I am an athlete. Unless I’m a slug. Unless I’m fierce. Unless I’m afraid. Unless I’m a professional. Unless I’m a lost little kid. Unless I’m an old woman. Unless I’m a hot mama in her 40s.
It all just…depends.
And I don’t like that much.
There is surely a me that I want to be. She looks like me on my best day. Her hair doesn’t have to be perfect and her clothes don’t have to be glamorous. But she has a smile on her face…and a naughty spark in her eye. She’s fierce and independent and doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’s also full of love, ready to fight for justice, and at the top of her athletic game. She loves sex and beer and big Greek salads and running through the woods. She’s got a sharp sense of humor and remembers things. She doesn’t need reading glasses except late at night, and she wakes up looking fresh. Her name is Rebecca.
And then there are her sisters.
Meet Glenda. She’s twenty pounds overweight, and no, it’s not muscle, so don’t fool yourself, Glenda. She can remember working out yesterday, but it doesn’t seem like something she would do. She just ate half a bag of chips, and her face is puffy from salt and regret. She spends what feels like fourteen hours on the Internet – okay, on Facebook – trying to figure out why she feels so empty. It doesn’t work. She promises herself she’ll be someone else tomorrow. And sometimes she is.
Glenda, make room for Zoya. Zoya took Russian in college, loves whisky and the color orange, posts goofy pictures of herself in swim goggles, and would get on a plane right now and fly to Argentina if she felt like it. Hell, she could learn how to FLY that plane, if she felt sufficiently motivated to. Those extra twenty pounds are in her boobs and her quads and she believes she can win just about any arm wrestling contest she enters. She says what she means, means what she feels, and feels whatever she damn well pleases. People like her, people want to be like her. At least that’s what she believes…until Shirley casts her shadow.
Oh, Shirley. You may call her a pessimist, but she likes to see herself as a realist. It’s not that she doesn’t think Zoya could probably do all those zoom-bang antics, it’s just more that…maybe she just…shouldn’t. Or maybe she actually couldn’t. Shirley’s not sure. Shirley likes to be real. And wear big sweaters to cover those extra twenty pounds, which are all in her gut. Probably surrounding her vital organs, and will likely kill her slowly. Shirley’s feet hurt. People sometimes confuse Shirley with Glenda, but Shirley looks on Glenda’s angst with rough disdain. Shirley’s the one who considers taking up smoking and giving up on men.
And finally, there’s Sophia. She likes you, she really does! And she loves to be liked. She hopes that people notice how hard she’s working, and if not, she’ll work a little harder. What extra twenty pounds? What she’s concerned about is finding just the right slippers for her teenager and helping people help themselves. Because it’s all about love, right? If she crosses your path, you might want to give her a hug. And then ask her if she has any hot sisters. At which point, she’ll look downcast and refer you to Zoya.
I’m aware that makes me sound as if I’m suffering from what they used to call Multiple Personality Disorder, but I think what I’m really suffering from is being a woman.
Depending on the time of day, what we ate, what ads we’ve seen, where we are in our hormonal cycle, and for me, how much radical exercise I’ve done on any given day and how many PRs I’ve set – in other words, how Awesome I’ve been – we’re either okay, or we’re not. We’re Shirley or we’re Zoya. It’s a roller coaster of a ride, for sure.
I’ve become accustomed to that. It’s been my experience for all of my 46 years. But what’s troubling me most lately is that Awesome seems to be an ever-rising bar, and flipping from Zoya to Glenda is happening too often without my consent.
Yesterday, I did an hour of body weight exercises that included the following:
Resistance band rows – 60 sec
Pushups – 45 sec
Tricep dips – 45 sec
Superman – 60 sec
Resistance band shoulder press – 60 sec
Stair pushups – 60 sec
3 full weight hangs to exhaustion
Sophia then posted the workout pics on Facebook and accepted the accolades with a gracious, somewhat self-deprecating smile.
The day before I did a Tough Mudder fitness test, which included 1 minute of each of the following: Jumping jacks (64), burpees (14), high knees (118),pushups (25), frog jumps (33),tricep dips (36) and high low planks (19). I followed that up with a half hour of yoga and a 60-minute swimming lesson.
Zoya in da house!
And yet, today, because I haven’t done anything yet (swimming coming up in a couple of hours), Glenda is sitting right next to me, morosely watching what I write. And probably putting something she shouldn’t into her face hole.
No one told me this struggle with my own identity would be lifelong, although any psychologist could probably have called it, given the turbulence of my childhood. What I really long for is to know this Rebecca chick a little better. She contains a little bit of all of her sisters, but isn’t wholly any one of them. She’s doing two Tough Mudders; she’s a business owner; she’s a good, if imperfect mother; and she’s funny and cool. She loves people, but not too much, and she will beat plowshares into swords if she needs to, as well as the other way around. But what Rebecca needs is to be able to take a day off, in between episodes of Awesome, without losing her…my… sense of self.
Because, you know, in the end, I’m just one woman, and she’s me.
This. This is my work in progress.
How about you? What’s yours?