Guess what. Sometimes you have to rely on yourself. In most of life, happily, we usually have people we can count on. People who can help us out, who can smooth the way, who can make things happen for us. But not always. Sometimes you have to forge your own way. And if I’m learning one thing from lifting heavy weights it’s that I’m the only one that can do it.
Saturday at the powerlifting meet things started out amazingly when I broke the record I’d wanted so very much to break. But two points came in the day where I had to find out how strong I really was.
Ben told me last week it was time to see what I was made of. I thought he meant whether or not I could break the record. And I did, without much trouble. But it was when things went downhill that I found out just how much mettle I had.
I failed my first bench attempt because I didn’t follow the rules. I have plenty of excuses but they don’t matter. I didn’t do what I was supposed to do. Then I didn’t get the weight up on the second attempt. That gave me one more try to stay in the meet. And I was the only one that could do it. As a woman, I’ve often turned to men in my life — my dad, my husband — to deal with unpleasant things like mowing the yard, changing the tire, getting rid of the mouse. It’s something I think many of us are accustomed to doing. But not a man — or woman — there could do this for me. Ben was right there, spotting me, coaching me, but he couldn’t lift this weight for me.
I was terrified I wouldn’t make it. 95 pounds is a sh*tload of weight to press away from your body when you weigh 99 pounds. But there was no way in the world I was giving up. And I did it. I told my husband later I don’t even think it was because I was necessarily strong enough, but rather that I just had the will to do it. Ben later echoed that same thought, telling me I made it up through sheer will. And that’s ok, because I made it up.
But still again I had to rely on myself — the challenges weren’t over. I botched my deadlift setup and missed what should have been a safe attempt. After grinding through that gut-wrenching bench earlier, I just didn’t know if I had it left in me. I was tired, worn out. I didn’t know if I could face another fight. What if I couldn’t pick it up at all? What if I bombed out? I had help — I had Ryan working with me on set-up, Susan encouraging me, Ben making sure I got food, my husband’s quiet confidence from across the room. But none of them could step up to that weight that was suddenly such a terrifying amount. Only I could. And so, again, I grabbed the bar, and I ripped that sh*t off the floor. Myself.
Nothing I’ve ever done has ever taught me quite so brutally just how much I can depend on myself. I’m educated and I’m traveled, but it’s the not the diploma, not the passport stamps from solo trips that have shown me what I’m made of. It’s the showdown with the weights. And I don’t — and won’t — always come out on top, but when it mattered, I did. And if I can do that, I know there’s nothing I can’t do for myself. That’s what being strong teaches me.