I was taught from a young age to hide. I hid well, too. One of my earliest memories is of being laughed at by hundreds of people. I was a dancer, and during an award ceremony went to receive an award and did something a bit goofy and people laughed at me – that awkward, embarassed laugh that makes parents wish the child wasn’t theirs. I still remember it.
Time after time, I was taught that to put yourself out there meant ridicule. I retreated. I read books, wrote stories and day dreamed my childhood away. It was safer. Yes, there was pain. The pain of an emotionally and verbally abusive father. The pain of bullying. The self inflicted wounds of self harm. I hid behind the pain after a while, because at least something was certain. The hurt stayed. I found it almost comforting because it meant that all I thought of the world, and of people, was true. That trying led to hurt, and hurt led to scars, and scars never healed…
Or, it was that way until about 18 months ago when I decided to stand up and fight. It wasn’t a battle against anyone else. It was a battle against myself. I decided that I was sick of living underneath a cloud of depression. I decided that I was sick of hating my own reflection. I decided to try.
And I did.
I fought. I tried. I changed.
In February this year, I got my first ever finisher’s medal for Warrior Dash. The mud is still on my racing bib, and traces of it are on the medal. It reminds me that it wasn’t a clean fight to get to the end. I fell. I slid down a wall at one point. I had climbed to the top, but didn’t get my legs over the edge quickly enough and couldn’t pull myself back up and over, even with help.
When I fell, in spite of trying, people cheered. Not with amusement. Not with cruelty. But they genuinely cheered because I had tried. For the first time, in a long time, there was no shame in falling because I had TRIED. That was enough.
On September 22nd I’m taking part in Tough Mudder. It’s 20km. Warrior Dash was 5km. I’m honestly excited to do it. I’m excited to try. And I will finish it. I will.
On October 6th, I’m taking part in Pink Triathlon. There are some options for length. I chose to register for the longest. It’s a 300m swim, 9km bike ride, and 3km run. And I’m doing it. I’ll need to train, especially for the swim. But I plan on SMASHING it. After Tough Mudder, anything will be possible.
I called my Mum to ask if I could use her bike. She said yes, but had a shocked tone of voice. Her reserved, overweight daughter is doing a triathlon. My father still isn’t over the fact that I’m doing Tough Mudder. I sense a bit of pride in their tones, along with the shock.
But, more than anything, I’m happy with who I am.
I’m a runner.
I’m a Warrior Dasher.
I will be a Tough Mudder.
I will complete a Triathlon.
I’m not hiding anymore.