Pain can be almost impossible to bear, but suffering is even more difficult. When you refuse to accept pain, you will suffer. When you cling to getting what you want and refuse to accept what you have, you will suffer. Fighting reality, opposing the inevitable or struggling against what is – causes suffering. – Marsha M. Linehan
After a full weekend of back-to-back-to-back sparring and sleeping later than my usual bedtime, I woke up to the following:
- 4:30am 3 mile run.
- 5:15am Take the commuter train into the city.
- 6:30am Train at the gym.
- 10:00am Work at the office.
- 6:15pm Facilitate our support group.
- 8:30pm Take the commuter train back home.
- 9:30pm Home.
Suffice it to say, I’m exhausted.
Today started out with 4 rounds of sparring and the usual training regimen. Two hours later, as I began my ab exercises I was on the verge of tears. And it’s only Tuesday.
You think I’d be used to this by now, but no — balancing the life as an amateur boxer, paying the bills and participating in family life is incredibly tough. In fact I remember just a few weeks ago I had the same feeling, only it was days before a sanctioned fight.
Physically and emotionally exhausted from all the preparation going into the fight, I came home from work and literally crashed onto my bed. As I lay there, motionless, feeling my head and muscles throbbing, I began to cry; I still had to put in a 3-mile run in the dead of winter, all before dinner. I didn’t want to move. I thought if I pushed myself anymore, I’d make myself sick. I’d crack. I struggled to even put my running pants on. If I couldn’t even put on my pants, how was I supposed to run 3 miles? I felt entitled to a little self-pity.
Somehow I mustered enough strength to step outside and put one foot in front of the other. Gingerly at first, then a quickened pace, then I picked up my stride. 5 minutes into the run and my mind started to clear and with that, the exhaustion, too.
It was one of those winter nights where you can smell fireplaces through the cool and crisp air and see the moon peek through the clouds. I had my favorite music running in the background, the one that centers me and makes me realize why running is good for my soul.
Then, in a quick moment, a memory came flooding back. It was the movie reel of my previous life — the one that culminated with a stint at the psychiatric hospital. There I was, rocking back and forth, all curled up in the bathroom of the psychiatric floor, wailing and crying for thirty minutes straight. I was in so much pain and confusion, so much fear and suffering that I constantly looked at the ceiling to see which beam could hold my weight.
I haven’t thought about that in some time, perhaps trying to block it out. It was the most painful, confusing and lonely place I have ever been at and I was both surprised and curious to why the vivid memory had returned to me during my run. It seemed like such a long time ago. I can’t even believe that was me, thinking where I am now; back then I met 8 of the 9 criteria for BPD, now I meet none. But then I remembered that there were other people in that same moment (and some much worse) as I had five years ago, only now. People like me who don’t know this diagnosis exists. People, like me, who don’t know we could be taught a different way to live. People, like me, who don’t know treatment could help put their lives back in order so that they could do the things they didn’t even know they wanted to do in the first place. Like boxing.
2 miles into my run, I said to myself, “As bad as today was, as painful and exhausted as I felt today, it will never be as bad as that day in the bathroom five years ago. Look how far I’ve come that I can even do this — being able to transform my suffering into meaning.” Pain cannot always be avoided. And in that moment, the physical pain lingered but the suffering went away.
I’ll always be grateful for that night run where I put one foot in front of the other.