There’s that old game called Telephone …

7 03 2009

Does anyone remember that old game Telephone? One person starts with a sentence written down and everyone has to whisper what bits of it they heard along the way. Usually, like a somewhat warped Mad Lib, it gets skewered along the way through no fault of anyone’s own … But sometimes there’s that kid in the middle of the line who thinks it would be funny to completely disregard what was said in one ear and ship out something completely different out the other side.

Gossip happens the same way! Someone may have been told in confidence one thing and innocently it gets back to the initial party as something completely different. A thought suddenly becomes a fact. A buddy of mine, Jack, found out that he had cancer this way. He and I were talking and he said “Hey, Lizzy, you know I’m alright, right?” Hu? What? Well – it turned out he had meant to include me on his “Dang, I’m kind of afraid. The doc is sending me in for pre-cancer screenings.” and didn’t. We’d not talked for a long time and I’d said “Jack – you were on my mind. Are you OK?” I’d not heard anything, but we don’t have friends in common really. I said it was probably innocent and not to be concerned.

Of course, he is always concerned, as our world has made us increasingly paranoid. I know I’ve run in to this one. Actually, I’ve lived this one. Although I write pretty freely, but a friend of mine Dick mentioned that for all my being “free and open”, I’m pretty closed in a lot of ways. That just comes from not innocent comments but using my past, words, and fears against me.

Yeah – that sounds pretty paranoid, hu? I thought so too. Sunny said “No, Lizzy, not paranoid in your case … hyper-careful.” Hu? Whatever. I, like many, am far from perfect. Unlike many, it’s a situation that is unacceptable to me.

The biggest thing I’ve been working on is trust and my own confidence. I’ve still been finding myself replacing training time with working time. I still have great problems with separating the nonsense perpetuated by those who are selfish and disregarding of those who are different from themselves.  Due to a variety of circumstances, I still have some gaping holes in the confidence department … but holes I’m filling … but it just takes time.   

I firmly believe in my positive attitude and optimism. Yeah, it flags. As I go through some of the drek of my past, I’ve been becoming calmer about things and feeling as though I’m better prepared for whatever the next step is. It just takes time and I do find myself reacting probably harder and faster than I “should” to situations that are innocent … because I’ve had them not be and I’m NOT WILLING to waste any more of my life undoing the damage … Innocent “damage” just requires a little salve … the malicious stuff just lingers.

The depression has been harsh lately because I’ve come to realize how much of my life I’ve squandered by not trusting at least a couple of really good people along the way. As I’ve been coming in contact with friends from my past, I’ve been learning a lot about myself and the environment wherein the choices I felt I had to make were made. As I’ve come to grips with particularly horrific events, I realize how they’vecolored so much of part of my life. The couple of friends I’ve become reaquainted withfrom that time (all men actually) have equally expressed how they wish they’d known … come on, Boys … we were kids dealing with a situation that should *not* have happened! All that is forgiven because we didn’t know.

The funny thing is that, through it all, I’m still kind of hyper-protective. Maybe it’s because things are really raw. The only place I don’t feel like I’ve got anything to be “protecting” myself at is racing where I can immerse myself. I’ve been wondering, however, why I’ve got some strange issues with racing. I don’t mind racing out of town, letting my personality step out, and meeting up with friends who are far faster and who will be waiting for me at the end, whereas in Colorado I have nothing but issues with even catching a ride to events knowing my fast running friends will be waiting!  As someone who cheers friends on, encourages people she’s around in long races and who has been described as a “team player” at the very least and more likely a “team moral leader”, I surprised myself when an aquantaince said it would be great to have team representation at judged racewalking events. Hum … although when I signed up for my USTAF license I did put in for a racewalking team, I never really considered it. I’m not one of those fast bunnies. Don’t get me wrong – I am slowly getting competitive and I do believe in team … but I’m just trying to figure this judged racing thing out and the last thing I really need in my head is the “you let the team down” thought process! Maybe that’s why I cheer the last people coming in for things; the people who are trying the hardest. I donno. In my body and work imposed “down time”, this kept coming up.

I’ve never felt myself to be driven at anything. In fact, the complete opposite. I think friends here just shake their heads at the fact that I feel like that’s the case. A friend asked me why I feared being disqualified so much. “Lizzy, to quote yourself, if your form thingie isn’t right and you get disqualified, then you have something to learn from and you’ll get better!” I smiled and said “But I won’t be finishing the race.” We were having a coffee and she said my eyes kind of misted over. “What are you remembering?” Here goes: 

I got this memory of a reasonably thin at the Marin County Cross Country Championship race representing the A (tall girls) group for my middle school. It was my first huge race and I’d just started running after being pretty … uh … fat and out of shape! I’d been working hard withthe Coach in PE classes and had started to gain some confidence in running. Instead of being at the very end of the pack, I was moving up and, for whatever reason, she got me to try out for the Cross Country team … which I’d probably barely made. We were running on a “course” up at the Marin Civic Center that had a little of everything on it: cement to gravel to asphalt withthe added extra bonus of plant detritus littering the course. I’d really wanted to do well and I’d even taken the bus up there to run it as best as I could figure it out. The problem was withmy wonky ankle, I really wasn’t training well at all. I remember the bus ride, with the other members laughing and teasing one another. There were probably other nervous kids, but they all looked like they knew what they were doing. “Yeah … we’re gonna win it this year …” bla bla bla. I’d had a bit of an ankle problem I’d been somewhat hiding since I’d tripped through a series of pot-holes on our home field. I felt weak enough against these driven girls, I figured it’d just heal itself. I started off probably faster than I should have and then hit a gravelly patch where my ankle turned slightly and I fell. I watched the girls I knew I was faster than fly on past and ended up stopping around on the back side behind a building next to a tree. I gave up. In tears, I started limping over to where I assumed the finish probably was. There wasn’t a sweep of the course or anything. All I could hear in my head were the negatives. I’d not done what I’d gone there to do. I got to where the rest were and quietly sat down. I felt miserable. I was pretty used to not living up to anyone’s expectations academically, but running was the thing I did for myself. One of the 8thgrade gals sat with me. She was an A girl too and really sweet. “You OK?” I smiled and said “uh yeah.” Yeah – she knew I was lying and replied “Don’t listen to them. You just need to remember no matter how crappy you’re doing, just finish. OK? Don’t let anyone get between you and that finish line even if they’ve already been passed by the B group and the first part of the C!”  The Coach said pretty much the same thing, but I kept feeling as though I was letting the team down if I didn’t place well. Injury, illness, or whatever didn’t matter. Great advice but I wasn’t really ready to hear it. I wish I had been able to, but the race failure was resonating withthe “You’re too smart to get the lousy grades you get” comments. It appeared no matter how much I trained (or studied) I just couldn’t get past the block! It’s funny, when I ran into that coach in 1990, she said “Lizzy – the hardest thing I had with you was getting you to admit you to believe you were an athlete and an asset to the team.”

Sigh. At least in running there is only getting to the finish line however you get there in whatever form you’re in. Heck – I tripped through the finish of one race and literally flew in!

Even with some amazing people saying wonderful things about me and my energy, it does come down to this:

I’ve been damned with my own words and actions by people who just enjoy tearing others apart to raise themselves up. It’s truly sad that these few negative people have been so damaging that, at 44, I’m still tripping over scar tissue. I guess I’m sick of it now. I’m sick of fighting. I’m sick of feeling drained trying to set the record straight. I’m working on a lot of things, but it is weakening. I’ve got a lot of things on my plate and I’m trying to clear it; properly for a novel change.  Waking up to find some folks talking very out of turn, maybe not even thinking that anyone would come back to me for verification … maybe really innocent … maybe not … was not a way to wake up. Hearing how I shouldn’t bother with racing because I’m too slow, injured and old. Being told I should not be taken seriously because I’m a work in progress. Others deciding I’m damning them for a situation they had no control over and neither did I!

I’ve got a race in a week. I’ll do the best that I can and remember this is a learning experience. I am going in weak. I’m weak because I’m clearing away the rubbish from my life. I’m salving the scars. I’m giving myself some room to heal. I know that I don’t have control over other people, and I know people will make up their minds about me using whatever they want … I just have to maybe realize that, like the really special race friends I’ve made, people can be really supportive if you let them be.

See you at the races.

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One response

8 03 2009
Maryann

Wow, Lizzy! You certainly put these ‘fear of being judged’ thoughts I have been having into the right words.

The thing you have to do, is what you think is best for you… not what anyone else tells you is best for you. Have a great race at your upcoming event!

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