Thursday, August 7, 2014

The End of the Sultry Downeaster

I spent a month trying to figure things out with the Sultry Downeaster, and now I’m ready to let it all go.  There were communication challenges.  And there was a girl.  Of course there was a girl. 

(Just to clarify, I did not know about the girl until later.)

I’m not judging the Sultry Downeaster.  I still believe that what happened between us was real.  We are all human, after all, and the heart wants what it wants.  Sometimes at inopportune moments.

For a little while, I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but when we talked about it last, he told me, “I’m still seeing her.  I can’t tell her I fell in love with a woman in Washington, DC.”

As my very wise father used to tell me, “Can’t means ‘I don’t want to.’”

And I can't blame the Sultry Downeaster for not wanting to.

As Jeanette Winterson wrote:

When passion comes late in life…it is harder to give up.  And those who meet this beast late in life are offered only devilish choices.  Will they say goodbye to what they know and set sail on an unknown sea with no certainty of land again?  Will they dismiss those everyday things that have made life tolerable and put aside the feelings of old friends, a lover even?  In short, will they behave as if they are twenty years younger with Canaan just over the ridge?

Not usually.

And if they do, you will have to strap them to the mast as the boat pulls away because the siren calls are terrible to hear and they may go mad at the thought of what they have lost.

I had two realizations.  

First, I realized that one of the things that was making it so difficult for me to let go of what happened in Maine was a sense that it might be something that would never happen again.  I had a mindset of scarcity rather than abundance, and that is the complete opposite of the core beliefs I have written about so frequently on this blog.  When he said that about the girl, it made me feel like I was suddenly in some kind of weird competition for love with a woman 700 miles away.  But love is not something a person should ever have to compete for.  If you find yourself competing for love, that’s not love, it’s fear.

Second, there is the matter of courage.  When a person can’t communicate openly and honestly, it is generally because whatever they can’t bring themselves to say is a source of fear or shame, and they are prioritizing their own comfort over the right of another person to know the truth.

He said, “I can’t tell her I fell in love with a woman in Washington, DC.”  

And there’s a woman in Maine who is in love with this man who called me up in tears from 700 miles away to tell me he loved me.  I am so sorry for that woman, and I did not have the opportunity to give my informed consent before becoming a cause of potential pain in her life.

I thought about who I am, and it occurred to me that I am a woman who left a marriage to a really wonderful person because I couldn’t bear the thought of never falling in love again.  I left, not for actual love, but simply for the possibility that love could happen to me at some time in the future, and knowing full well that this was a risk, and that it also might not happen.  

A woman who would do a thing like that has to be so brave.  A woman like that must have a partner who is equally courageous, or she must have no partner at all.

Elizabeth Gilbert wrote:

People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everybody wants.  But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own intention so you can change your life.  A true soul mate is probably the most important person you’ll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake.  But to live with a soul mate forever?  Nah.  Too painful.  Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then they leave.  And thank God for it.

So maybe that is what happened to me in Maine.

Monday, August 4, 2014

July Review and August Goals

July was hard.  It was hard to come back from vacation.  It was hard to be in love with a Sultry Downeaster 700 miles away.  I was very tired.  Here's how I did with my goals:

Lift twice a week.  I met this goal three of four weeks.  The fourth week, I made it to the gym once, and I think that's ok considering it was bout week leading up to a double-header in Texas and I probably needed the extra rest.  This was my first month back at lifting after five weeks off with a sprained wrist, and I was able to build back up easily to where I was before the injury, 150 pounds on squat and 175 pounds on deadlift.  In addition, I was also able to maintain my 80 pound bench press and add five pounds to my overhead press (now 60 pounds), which feels like a huge accomplishment because I have a wonky shoulder and overhead press is really hard anyway.

Lifting, like skating, was an activity I could do that would allow me to put my mind to rest and not think about the sorry state of my love life.  There are some things I don't want to do when I'm depressed, like running, but lifting is something I know will make me feel better, and I looked forward to the reprieve it offered.

Do chinups daily.  I met this goal 18 of 25 days.  (Yes, I know July has 31 days.  I am counting 25 days because I didn't set the goal until a few days into the month, when I had gotten back from vacation.)  Not bad, but I could do better considering the chinup bar is right here in my apartment.

1 individual skating practice per week.  I didn't meet this goal a single week.  I was too busy lying around on the couch reading Jeanette Winterson books and feeling sorry for myself.  Also, I think once a week was too ambitious for this goal as my schedule is already so full.

1 rest day per week.  Well, I met this one.  Thanks, Ms. Winterson!

Here are my goals for August:

1. Lift twice a week.

2. Run once a week.  I have one long lifting workout and one relatively short one, so the plan is to run on the short day.  I've finally accepted the fact that even though I hate the treadmill and would prefer to run outside, I am much more likely to complete the run if I just get it done while I'm at the gym.  It's not ideal, but I want to get a little more endurance training in, and this seems the best way to make it happen.

3. Do chinups daily.

4. Complete two individual skating practice sessions.  Two seems a little bit more realistic than a weekly session, timewise, and I can benefit from even a couple extra hours of practice per month.

5. Be on skates three times a week.  Again, I'm working on balance here and making sure I can fit in the cross training.

Five goals seems like more than enough for one month.  I also want to work on my diet this month, focusing on getting more vegetables as that remains a struggle, and I also want to start reading up on strength training.  At a certain point, if I'm going to keep doing this, I need to develop a better understanding of what I'm doing and why instead of just doing whatever my teammate tells me to do.  Not that this is a bad strategy, since she knows what she's doing, but I need to empower myself, too.  Given that I've already set five goals, though, I hesitate to officially add these two items.  It just seems like a lot.  But hopefully I can divert a little bit of attention to these additional areas of focus.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Lovelorn Diet, Part 2: Lessons Learned

My college Shakespeare professor used to say that Romeo and Juliet is a comedy gone awry.  The protagonists break the comedic form by getting married in the second act instead of waiting for things to sort themselves out at the end of the play.

Personally, I blame Romeo.  If you haven't read or seen the play recently, you may have forgotten that Romeo is in love with someone else when we first encounter him.  Romeo is a pretty emo dude, actually, and he's pining for this other girl.  But Romeo is also incredibly impulsive, and he goes to the Capulets' party on a whim and meets Juliet.  It's not long before he forgets all about that other girl and ends up emoting all over Juliet's balcony instead.

For the whole rest of the play, Romeo is at the mercy of his erratic emotions--fighting in the street, running away, and finally killing himself when Juliet is not even dead yet.  I think we can all agree, he probably should have left the poor girl alone.

This is all to say that if Shakespeare's most famous play teaches us nothing else, it's that love at first sight is treacherous, tricky, and not to be trusted.

So there you have it.

After three weeks on the Lovelorn Diet, I'm pretty exhausted.  I have no doubt that what happened between the Sultry Downeaster and me was real, but I am beginning to face the fact that I'm a 39-year-old woman, not some 13-year-old Italian chick, and it might be time to get my act together.  Because life is, apparently, not a fairy tale, and I don't particularly want it to be a Shakespearean tragedy either.

So now I'm trying to figure out whatever possible life lessons the universe could be trying to teach me besides the obvious one, "Don't talk to strangers."  Here's what I've figured out so far:

Your feelings are your feelings.  Readers of this blog know that I have spent a lot of time learning how to feel my feelings instead of stuffing them down inside and trying to ignore them.  So when I say I'm in love, I mean it.  Nevertheless, I felt a lot of shame about admitting it out loud.  That's why it took me three weeks to write about the Sultry Downeaster.  Anyone who knows how hard it is to stay in love over time--and I am, in fact, one of those people, having been married and divorced--has a right to feel skeptical about the idea of love at first sight.  It's easy to fall in love.  So much harder to stay there.  Anyway, I knew that people would judge me, silently or not so silently because admitting to something so fantastical makes you seem...well, maybe a little crazy or overly dramatic.  So I kept quiet.  When I told the story to my girlfriends, I played down my feelings.  Even when the Sultry Downeaster told me he loved me, I wouldn't say it back.  It was too much.  But you know what?  Pretending I didn't feel it, refusing to say it out loud, didn't make me feel it any less.  It only made me feel worse, actually. 

Friends help.  I rarely talk about my personal life, and when I do I tend to downplay my feelings as noted above, but I couldn't keep everything inside me during this romantic crisis.  Confiding in my teammates and other close friends has been absolutely essential to not going insane.  Suddenly all the social outings that usually fill me with dread felt like lifelines.  Being with other people kept my mind occupied so I didn't have to spend every waking moment pacing around my living room.  Opening up more made me feel closer to people, and it made me think that maybe I should work on allowing myself to be more vulnerable with the people I care about.  Vulnerability is, after all, the foundation of all good relationships.

Speaking of vulnerability.  I went to Maine feeling vulnerable on the romantic front.  I actually think that vulnerability may be part of what spoke to the Sultry Downeaster.  I know I was more open, emotionally, with him that night than I have allowed myself to be with anyone in a very long time.  There's a lesson there, for sure, but there's also a dark side.  Because being vulnerable means you can be easily tricked, and I am not a very trusting person anyway.  Vulnerability coupled with the fear of not being good enough can take you to some pretty dark places.  My mind circled back to every man who ever lied to me or took advantage of my trust.  The nasty tape recorder in my mind kept telling me I wasn't special enough to make a man fall in love with me in the span of twelve hours.  It wasn't pretty.  It's still not.  I have some work to do on this.

Love is not all.  That's a poem by my Maine girl, Edna St. Vincent Millay.   It's true.  Nevertheless, I left my marriage because I couldn't stand the thought of never falling in love again.  Of course, nothing ever works out the way it does in the fairy tales, so I would fall in love with someone 700 miles away.  Nevertheless, I fell in love.  Finally.  Undeniably.  And someone fell in love with me, too.  Doomed or not, if nothing else, at least it's a reminder that it's possible.  If I weren't so angry at the universe right now, it might occur to me to say thank you for that.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Lovelorn Diet

It's more of a lifestyle than a diet, really.  It involves not sleeping, journaling obsessively, bursting into uncontrollable tears at least once a day, and having so little appetite that even chocolate seems unappealing.  Chocolate, people! 

It seems I may have fallen in love while I was in Maine.  I had a completely unexpected, magical evening with a sultry downeaster.  It was like something out of a heartwarming romantic comedy, except for the minor detail that I don't live in Maine anymore.  Obviously, this unfortunate fact adds a lot of drama to the situation and pretty much just means everything is doomed and I am stuck feeling like crap. 

The only time I'm not thinking about the sultry downeaster is when I'm playing roller derby.  Thank God for roller derby and the sweet oblivion that comes with the mental challenge of risking life and limb on skates!

Then, today, as if the universe had not gotten a big enough laugh at my expense, I found out that for the second time in two years, a guy who broke up with me to pursue a whirlwind courtship with somebody else has gotten married.  It was just about six weeks from my dumping to his vow-taking. 

Really, universe?  You've got some explaining to do.

Monday, July 7, 2014

June Review and July Goals

My goals for June were simple: Let my sprained wrist heal and make it to my mid-June derby break/vacation in Maine.  The wrist feels fine.  (We'll see how it feels the first time I fall on it.)  And I did, indeed, survive the first two weeks of June.

Maine was great.  Fitness-wise, I got a couple of runs in while visiting my parents, and some great hikes in Acadia National Park during my week of camping.  Hiking until I was too tired to think and then collapsing into cozy, peaceful quiet in my tent was exactly what I wanted, and I got it.  Nutrition-wise, I ate a lot of lobster, fried seafood and ice cream, and probably not enough vegetables, and I have no regrets about that.

Emotionally, Maine was even weirder than usual.  I don't have much more to say about that.  I've been trying to blog about it, but I can't seem to get it down on paper the way I want to.  Let's just say if I thought solitude and/or sultry oyster farmers were the right balms to sooth my recent loneliness and dating failures, I was wrong on both fronts.  But the solitude was nice for other reasons, and I am really grateful for that. 

So now I'm back.  All in all, I can't say I'm feeling much better than I was before I left.  A little less tired, maybe, a little more hopeful.  Here are my goals for the rest of July:

1. Lift twice a week and do chinups daily. 

2. Do individualized skating practice once a week.  One of the hard things about having so many practices is that it's hard to get time to work on the specific skills I need to work on.  My plan is to fit in one hour of focused, solo practice weekly.

3. Take one rest day per week.  This is a hard one.  My schedule is pretty full.  I've planned out my schedule for the month, and it was hard to fit everything in.  In order to fit in lifting, solo skating practice and a rest day each week, I am having to skip 6 of 17 practices.  I'm not entirely sure this is the best decision, and I may make some adjustments to this based on the practice agendas - If the skills I need to focus on are on the agenda, then it makes more sense to go to practice than to go off by myself.  So we'll see.  I'm going to stay flexible and see how things work out.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Why Am I So Angry?

It began when I was getting ready to post on facebook about the third random thing in three days that almost made me cry. I couldn't help wondering why suddenly everything in the world makes me want to cry.  Then I had a couple out-of-body moments where I heard the words and the tone coming out of my mouth and thought, "Who is that crazy person, and why is she so angry?"

It's been a hard couple weeks. 

This morning my coworker sent around an article about burnout.  It said, "If your emotions are close to the surface, if minor glitches produce a major reaction, you're approaching burnout." Yep, that's me.

Work has been busy and frustrating.  Roller derby is killing me, and I'm not even playing it.  (I had to take the week off because of work, though the wrist needed the time to heal, too, so at least that timing was good).  But the business of the league goes on, and I have so much of that work to do that the thought of trying to catch up makes me want to crawl into bed and hide.  Stuff is falling through the cracks all over the place, and I pretty much hate everything and everyone right now.

Most of all myself. 

I think about my colleagues and leaguemates, some of whom have way more challenges in their lives than I do, and many of whom are equally busy.  How do they get so much done and stay so cheerful, and why can't I be like that? 

 I don't know.  I should think about that some more.  But for the time being, all I can think about is the tent on Mount Desert Island, where I will soon spend eight nights blissfully alone trying to set myself straight, and the days between now and then, which I will spend trying to calm down and get my shit together.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

May Review and June Goals

I had two roller derby injuries in May.  Around the middle of the month, I did something to my shoulder when I fell and a bunch of the skaters behind me fell on top of me.  I don't know what I did, but it really hurt.  It didn't cause me to miss practice--although I definitely favored that shoulder until it started to feel better--but it did keep me from lifting and doing chinups..

The second injury was a sprained wrist last week.  I actually thought it was broken, and my teammate took me to the hospital after practice to get an x-ray.  I missed practice this week because I was afraid of falling  again and injuring it more.  And I can't lift or do chinups because I can't grip the bar.  It totally sucks, though I realize it would suck even more if it were broken.  I can tell it's getting better, and we have a bout on Sunday.  I'm just going to try really hard not to fall on it.  All I can think is, every time I fall on that wrist is probably at least two more weeks I can't dead lift.

My goals for May were:

Skate three times a week.  I was on track to meet this goal three of four weeks until the wrist thing happened.  I made it two of four.

Lift twice a week. I met this goal two of four weeks thanks to the shoulder and wrist problems.

Run once a week.  I met this goal two of four weeks also.  This was more due to being busy with work and other life than it was to the wrist.  It felt good to get back outside for my track workouts, though!

Do chinups every day.  I met this goal 13 days in May.  It makes me sad to see my chinup bar hanging there every day when I can't use it, but I'm also encouraged by the progress I made doing as much as I did.  At the beginning of the month, my reps were 4, 3 and 3.  My best day, right before I got injured, was 7,6, and 4.

Other Milestones:  Despite only meeting my lifting goal twice this month, I go two PRs in the gym.  I squatted my body weight, 150 pounds, for the first time ever!  And I added five pounds to my bench press, bringing that up to 80 pounds after months at 75.  I also got my dead lift back up to 175, which is just ten pounds short of where I was when I hurt my back in December.

Goals for June:
Honestly, my only goals for June are to get the wrist healed and make it through the next two weeks until the start of our league's two-week derby break and my vacation in Maine, where glorious hiking awaits.  The next two weeks are insanely overcommitted with work and derby stuff.  I'll go to as many practices as I can, and that might be the best I can do.  I am looking forward to some quiet, reflective time in Maine to take stock and make some goals for the second half of the year.