Saturday, August 31, 2019

Finding a new normal

As we come up on IM Wisconsin week, I can't help but think how much life has changed since I raced IM Wisconsin 2017, i.e. the week we were blindsided by dad's stage 4 cancer diagnosis. Ironman Wisconsin will always mark a turning point in my life. Two years ago, he was healthy (obviously we know now he was sick) and he was alive. The first year without him was hard, but year two so far has been harder. As the reality has set in that I don't have a dad anymore, I'll never hear his voice again, and he isn't there to keep me safe anymore - well it has become devastating. I don't know if it's delayed grief I am feeling or if this is normal, but I feel like I'm held together by a thread at the moment. When we buried dad in Arlington in May, I think it absolutely shattered me.

I had been preparing for Ironman Boulder up until that point and by the time I got to Boulder I was exhausted and sick. When I look back on it now, it isn't surprising things went poorly for me. And I have to say since then I've been pretty lost and angry. I mean the majority of what I feel now is anger. I assume this is one of the cycles of grief, but WHY THE FUCK WAS HE TAKEN FROM ME? WHY WAS HE TAKEN SO BRUTALLY? WHY HIM? I worry that people judge me because he is all I talk about, but honestly, you don't know until you go through this. I may seem fixated on it, and I am, but how do you move on from someone that meant everything to you.

After Lubbock 70.3 this year, I decided to switch things up. I just needed to try something different than triathlon. I've found that when I find something that forces me to suffer, it helps me feel a connection to dad. It doesn't really make sense, since he didn't really want me suffering through ironmans anymore, but I guess I just feel something different than rage, sadness, and despair. Yeah it fucking hurts, but I also feel joy and to be honest, I love the feeling of finishing something you suffered for. Like today, I ran my first trail race on my favorite mountain, I puked and wanted to quit on the last ascent, but dammit I was smiling so big when I finished. Those sloth socks did the trick when I was doubled over at mile 13. I looked at them, gave myself a mental high five in my head said "you're right dad, we don't quit." You never gave up on your fight to live, so why should I give up on a race I chose to do. 

I hate this grief journey. I hate having to feel it. I hate that I have to face it. Endurance events have always been spiritual for me, even before my bipolar diagnosis. To me, they are a culmination of a journey to get there. I keep turning back to them because they give me a purpose and I haven't found my limits yet. I think when you stop chasing those crazy goals, then life really isn't worth it. This holds true for anything in life, my outlet just happens to be suffering on my bike, swimming, running, and now on mountains. I just wish dad was here to see it. I still feel pretty lost right now, but I hope I am on the right path to finding my new normal.

"It takes a lot of courage to face the facts, stare loss in the face, bare your heart, and let it bleed."

I didn't take pictures today, but this is at the summit of the course taken last weekend. 

No comments:

Post a Comment