Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter... ironic timing?

      Easter is a spring festival that celebrates the central event of the Christian faith: the resurrection of Christ three days after his death by crucifixion. 
res·ur·rec·tion  n.
1. The act of rising from the dead or returning to life.
2. The state of one who has returned to life.
3. The act of bringing back to practice, notice, or use; revival.

      Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.

     Where am I going with this you might ask... although never clinically diagnosed with OCD I know that I certainly have tendencies in this direction which applied correctly makes me very successful at certain things... yet... the conundrum is that when applied incorrectly it can actually cause destructive behaviors. They are not done in a malicious way but more in a manner which occupies the mental faculties so much that it can consume you entirely.

     Triathlon happens to be my latest obsession... but anyone who knows me well knows that there have been many obsessions throughout my life. This one was different though... because of my drive to succeed in triathlons and the level of effort required to get better in each of the 3 disciplines... I became completely consumed in everything triathlon... swimming, biking, running, training, wattage tracking, pace analysis, recovery beverages, compression therapy, gait analysis... the list goes on... and it is enormous! Now... what is the big deal you might be asking?

      Balance has been something I have tried to achieve throughout all of my training... family, work, training... seems fairly simple... I even mentor a group of triathletes in an online forum about planning and reaching that balance. So I structured nearly all of my training to deconflict with both family and work. Alright... so we are good there... what is the issue? The training obviously takes me away from family and work physically but as long as it is planned it isn't really an issue. {ENTER OCD} When you obsess as I have done with every aspect of triathlons outside of the simple acts of training... it takes you away mentally... and the more you read, study, analyze... the more you want to know... the more you read, study, analyze... it is a vicious cycle and although I was physically present... I was mentally in another place!

     Newton's cradle- during my training track for command... Sherri and I came up this idea as a tangible item we could refer to in order to make sure that maintained a balance... as Newton pointed out... for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction and the cradle does a great job of visually depicting that concept. If you can imagine... the center ball is the family... flanked on either side is Sherri on one side and me on the other... the outer balls on each side depict those things that we each do independently from each other... as long as that outer ball does not pull either of us too far to the outside they will simply counter each other out and  Sherri, the family and I will remain together and in contact. Now imagine this... my obsessing over everything triathlon was pulling not only the outer ball WAY OUT but it was pulling me out as well... and well... the result is clearly depicted by the cradle's resulting action... it was kicking Sherri and her activities out... and the impact was so significant that is actually causes the center ball to start moving... and balance is lost!  

     Silver lining? I happen to be married to one of the strongest women I have ever met... and for nearly 18 years of marriage we have always been best friends first... she knows more about me than I know about myself and that bond is strong enough that even in times of adversity we are able to persevere through anything that life throws our way... and for that... I love her!  I also have the 4 greatest kids a Dad could ever hope to have... each one a shining star in their own distinct and personal way... and they have shown just how resilient they are as they have each had to endure a Dad that was physically present but mentally absent and I could not be more proud of each of them. I also have one incredible friend and mentor that has seen this scenario play out more than once... his advice and counsel is and has been a guiding beacon... thanks for everything you have done for us SJ!

    Timing... as we celebrate Easter today... I celebrate the return of me... a Son, Brother, Naval Officer, Husband, Father... and Triathlete... "Work, love and play are the great balance wheels of man's being" ~ Orison Swett Marden