Last week on the trainer I watched The Barkley Marathons Documentary on Netflix (side note, if you haven’t watched it, you should). Lazarus Lake, the founder and race director of The Barkley Marathon made a comment that really stuck with me — “You can’t really accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.” In my life, personal affairs, jobs, triathlon, parenting, I fail more than I succeed. Whether we want to admit it or not, everyone does. While all of us are good (or even great or excellent) at lots of things, there are more things that are difficult and challenging. I think as humans we tend to avoid the hard stuff.
Back in 2011/ 2012 I was on a bit of a roll in triathlon. I went 11:26 at a 140.6, was regularly podium-ing at local races and was cracking the top 10 in my age group at big events. Every time I raced I got faster. It was awesome and amazing and I felt like I could do nothing wrong. Then life took a left turn, I crashed my bike badly. And another left turn, I had a hard time with the recovery,. And a whole lot of left turns in a row — I got divorced, dealt with the death of Owen, got remarried, pregnant and am now a new mom to Ivy . As many times as I succeeded on these new journeys I failed — heck, the bike crash and the divorce in and of themselves can be seen by some as spectacular failures. My life in 2017 is completely and totally different from my life in 2012 in ways that I never could have imagined (what I would give in 2017 for a full nights sleep and an easy run pace of 9 min/mile).
All those left turns resulted in 50 extra pounds on my face, stomach, hips an thighs. For me, my weight has always been the “hard stuff.” Now, more so than ever, I’m forced to face images of myself as a obese person I no longer recognize. This is difficult for anyone but its particularly difficult for me in that I have an eating disorder and body dismorphic disorder. I see every image “worse” than it actually is (I’m always wearing my “fat goggles”), I obsess over the fact that I believe that everyone else sees me the same negative way I see myself and I respond by starving myself (even though starving myself only serves to make me gain more weight in the long run).
Sometimes this vicious cycle of self loathing and starvation is marked by a lash out against myself on social media. It only gets worse for me when a social media lash out results in kind intentioned comments that miss the mark. The sheer volume of comments and messages offering “helpful advice” such as “be mindful about eating,” “love yourself,” “a sensible diet and exercise will help the pounds come off” or “once you start running after Ivy the weight will fall off” only serve to reinforce my worst fears — that others see me the same way I see myself as a lazy person who can’t keep food out of her mouth. Screw the pernicious eating disorder clawing at my sense of self worth, the right “health coach,” shake, vitamin or sensible plan of diet and exercise can cure all.
There is no easy way out of this one. Unfortunately I am obese. Unfortunately I also suffer from a nasty eating disorder. Dealing with this is not and will not be easy. I’m going to fail. A lot. But I take heart that “[y]ou can’t really accomplish anything without the possibility of failure.” Maybe, just maybe, from this series of failures will come accomplishments for which I am truly proud. For now though I’m going to be a frequent failure.