I’m struggling with a message, some sort of eloquent epiphany that will crack open the darkness and make me feel fantastic and full of life. It almost hit today while re-watching the Brene Brown TED Talk on Vulnerability for the umteenth time. She has a part where she talks about how we drown our feelings with “a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin.” I’d rephrase it, but why mess with what works? She says —
“… you cannot selectively numb emotion. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff. Here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment. I don’t want to feel these. I’m going to have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. … You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects, our emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness. And then, we are miserable, and we are looking for purpose and meaning, and then we feel vulnerable, so then we have a couple of beers and a banana nut muffin. And it becomes this dangerous cycle.”
I let this sink into my brain and thought — holy shit, THIS is what’s wrong! Let me explain.
I’ve been dealing with another depression flare up, likely situational due to a temporary restriction on how hard I can ride, cutting my time on the bike by 50%, feeling inadequate because I want my body to be more capable right now, dreading the 2018 cycling year because I have NO IDEA if I’ll be able to hack it let alone show up at some events I’m longing to do, dreaming of ambling gravel rides that take me from dawn til dusk, and in general feeling like some sort of broken toy. My body has let me down, and I’m frustrated. No, I’m ANGRY. ANGRY at things I can’t control, and often feeling a little lost when a thing that I hoped surgery would fix is still a factor in my training. Don’t get me wrong, surgery fixed so much, and this issue is getting better over time, but I am just OVER IT.
Rather than spiral into a rage, I’ve been using the “couple of beers and a banana nut muffin” approach to life to get by. Tonight, it’s two glasses of sauvignon blanc and a giant plate of butternut squash ravioli. Next, maybe some popcorn or a candy bar. Does it help? No, not really. Not in the long run. But for now it feels alright.
I’ve been noticing a loss of zest for life, and maybe what Brene says is true — when we squelch the bad feelings, we lose our ability to feel the highs too. Right now everything is just “meh”, some sort of neutral zone where nothing is technically good nor bad — everything just “is”. I’m sure it’ll take a few days for her words to fully sink in, and when they do, here’s hoping I’ll find the courage and vulnerability to feel the full range of emotions again.