Something happened the other day that made me feel inadequate. Now I’ve felt this before, many times, in fact. But this time it meant that I was to be unincluded in one of the activities that has brought me joy. It struck me so hard that it created a spark in me that I haven’t felt in a very long time.
Recently I’ve taken up cycling. It all started in the Florida Keys in December when we rented a bike to get around town. The bike that I rode was heavy and combersome. However, it actually gave me a feeling of freedom that I had not had before. Biking took the pain of walking away. Since then, I’ve wanted to continue biking because it made the fibromyalgia pains almost disappear while I was riding.
Soon, I found and ancient Schwinn road bike that I was able to convince my hubby to buy for me while I was visiting the inlaws in Florida. I road this bike on every occasion that I could manage during the five weeks that I was in Florida. Some weeks I couldn’t ride at all, some weeks I could manage three rides.
In comparison to other road bikers, I could not ride very far at all. Most road bikers enjoy 20 mile rides with little discomfort. I was only accumulating 6 mile rides. I road 8 miles one day and I suffered in bed for a week. Florida is quite flat and with my old Schwinn, I was able to get average speeds of 10mph.
Had I not been told that my speeds and distance were not good enough, I would have not known the difference. I felt accomplished and happy about the way I felt on the bike. Even though I was new to how the gears worked and that I was quite an unsteady rider. I was so happy to not feel the normal, tortuous pain of every day living. Biking provided a way for me to be mobile and get outside without the pain of walking.
We brought the bike home after my five weeks in Florida and soon discovered that I could use the gears to bike up the combersome hills of Virginia. I was happy about this and couldn’t wait for the weather to get warmer when I could bike on my semi-regular basis.
As I made progress on my Schwinn in Florida, my husband began to entertain the idea of biking as well. He soon found friends that enjoyed road biking on a competitive level and decided to get a bike of his own. He was very interested in all aspects of road biking and had decided that my level of biking would not be good enough or fast enough for him to bike with me. This hurt me deeply because of my new found freedom. I had also wanted biking to be something that we could do together. I felt like such a burden. Soon, he apologized. Realizing that he had made me feel so bad.
It was not soon after this incident occurred that my husband had found a newer, lighter and faster bike for me, a 2006 Specialized Ruby Sport. The intention was for me to be able to reach speeds so my husband wouldn’t have to hold back on his competitive road bike.
I began to feel that my biking was no longer a gateway of pain relief, but a desperate way to bond with my husband. I wanted to be good enough to ride with him. No longer is tooling along at 10mph for 6 miles good enough. I wanted to ride with my husband in such a way that made him happy. The pressure to learn to ride my new bike so I could be good enough for him was unfathomable.
Meanwhile, my husband had taken up riding with his friend to work on some days. He would ride 40 miles in a day. He outfitted his bike with the best equipment for his goals. My Ruby has needed a few adjustments as well. My hands aren’t comfortable and the shifting and braking is awkward so, after some discussion, we have set up an appointment with a bike fitter to work out all the kinks. Hopefully we can afford any new components that the bike requires.
This Sunday, I was looking forward to a ride with my husband. It would have only been my fourth ride on my Ruby since I’ve been more sick than not since I got it. The rides before had been only a mile because of how bad I’d been feeling.
It was on our way to church when he said “I’d like to take a long ride by myself today, since you can’t do what I’m doing. Then I’ll come back and ride with you.” My heart broke. I’ve wanted so bad to do something with him and I still wasn’t good enough to do it right. I felt that he couldn’t just take a ride with me and be fulfilled, he had to take this thing that we do together and do it by himself. Because I wasn’t good enough. I was inadequate and unworthy. Something that I’ve been feeling quite often lately.
I don’t think that he intended to hurt me in the way I perceived it. But I did feel inadequate. We had been talking about our delight in riding together just the night before. That this was a new thing that we could do together that we both enjoyed. And now, he wanted to do our thing separately because I was still not good enough.
We did manage a ride together that day. It was a beautiful ride through a forest on a road bike trail. The hills were small but challenging for me. I discovered that my core is quite weak. My quadriceps are absolutely weak and of course, I get out of breath quite easily. These weaknesses are to be expected because I’ve not done much to develope them. But I also discovered that I could manage it.
In working through the pain of inadequacy through the week I’ve actually developed a new determination to ride more. I’m so absolutely tired of being inadequate at my life. Biking is something that I can do. I believe it’s something that I can get better at.
So here’s to you, defeat. I won’t be inadequate. I won’t feel worthless. I won’t feel sad at my circumstances any more. I won’t give sadness the stage any longer. I rode 6 miles on Monday and 7 miles on Wednesday. My speeds are increasing and hopefully my miles will keep going up. Screw you, defeat. I’m tired of being brought down.
My personal records from yesterday