Without placing a jinks on it, I think this is starting to happen to me.
Two weeks ago I was about as down as I had ever been in my life, and I am not scared or concerned about admitting that on these pages. I talked about it in short on the podcast the last few weeks, but not in any real depth. Suffice to say that there have been days recently where getting out of bed was a task worthy of itself, let alone getting out for a run, or a bike, or a swim. When things happen to you, or around you, that you have no control over it tends to throw you for a loop. Some people are engineered well for handling this. I believe, more than ever, it is because of their upbringing and the issues that have happened in their lives. It makes them stronger mentally.
I am not one of those people.
As you may or may not have picked up on, I can be stubborn, to a fault at times, but it stems from a deep sense of justice and fairness. I don’t like when things happen for no apparent reason. I need to know “why” it happens. I need to understand the underlying issue, and when I don’t get that I tend to stew over it … for great lengths of time. This consumes brain power at work, during training, and keeps me up at night when I should be sleeping. I also hold onto things for a very long time. I know this is stupid, but telling me this is stupid is not helpful. It is how I am made up. If something is said or done to me that hits me in the wrong way, or hurt my feelings, or embarrassed me, I can hold onto that for years. It doesn’t mean I haven’t “gotten past it” or hold a grudge about it, but the “why” factor is still in my head and I find myself remembering these things well past the allocated half-life.
I will give you an example (though I will not use names because it isn’t necessary at this point). When I got out of the Navy I entered college as a 27-year-old man. Well in the top 10% of age for the group I was with. I joined a program called Quanta at Daytona State College which was a peer centered program meant to cross classes and types of students for a better learning experience. You are in it for three hours each day, with the same people, for two semesters. Understandably you will drift toward people you get along with, and eventually about half way through the first semester I ended up with a group that consisted of two guys and three girls. I especially connected with one of the girls. Even though she was 19 and I was 27, we had the same sense of humor and just, well, got along. There was no “romantic involvement” at first, but there was attraction. Eventually this did gravitate to a relationship, but that is not the point here. While she was “mulling over” entering a relationship with me, another girl in the group offered her input about me in general, telling her that “he’s not the best looking guy in the world, but you’ll be able to count on him”.
I’ve remembered that now for 24+ years. It’s right up there with my grandmother telling my mother that I “belonged in a home”, or that “Michael is such a good-looking boy. Too bad about John and Kristi”. Or when my second wife took off on me while I was at sea for 6 months, never offering an explanation of what I did to cause it, except to tell me that “I don’t think I ever really loved you”.
Is it a wonder my self-esteem has been crap for so many years? And I can hear some of you right now, shaking your heads, rolling your eyes, saying “Jesus, John, that was 20 years ago. Let it go man”. I really wish it was that easy.
But at the age of 51 I think I am finally coming out of this cycle.
I am starting to realize that I am worth more than some people value me, and that I cannot be more, or better, than what I am. As Popeye says … I yam what I yam. I can be a better person in many ways, and I know and recognize that, but I think the fact that I can self reflect and identify areas I need to improve makes me better than most men, right?
I can feel myself turning the corner.
My workouts are back in the zone and I feel stronger again.
I miss people I have lost but I know I can go on without them if I have to, whether I want to or not, and believe that who I am is more important and will be remembered eventually, if not in days or weeks, but years.
I am learning that I don’t have to listen to people being negative about or to me.
I am learning that there are just some people who won’t like me, and that is OK, because as long as I know I am doing what I feel is right than it doesn’t matter if they agree with me or not. Their opinion does not affect me unless I let it affect me.
I am learning that even in my lowest point recently there are others lower and that have a lot more going for them in life than I do (R.I.P Mr. Williams), and though I felt alone at time there are people reading this, or that run with me, or bike with me, that like being with me and that I have helped.
These are the people who should matter the most to me.