This weekend I achieved a little ambition of mine…a dream you might say. I have long wanted to complete a triathlon but niggling little fears had put me off. The idea of transitions conjured images of me as a dripping, flailing mess knocking down an entire rack of bikes. But the main fear was of being seen cycling and running in a very small, very tight outfit. I am very self conscious person. All sports outfits are usually carefully chosen to show as few lumps and bumps as possible. But triathlon is not for the self conscious. Triathlon is a ‘get on and get it done’ sport. So finally, on Sunday, I got on and got it done. And I loved it! Not while I was doing it of course – I distinctly remember disliking the swim, loathing the bike ride and despising the run – but at the end I felt elated and immediately started to think of doing another. In fact I felt so proud that I started to well up in the last 500m of the run. This is far from ideal as when you well up your throat starts to close and breathing becomes tricky! I had to have a little word with myself!
I took part in the Archway House Harborough Triathlon in Market Harborough. It was a sprint distance and therefore relatively short (400m swim, 23km cycle, 5km run), I think a couple more of these may be in order before a full length next year. I am proud to have overcome my silly fears and achieved a little dream.
What is your dream? What do you want most from life/tomorrow/the next six months? We all have our conscious, waking dreams; our desires and ambitions for the future. The great thing about these dreams is that we have control over them. The way we live our lives can bring us closer to achieving them or at least being able to say we have tried.
But what about our unconscious dreams, the ones which come to us as we sleep. These are the ones that I am struggling with at the moment. Each night, once I win my battle to force my brain into sleep, it takes it’s revenge with it’s dreams. They are not nightmares, I could not call them that. They are bad dreams though because each night for the last couple of weeks I have been looking for Bob. And I am unable to find him. Some nights the dream might just be me deciding to send him a text to see how he is and what he has been up to. I can feel the excitement as I write the text. The anticipation of a reply from my long lost friend. And then I usually wake before the text is sent with the dawning realisation that he is beyond the reach of a text.
The other night I was cycling to visit him in a new home. I had a map but couldn’t read it. Road signs were missing. The GPS wouldn’t work on my phone. I cycled for hours, round in circles, knowing I was close but never finding him.
Each night is a variation on the same theme and each morning I wake feeling exhausted. The mental strain is hard and my body feels as if I genuinely have been out searching the streets all night.
I’m sure you all know how vivid dreams can be. As I sit here typing Lulu the boxer dog lies beside me dreaming. Judging by the leg movements and wagging of tail she is running in her dream. How about when you wake up next to your partner furious…they have cheated on you in your dream (probably with the most bizarrely incongruous person ever)…you know it’s not real…but you are fuming with them anyway! That can seem funny later in the day but I am failing to find any humour in mine.
The dreams are a coping mechanism. I need them. If my brain could not process my disbelief at the loss of the person I was closest to at night then it would have to do it in the daytime. I don’t often allow that anymore because I need to hold it together during the day. I can’t allow meltdown each time a memory is triggered. I mustn’t dwell too long on the tiny details which flit into my mind. I know I must walk past people in the street every day fighting the same battle. Deep grief is something we will all experience one day and most of us learn to deal with it. I do look at people differently now; even when someone is smiling and laughing I wonder ‘Are you hurting? Are you ok?’.
I hold the dreams at bay all day by going to work, by looking at my phone too much when sitting still and by exercising. I realise that these are defence mechanisms against my thoughts. I know that when I drive a car alone I will suffer. I cannot distract myself by talking to someone or communicating on my phone. It is just me and that damned brain. I can almost see the thoughts rubbing their hands in glee as I open the car door ‘Just you and I is it?’ they ask ‘Well we have plenty to go over with you!’.
Tomorrow I am going to allow them in for a little while. I am going to give all the dreams, thoughts and memories a free run. Tomorrow is World Suicide Prevention Day (for more info follow this link: http://www.iasp.info/wspd/ ) and I am going to join a few other people for a Candle Lit Stroll. We shall remember those we have lost to suicide and hopefully share the strength we have gathered in their absence. I will light a candle for the light which was lost.
Perhaps if I allow some of my thoughts to see that light tomorrow they will be less willing to come back to haunt me after dark?
But either way I am going to keep chasing my conscious dreams. There are more challenges and adventures revealing themselves to me everyday. I want to keep conquering my fears and keep achieving more goals, however big or small. But most of all I want to get a more flattering tri-suit!
Be More Relentless.
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