Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Life in a Pressure Cooker (Part 2 of 4)


Like I said in the last post, I really don't know anything about pressure cookers. I know what I think they do, and I like the visual, but the analogy might break down if you are a cook and you really know how they work/what they do. So, I'll just ask you to bear with me here...

Without going into too much detail, I didn't have a Brady Bunch/Leave it to Beaver childhood. My parents separated/divorced when I was in the 1st grade. We moved from Texas to Arkansas. (If you know anything about their football rivalry in the mid 70s, then you know why this is included in my "I didn't have a good childhood" story.) My mother remarried a couple of years later to the man I called Daddy. (He wasn't my biological father, but he married my "Mommy" so I reasoned I needed to call him "Daddy".) He was a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde kind of man. He was not a nice man. He passed away many years ago; I'll leave it at that. I know my mother is reading this, so I'll say I know she did the best she could, and I'll leave it at that. 

When I was fresh out of high school I found a therapist to see. At my first visit the good doctor was getting some history from me (thank God) and we discovered he had gone to school with my Daddy, like 30 years before then, in a TINY town about 3 hours away. What are the chances of that??!!  He tried to assure me I could talk to him about anything, but I couldn't get out of that office fast enough! Determined as I was, I quickly found another therapist. As I was telling her my story, she remarked that I seemed very well "adjusted" and asked what I hoped to get out of therapy. I remember telling her "well, I feel confident that I can't be as adjusted as I think I am...I'm hoping you can help sort that out." I don't remember how long I saw her, but she was the first of MANY "sorters" I have seen over the course of my life. 

((To be perfectly clear, in case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm still not sorted out.))

Since then I have spent more on therapy than some wealthy people in third world countries MAKE in a lifetime! And don't even get me started on all of the TIME involved. When you "do therapy" it's so much more than the time spent on the couch and the travel time back and forth to the office. But even more than the time I've spent "doing therapy", I want to focus a bit on the time I've spent FIGHTING against it.

....Let's talk about the pressure cooker now. (Again...if you are cook, just roll with me here...)

You put raw food in the cooker, lock up the lid and then turn on the heat. Pressure builds and builds, cooking the food. If the pressure gets too high there's this little stopper thing on the lid of the pot that will pop up and let some steam out. This keeps the pot from exploding while the food continues to cook. The lid doesn't let all the pressure off or the food won't get done. 

Think about how we train our bodies. We over reach and push beyond our comfort zone and then we take time to recover. Then we push again. In an ideal setting, we'd push just enough (we'd let the pressure build just enough in the pot), and then we'd back off just enough (the lid would let just enough steam out) in order to make our goal (cook our food). The goal is not actually BALANCE. The goal in training is to be faster/stronger than we started; the goal in cooking is to have perfectly cooked food! If you have "perfect" balance in training you are not actually "training"...that's called maintaining. If that cooker has perfectly balanced pressure, it would be called a bowl. :D

In "therapy" the idea isn't to stay in the same state you started. That's called small talk. :D

When you go into therapy, there's something that has probably been out of balance for a while. A lot of people (myself included) will take the pressure cooker approach. The "problem" builds and builds until it's unbearable and you go to therapy to let off some steam. Once you've vented off just a little you FEEL better. In training, when done right, you feel better after a recover day/week. But you don't usually meet your goal by the first recovery day/week now do you? In the pressure cooker analogy, when the steam is let off, the food may smell really good, but it's not ready to eat yet.

I have never liked pushing myself in training. I have never been a good cook. And, I've never liked therapy. Therapy is hard. Small talk is easy. Venting is easy. Therapy hurts. 

You can't take all the pressure off until the food is cooked, and you can't halt the stress of training until you've reached your goal/peaked for your race. With therapy, a little "venting" might feel good, but if it's not getting you (me) to the goal of being "sorted out" then you (I) have to keep "pushing" and "cooking".

Are you still with me?? Thanks for stopping by and sticking around. Part 3 of 4 is coming up...


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