Mirror Mirror

‘Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.’ Winston Churchill

Wise words from Churchill himself.

I have actually done some reflecting, not quite intentionally, as a result of a random dream and random recent events that I won’t go into too much detail about. This year has been one of many ups and downs.

Well, I say many ups and downs, it started up, then went down majorly, then improved – more than I thought it would. In all honesty, I am in a far better place than I thought I would be and I am really excited about 2019 (my credit card isn’t so happy). I genuinely cant believe I’m sat here, six months post break up, in such a better place.

It is the first time I have been single for twelve years. Written down, that looks more tragic than I feel it is. I am starting to enjoy being single and as cliche as it sounds, finding out what makes me tick and makes me me again. A friend said to me the other day that she thought it was a good thing that I was still single and finding my feet. Clearly my ex wasn’t actually good enough for me (or good enough for any woman? or just not right for me? Not sure). I’m at the point where his new girlfriend is most welcome to him as when I sat and thought about it, I think I was too laid back and actually, I’ve realised quite a few things that again, for various reasons, were just not normal/right in a relationship that lasted that long. I suppose after the former boyfriend, things seemed more normal. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I do believe things happen and people come into your life (and out) for a reason – even if it isn’t clear at the time. The fog and confusion of a major break up is just about clear (some things still hurt occasionally but for the most part, the voodoo doll is away).

Anyway, on a more positive note…

As daft as it sounds, I feel like I’m reverting back to the teenage me, or rather, the 17 year old me – and I quite like her! Although I hope I am somewhat wiser than the 17 year old me. The flirting, having fun, no commitment, no considering other people’s plans – another mate asked me how I seem to be attracting blokes, but in all honesty, I like blokes, and even though the last one eventually showed his true colours, I know not all men are the same. In the same breath, I am also more aware that not all men are knights in shinning armour/have honest intentions – but so long as the intentions are clear – I am rather enjoying being single.

I am really looking forward to 2019 – I’ve so many things I want to do and develop – I’ve a new business that I want to build up and expand on, exciting races planned, training penciled in, a holiday booked and so many other things I want to do – I feel the world is at my feet. It’s just up to me to embrace it and see what happens.

So while I have been reflective – I am also rejoicing – the love of family and friends has got me through so much and I am eternally grateful for that. I am rejoicing that I am stronger than I thought and emotionally in such a better place.

2018/19, I think, may prove to be the making of me.

 

I am just a little bit excited!

Triathlon X Half Relay Antics

‘Empathy is about finding echos of another person in yourself’ Mohsin Hamid

I’ve rewritten this post more times than I care to remember before publishing. For various reasons – including being too wordy! September was a very busy month – three out of five weekends saw me travelling to the Lake District, all because of some link to the Tri Club, so not all bad.

So, why was I back in the Lakes?

The last Bank Holiday in August, a group of us went open water swimming. Not an usual event considering we’re triathletes, but this time, one of my friends – who doesn’t like swimming at the best of times, had a mini panic attack in the water. This led to a conversation about the fact that she had signed up to Triathlon X half and how she felt she couldn’t do it anymore. Two of us offered to do it for her if she could do it in relay. That turned out to be me. I had planned to come up anyway to cheer her on as I had nothing else on. So a couple of emails back and forth later and I was entered into Triathlon X half to do the swim! Now, TriX has a reputation. It is possibly the hardest triathlon (half and full) in the world. I definitely had the easy part. To put it in perspective, I was done with the swim by 8.44 – she was only finishing at 5pm – and she is an Age-group standard athlete for duathlon. If you want to see the elevation involved, I would just go search it if I were you.

Back to the race planning  – after a few conversations back and forth, I booked my own accommodation. It’s the first time I’ve stayed in a YHA on my own in a dorm room. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was actually ok. It is nicer having your own room but for £27 and to be located right next to the start line, I wasn’t going to complain. I hadn’t booked breakfast knowing that I would be swimming and up early (6am to be precise). I also didn’t check out when I left for the swim. Knowing I’d be finished before 9am, I decided to wait so after swimming I could go get a shower. This turned out to be the best plan ever – who doesn’t want a warm shower after swimming in a cold lake?!

Drinking coffee and eating some oaty breakfast bar I heading over to transition and met my friends. Dressing in neoprene – literally head to toe – hat, gloves, booties as well as wetsuit was more than novel compared to normal. I had been feeling ok about the swim until the night before. Then nerves started to kick in. Although I’ve been swimming again more regularly, this was going to be my longest continuous swim since Leeds Tri in June (1500m) and the water was a lot colder than I normally like to swim in.

The actual Swim 

I can now say I have a far better understanding of what my mate feels about OW swimming.

Not that I am not empathetic – just that I have a better understanding and wish there was more I could do to help her.

Water temperature was 13.3 degrees. Coldest I’ve been swimming in for a long time, especially any distance! It was definitely warmer than it was in April though. It was a deep water start and there was about 135 of us but there wasn’t too much of a washing machine effect as normal – although I started near the back. I spent the first 3/400m wondering what on earth I was doing? Debated getting out, decided I hated OW swimming, wondered how I was going to make it all the way round etc etc. It was awful. I’m not usually negative when I’m swimming but the first part was just awful. If this is even a fraction of how those who dislike/hate swimming feel – wow. This was bad enough and I am a fairly confident swimmer and love being in the water normally.

I finally found some sort of rhythm after I got past the first triangular buoy at about 800m and started to enjoy it. I was surprisingly warm (thank you neoprene!) and took it steady – to try and save my shoulder. The last 200m were cold and long but I was apparently smiling when I got out. Was a bit annoyed with myself as my time was 44.17 and I know full well I could have done a sub 40. My mini stress at the beginning and have to physically stop a couple of times to sight properly and get my bearings definitely didn’t help. My shoulder still isn’t perfect either but it’s only twinging a bit at the moment. I really need to rest it up I think and make sure I keep stretching it out.

I will point out though, that I was smiling when I got out – and dare I say it, I finally managed to enjoy it!

Racing in relay

Racing in relay was new, but the nature of the race (see comments about about elevation), meant I was actually quite glad I’d finished. I definitely feel I had the easiest part of the race. There was a picture of my friends stood watching the swim looking so worried. It turns out they actually were. A few got out during the swim and DNF’d – that worried them. The temperature worried them. My mates nerves got to her. The picture in question is worthy of a caption competition to be fair!

I got out of the water and hung around long enough to see my friend disappear up the road on her bike and I went and got a shower and changed. It was going to be quite a long day. I wasn’t completely on my own though. My day consisted of eating and drinking and generally wandering about until about 5pm when my friend finished. I do not know how she did it, and I am in genuine awe of her achievements. She is so unassuming, quiet and quite shy – I don’t think she realises her own strength, stubbornness and determination. I suppose that’s why I love her, and was more than happy to jump in a cold lake for her. I’d do it again too!

Playing at Pines

‘And at the end of the day, your feet should be dirty, your hair messy and your eyes sparkling.’ Shanti

After waiting a week to have a proper play on the new cyclocross bike (now known as the Ridders), the mudguards came off, the chain was given a quick clean and the brakes given a bit of adjustment – the time had come to actually go and play. The bikes were bundled into the back of the car and the mini road trip to Sherwood Pines was done.

I had been looking forward to this all week. I am not a fan of mountain bikes really, coming from a roadie background, I don’t think this is that surprising. So the cross bike was really a more natural choice. I initially felt a bit out of place – ours were the only CX bikes there and I’ve never ridden in SPD Mountain bike cleats but that passed. Quick. Initial start wasn’t good – one cleat on upside down had resulted in frustration in not being able to clip in, but once rectified, it was time to go and play.

Heading to Sherwood Pines has been on my To Do list for quite a while – but with it being down in Nottinghamshire, I never really got chance to go. Sherwood Pines is a lot flatter than Dalby Forest, and we initially started out on the Blue route – well, my bike handling skills need some work but on the most part – it was so much fun! In my head, it was the cycling equivalent of trail/XC running. I was not really far off. Absolutely loved bombing around the course and not really worrying about speed – so much so I was wishing we’d done two (next time). Even had a bit of a cheeky play on some of the red route sections.

I love my roadies – don’t get me wrong, but this was just so much fun! I’ve got to do some serious practise but for a first attempt, it wasn’t bad! Itchy feet to be back must be a good sign right?

As for having a go at racing – I think it is definitely on the cards – especially after talking to one of the club members this afternoon. I feel this can only be a good thing for my road cycling. I am, however, glad that it hadn’t been awful weather before hand!

Late night musings of the heart.

‘Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.’ – Dalai Lama

This is very much a late night musing as I’m wide awake and overthinking. I’ve lost count of how many weeks it is since he left me for another woman and despite there still being some pain and rawness – for the most part it’s gone. I’m not quite at the ‘not caring’ stage as such but I don’t think that’s far off – I’m not avoiding him as much as he’s avoiding me! However, some realisations have been made and it’s been interesting. Helped by putting the world to rights. I feel the urge to list them. Are you sitting comfortably?

Here goes….Not particularly in order….

Realisations about ‘us’/him/our relationship:

  • As soon as a relationship requires commitment or work – he bolts. Turns out it’s a (very) reoccurring pattern. So why did we last so long you ask? I’m too laid back.
  • He’ll do the same to her. I await karma striking. When it does, I’ll probably be past caring, but it will.
  • On the same theme, he will grow into a lonely, old man. I did tell him this. He agreed.
  • He’ll never admit it, but I think one day he’ll regret what he’s done. Maybe not now – but one day. See above.
  • Both of them and their mates know what they’ve done isn’t on – trying to blend in and clearly feeling awkward. It’s obvious they all knew something was going on before I did. Genuinely don’t believe that they didn’t act/do anything before he left me.
  • He’s a complete coward (putting it mildly) and a poor example to good men out there despite appearances. Who knew eh?
  • Apparently eight years isn’t worth fighting for. It is apparently acceptable to just bury your head in the sand and hope problems will magically go away.
  • I put more effort in than him.
  • He put me in situations where clearly he aimed to spend time with her while appearing to spend time with me.
  • Turns out I was the supportive one. More on this below.
  • This list could go on but it would get very bitchy and sweary. So I shall leave it at that.

Realisations about my mates and myself.

  • I was too bloody nice! This harks back to last point above. I can’t think of one race that I did because I wanted to, that he didn’t, that he came and supported me at. I either did same races as him or he did same race as me. There’s been things I’ve really wanted to do (SUP) that he’s had no interest in and he hasn’t supported me in (although I’ll admit he was quite supportive while I did my PGCE – the levels of support given to him between career change and triathlon make his support seriously pale in comparison!). I also did 95% of the running in our relationship too and when I was stressing every week about kit I needed – absolutely no understanding whatsoever about how this was starting to affect me.
  • I have THE greatest friends in the world. Honestly. There’s a core bunch of about 7 or 8 people that, without them, I’d be in a far worse place. They have listened and supported without moaning – at least to me – about it. Been sympathetic, got me out doing stuff and generally been all round awesome. Some of this has also come from unexpected places as well – so beyond that core 7/8 people there has been some wider support from club mates/Twitter and beyond that has surprised me and helped me. Checking in on me and making sure to nag me to eat/stay positive/tell me exactly what I’ve needed to hear. I am eternally grateful.
  • I’ve pretty much put the voodoo doll away (this relates to a conversation at a TT a few weeks ago – ‘You’re going to have to put that voodoo doll away eventually’ after a long moan about what o should have done.
  • Staying on the theme of friends. They really are the family you choose for yourself. Surrounding yourself with good people is a great healer.
  • I am made of stronger stuff than I realise. Coming out of the pit of despair that was the break up – a friend mentioned this week about how strong I’ve been dealing with things and rising above things. My world was shattered to the core and it’s foundations when he left me. I’ve had no choice but to rebuild it. No point in hanging around. There maybe odd tweaks on the way but life is for living.
  • My self esteem/confidence isn’t too bad but even I need an ego boost occasionally. Turns out I am actually desirable and not at all past it. Not that I ever thought I was past it but I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me!
  • Being single for the first time as a fully fledged adult is interesting and actually fun – I’ve not had time to sit and dwell too much – I’m too busy doing so much random stuff – and things I want to do! I don’t have to hang around waiting for anyone, I can go meet new people, I don’t have to consider anyone else.
  • Which leads on to – any future relationship – I need to remember to be my own person and do what makes me happy more. Life is too short to be a sheep that merely follows. I did too much of that.
  • I can, in fact, look after my bikes myself and sort out stuff. And be organised. Far more self reliant.
  • I’ve less patience for nonsense.
  • Did I mention I have the best mates ever?
  • I am braver than I realise too. I’ve big plans and they are scary. With little to lose – why not?
  • There are still plenty of single blokes out there. That’s been an interesting wake up call! I’m seeing life/dating in a whole different light and I’ve a better sense of self and just what I don’t want. Probably more so than what I do want actually.
  • I’ve spent more time with my cousins – this is quite a big deal actually as there’s a group that are close and I always wanted to be in their crowd – they’ve always looked out for me but it’s really come into its own recently. Definitely feel much closer – and at the end of the day, family and friends – ultimately relationships are are what matter and the love that goes with it.
  • Love heals.
  • My heart will recover. My heart is recovering.

Yes I wanted to marry him and yes I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. There were a lot of things I thought I wanted. I can’t really regret anything. I’ve gained/learnt/done more than I could have imagined over last 8 years. But it’s beginning to look like I’ve had a lucky escape – everything happens for a reason and it may just turn out to be the greatest stroke of luck it happening now!

Second Shock and Recovery

I have not broken your heart…you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine. – Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights

It’s been a mixed few days. Monday was a horrible day, the shock of Sunday was still raw, I hadn’t eaten at all in days (well, not properly) and I nearly passed out at work. Tuesday was a far better day, although that could be because it started with a good, decent swim. Swim does that to me. Today, Wednesday, has been reasonably ok – I’ve even had my regular customers as well as friends checking up on me, making sure I’m eating. So that’s a current round up of where I am physically. I am gradually managing to eat a bit more, and keep it in too – I am managing some training too. Emotions have been a roller coaster though but to relate it to sort – recovery seems to be kicking in – but I would like to feel happy again. Soon preferably.

I’ve tried not to over think or dwell too much on events. I was a state on Monday, finding out he had lied and that there was another woman involved, worse that it was who I expected. This brings us to the quote above. I didn’t break his heart – he head was turned, it was him who didn’t try to prevent his feelings or work on his feelings for me – relationships do take work, and clearly with him, loyalty, trust and faith in what we had being real, wasn’t enough, but in doing this, his heart ‘breaking’, not loving me enough, he has completely broken mine. The pain is still raw and I have never felt pain like it.

My feelings have shifted to anger in one respect. Part of me hopes that he will live to regret what he has done but I suspect he won’t. The shock is wearing off now – I need to start trying to look forward. Speaking to friends, and the support they have given, has been amazing. I could sit here all day and write about how angry I feel at the moment with everything and how much I hurt – and I was going to. Especially yesterday, but today, has been better, I’m also annoyed that I have tried emailing him to sort out the booked holiday and got nothing back. The sooner we get things sorted the sooner I can cut ties.

Today I have eaten, I have started thinking about future races and plans. I have been to the gym, bumped into a friend there and got a S&C plan in place. I’m going to sit down at the weekend and figure out what to do next – or at least gather some ideas. Whether that’s teaching abroad, taking on a tutoring business, travelling or something completely different. I am trying hard to keep busy and think about the future and all the things I could do that maybe I couldn’t before. I need something to focus on and joining the gym is the start of that.

Looking forward, far enough to the weekend at least, I’ve some good plans – off SUP-ing with my cousins on Saturday (my core is going to hurt on Sunday) and catching up with a friend and race planning for next year on Sunday. I’m off work next week too,  The world is my oyster I suppose – and who knows what might happen? Hopefully my next posts will be more training focused rather than moping, feeling sorry for myself!

But sport may just prove to be my saving grace.

Recovery

The start of the healing process after the shock wears off. Grief, tears and misery.

I know that’s what people say—you’ll get over it. I’d say it, too. But I know it’s not true. Oh, you’ll be happy again, never fear. But you won’t forget. Every time you fall in love it will be because something in the man reminds you of him. – Betty Smith

Normally, when I, or my friends, talk about recovery, its about rest or about a lighter training session, less intensive, to help the body recover from what stupid physical thing you’ve tried to do. This time, its recovery of a different type.

Today, or maybe even over the weekend, the shock has worn off a bit. I thought I was coping ok, but knowing that sooner or later, the second wave of pain and grief would hit. If I’m busy or my mind is occupied (yoga tonight proving perfect example – a whole hour NOT thinking about him!), I’m relatively alright. Today though, has been tough. Shock has, like I said, worn off and I am left feeling empty and like bawling my eyes out. One of the girls at work reminded me that it’s fine to cry and that if I need to bawl then I should. Our staff toilet has been renamed the ‘consulting room’ many times before for such reasons. I managed to keep the tears at bay. I am being brutally honest when people ask me how I am. Talking is therapy right?

I am at the point of really missing him. The morning text, the nanite text, the stupid little life observation text, the hugs, the feeling of being at one with the world knowing someone has your back, the love, the cheek, the future plans. Recalling and comparing notes. All of it. Missing it and him. Knowing it won’t be the same again. The wondering what he’s doing. Everything going through my mind in no real order.

All this while also wishing he was hurting as much, when in reality, he’s probably feeling a hell of a lot better! Anger and upset rolled into one.

It’s all very raw. And I’m trying desperately to keep myself busy, plan things for myself and figure out what it is I am actually going to do, while wondering if I am actually capable of achieving some of these things.

The quote at the top of this blog – I know I will feel happy again at some point, I’m sure of it, I’ve seen it with friends who have gone through it and come out the other side. This recovery is hard. Harder than physical recovery from a race or a training session. I don’t think I will ever properly ‘get over it’. It isn’t my first broken heart of sorts. The last left scars. And yes there are similarities. But life goes on and there will be light at the end of the tunnel, but today, I can’t see it and today I want to cry.