Shaken Now Stirred
These posts are becoming far too infrequent and I am going to stop pretending like I am going to get back to doing them weekly.
I will do them, when I have the time or the desire to write something. I really enjoy writing, but the reality is, it takes a fair chunk of time. Time is a commodity that seems to be in short supply lately. I mean, I have the same 24 hours every day that you do but I choose to spend a lot of those 24 hours working on my podcast, working on myself and working on the triathlon team that I run. A lot has happened since I last wrote one of these which has been pretty bad. My Grandad died after fighting prostate cancer for 19 years. I travelled to New Zealand and Canada for work. I even started making some real progression with my rehabilitation which means I am on the comeback trail. But, as always, I turn to the things that happen in my life to write these… reflections?
Have you ever heard that it is bad to bottle up your emotions? I have and never really thought too much about it. I have dealt with tough times before and I have been quite open about the fact that I have even seen counsellors before when dealing with difficult things. My Grandad dying is what I would call a tough time. Despite convincing myself that I was ready for it to happen, it crushed me. I mean, it hit me at 100km an hour and left me on the side of the road in a heap. The weird part though was that I didn't really show how much it had impacted me. I mean, I was sad, and I cried a bit but mostly I was fine. I spent a few days in New Zealand and from the outside I probably looked like I was doing ok. On the inside however, I was a mosh pit of emotion from a late 90’s punk concert. I was in a state of chaos.
I believe that I do not think that being upset is a sign of weakness or that real men don’t get sad. Nothing like that. But I know, I don't like being sad. So, I bottled up the emotions and convinced myself I would ‘get over it.’ I came back from New Zealand actually quite glad that I went. I made the trip home from the airport surprised that I was doing ok. Then I got home. My home is my favourite place. It is my space where I am the truest version of myself. I got home, and the struggle began. Imagine a fight scene from your favourite comic book or movie. Two forces locked in an intense battle. That was all happening to me on the inside. When Dez got home from work that day, I completely flipped out over something I don't even remember. God bless her, she said, “Tim are you sure this isn’t about your Grandad?”
I have never experienced emotion like that ever in my life. I will try and explain what it felt like: Anger which started to erupt as my face got hotter, my jaw and fists clenched, and I wanted to scream were suddenly replaced by an ice-cold sensation which swept over my entire body. I started crying. Not like, ‘here is a tissue’ crying. I mean the Niagara Falls of tears. I was crying so hard I almost couldn't hold myself upright. I was weak at the knees and Dez stood there and held me. I do not know how long I cried for. I really rarely cry but I feel like I did about a year’s worth in one hit. I didn't feel better after. I felt… Calmer? I felt lighter? I felt like I was starting to let go of all of that turmoil that was inside and starting to heal. It wasn’t like this was the last of it. My Grandad’s funeral was probably the toughest thing I have ever experienced. I felt more tired the afternoon of his funeral that I have ever felt after any marathon or triathlon no matter how hard I have raced. But that feeling of lightness grew more and more until the weight of sadness left.
I think I can say that I am not sad about my Grandad dying anymore. Instead, the sadness has been replaced by me missing him. There have already been a few situations where my default is to call him and ask what to do. I had to find my own way instead. My Mum told me something though which really helped. She said “Tim, even though you would call him for advice, you always knew what to do – he just told you it was the right thing.” This has also helped to make it easier to have confidence in my decisions.
Now all of this preamble about bottling up my emotions before they spill out culminated for me (not in a bad way) during a meeting with my dietitian, Chloe McLeod. I decided to go and see Chloe because I am starting to get over my injury and I know I am not in the shape that I normally am and want to get back in shape. The thing I like so much about seeing Chloe is that is about so much more than food. She is my health guardian angel. The first three things that Chloe asked me were: how is your stress? How is your sleep? Are you meditating?
*We recorded our latest episode of Think Fit with Chloe about eating for weight loss and eating for performance*
My stress has been quite high because I am dealing with the most chaotic organisation to produce merchandise for my company. My sleep has been bad because of stress for about a month and a half because of stress, travel and fear. But I realised I had not meditated for weeks, maybe months… When Chloe asked me why, I had to stop and think. It isn’t because I am too busy – it takes 5 minutes. No, the truth was that every time I take the time to turn my attention onto myself, I brush the edges of the pain that is still in there. Almost like there is a wound that is healing, and I am too scared of bumping it while it gets better. I think the way that I had my emotional outburst scared me and I had (once again) been trying to avoid it. All because I was bottling up my emotions in the first place. I made it a much scarier and worse thing than it really is.
So, I came home and meditated. You know what? It was fine. No, it was great. I am sleeping better, I am less stressed, and I am starting to train hard again.
I chose the title this time because how I see it, I had a bottle and shook it until the cork blew out like a winner on the podium celebrating with champagne and it scared me. But now, I am ready. I am ready to move forward again and this time, like all the other times before, I have learned something about myself. I am going to be kind and gentle to myself for a while yet. But I am also going to use this new knowledge to help get the best out of myself. I said it Chloe and I say it to you all now. It is time for Tim 2.0.
Don’t avoid your emotions or they will cripple you and as always, remember to TRI!
11/9/2018 09:53:22 am
Great post mate. The line about not wanting to brush the pain wound while it is healing resonates so loudly. We so often take the path of least resistance, even knowing it may not get us to our desired goal.
8/10/2019 11:38:08 am
The life of an athlete is one that is filled with a lot of challenges. I am not saying that we are above everyone else, however, the challenges that we face are just absurd. I want people to respect us more than they do. People think that we are stupid people and that is why we are athletes, but that is not true. It takes a lot more than juts athleticism to be a great athlete, you also need to be smart.
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I lost 50kgs though triathlon and completed the 2016 70.3 World Championships. Aiming to hit 4:05 for a 70.3, the same time it took me to complete my first Olympic Distance Triathlon. I want to bring as many new people to the sport as possible. Whether you are fit and active or want to make positive changes to your life.