This one is different, and maybe it’ll hit differently. This is a transcription of a voice memo I made today while I was out walking. Because writing is hard at the moment, partly because I can’t seem to get the right words down on the page. Partly because the nerve damage in my left arm is re-manifesting again so it doesn’t always work properly.
Ok. Thoughts this morning.
Sitting and… sitting at the listening rocks ironically. Listening. And decided to stop and decided to just look, and be, instead of you know “I gotta get home, I gotta grab a coffee, gotta go to work”…
I gotta gotta gotta go go go
And I’ve been feeling, I guess lost really. Lost in the direction I should travel. Not that my path was necessarily clear before, but most likely it led down a long road to a bakery so… regardless of things that happened along the way and the adventures that happened the destination was at least clear.
But I’ve been lost in that I felt like I no longer had anything to say. And that hurt. That felt…crappy. It felt… lonely.
I think after the accident so many people reached out, and I was on this trajectory you know. There was going to be this montage, and yes it is super hard and everything hurts and I’m dying all the time but … this is what I do right? Tuff Tiff. I’m going to be stoic, I’m going to fight the good fight, I’m going to do the thing I always do. And it’ll take time but I’ll get there. You’ll see.
And.. it didn’t really matter that there were huge red flags popping up on every path, saying this is not the way for you. Yes it is, I’d argue. This is always the path I’ve been on. I will continue on this way and everything will fall into place.
Turns out that was not where I was going. And so even though yes I can follow that path: I can go back to training again, I can ride my bike again. I can ride Audax again. I can do the big rides again. Be me again. But the phenomenal pain that it took to fight against the tide, um, was overwhelming. And that, among other things, took a huge toll on both my physical well-being and my mental well-being. And so I… I just stopped.
I didn’t know what to do, what to say, how to say it… and I didn’t feel like I had a story to tell.
That’s not right.
I didn’t feel like I had the story that I wanted to tell.
I had stories to tell, there were always things in my head about what I was going through, I could talk about this I could talk about that. But the pain of trying to access that, to access the trauma, maybe the shame? The embarrassment? I don’t know. This is not Tiff as you know her kinda focus. It made it difficult. It made it really difficult and I stopped.
This morning, no, maybe over the last couple of days some things happened. One is my husband sent me a story in the news about this woman who, you know, she had had an accident, she had been in the halo collar, she was in a neck brace, and within a year she was back running and now she does long distance runs etc etc. And I kinda skimmed through it, and I said to him well, it was because she had a halo, I shattered my back, it’s different… and all I looked for, my first reaction of looking for, was excuses of why I was no longer an ultra-endurance athlete. Why her story was different and, I brought up other professional athletes that had gotten injured around the same time as I did that are now back racing on a world scene and I’m like yeah yeah yeah but…. they’re also like in their 20s, have a huge team of people around them, and their injury was different. You cannot compare one injury to another.
And he looked at me super confused, and he was like that’s not why I sent you the article. I sent the article because for me she showed the same kind of resilience and toughness that you’ve shown throughout this journey that you’re on. And I was like okay brush it off brush it off I don’t want to talk about this right now.
Because for me, my resilience and toughness ended the second I decided to get off the bike.
And being on the bike is so tied up to me showing strength, me showing leadership, me being in a space that I was comfortably uncomfortable in, or uncomfortably comfortable I don’t know how I want to say it. That any other thing I was showing wasn’t THAT. It wasn’t resilience. I felt like I had given up.
These are not the stories that I want to tell.
But here’s the thing. At my heart, who I am as a person, when you strip away all the “things that I do”. That person is who I need to figure out. And that resilience that my husband sees in me that’s still there. The “battle warrior” of just non-stop trying… maybe the path doesn’t look exactly like how I thought it was but that non-stop trying that others have commented that they still see. I guess it’s still there.
And at my heart, I am a storyteller.
And I think that brings me back to the ripples in the pond analogy that I started off with (yeah I’m a storyteller but I also have like really odd non-linear ways of getting to the end of my story which maybe that’s what makes a good storyteller I don’t know).
But I have never known, with the stories that I tell, with the experiences that I’ve had, with the moments that I share… I’ve never known who is affected and how. Sometimes I know, sometimes someone will reach out and go “hey I read your blog 2-3 years after and it really struck a chord and helped me with something I’m going through” or if I’ve shared something I found incredibly vulnerable to share someone will reach out and say thank you so much for sharing you make me feel like I’m not so alone. So sometimes I know.
But most of the time I drop a story in the pond and I don’t know where the ripples go. And I think one of the problems when we stop… we = I… when I stop telling stories is I stop any opportunity for ripples to happen. I stop any opportunity for someone to learn what I’m going through. I shut out. I isolate. Yes, I share bits and pieces but nothing really of what I’m going through.
So I don’t know how to tell stories that I really don’t want to tell. But I think… maybe I need to start telling them again. Because I’m not telling them.
I don’t know what will happen when I do tell them. But I know what happens when I don’t.
You are so right that while sometime you can’t see or feel the the ripples from your story when you connect with others you end up with so many more ripples some of which I hope come back to and for you.
Three years after my taxi vs bike accident I have had to start my rehab again this year if I am able to get back to any sort of significant Audax riding.
I have learnt to live with the pain as it comes and goes and I do have good weeks especially after physio treatment.
My compensation case was closed out late last year which meant I didn’t have to deal with the accident all the time and can focus on my life moving forward. I hope you get some other positive responses from others to show the positive ripples you spread and hope that provides some meaning in turn for you.
Odd coincidence – only a couple of weeks ago I checked to see if I’d missed any posts and to see how you were getting on! I can’t pretend to understand what you’ve been through and are going through but I’m sure, with time and support from those around you, you’ll sort it out. Stay strong.