It took a couple of months for the initial shock to ware off. After that I lived life surprisingly normally and happily. I chalked this up to an ability to mentally run from problems and pretend that they did not exist. I was fully aware that my brain was doing this but I thought “what a great strategy”. I would rather keep going, pretending that everything was relatively the same as before than be scared, sad and miserable. It is truly amazing at how your brain can delude itself when there is a motive to do so. This seemed to be true, even when I logically know the truth very well.
I believe that I may have found a flaw in my inadvertent strategy, by means of stumbling on the fix.
For quite some time I gave little care about missing upcoming adventure races that I my team was about to compete in. I think that, deep down, I was still imagining that I was going to be there somehow. Why not go with it and not be sad. Then the flaw slowly crept in. While I was not crying or having sad feelings, I slowly stopped feeling at all. I didn’t really feel alive. I was just numb with a heavy weight.
How the solution found me:
I had put the LBL 24 hour adventure race behind me until the night of the race when I knew the team would plotting and planning the race course. I knew the drill well. I had done it since 2000. Jeff would be calling out coordinates while Emily and myself plotted. I would plan routes with input from Jeff and Emily. Emily would calculate and graph the times we were expected to be at each point along the course. During this activity, Emily would constantly be leaving the caps off all the sharpies. I, having a missing cap fettish, would constantly be trying to get them all back on. All I could see was poor, innocent little felt pens drying to their unfortunate and needless deaths. We actually had some great laughs and fun over our little war of the felt pens.
It was 11:00 PM and I couldn’t help myself. I texted Jeff to wish them good luck on the race. He texted back a picture of maps and plotting with a note that “Naughty Emily was leaving all the caps off the pens”. And in the picture, I could see it! The horror! I texted back that I would forgive her if she made her usual graph of times for us. He instantly sent a photo of the graph. I texted “how could I have doubted it, New sharpies for all!”
The realization that, at this very moment, my team is moving on without me, their navigator, hit me like a ton of bricks. Running away was not possible, I had been caught. The emotions were powerful and I had one of the most pathetic sobbing episodes. Of course this is a painful endeavor, but after some time I got over it and noticed a very interesting thing. I didn’t feel numb any more. It is hard to describe but I felt so much freer and more in touch with the world; alive.
I don’t pretend that all difficult emotions are behind me, but taking steps to move on is, at this moment, allowing me to take more joy in the present and enjoy today.