This morning an old gymnastics memory came to mind, probably because I’d found a reference to this specific meet when I was looking through a photo album last week.
I was around 15 and at a meet in Sicily. Let’s just say that it was not my best performance ever. It may have been the worst. Midway through the meet, my coach and I got into an argument in the locker room (which NEVER happened): I didn’t want to finish and just wanted to be done. I felt completely unprepared and wondered if I was going to get hurt. From his response, I remember feeling like I had no choice but to finish the meet, that I’d never compete again in any high capacity if I didn’t and would be labeled a quitter and unreliable.
In the end, I did finish the meet. The whole experience left a terrible taste in my mouth.
Swept away in the emotions this morning, I felt what I’d felt then: helpless, hopeless, torn — that I had no choice. What would others think of me if I quit?
I’m not sure if it would have been better if I hadn’t finished the meet, if I’d really stood up for myself and said “Hell no. I’m done for today.” Such a response would have had other consequences, perhaps different than the falling did, though maybe not.
As I was thinking about it all, I realized that today, with how far I’ve grown into myself and how much I’ve learned — I still don’t have a “better” answer for my younger self of what I could have done then, whether to finish the meet or not. It all still hurts to think about, and that the best I could offer my younger self would be to hold her and let her cry. (At that time, it was hard then to stand up for myself, let alone to an authority figure who I believed on some deep down level I had to obey. Sometimes now, at 35, it still challenges me when I need to stand up for myself and be my own authority figure. I’m working on it.)
Then I consider that maybe how it all turned out is okay. It was another learning experience pointing out to me that I needed to look inside myself for enough-ness and validation — looking outside of myself would never leave me feeling enough. And maybe that was part of the point of it all.
The other thought that came to mind this morning was this: Okay, things are getting interesting now. This is a chance to learn some stuff. Cool.
Something in this line of thinking shifts my energy out of a helpless and hopeless place. I can feel a twinge of hope. If I’d heard that then, perhaps something inside would have shifted. I don’t know, though I suspect it would have caused me to wonder.
Perhaps allowing the memory (and accompanying pain) to surface today was a forgiveness of some sort (#7), a reminder that life does hurt sometimes, and that I’m always stronger than I think. And perhaps too, a reminder that magic exists in the twinges of hope — it’s where change starts to happen. Plus: I always, always, always have a choice.