Uphill Battles and Small Victories…

The conversation begins in my head before I’m barely aware I’m awake.

What am I going to do today?  Can I just sleep a little longer?  What if nothing at all happens?  I have to get x, y, and z done.  I don’t feel like it.  I’d rather sleep.  I’d rather surf the web.  I’d rather post on Facebook.  I’d rather do almost anything other than wake up and face the day.

I promised myself that today I would start exercising regularly again.  My friend Yalitza agreed to walk with me in the park, and I figured that having someone to walk with would be the outside pressure I needed to keep myself honest.  Of course my first instinct was to find a way out of going.  I’m nothing if not resourceful when it comes to making excuses and letting myself off of the hook.  I’m tired. My back hurts. The weather’s crappy.  I have nothing to wear.  I don’t feel like it.  Instead, though, before I lost my nerve I called and left a message to see if we were still going and what time.

When I got a text message back, asking if we could start on Wednesday, I was happy to be let off of the hook. But maybe because I’d eaten a sensible breakfast, and had gotten it in my head that today was the day, I thought maybe I’d still go.  And then I spent the next several hours changing my mind.  Back and forth.  I should go.  I’ll go tomorrow.  I really should go.  I don’t feel like going.  What path am I going to take if I go?  It would be better if I had some company.  No, I’ll go.  Nah, I’ll do something else now, and then go tomorrow.

I started to beat myself up for not following through.  And then I got a text message from my friend Julie in Florida that made me happy and sad all in a matter of minutes.  Happy to hear from her and sad because I won’t get to see her this month.  And I started to spiral, feeling sorry for myself, and I thought, nope, not going.  But, I realized that I had to put a couple of letters in the mail today.  It had to be today.  And if I had to go out anyway, I might as well go for a walk while I was out.  I knew it would make me feel better and stop the spiral or at least distract me for a little while.  And so I put on my workout clothes and my running shoes.  And while I was at it, I put some quinoa in the rice cooker, so I’d have something healthy to eat when I got back.  I grabbed my iPod and my keys and started heading for the door.  And then I heard the tink, tink, tink of the drizzle hitting my air conditioner and I knew the rain was coming.  But, I still had to get to the mailbox and I was still dressed for a workout.  So, I grabbed a bottle of water and my membership card, and I went to the YMCA after dropping off the mail.

I walked on the treadmill for 30 minutes.  The first time I’d done that in many, many months.  The first five minutes were great.  The middle 15 minutes or so sucked (as they almost always do), since the conversation in my head continues unabated, even with some of my favorite music blasting (Barenaked Ladies).  I can stop now.  At least I did a little.  It hurts. I’m sweaty.  It’s hot.  I should just stop now.  But I didn’t.  I kept going, and the last five minutes (plus the cool down) were pretty great.

Afterward, I came home and felt really tired but in the best possible way.  And I felt proud of myself because despite the worst possible opposition (me), I did it.  I spent 30 minutes doing something that without fail makes me feel better, even as I fight against it tooth and nail.  And I didn’t need someone else to go with me or to keep me honest.  And I didn’t need for the situation to be perfect.  I just needed to go and do it and shut the hell up about it.

And so, on the other side of today’s war inside my head I’m thinking about how exhausting it is to have that ongoing conflict happening.  To let a thousand little things derail me at any moment and to give up and let myself spiral and wallow simply because I can.  It uses an extraordinary amount of mental energy to fight myself and my worst instincts.  It’s a ludicrous exercise that could simply be circumvented by waking up, getting dressed and going for a walk or going to the gym.  Or at least waking up, getting dressed and knowing that I’m going for a walk at a specific point in the day and not letting the argument even begin.  Because, fuck you negativity.

I consider it a minor miracle that I got out of my own way today and I’ll take it as a win.  And I need to continue reminding myself that arguing with someone irrational (especially when it’s me), is a surefire way to lose every single time.