I tend to compare myself to who I used to be…. Before I had to quit working in 2004. Even though I was in a fair bit of pain, I was still fit. I was working. I was riding my bike in the summer and skating in the winter. I was running a fair bit too. I was strong. I loved my strength more than anything. It made me feel so good about myself.
On Sunday, I tried skating again for the first time since before I started having surgeries way back in 2007. Yay! It felt great but it became evident quite quickly just how out of shape I have become. I didn’t realize how fit you need to be to go skating. I was out of breath within maybe a few minutes of skating. As I sat there catching my breath, I started to remember how I could skate before without getting slightly out of breath. I had no idea how fit I really was before things really went sideways and how much I clearly took for granted.
Of course, with this realization of how badly out of shape I am, I started to get really hard on myself as I often do. I know it isn’t my fault and I have tried to keep up with as much exercise as I could do but in my head, that was still not enough. “I should have pushed myself harder between surgeries” “I have been too lazy” “I should be able to skate for much longer” “I am so pathetic” are just a few of the many thoughts that were running through my head before I start to realize how silly those thoughts were.
I have been through 5 major back surgeries since the first one in 2007. The first being the hardest. It felt like I was having to relearn to walk again. I couldn’t get down on to the floor for months. The pain was excruciating. I was pretty much stuck in bed for close to a year due to complications. Through the past 10 years (almost 11 now) I have struggled with so much back pain that has made it hard to even walk at times let alone consider anything beyond walking. So I should be able to let myself off the hook right?
Yet even if I “let myself off the hook”, it doesn’t stop me from missing and comparing myself to the girl I used to be. I used to be into sports. I played soccer. I loved skating and skiing. I was physically fit. The girl I used to be felt like the opposite of who I am now. I miss her so much. I wonder if I will ever be that girl again.
Currently I am still dealing with back pain where I had the crack in my spine that needed to be fused again. I have si joint inflammation because I am putting extra strain on my lower back because my upper back is fused. It takes a lot to push through the pain to do basic stuff, let alone exercise. But I do push myself because from what I understand, there is a chance that it will help. So, every evening I push myself. The pain is horrible, but I do it anyways. I do it at night because it wears me out and then afterwards I can go to bed. I usually want to cry from the pain but apparently exercising doesn’t hurt anything, so I keep going. What amazes me is how far I can go beyond the point that I feel like I can’t push any further. I can still only last about 15 minutes though and it truly does take everything out of me. The girl I used to be, would have been running circles around who I am now. Yet, will pushing myself so hard bring me closer to getting “better” or just wear me out? Am I holding on to a dream that will never be attainable again? Is what I have now, my new normal? Is comparing myself to who I was before, leading to me pushing myself farther and harder than I should be? Am I being too hard on myself? I think I know the answer to the last question, but I really do not want to admit it.
If you are wondering, pushing myself so hard isn’t anything new though. I have always pushed myself. Some say I push myself too hard and need to relax. The truth is, I don’t know how to do anything else. I used to compare myself to other people which kept me pushing to be better and stronger. Now I just hope to become who I used to be because I know what it felt like and how good it was. Plus, apparently it isn’t good to compare yourself to other people. LOL
Maybe comparing myself to myself yesterday and even the past year, can be good because it can help me to see progress that I have made. Yet, comparing myself to who I was 10 years ago might actually be harmful. None of us are likely where we were 10 years ago. For some, it might be good we are not in the same position that we were. For others, it leads to feelings of sadness and loss for what we used to have.
There is a huge thing about comparing yourself to yourself to help motivate you to keep going. Although maybe it is only helpful if we look back as far back as yesterday or the past year to remind ourselves of progress we have made and not to remind ourselves of something we have lost like health or strength that we may never get back.