While sitting in my car today I had a bit of an a-ha! moment. I was meditating, (let me reassure you I was not driving at the time, I was parked in a car park waiting for something to open, so had used my time productively) and an alert beeped at me to remind me my gym induction is tomorrow.
I had to smile at the timing, as the thing I was concentrating on at the time was the vision I have of myself as a skinny minnie. As I embark on a swim/gym/yoga fest I need to keep that picture of thin thighs and long hair in mind (I don’t know why I need long hair to have thin thighs). It is all too easy to stay in bed when it is cold and dark outside, as I know all too well: I’ve not been swimming once this week despite me falling over my packed swimming bag each morning.
What is the worse that could happen if I get up at 5:30 and go swimming? I don’t know, but something is still stopping me from pulling on a costume and simply enjoying being in water again. When I was in Port Douglas and playing with my niece and nephew in the pool, it was great fun. Following the black line up and down, no fun. I know when I get in the pool, unless I get a lane to myself, I will soon be either overtaking everyone in it, messing up their chi and morning swim as I plow past them. Or, I will get fed up of being held up by people swimming in the fast lane who shouldn’t be there, and damn well won’t move over. Or kids will get in the lane and prat about.
Or simply I will swim as best I can, as fast I can, the muscles in my body slowing warming up and remembering what it was they used to do when I was competing. The after swim ache cannot be replicated by any other sport or activity I’ve found. It is a nice ache, my muscles feel useful, and I feel grateful that so many years down the track they can still hold the shape and form of the strokes, so that I get compliments on my style. But the atrophy of the muscles over time since I swum last means I have mean I am as weak as a kitten compared to what I used to be like.
Therein lies the problem. When I was swimming, competing, land-training and generally not doing anything else because there was no time to do anything else, (including school work), if my times weren’t good enough, or I didn’t try hard enough. I wasn’t good enough. Me. Swimming and Lily. Forever entwined. ‘You have a talent!’ when I wanted a night off to do homework. ‘You’ve swum faster than that before’ when I was second or third, not first.
I get no enjoyment from swimming, because it is forever bound to a place in psyche where I was never good enough. Every PB I got, if I didn’t get a PB in another event at the same gala, I hadn’t done enough. If I didn’t lead the lane in training, I hadn’t done enough. If I struggled with the clique that I was always on the outskirts of at the club, I was to let the swimming show them, but if I was upset, or stressed, my concentration would slip, so I couldn’t do enough.
I’ve been left with a lifetime legacy of hating the smell of chlorine. Loving water. Hating swimming. Loving the familiar ache across my shoulders. Hating the palaver of getting undressed and getting dressed. Loving the peace and tranquility under the surface. Hating water in my ears. Loving watching the bubbles trail off my fingers. Hating the pressure I put on myself. It’s been nearly twenty years; twenty years since I stopped properly competing. The scars from battles fought through my teenage years have followed me for long enough.
My leap of faith? My a-ha moment? I am going build a bridge and get over it. I am sick and tired of feeling like this, a continually harried, scared teenager inside. I am going to find a way to love swimming again. I don’t know how, but going to a gym which has a pool I can sink into after a hard training session is a start. I am also now used to stilling my mind and letting thoughts come and go. As I swim methodically up and down, I will create new neural pathways. Happy paths. Not sad ones. I will concentrate on what I feel now, not what I felt then.