Monday, July 23, 2018

on a scale of wonderful to shit

Saturday night Robert, Rachel and I went for a moonlight bike ride.  The ride began at 10 pm and there was about 600-700 people riding.  I saw babies in those adorable carts that are pulled behind their parent's bikes and I saw ancient bicyclists as well.  So there were definitely all ages, all skill levels, and a lot of people.

The first fifteen minutes were ok. I was vaguely enjoying all the decorated bicyclists but already feeling a bit overwhelmed by the crowds.  It wasn't staggered very well.  We were somewhere in the middle, and as the ride progressed, I began having difficulty breathing and I could feel my heart pounding everywhere.  There weren't any rules. The slower people did not stay to the right, most kids hadn't learned bicycling etiquette and were zinging everywhere.  It was dark with a few streetlights and I could see hundreds of shadows looming over me as the bicyclists from behind overtook me.  I lost track of Rachel and Robert and knew if I slowed down I may be run over.  Because of my increasing panic I also knew I was losing my ability to react fast.  I was near tears and shaking so bad my knees were clanking against my frame.

I crested a hill and to my absolute horror, saw several bicyclists on the ground, including a dad who had one of those fancy baby carts.  I cycled around them and immediately got my ass off the ride (there were already a lot of people helping the injured bicyclists and ambulances on the way).

The most exciting part of the trip - a jog through a local cave - was just ahead, but I couldn't go on. Robert, who was somewhere behind me, had my phone so I decided that, because it was only six miles into the ride, I would just hoof it back through the ditches. My heart was beating so fast I was paralyzed for a moment.  But after just seconds I recovered and began my walk.  I kept expecting to see Robert or Rachel as I made my way back, but it was too dark, and I couldn't make out faces.  I was actually relieved I didn't see them, because I wanted them to see the caves and knew they would try to walk back with me if they saw me.  Eventually I saw them on their way back, and because Robert had a flat tire, we called the help wagon to pick us up while Rachel bravely finished the last couple miles on her own. 

I learned later Rachel wrecked her bike but only messed up her handle bars and didn't have any injuries.  She wasn't involved in the nasty pile up I witnessed before throwing in the towel.     

Robert had a positive attitude about the moonlight ride.  On the way home he kept referring to as an "adventure."  I was too exhausted to process how I felt about the ride.  But on Sunday, after a few hours of sleep, my feelings were clearly pointed to cluster f&$@ on a scale of wonderful to shit. 

While I was walking my bike back, I felt assaulted by my thoughts, which alternated between calling myself a loser and applauding my decision.  

Recently when I feel panicky or anxious I've been making an effort to remove myself from whatever situation I'm in, and the results have been awesome.  My brain tends to shut down when I feel panicky or anxious, and I'm either paralyzed and unable to work my way out of it or I get really defensive and go into attack mode.  Mostly I completely freeze up on the outside while my poor heart is thundering around on the inside.  I get sweaty and weepy and probably look as deranged as I feel.  Mostly I only feel this way as I'm falling asleep and am overcome by racing thoughts or in crowded situations, so it's very easy to remove myself from the situation.  But I don't always do it. It's tough to take action when my brain shuts down and I feel paralyzed.  But I've made great strides recently, and Saturday night was an enormous and incredibly empowering step for me.  I was able to deftly remove myself from the situation without impacting others.  I didn't cry as I walked.  My heart rate returned to normal as I deftly maneuvered my bike through ditches and I quickly found a solution to the problem and for the most part, stayed focused on that.  

Though it took most of the day yesterday, I finally realized that it took strength to admit defeat.  

So yes, the ride was a cluster f&$@, but there's a few awesome things that happened.

1. Both Robert and Rachel saw the cave.
2. Rachel wrecked her bike, but she got right back on, even with deformed handlebars and was the only one of us to finish the ride.  What a boss!
3. The ride came with a cool shirt, and I feel like I can wear mine now with a smile on my face.

So yes, Robert, that was quite the adventure.  Let's pass on it next year but definitely try something else.

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