Half a year ago, this is how I handled stress. I would mentally slap myself, gulp several cups of oversweetened chai and try to ignore the storm brewing in me until I officially metamorphosised into..
Highly Inflammable Mum. Like so.
Only goshdarnnit, I don’t have pink pumps and that shade of lipstick would make me look like a two-bit tart. So I need to you imagine a more frazzled, less corporate version of this.
Lately, life has begun throwing me a stress indicator in the form of a dream. An annoyingly recurrent dream.
Rewind to primary school in England where I was on the track team. I was a good sprinter back then – thin, taut and wiry with legs upto my armpits – and an undeniable need for speed. Ocassionally, I won. More often than not, I had a medal to add to my not-so-bulging coffers:-)
We line up for the 100 metre flat race and I’m off the mark with wings on my heels, hair flying sheet-like behind me, feeling the swish of air in my space, the pumping of blood in my ears. Fully focussed on remembering the cardinal rules. Never look back. Never turn your head. Eyes on the goal. Screw the rest.
The joy and pride I feel in my powerful legs and pistoning arms – in my velocity – makes my breath catch in my throat. A metre from the finish line, chest thrust outward to meet the tape and – I’m awake, my heart thumping madly.
Each time, I feel my chest heave and the tears come.
I am pretty open about the Fight Against Flab – or lets call it what it really is – The Fight I Lose Before I Begin.
This dream makes me realise that its not about the flab, its not about the cosmetic changes and its not about my vanity.
I miss my strength – the tremendous power in a well-trained body.
I miss my determination to be healthy. Its in the trash can along with a guilty Twix wrapper. I miss the drive that used to wake me up and propel me to a sodden training ground on miserable winter mornings in Cheshire to do the punishing laps around the ground.
I miss running, the stitch in my side, the grit to keep going and joy of pushing my physical limits.
I miss my sharp freestyle, my aerodynamic, acquatic self and the joy of floating in water.
I am (oddly) overwhelmed with regret for the years I have taken this amazing instrument for granted. I am more than a little worried about the awful ways in which this will come and bite me in the butt.
Two years ago, my sister in law’s heart stopped all of a sudden and she lay on her kitchen floor fighting for her life as her 10 year old daughter called the ambulance.
She was 36 years old at the time and lucky to make it through. Her life is changed forever though and the restrictions on living freely are manifold.
I want to spare my children that experience. I would like to spare myself too. Getting back to my earlier dress size is the least of my worries.
Two weeks ago I hurt my back – again- and found myself limping to a manual therapist.
“Your back and shoulders are a knot,” he says as he tries to unknot me with persistent palms. ” You need to find a way to get this stress out of your body before its too late.”
I cry quietly as he pummels me and conveniently blame it on my aching back.
After years of shoddy treatment at my hands, my body owes me nothing other than contemptous fat deposits and breathless shame when I run up two flights of stairs. I can feel her give up on me and I am terrified. I want to make it up to her, but is it too late? She’s heard all my excuses before.
I need someone to call 911 for me. Please?