Thursday, August 28, 2008

In Which I Learn Something Important

I don't remember how old I was when my parents got me my first bicycle.

I remember that it was red and black, had thick foam wrapped around all of the bars, and hard plastic training wheels. I remember my mother adjusting my bright yellow helmet a dozen times before letting me ride for the first time, and the almost crippling fear I had of falling off.

The road that we lived on growing up had a high speed limit, so my sisters and I were never allowed to ride our bikes in the street. There was a parking lot across the street that we learned to ride in after all the cars emptied out in the afternoon. With my dad walking behind me, his right hand holding firmly onto the back of the seat, I cautiously pedaled. I gained confidence fairly quickly, and it wasn't long before my Dad let go and I was pedaling away on my own.

Throughout that first year that we had our bikes, my sisters and I made hundreds of endless wobbly circles as the summer sun beat down on us. I fell off plenty of times at first, scraping my knees and roughing up my palms against the hot asphalt. I remember listening to the rhythmic whirr whirr whirr of the rubber tires as I pedaled, contrasting against the harsh dragging sound the plastic training wheels made. The insects in the field behind the parking lot buzzed and droned on almost unnoticed as the warm summer air rushed past my face.

Riding my bike was my first taste at freedom. Granted, my freedom was limited to a 50-foot square parking lot, but when I was riding my bike, it felt like I was flying.

I rode my bike as much as I could that first year, so much that I wore down my training wheels to the point where they barely touched the ground. Little by little, and unknown to me, my dad raised up the height of the training wheels so they were no longer assisting me. When I noticed that I had been riding my bike for a couple of weeks with essentially no training wheels, I had my dad remove them. That night, I fell off and gashed up my knee pretty badly. As I walked my bike home, struggling to hold back tears as blood trickled down my leg, I learned that no matter how confident one can get with something, they can always fall and need help getting back up.

I'm writing about this today because I can relate my experience with learning to ride a bike to the problems I'm having controlling my anxiety. I know the "falling off the bike" metaphor is cliche to say the least, but I find it very fitting for my situation. I manage to get by with my "training wheels", to learn how to adjust my daily life and deal accordingly. Just when I think I'm getting better and think I can manage without my "training wheels", I realize just how unstable I am without them and I fall down. Just like I did when I was a kid, I continue to make these wobbly circles, and I'll keep making them until I finally just get better at it.

I say that I've learned something important, and what I've learned is this: I can't be tough about this. I can't be ashamed of letting my emotions show. I can't and won't get better or back to normal unless I'm willing to get used to these "training wheels". It is okay to fall down, and it is okay to need help getting back up. I am human, and it is okay to fail.

It has taken me a month to learn that.

I'm getting there, albeit slowly, but I'm getting there.


Miss Grace said...

I think you're very brave.

A.C. said...

It takes some people a lifetime to learn that. I'm proud of you.

It is what it is. No shame in that.

Cape Cod Gal said...

Good for you. I remember how long it took me to figure that out. Really levels you. Congrads. Welcome to the other side :)

Aunt Becky said...

One foot in front of the other. And breathe, dammit.

Lola said...

That's what it takes, my friend, and realizing it will help to make it easier. I think your writing is really helping you. Keep on keepin' on, Badass!

Daddy Files said...

I've never met you. I've never talked to you minus these blogs. But I'm very confident that you're a solid person who will be fine in the end. So you have to suck it up and rely on training wheels every once in awhile. So be it.

Just keep on truckin' and I have no doubt you'll be perfectly fine.

LilSass said...

Hold on just a minute mister ... since when is relying on 'training wheels' considered failing? The sooner you realize that not living life according to other's expectations, or heck, even your own self-prescribed expectations is not a FAILURE, the more successful you will be!

You're on your way, kid!

Employee No. 3699 said...

I'm sorry I haven't been here the last couple of days. I've been dealing with a summer head cold...which is nothing in comparison to what you have to deal with.

And in spite of it you are brave and compassionate and caring. I see you as someone that would put others, especially the boss, ahead of yourself. And if you need training wheels once in awhile, that is more than okay.

Look at it this way, you're riding a big ass four wheeler when we just have our tricycles.

Big giant hugs and kisses to you...but I'm covering my mouth so you don't catch this damn cold.

KT said...

You will make it. One day at a time. And until then, you have your new cyber friends to lean on if you need us. Chin up, dude. I'm here.

KT said...

Oh..and as for your "training wheels" on which you must rely. I currently refer to mine as "antidepressants" and "family." Training wheels help you, they do not mean you are a failure. I used to think they were failures. I realize they are not. I hope it takes you less time to realize that than it did me. Keep it up.

scatterbrain said...

I'm in awe that you've learned this already! It's taken me many years (about 15)to find this out about myself...still have to remind myself every so often.

Blogging is so cathartic, 'cos you're actually putting it down, which means whenever you forget, you just re-read your post.

I'm so glad I discovered your blog Badass.:-D More hugs.

Badass Geek said...

Miss Grace: Thank you. I'm trying to be, but sometimes that old fear takes over.

AC: While I've got the knowledge part down, I'm still working on the shame.

Cape Cod Gal: So this is the other side, eh? I thought it'd look different.

Aunt Becky: Ironically, thats the same method I use when putting on my pants in the morning.

Lola: Writing here is making a difference, more than I thought it would. It is easier to assess my feelings when I see them written out in front of me.

Daddy Files: Thanks for your vote of confidence. I know I'll get there, but I'm like the impatient kid in the backseat asking "Are we there yet?". I just want to be there.

Lil Sass: I didn't mean to say that relying on "training wheels" meant I was a failure. It just feels like that at the time.

Employee No 3699: I'm slowly learning that it is okay to put myself first at times. I am important too, I guess.

KT: I'm just in a hurry to "be better" already, so I sometimes view needing my medication as failing. I know that is not the case now, but when I'm in that bad place, its hard to think otherwise.

Scatterbrain: Writing this all down does help me remember, because my neurological problems are slowly taking my memories away from me.

Moonspun said...

Badass, my friend, knowing that you are on a path to get better because you WANT to get better is no small feet. Despite the bumpy road you are on, you are facing it head on, with or without training wheels. It hardly matters.
You want to get better, just like you wanted to ride your bike so badly years ago. You'll get through it. And heck, even adults fall off their bikes still, after years of riding. We are all vulnerable.

Badass Geek said...

Moonspun: I know the training wheels don't matter, but I still just want to "be there" already, without the struggle.

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