When You Go Down a Hill, You Have to Go Up Again

In life you have those very good weeks and then you have those very bad weeks.  Last week was one of those very bad weeks.  If you have read my blog for very long you will know that I have a problem with anxiety and worrying.  Most of the time I am able to work through any fears I have relatively easily.  Since I have become a mother and stay at home mom I have become quite a lot more relaxed than I was when I was working a 40 hour work week outside the home.  Last week was anything but relaxed.  I am not sure what triggered it.  We had a really stressful week with my two year old daughter, Alexandria, a few weeks ago and I know from experience that sometimes it takes a bit for your body to catch up with life's events.  I had also received some bad news about a family member, which made me extremely sad.  I woke up Monday morning and had that flurry of butterflies furiously flapping their wings in the pit of my stomach.  I went to mom's group and any time I spoke the feeling came back.  This was really odd because I usually don't have any problem speaking my mind and exchanging ideas with the lovely ladies in the group. To my dismay, the feeling of foreboding followed me through the week.  

I used to get these feelings all of the time.  Mainly when I had to go into a new situation.  I remember one time when I first moved here and was going to meet a friend one afternoon.  I hated getting my hair cut and she recommended a place and said she would come with me so it wouldn't be so scary.  We had a really good time that day (even though the stylist didn't know what she was doing when she fixed my hair after she cut it.  I looked like a relative of a chia pet), but I felt nauseous the entire time. I am not sure exactly what changed, but eventually I grew out of being anxiety ridden all of the time.  As I got older and more successful at my job I became a more confident person.  New situations still scared me, but I took it as a challenge and not something to be afraid of.  It also helped that I was put on a low dose anti-depressant when I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis

Unfortunately my family is usually the one that gets the brunt of these mood swings.  (This is my formal apology to them even though I have apologized multiple times in person already).  One of my greatest points of frustration was my preparation for the triathlon relay I am racing later in July.  I called my husband, John Mark, and snapped at him out of the blue on multiple occasions.  At the time I felt justified, but I realize now there are definitely better ways to communicate your frustrations.  Lashing out never does anyone any good.  The triathlon was a month away and I was beginning to feel like I was delusional to think I could try and finish it.  One of the huge barriers I had was that I did not have the appropriate attire for long rides on a bike.  I had a plan in my head of what I was going to do, but realized (by some education from my dad) that it probably wasn't the best plan.  All of the decisions that I had to make surrounding the event made my head swim.  I just wanted to swim and bike.  Why did everything have to be so difficult?

One of the positive outcomes of that week was that I began to train.  Like for real train.  I rode my bike Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  I also swam on Wednesday and Saturday.  The more I road the more confidence I had.  My muscles were sore, my legs ached, my back hurt...and we don't even want to talk about how my butt felt.  I began to realize I could do this and would be successful at it. 

John Mark and I had a talk Friday night and began to figure some things out around my anxieties.  The next morning I woke up feeling refreshed and like a new person.  We had a silly, lazy morning on the back deck eating breakfast with our sweet girl (who decided to draw on everything with her sidewalk chalk).  I decided to hell with my worries, it was going to have a good day.  


JM and Alexandria drawing with "chalkey"
I biked to the seminary so that I could go swimming.  I had been doing this the past several Saturdays to prep for the race.  I had almost completed my biking route when my back tire began to slide around on a very bumpy road.  Being a naive, new road bike rider I assumed it was because I was on a road bike and they didn't handle on that bumpy of surfaces.  Eventually I realized my safety was at stake on the bike and perhaps I could check it out.  I jumped off my bike and found a flat tire.  The odd thing was, unlike every other disaster that week, I stayed calm.  I called John Mark twice and then just said, "I'll walk the rest of the way." when he told me he would come and pick me up.  I was almost waiting for the freak out moment, but it never came.  On my walk I ran into a guy walking his 16 month old little girl who said he just happened to be the coordinator for the Louisville Bike and something or other club.  He asked if I had a flat tire and I said I did.  He actually went back home and met me at the seminary to change my bike tire for me.  He even gave me a free spare tire that he gets from his biking team.  A good Samaritan.  It was funny because I was able to appreciate what he did all the more because for once that week I didn't panic when something went wrong. After that I was able to finish my 1500 yard swim with a strange confidence. 

The rest of the day was amazing.  We used a groupon to go to the North End Cafe on Frankfort avenue and enjoyed some mouth watering burgers (my daughter did eat two things of butter and a thing of jelly, but I decided this was a battle I did not want to pick).  We went to a rummage sale at a church and enjoyed $.25 ice cream at Homemade Pie and Ice Cream Kitchen. 


Butter is nutritious, right ;)


They had sherbert.  I'm glad we didn't get her the blue kind.
 The next afternoon I decided I need to go on another bike ride, but I would wait until later in the day. The nerves that had consumed me for the past five days seemed to be absent.  To be honest, I was grateful, I really needed a break from them.  John Mark and I scoured the triathlon websites and eventually (after almost two hours) found appropriate tri gear for me to race in (I am still crossing my fingers that it will fit).  We were able to complete this task without me snapping at him once.  I consider this was a small victory. 

It had been raining and after it stopped I decided to head out for my ride.  I was still a bit afraid that the heavens would open up and pour down buckets of rain on me or my tire would pop again, but I pressed on anyway.  I took a deep breath and told myself that I was going to be fine.  As I headed out onto the path that John Mark had mapped out for me I began to feel a freedom that I hadn't felt in awhile.  There were still a few scattered rain drops falling from the sky, but the air was cool and lacking the humidity that it had in the previous days.  The sky was this brilliant shade of pink and orange.  The air felt clean.  I felt a new vigor for life.  A good friend of mine always tells me that when she is in nature she feels closest to God.  That night I understood exactly what she meant.

I made my way down to a road that runs along the river (conveniently named "River Road").  I had never taken a bike trip that far before, but the confidence I felt was uncanny.  The speed that I felt going down the hills was a new experience, but I wasn't afraid.  It was at the end of one of those very large hills that I realized that I would have to go up it again to get back home.  My excitement for the ride faltered just a little...until I saw the river.  The sky was brilliant and everything looked so calm and serene.  I laughed to myself as I rode that I was going to be swimming in that river in less than a month.  I told myself to remind me that day if I was nervous (which I knew I would be) how beautiful the river looked that evening. 


The Ohio River
I turned around after biking through a park and with the thought of going up those hills lurking in my mind, I made my way back home.  As I made my way along River Road I took in the Ohio once again and told myself, "You can do this."  While I was riding I heard someone yelling from a car that drove around me.  I told myself they were probably taunting me, as some local young drivers tend to do, but realized there was a young man hanging out the window giving me two thumbs up.  I couldn't hear what he was saying, but would like to think it was something like, "You go girl", if people even say that anymore.  It was what I needed to press on. 

When I got to the first dreaded hill, which I knew wasn't the biggest one, it was bad.  My legs were killing me, but I pushed myself to keep going.  It was about halfway through the second hill that I heard a car honk.  I thought, "What a jerk, share the road" and looked behind me.  There was a blue Malibu Maxx creeping, carrying my grinning husband and my little girl.  I smiled to myself as I continued to go up that ridiculously long hill.  If you thought a random stranger gave me the confidence I needed to keep going, you can only imagine what having John Mark driving behind me did.  I didn't stop.  I had to get up that hill eventually and what better way to do it than with my cheering section behind me.  At several points, through the rolled down windows, I heard Alexandria yell, "Mama!  Mama!".  I felt like I could conquer the world.  The worries of the week seemed to pale in comparison to the joy I felt biking up those hills that afternoon.  The awesome thing is that he didn't get impatient because I was going too slow.  He stayed behind me, encouraging me to keep going.  Don't lose heart.  You can do it.  I began to cry and it wasn't because of the hills.  I cried because I knew I was not alone.  Regardless of what worries or anxiety I had, I wouldn't have to face them alone.  I knew that I had my own cheer section that was rooting for me and behind me, no matter what.  Even if I snapped at them or freaked out on them, they would always be there.  I dreaded going up those hills again, but I never realized at the time how going up those hills would turn out to be one of the happiest times of my life. 

Later after I made it home, I went through the crazy routines of coercing Alexandria to eat dinner, bathing her and putting her to bed.  I made John Mark dinner and served it to him in the living room as he unwound from a somewhat stressful afternoon with our child.  I told him that I cried when I saw him behind me in the car.  I told him it was sweet and really encouraged me.  He said proudly, "You were going like 15 miles an hour when you weren't on the hills".  I smiled and gave him a kiss.  I knew that my anxieties and worries weren't gone for good, but I realized that there are far more important things in life to waste your energy on them.  Sometimes going up a hill is what you need to remind yourself that you can keep moving on.  That you can be great.  At least in the eyes of your little family.   

Comments

  1. I admire you honesty, but most of all your courage to "press on" through some of your most trying times. I think that is why I have been able to push through some of my own battles because I have such inspiring words of wisdom from warriors I call my "IC" sisters. Sometimes God doesn't always yell, but whispers,and if we are patient enough we hear him.

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    1. Thanks Jamie, God gave us to each other so we could encourage each other to keep going on even on the hardest days. Love ya my IC sista!

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  2. Aw, the end of this post made me tear up. What a sweet, encouraging husband you have. And big hugs to you for your determination! I have anxiety too, so I know what that's like. Way to keep pressing on. <3

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    1. Thanks Christine. This week has been a lot better. You just let it creep up on you and then it controls you. I hate feeling like that!

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  3. Very inspiring - thanks for sharing! It's amazing how a small cheering section of loved ones can make you feel. :)

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