When I was in high school, actually- as far back as I can remember, I was a high-strung, type-A (capital "A", bold, underlined, and italicized) competitive perfectionist. I know my grade school teacher (Mr. Terry, 3rd-6th grades) and many of my middle and high school teachers and coaches would agree. My parents certainly would. I was emotional. I am sure I challenged more than one adult and made being my friend a challenge. I was also needy, I started dating young- searching for love. Not a good combination but not the noodle for tonight.
I started swimming competitively in 7th grade and in high school, without being conceited, was pretty good. Not national-level good. But pretty impressive for not starting younger and not having the tall lanky body of a swimmer. And I loved it. I loved being on a team, I loved the water, I loved working my ass off for hours a day, usually two to four hours every Monday-Friday with meets on the weekends.
My senior year, I was the second best swimmer on our team. Emily was the best, she is one of those tall lanky national-level swimmers. I think she and my coaches would agree that although she had the talent, I had the heart. I worked harder than I had ever worked before, pushed myself farther than I though possible, and completed some intense workouts...sometimes even leading Emily.
We had a new assistant coach, Stephanie, that year. I think she was working on her Master's in Psychology. Ironically, she was really bad at the psychology part of coaching. She pushed us hard, really hard- like college level hard. And sucked all the fun right out of the team, the sport, and most of the meets. Especially districts and state.
For districts, it was all about the team. We weren't allowed to swim the events we wanted to, we had to swim the events that would earn our team the most points. Don't get me wrong- I get it. Except that as much as swimming is a team sport...it really is an individual sport. Especially at the high school level. For someone who is good at the high school level but isn't good enough to swim at the D-1 college she's headed to. Anyways, I digress.
I had to swim back-to-back events. 100 fly and 100 free. It's one of my best memories ever in the pool and something I'm still proud of today. I qualified for finals in the fly and consuls in the free, meaning that at finals I would be swimming back-to-back heats. (If you don't know swimming, think track. Imagine running in the last heat of the 100 meter dash and immediately after running the 200 meter dash with no break except the time it took you to get from the finish line to the start line.)
The 100 fly was surreal. I have never heard my pool that loud before. I remember thinking (while racing), "Wow, it's really loud! There must be close race." I was seeded 6th (slowest in the heat) so I didn't think I had anything to do with it and actually thought I was in last place based on what I could see during my turns. Turns out I was in a 3-way race for first place. In fact I tied for 2nd and if my memory is correct, 1st place only beat us by .01 second. So yeah, it was a close race! Also, I totally pr'd (personal record). When I saw my time on the board, I was dumbfounded...and ecstatic!
I celebrated by swimming about half way down the pool to "cool down", moving over 3 lanes, and swimming back to the blocks. Then I climbed up for the start of the 100 free. I was seeded 1st in this heat and ended up winning my heat by over 1 second (a lot in a 100 yard event) with a time that would have placed me in finals.
I was so exhausted I literally had to be pulled out of the pool and carried away.
I have never before or after worked so hard for something.
A week later I had the worst swimming experience I ever had at the state meet. All the fun was outlawed- it was the worst swim meet ever...and we all performed badly. I have always wondered what would have happened if we'd been allowed to enjoy ourselves.
And this brings me to tonight's noodle:
Why can't I work that hard anymore? It's like Stephanie literally broke me. Like you break a horse. And no matter what I do, I don't know how to get that person back. Don't get me wrong- I really like how I've mellowed over the years and I think a lot of it is good. But I want that drive back. That willingness to endure pain for something great. Or even for something not-so-great, just something I simply want to do. Like run a marathon in under 4 hours. Or lose this wedding/baby weight (I have about 3lbs to go until pre-baby weight...and about 25 to go to wedding day weight).
Is it just that I'm a grown-up now, with grown-up responsibilities? Why can't I prioritize my health and maintain my athleticism. Like my husband does. Like my friend Michelle does?
I wonder if it's the reason I'm not pregnant.
I wonder if it's why I "failed" at delivering Griffin at the Birthing Center and ended up at the hospital with an epidural.
And I wonder why my desire for another baby isn't enough to get me up and moving every day losing this weight.
I still feel broken 14 years later.
I'm so sick of saying "tomorrow" or "Monday" or making any number of excuses or justifications. Of eating 6+ amazing but unsatisfying chocolate chip cookies to dull the pain.
The flip side to all of this is that as much as I hated her, Stephanie made me better. Maybe all I need to do is find the money to pay a personal trainer to boss me around? Maybe I never was the kind of person who could do this alone?
Then there are the logistics. How do you do this without money to spare? I don't think I have anything left to give up to make room in our budget for this. I just snuggled and nursed Griffin back to sleep and all I could think was I would give anything to be able to afford to stay home full-time and go back to being "just" a stay-at-home mommy/wife and home-maker. I miss having the house clean, dinner ready, and everything done when Ryan got home from work so we could just be. Just be a family. A couple. Individuals. I hate how busy and stressed out I've been. I hate that the projects are piling up around the house. That I don't have time to track and budget our money as detailed as I would like. That I am impatient with my boys and the whole world because I have so much that has to get done in so little time.
Help! I don't know how to end this:) My noodles are tangled tonight! If you made it this far- thanks! Nothing like staying up way too late on a school night pouring your heart out to the interweb.