Today a rather interesting question was asked on a forum I belong to.
What’s your coping mechanism?
If you would have asked me this question a few years ago, I probably would have said drinking and writing. After some less than desirable outcomes from the drinking bit I made damn sure, and still make damn sure, that when I’m upset I don’t go drinking.
Sobbing, drunk Ann is neither attractive nor desirable to be around. Hungover, still upset Ann is even worse.
Clearly I still write, but I have found that though the release is desirable, more and more lately my words are getting caught, stuck in my brain and unwilling to be coaxed out, forcefully or otherwise. It’s requiring me to take time to process rather than just opening up a blank document and writingwritingwriting until I feel marginally better.
So I work out.
I have mentally gone over the last two years or so and have tried to pinpoint what I’ve done at a few certain less-than-pleasant junctures.
Unexpected and somewhat cruel breakup followed by subsequent heart break? That was when I decided I was going to do the Hundred Pushup Challenge. I was well on my way, too, and then there was the broken finger and surgerizing and being told I was not allowed to do pushups with a pin in my finger.
Round two with the aforementioned breaker upper (because I am apparently a masochist)? I joined the gym and started lifting on a regular basis.
Losing That Friend’s family from my life and then very consciously, even if entirely painfully, removing him as well? I signed up for a half marathon.
The abrupt departure of one of my best friends as such and within minutes (unfortunately) walking right by the stack of pictures she and I had taken together over the past few years? I ran so hard I nearly puked.
If I have bad days at work or get frustrated working with my budget or any other number of things that have pissed me off or hurt me, I work out. I push myself until I physically can’t do any more because it makes it all go away.
The endorphin boost brings my mood if not up to good, then at least to neutral. It gives me something to be proud of even if I’m feeling like a failure.
It usually hurts, but I’ve done that to myself. Adding a little extra weight here, sprinting up a hill there, forcing myself to lift more, run faster, try harder all brings that inevitable soreness to the muscles that are angry with me for doing so.
Physical pain is so much easier to deal with than emotional pain.
Not only that but working out is one of the few times where I can actually get my mind to just stop. All my attention, all my focus is shifted towards good form or the beat of the music I’m running to or timing my breaths with my strides or getting one more good rep on that lift. And then another. And then another.
Focusing that much on what I’m doing forces everything else out. There is no room for the chronic over-analysis. No room for the residual sting, for wondering what I possibly could have done wrong, for driving myself absolutely out of my mind insane because I can’t get my subconscious to just SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.
Is coping like this healthy? Maybe. Maybe not. This, however, is what works for me. Lately work’s been crazy busy and kind of stressful which, on top of some other stuff that’s been on my mind, has pushed me really damn hard. It was a REALLY rough day at work today, and all I could do was count down until the instant I was free so I could come home and change and immediately rock the shit out of six miles.
In those 52-ish minutes, it all went away. It was kind of chilly, and it was windy as hell (head-wind in all four directions type windy), but I pushed through it. Nothing but keeping my legs moving one in front of the other existed for nearly an hour. I haven’t thought about work since. Actually, the majority of what I’ve been thinking about is how much further along I am this time around with the training.
See? It works.