I have two ways of expressing my stress in positive ways: writing to deal with the subconscious feelings that weigh me down and rowing to deal with the physical sensations that weigh me down. Writing only helps so much. There is something amazing that happens during the rowing process where my mind clears, my empathy resets, and I am awoken to a profound sense of wonder and curiosity about the world. I am otherwise curmudgeonly.
My sobriety is like an open secret. No one really knows the true complexity of what sobriety really means; to have gazed through the precipice of that unknown and recoiled before being consumed by it. I have difficulties because of it. I am not the person I was or can be, but the person I am is here, writing this, reflecting on that sort of open secret some of us know but no one knows.
I spent all day Saturday on my feet, running around, talking to people, without drinking my usual gallon of water per day, only eating a small breakfast and a small dinner, after a week of rowing 15-minute sets somewhat consistently, for the heaviest weigh-in I’ve had in nearly one year. It’s easy to critique myself, consider all my efforts to be wasted, and consider this whole thing to be a waste. Instead, let’s consider unexpecting.
The emotion I felt, upon receiving the email and URL that a professional article I wrote was published on a big league website, was emptiness. Is that an emotion? I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment over getting closer to writing professionally. I didn’t feel starstruck. I didn’t feel better. I’m still in that same depressive rut. I’m happy it’s published, but no endorphins flooded my brain to congratulate me on a job well done.
I kept this mini-rower for one month more than its usefulness because I needed a viable option. The gym I found is an effective stop-gap, where, within its hours of operation, I can row well consistently, so I don’t need this squeaky rower. I still want a nice rower I can use at any reasonable hour for those days I’m anti-social, but at least I’ve been able to burn off some superfluous energy – mentally, anyways.
Ideally, we probably all want to live in some sort of tranquil state where we can achieve any one of multiple goals, all through which the friction is exciting but not overwhelming. If we have to do a bit of mad dashing to get there, that can be fine, too, although we can get burned out quickly that way. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been swimming up a waterfall to get a mediocre prize lately.
My mind constantly chatters. I’ve developed a tolerance for ignoring the negatives – and when the negatives scream out me, I’ll sit quietly, listen to it empathetically as that bratty side of my mind screams about not being able to get ice cream, until it tires and we can find a compromise on maybe some icy treat later on – but even without the negativity there’s still there’s a constant monologue of ideas. Except when I exercise.
I think we procrastinate when an activity is too difficult to imagine how to start. I’ve been procrastinating on deciding my fitness lifestyle for the better part of the past month, if not multiple months, and it’s been a mild irritant that’s just been permeating everything I do, but in minor ways. I can only express my stress so much through words. When others tell me about their gym memberships, I experience something weird: jealousy.
Life is the most stressful thing we all do. Within it, there is beauty and brutality. What happens when we encounter overwhelming stress? Stimuli that seems unfathomable from multiple angles can seem like juggling chainsaws, and before I forced myself to remain sober, moments like these would be my weakness. I would allow the stress to consume me. Now, though stress still affects me deeply, I’m usually able to bounce back overnight with some self-care.
I haven’t had much energy lately. My health has declined since I stopped rowing twice daily in minor ways, but it’s in the inability to move things I once could or work as hard as I once could. After I moved, I stopped being able to row at all. The chains are too loud. Sure, the neighbor kids still scream in the complex, but I don’t want to be rude like that, so I’m stuck…