I made a tough decision yesterday, one I was putting off until the end of August, but I’ve decided I cannot compete in this year’s (happening next month) Tough Mudder South West. This decision has taken a large weight off my shoulders and leaves me feeling both empty and cold. Where do I go from here? The pressure to train hard and fast is off, but the drive to create a better functioning me is still inside. I had a rotten shoulder injury for about six months. I have experienced more persistent depression this year than ever before. I was never going to be in the right shape or frame of mind to do an ultimate obstacle challenge. I hate that about this year and myself in particular.
So moving forward… I’m ten pounds overweight, not exercising enough, and my motivation is soaking in depression like Madge and her damned Palmolive. I’ve had two deaths in my family this year, deaths which leave the family completely without elders; no one left is older than their fifties. It’s odd. It’s been hard to wrap my head around. The old guard is gone. I am painfully aware that in another few decades (if we’re lucky and live long and healthy lives) I will be an elder of the family. The ageing thing doesn’t get to me, but the death of the family does. Someone ought to know and care how awesome my dad was. My mom. Who will want their high school yearbooks, their handwritten notes, their photos and mementos when I’m gone? Who’ll want mine? I have no children. I am the end of the line.
In just the last three years my family has lost the last survivors of those two tiers above me. I have three cousins; I keep in touch with one, and up until now, our rekindled relationship revolved around the dying or dead. I look forward to this new era we’re entering in our relationship– one without cleaning up legal stuff, funeral arrangements, hospice, dividing belongings… Kevin and I will be able to be pals without grief. That sounds like a good change, and it is.
The necessary post-death cleanup which has fallen to Kevin’s to-do list is underway. I’m still shellshocked from three years of grieving and trying to carve out an art career for myself. I’ve never hated my brain more, but I’ve also never produced the quality of work I can achieve now, during this lasting depression. I am becoming a caricature of the tormented artist, brains teeming with emotional paralysis, sick with desire to create and fickle will to do so. I’m not making a living, and I’m not living as I should.
This all sounds very grim, but I assure you it’s necessary for me to get it out. I am a mess. I’ve not been better than a mess for more than a few weeks total this year. I survive just enough to catch my breath and then the waters swallow me up again. That I can articulate this situation is progress. Now I need to do. What I need to do is still a little vague, but I have a plan forming.
I need less chaos in my mental and physical life, my surroundings too. I have power over more than I give myself credit for, I know, but pulling out of the numbness cocoon is hard at the best of times.
I need to make more sales, which means I need to be more professional. This is pressure, but in a good way. I wouldn’t hire me. I suck right now. But I won’t for long. I am nearly an elder in my family; it’s just ‘us kids’ now. Time is not on my side, so I’d better bust some ass and make my last decades worth the struggle.
And I’m going to say it: My work will make it into a museum one day, so watch this space.
Also, there’s another Tough Mudder next year. Perhaps I’ll be in that one.