Heavy lifting

Yesterday at the gym I had to do floor presses. Essentially, that means lying on my back and extending my arms perpendicular to the floor, holding dumbbells. Then I bring the dumbbells back toward my face, one at a time. I’m not big on weight lifting, but I do what my trainer tells me and I actually don’t mind this one.

The only thing I find a little awkward about the exercise is picking up the dumbbells. I either have to do it before I get on the floor, which means maneuvering my way down with a bulky weight in each hand, or while I’m half prone, which means I have little leverage. I find the latter slightly more doable, so that’s the approach I took yesterday.

Everything went fine until round three. I came back to the floor press station from the preceding exercise, sat on the floor, and picked up one of the weights–no problem. When I tried to pick up the second weight (one-handed and with less agility, as I already had the first weight in the other hand), I couldn’t do it. I mean, I just could not get that thing off the floor.

What the what?

I had just done this twice before with no issues, but try as I might, this time I couldn’t make it happen. No matter from what angle I approached it, the dumbbell would not come off the ground. It baffled me, and I felt silly.

My trainer saw what was happening and offered to help. Of course, I refused. I knew I could do it. The dumbbell wasn’t that heavy, and I had already done it twice before. Besides, I HATE to ask for help. Or accept it. Or even admit I need it.

Still, try as I might, I couldn’t separate the weight from the floor. Thankfully, my trainer didn’t ask a second time. He jogged to my side and lifted the dumbbell into position. The rest of the exercise went off without a hitch.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since. Why was I suddenly unable to do something I had been able to do only minutes before? And why did I stubbornly refuse help?

According to my trainer, this was a perfectly normal situation. My muscles were fatigued, predictably. He stood at the ready to help (that’s what spotters are for, right?), but I was determined to handle the situation myself. That turned out to be futile.

Sometimes we get tired and we need a boost from those around us. Most of the time they don’t think a thing about it and gladly lend a hand. In fact, like my trainer, they feel needed and valuable when they can jump in. It saves time (ref: my repeated unsuccessful attempts to lift that dadgum weight) and gets the job done more efficiently. And when you’re on the other side of it, sometimes you have to just jump in despite the refusals.

Thanks, Bryce.

I am not a-mused

I used to blog every day, or at least Monday through Friday. It was how I started my day, and the hours that followed were better for it. That creative jumpstart made me sharper, more expressive, and more aware for the rest of the day. I thrived on it and I didn’t care who read my words. The exercise was for me.

Then I lost my muse.

Well, that’s what I used to say. The truth is, I gave her up. I relinquished my outlet to forces I thought were beyond my control. I’m hoping that writing about it will be cathartic, that my muse will see I’m ready to take her back.

You see, I entered into a relationship that ultimately proved to be unhealthy for me. It felt wonderful at first, all sun and stars and rainbows and all that. I dove in headfirst, hungry for attention and desperate to love someone. It didn’t take long for cracks to appear, though I initially brushed them off as something we could fix later. No relationship is perfect right?

I started to feel watched. Everything I said and did was analyzed for hidden meaning, and this included my writing. Even though I often change the details of situations I recount so I won’t betray a confidence or hurt someone close to me—after all, this blog is mostly about finding meaning in the everyday situations around us, not the situations themselves—I underwent a level of scrutiny about who-what-when-where-why that eventually made me cower. My blog posts were only the start.

Instead of standing up for myself, I backed off. I thought it would make my life easier, but it didn’t, of course. It fanned the flame of presumption, like an implicit admission of guilt. It gave power to him and set a precedent of behavior: push me, make me unhappy, and I’ll back off to ease the pressure. Standing up for myself became too much work; it was easier to give in. I lost touch with friends, I performed poorly at work, I stopped being present. I became focused on keeping my day-to-day situation on an even keel, at the expense of everything else. Is it any surprise I couldn’t make the words flow anymore?

I almost—ALMOST—let someone take away the most important parts of my psyche just so I could fit into his idea of what I was supposed to be. I almost gave away my identity.

Thankfully, I realized I had to remain true to myself. I didn’t need or want to change who I am, so I left the relationship. (In case you’re wondering if he ever hurt me physically, the answer is a resounding NO.) As I look back, I realize I’ve learned some important lessons.

First and foremost, it’s way too easy to judge women who find/put themselves in situations in which YOU think they should leave but they don’t. Look, I had means (house, car, job, savings account), a supportive family and group of friends, and a strong will—and I still stayed. I consider myself enlightened and independent—and I still stayed. I would call BS on my friends or my daughter if they were in the same situation—and I still stayed. So many women don’t have all these things going for them, and we judge them. I would never stand for that, we say. Who knows? Maybe you would. I did—for a while. You don’t know what it’s like until you’re in it.

Second, I GAVE parts of myself away, thinking I would appease. I guess I assumed I’d reclaim them at some point, but that’s not how it works. I’ve learned which pieces are fundamental to my being; these are my SOUL. Now I guard them fiercely. The right person will cherish them, too.

Finally, I keep learning the lesson of forgiveness. For him, certainly, but also for me. I’m learning to let go of the choices I made and to accept responsibility for my part. I’m learning to adopt a live-and-learn posture and embrace the lessons that come with it.

I’m desperate to write again regularly. I have a log jam of words in my head and I need the relief of letting them flow. I want my blog back. I want to turn the threads of books I’ve hastily scrawled into the Notes app on my phone into actual chapters. I want to reclaim this part of myself.

This post, this long overdue admission, serves as a formal invitation for my muse to return:

Please come back. You are finally welcome here again.