Way back in high school, what seems like a thousand years ago now, I was on the wrestling team. I enjoyed it and I was pretty good at it. Two-time regional champion in my weight class. In the largest tournament I ever wrestled in, with over sixty schools represented, I took third. Not too shabby. And my senior year at the state tournament, I lost by one point in overtime to the guy that would go on to win the state title in my weight class.
At the beginning of one wrestling season, one of the football coaches made some of the football players go out for the wrestling team. I think officially, it was strongly encouraged to those players, but they knew they had to go to wrestling practice if the coach told them to. About a week later, they were all gone except for one or two guys. Most of them couldn’t do it. Coach Downey ran a grueling wrestling practice, mostly on the mats in the cafeteria, but sometimes running stairs in our three-story main building on campus. If someone puked while running, he kept going, and the rest of us simply ran around it, lap after lap. Up three flights, down the long hallway, down three flights, and back. And again. For a couple hours. I guess this is my proof that wrestlers are tougher than football players.
Although… I went out for football in junior high school (yeah, I know it’s called middle school now, and whatever, I don’t understand why they changed it). I lasted one practice when I decided it wasn’t for me. Not having become very athletic by that time, my young body was in shock at what it was having to do. I lacked the talent, desire, and commitment it would have taken to be on the football team. So, maybe football players are tougher.
OR, perhaps, we are all just wired differently. Conditioned differently. Have different goals and strengths. Different talents. Some of those guys that couldn’t make it on the wrestling team were a force to be reckoned with on the football field. Brute strength and hard hits. And while I would have likely gotten run over by them on their field, they were no match for me on the wrestling mat. I had balance, technique, and leverage. That’s what I brought to the table that they could not compete with.
The hardest thing I’m working on in my life right now is realizing that we are different from each other, in more than just our physical abilities. Mentally, we have different strengths and weaknesses. We each react to situations differently. I know that some people can’t relate to what I go through, especially when the depression gets ahold of me or my PTSD symptoms show themselves. And, on the same token, I don’t understand some of the things other people go through. I have to catch myself once in a while so I don’t say out loud, “Get over it,” or “Why do you let that bother you?” or “It’s not that hard.” And I know people think that about me as well. And I understand.
We’re not just different from each other, we, ourselves, also become different. Age, trauma, and stress transform us on a daily basis. Even though I try very hard to not show it, I am my own worst critic about the person I have become. I ask myself all the time, “Why does this bother you?” I reminisce about all the things I used to be able to do physically, long hours of physical labor or running a half marathon. Or even passing an army physical fitness test. None of that used to be hard. I tell myself to get over it, but it’s not that easy. That’s usually when the depression flares up.
I’m not wired like I used to be. And I’m not able to recondition myself to be the old me. Not physically, not mentally. I’ve said before that the physical issues I brought back from Afghanistan contributed to my mental collapse. And to be honest, if I could just get the army to take responsibility for those issues, that would be a huge weight off my back. And what absolutely kills me is that at one time in the life I used to live, again what feels like a thousand years ago, much of what makes me “crazy” now barely phased me back then.
I am struggling quite a bit lately with self-criticization (and yes, that’s a word, I just looked it up to make sure, consider it your word of the day). I am depressed more often than usual and it’s becoming harder and harder to work through. As a high school athlete, I looked forward to getting pushed to my limits. I wanted to know what I could handle and how I measured up to others. It made me better. I don’t enjoying being pushed to my limits anymore. Especially mentally. And I reach my physical limits after just a few hours on my feet at work. And I hate it. But I’ll bet if Coach Downey barked at me to run stairs, I probably would, until it killed me. You know, since wrestlers are tougher than football players I would have to. LOL. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by this week. I hope you got something from this. Good day, God bless.
Some really good points. We all change with age, we can’t do what we did, but we do what we can do, and if PUSHED can do more. Looking forward to seeing you later this month if my health stays good. Love ya, Pop
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The bottom line is, I think you are lonely. I believe somewhere in your blog you wrote about your marriage falling apart. If you do not have someone in your life then you need to find her. Here in the first world we all say we are independent, we can look after ourselves, we do not need anyone. That is ludicrous. We are pack animals. Just look at you. You belong to a group that bonds so closely there’s nothing like it in the world. You read about it, and hear about it all the time. Men who are put to the test with each other become brothers. Right now all I read between the lines of your writing is just lonely you are. Please reach out. Please do that.
Not sure about that first part, but I’m no expert. And I do appreciate your input. Thank you.
History has been known to repeat itself occasionally. So become that wrestler you once were and climb those mountains/stairs. Be strong in body and twice as strong in mind.
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This is something we all struggle with. Especially acknowledging that other people struggle differently. It is easy to wonder why people can’t “just” do something, like stick to a workout/weight loss plan, or get a good job, or act lime an adult. But for a lot of people, those things don’t come naturally or simply don’t work.
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I don’t know how the comparisons to what you used to be able to do work out, because I really don’t remember/know what it’s like to NOT have PTSD.
But I’m a post menopausal woman, and I know what it’s like to have my body just suddenly change in ways I cannot control or take back. If I measured my self-worth from being “attractive” these days, like I did as a young woman, I’d be really depressed!
If the only yardstick is the old yardstick, maybe it’s the wrong one? You’re coping really well with a set of circumstances you did not anticipate, had no training for (as if you could train for PTSD?) and it’s a permanent factor. My point is that what you used to do is certainly valid and praiseworthy — but so is what you’re doing *now*. And it’s harder, much harder. There is no history of 100s of years of athletics to lean on, no overt coach telling you what you’re doing wrong and how to fix it, no obvious fellow wrestlers, not to mention that wtf is up with you is invisible to 99% of the world.
I believe you can find a new yardstick.
I have a young woman friend, who’s been a real blessing in my life because until her I really had no compassion for anyone else. Not that I had no empathy, but that’s not compassion. Her, for whatever reason, I have compassion for. When we interact I am almost overwhelmed with the caring I need to give her. At one point my therapist said to me, “If she deserves that from you, don’t you think YOU do too?”
I’ll ask you that too. All those people you counseled, you probably told them again and again, “It will get better,” and other things based on compassion for their pain.
I think you deserve the same compassion, from others and yourself.
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