The Wall

Hit a wall today. Literally. Had a choice between a stopped team car’s back window on a steep and blind corner or a wall, chose the latter. Apparently I bounce like a rubber ball. Not that it felt that way but I’ll take that rather than how a French guy smashed into the same wall. I’ll live to fight another day. Not so sure about the wall or the hedge though.

Dan Craven (@DanFromNam), Team IG-Sigma Sport, Stage 7 Tour of Britain 2012

There was something strangely familiar in reading Dan’s tweet, a feeling of knowing how he felt. I feel for Dan, he’s a nice guy and a great cyclist, but as he says he’ll bounce back. Me on the other hand…Whilst not having the pleasure of familiarising myself with a Devonian field boundary, for some time I’ve felt like I’ve been bouncing off a barrier or two. In that feeling known by many an endurance athlete, I’ve hit the wall.

Those who know me and those who have followed this blog for the last 2 years might be forgiven for thinking things were progressing well. In many ways so was I. Yet in the last few months I’ve felt things slowing down, that there’s something holding me back and I’m really starting to get annoyed with life once more. I’ve been told many times that I am on a journey, I’ve repeated it to myself over and over but at this very moment I feel my journey has reached some kind of barrier and it’s both frustrating and depressing.

In essence I’ve run out of ideas. As a positive step I have recently I started seeing a life coach to help me through this barrier and here’s why I need that help. And this is why.

When I returned to work two and half years ago I promised myself I wouldn’t be there long. Three months after returning I sat in a meeting about the future of my department and told myself I wouldn’t be there in 12 months. Another 27 months later and I’m still there. I’m stagnating and it don’t feel good.

Why do today what you can put off inevitably?

By stagnating I’m not only standing still but I’m now not doing – even avoiding – things that might move me forward. Worse than the frustration of not moving on I’m now feel bored and as a result feel numb. I can’t even be bothered. Work (yes, it’s easier to type this than admit it out loud), play (cycling has become even more of a chore), rest (need I say more) – it all feels like too much, a decision too far, an action that won’t lead to much. I’ll fritter time away on “anything but”, my attention elsewhere though I’m never entirely sure where.

“I tend to drink too much. I don’t know. I think it’s a symptom of boredom really. And my mind can drift off.”

Peter Cook

But here’s the irony: Ask me what I want to do and my usual answer is “I don’t know”. Whilst saying that feels like a cop out for me and what I assume the other person is thinking, it is a genuine feeling and implictly encapsulates that remoteness I feel from life. Life carries on but it doesn’t matter what I do nothing really changes. In fact, give me a shell and I’ll crawl into it, it’s easier that way. In the words of Pink Floyd, I’ve become comfortably numb. And so, in this frame of mind, I was asked by my coach what options I had for the future. I told her I didn’t know. I told here that it felt like a blank. Okay, it wasn’t totally blank. There are a few things I do want. But the overwhelming feeling is like facing a brilliant white wall in front of me. From afar it looked like the blank canvas, a future with unwritten potential but get nearer and it’s a hulking great barrier in disguise spread infinitely either side and far too high to see the top. The only thing to do, I worked through in a coaching session,  is fight it.

Energy breaks me down

My problem is I’m tired from fighting what’s behind me. It’s like the marathon runner who hits the wall – 21 miles seemingly “under the belt’ but those miles are the undoing of you at that moment. I know what I don’t want, though when I say that there are things I hang on to “just in case” and that saps energy. There are expectations and commitments that I can’t – or don’t know how to – extricate myself from or change. Moving forward isn’t about a blank canvas rather it is a negotiation with release clauses yet to be agreed.

Where this leaves me is hard to say and that is why I’m seeing a life coach. I want some answers. I need a map to move me forward. And whilst I’ve tried some things to do this they aren’t, in my present state of mind, the answers.  My current task is focussing on the feeling of kicking down the wall. The problem is getting that feeling. A lot of the time it just sin’t there.

Whilst none of this is designed to be an excuse for my lack of attention – to you, to those I know, to my work – it is an explanation. I don’t feel great about it and in fact it worries me. But I need to find another way forward, to break down that wall, to find some ideas and take the next steps on what is at the moment feeling like an everlasting and tiring journey. And as much as this is a confession and a reflection it’s also a plea for ideas. So, anyone got any bright ideas?