Tears That Carry

Everyone carries troubled times in their own way.  Some are destructive, some are introspective, some find healthy outlets, some, like myself, allow paralysis to rule rendering any productivity in day-to-day life a total loss.  When its so bad I can no longer cope, I choose not to move, not to think.  Nothing.

Recently, I fought against the heavily ingrained need to stop my world from turning, as all was out of my control.  I was a silent witness to events unfolding in my life.  Helplessly incapacitated by the knowledge that I was defenseless.  There was not one thing I could do to change the course of events.  All was in the hands of God, relegating me to sit, stunned, waiting for a resolution.

There were workouts to be done.  I'd already paid for races, I needed to complete the workouts strategically mapped out for my by my coach.  While my personal world had come to a violent halt, the rest of the world moved on.  Time and tide waits for no one, and I was no exception.  

One evening, I headed to the gym.  I knew I could push myself through the 30-minute strength maintenance lift my coach had calendared.  An easy ask of myself.  In and out and back to my place curled in a ball on the couch.

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First up, step-ups on the 24-inch block.  First set, 12 reps per leg with 40 lbs of dumbbells.  It was challenging, I had to stop in the middle to take a couple of deep breaths, but I knocked out that set. Second set, 3-6 reps per leg with 90 lbs of dumbbells.  I'd completed 3 reps each leg the previous week, I was pushing for an increase of one rep from the previous week.  

I picked up one 45-lb dumbbell, then the other.  took a deep breath, lifted my right foot to the top of the box, pushing through my heel to elevate my body weight plus 90 lbs 24-inches off the floor.  If asked for comment, a bystander would've equivocated me to a new born horse as I fought to stand, both feet planted on the box, then stepped back down and repeated with the other leg.

One rep done.  I was done.  I was tired.  I was sad.  I was confused and discouraged.  My internal turmoil bled out from every pore and I knew I was done.  I couldn't finish the set.

Lifting my head, I stared at the clock and as the second hand soundlessly moved the tide, the tears began to slide down my cheeks.  My frustrations had successfully polluted every part of my life, even this, my favorite workout on the calendar every week.  I turned and walked slowly away from the box and that 90lbs and quietly said to myself: "if you win at nothing else this week, you WILL win at this.  One foot, two foot.  Step up, step down and repeat until you hit four reps per leg."

Back at the box, tears unabated, I picked up the dumbbells and executed one foot step-up, second foot step-up.  I had to stop and take a breath, but I finished the set, and got that extra rep in on both legs.

Week over week as my weight load increases, I grab great joy in watching and feeling the strength in my legs grow.  That Monday night, the strength was there.  Although a bit dormant, held hostage by a mind fighting to gain control of something, anything, but there nonetheless.  However, this time it was not muscle memory or muscle strength that moved me up and down that 24-inch block.  Rather, my legs mined their strength from the tears of grief and inner pain.  Helpless tears that carried a girl and her 90 lb passengers through 24-inches of vertical space until the assigned task was complete.