Wednesday, March 23, 2011

This is How I Fail

Tonight, for the first time, I wasn't able to finish the WOD at CrossFit. I was rocking along, doing just fine, when I suddenly felt a little . . . off, and then got a twinge of pain in my head with each exertion.

Okay, so this is what is known as exertional headaches, and it is really sucky. Hasn't happened to me since November, when my doctor ordered an MRI just to make sure this was nothing more insidious than exercise-induced headaches. Everything checked out fine, and I was given some medicine to take if needed and cautioned against high-intensity exercise if I had any head pain. You know, lest my head asplode or something.

A couple of times since, I've had a migraine (or the beginning of one) and skipped CrossFit altogether--a good call. Tonight was the first time I've had the pain start in the middle of the workout--and so I stopped. Just what the doctor ordered. I felt fine pretty soon after, and didn't even need to take any medicine. I feel completely fine now, less than an hour and a half later. Looking back, I think I was a touch dehydrated and now that the weather is warming up I need to up my water intake, I bet.

Now doesn't that seem like a sensible thing to have done?

Still, I left the gym feeling like a complete and utter failure.

I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and was practically in TEARS over how much of a failure I am--for not finishing the last two rounds of a five round WOD.

This is the voice in my head: "You didn't finish. You didn't finish. You didn't finish. What is wrong with you? Something must be wrong because, in case you hadn't noticed . . . you didn't finish."

Now I have gone to all kinds of great lengths and troubles over the last 15 years or so to strangle that perfectionist voice in my head. I have struggled and wrestled and emerged mostly victorious over that awful finger-pointing self-esteem-draining voice that feels the need to tell me that Every. Single. Thing. I. Do. is NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

When I was a teenager and young adult, I was meek and listened to that stupid voice. I let it say things to me unchallenged and I was unhappy. Over time, I learned to stand up to the voice, to reasonably point out where and how it was wrong. When I had kids, I really began to become a brave person, finding depths of strength in me that I'd never previously been aware of until that Mama Bear thing kicked in and I knew--KNEW--that I would just absolutely be able to kill someone who ever hurt my babies.

I have learned to ignore the voice, to pshaw! it whenever it was just being ridiculous. I grew confident when I saw with the evidence of my own eyes that I am strong and capable and brave.

But that goddamned voice is STILL. THERE. Pestering me about making a rational decision not to finish a WOD.

So I'm walking around the grocery store and I decided to stop ignoring that voice and to actively FIGHT it. Because I'm so freaking tired of listening to it. I decided to list all of the ways I "failed" tonight. So this is how I failed:

  • I ran an 800m faster than I ever had before--the trainer noticed.
  • After the usual stretching, I did the warmup, which consisted of 21-15-9 pushups, box jumps, good mornings (21 of each, then 15 of each, then 9 of each). 
  • I did three rounds of 10 (assisted) pull ups, 20 kettlebell swings (light tonight, 26#), 30 butterfly sit ups, 160 single unders (jumping rope, subbing for double unders, because I still can't do more than three ever, apparently). 
  • I did those rounds in about 11 minutes, I think.

Holy shit! Will you LOOK at how I FAIL? Looks an awful lot like success and achievement, doesn't it?

I did a lot tonight. The warmup was particularly aggressive, I thought, and 6 months ago, that would have been a nice workout in and of itself for me. Tonight, I did it without a second thought and barely noticed.

So I am MAD and FIGHTING. It's time to stop passively letting this voice have its say. I am now actively fighting against it and will not let it get a word in edgewise. I am tired of viewing my successes through the lenses of failure.

I think the best mental exercise I can do to help me fight this is to list out the things I've achieved as a reminder that I am strong and brave and capable and, well, AWESOME. :) Remember how Amy started that Three Good Things meme a couple of years ago? I'm going to list my successes here from time to time in a similar way. I think it will help me fight that stupid perfectionism monster who is still whispering in there.

Really, I think it's just jealous it can't do a man push up yet.


Anonymous said...

Yay Jenn for not listening to the perfectionist in your head. And may I say, you're one of the most kickass people I know. You do CrossFit, run ATLOS, blog, podcast, and raise 3 kids during it all.

I hope I'm that awesome when I'm 40. :)

Rose said...

I have that same war with the voice in my head. It's much better now that I'm older but it's still there. I'm glad you were able to fight it down!

And on a separate note, wow, wow, and wow. I wish my body was close to being able to "fail" like that. :) You are doing things in cross fit that are amazing!

Anonymous said...

You are probably doing the workouts for self-care, right?

Following your Dr's orders is ALSO self-care, and is farther up the heirarchy. YOU SUCCEEDDED.

That said, yeah - ditch the bitch in your brain. She has it coming!

Lynne said...

I hate to bring this up, but you kind of suck at failing. I'm tired just reading about your warm-up!

You're awesome and we know it. Really.

I completely understand your frustration, but don't let it derail your serious progress.

Now you say it to me ('cause I'm in an ugly slump and could use the pep talk).

Anonymous said...

You are amazing, Jenn! I admire you and you inspire me. I think a lot of us have that perfectionist voice in our heads. I battle it every day, and it holds me back WAY more than it should. I'll have to start listing my "failures" like you did!

Kim C.

Amy said...

Awesome! Kick that voice's ass!

Kevin McAllister said...

I hate that voice. I have a similar one that shows up at the end of frustrating days when my accomplishments aren't obvious or typically when the don't match what I set out to do but were changed for good reasons.

I've learned to do what you have ddone here. Check my premises. Just recognizing this and doing the objective assessment is an accomplishment in itself. Great job!