save strangers on the internet, with whom you can share all of this, because you are 1)ashamed to tell your friends you have HPV, so only one knows 2)aware from experience that no one understands any of your illnesses, not even your parents or your husband, who make you feel guilty on a daily basis about your going to sleep early, or some times just accuse you of not caring or not having the ambition to make it through certain daily tasks, 3) accused of drug and alcohol abuse, when you've never abused either, 4)unable to discuss your disordered eating because you don't want to be the downer at every gathering and you're terribly ashamed of it, your weight and your size, 5)unable to make people your age understand your heart and neurological conditions, 6)unable to spend your life visiting friends and enjoying your life like a normal 27-year-old because of all these conditions and medicines, 7)unable to tell your parents about your disordered eating because they wouldn't understand and they would be somewhat unresponsive, and 8)told on a daily basis that it's all mind over matter, and if you could just "get over it" and "be positive" that everything would be ok. Then imagine that you find an outlet in two things: writing and training. But half the time, you can't do either, because you're too sick or too busy just trying to make it through. Imagine that you have no one in your life who is really worried about you, and even when you make suicidal threats, neither your parents nor your husband take you seriously. Imagine that some of your friends even jokingly tell you that you can't hold anything together.

Now, imagine that you were born with some intrinsic, automatic, some may even call it impossible or bizarre or weird or freaky, sense of intuition. You're the kind of person who knows things before they happen. Who sees things that exist when others see nothing at all. And, in addition to that intuition, which some times brings you powerful premonitions, you'e also gifted (or maybe cursed) with an unyielding sense of determination and ambition. But all of those other problems in your life are constantly fighting to cloud that intuition and dull that determination. If you can understand and imagine all of those things, and ALL at the same time, you might get kind of close to what it's like to be me.

Last night I called in sick to my swim relay and sent in the collected donations. I didn't even make it to the party. I slept from 11pm till 9am - 10 hours. My swim shift was supposed to be 6a-10a - I never would have made it. (Some days I can sleep solidly through 2 hours of snooze buttons before waking up and realizing I've done it.) By the time I left my house to get electrolyte drink and health food (something I've been putting off for months), it was after noon. I may go back to bed again in a few minutes. I feel like I got run over by a truck. Tonight I have a bachelorette party to attend, and since it's a girl I love and who helped me get through the first parts of my illness, I can't and won't miss it. But I want to. I desparately need rest and recuperation. And I'd risk almost anything to get it. I'd risk my job, my PhD, my friendships. Which is something of a paradox, because the lack of those very things is what makes me the most depressed some days.

Some times I think maybe people are right. Maybe I use my illnesses and dramas as excuses. Maybe they're all elements of my life that I've cleverly designed in order to have something to blame for my failures. But, if that's the case, I'm a lot more clever than anyone is giving me- than even I am giving myself - credit for. And, if that was true, why are there so many people out there with no dramas and no health conditions taking no actions to improve themseleves?

I can't concentrate on my homework, because there's just too much of it to catch up on, so I'm looking over my list of completed races for the year. I see 11 races: 2 completions (5ks), 2 PRs (super sprint and 3mi), 1 award(Olympic tri) and 3 firsts (super sprint, sprint, and Olympic tris). But only 1 DNF and 2 DNS's. What does that say about me? Well, it says I really like to race - and it says that I finish more often than not. It even says that I came back and defeated the course that DNF'd me. But it also says that there are times when I can't finish, and there are times when I don't start.

And I've got to be okay with that.

Just like I've got to understand that, while triathlon makes me feel better than anything else in my life, it is not the only thing in my life, I have to understand that there are going to be times when my handicaps slow me down. It is not a possible, or even a probable. It is a given. Like Scott Peck said, "Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the making of action in spite of fear." And, some times, the best action is no action at all. Which is why I have spent the day doing nothing. Which is why I have to be okay with the idea of not even starting. But, based on my record, I think it's fair to say there's at least hope that I'll start - and finish - more than I'll ever miss.

I tried to Imeem this song into this blog entry, but I was unsuccessful, so you'll have to go look it up yourself. (There's Hope by India.Arie.)

Back when I had a little
I thought that I needed a lot
A little was overrated
But a lot was little too complicated
See, zero didn't satisfy me
A million didn't make me happy
That's when I learned a lesson
That's it all about your perception
Hey, are you a pauper or a superstar?
So you act, so you feel, so you are
It ain't about the size of your car
It's about the size of the faith in your heart

There's hope
It doesn't cost a thing to smile
You don't have to pay to laugh
You better thank God for that

The next time I fail to make a PR, I hope I remember to be grateful I even finished. The next time I don't finish, I hope I am gratfeul that I even started.

I like to think that my only purpose here on earth is to inspire someone else. What else can someone with all the issues and dramas and troubles I have strive for? If I can honestly say that I've given hope to even one person - that someone looked at me and said, "If she can go after her dreams, there's hope for me, too," - then I'll feel like I've served my purpose.

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Ace said...

(Gasping) I really want to express a sincere apology to you. I feel terrible. I did see you were having your issues, but I never meant to errupt such an emotion from you. I never meant anything negative, I perhaps didn't explain myself properly. Your posts are captivating, and I can just sense your every feeling. I know I may never understand what you're all going through, but please let me assure you that you have a friend in me. We both have a mutual friend (Damien), and even he could tell you what my personality is. I know this this may seem 3 shades of creepy, but if you seriously need someone to talk to, or just a bias opinion, I offer an ear. As you were saying from your intuition...perhaps I was at the right place at the right time. I don't know. If you want, drop your email in my blog, and maybe we can chat that way. Up to you. Again, I'm sorry to hear about your medical conditions, and especially your divorce. And not to have much support from friends or're a better person than me. I have been down that road, and had the proverbial shotgun to the mouth feeling. I think anyone who says they haven't is lying. Ok, I'll try to not make this a novel again. From what I can see, your a great person with a great personality. I can say this confidently because I have nothing to gain or lose by saying that...well, perhaps gaining a friendship but who knows. I do offer kind words when I feel their due, so I mean everything I say. Take care and thanks for allowing me to "hijack" your blog! =D