Thursday, September 4

not so much an "embarrassing moment" as an "ongoing humiliation"

I whacked myself on the head with a carabiner clip this morning at boot camp. It hurt. And anyone would feel stupid. So, why did I immediately go from "ow" and "I feel dumb" to tears? It didn't hurt that much. Also, I am 37 years old, nearly 38. I've been through a lot worse than a minor carabiner incident and not cried. So why was this so embarrassing and upsetting? Or as my therapist would say, "What do you think that says about you?" Two letters: P.E.

Yes, me and PhysEd have a long and bitter relationship. I was an overweight, asthmatic kid who was always at the back of pack. Always dead last in anything involving running. Always the one on the side of the road with a side cramp and a purple face. More than anything, I dreaded the President's Physical Fitness Test, that moment when the teacher would show me the clipboard with the charts about what the average kid like me should be able to do. And then, trailing his or her pencil waaaayyyyy way way way down the page to where I was.

The funny thing is, I liked and like sports. I liked and like movement.  I was the only girl on a YMCA basketball team when I was a kid. No one ever passed me the ball. In high school, I thought floor hockey was the most fun a person could have a gymnasium, not that I was any good. I was in a church softball league and at my first at-bat, I got a hit. And then, I fell while running to first base. I kept playing. A friend told me afterwards, "Wow, I would have just cried, left the field, and never come back." (Yeah, it was a pretty ugly-looking fall.) As an adult, I'm too stubborn to let a little humiliation keep from something I generally enjoy.

This morning, though, was rough. We were working with these exercise cords with handles on both ends, standing on them (the clip part, which we use for other purposes) and then doing bicep curls. And I was standing there already feeling really cranky. Thinking things like, I wish the trainer would warm us up better before doing stuff involving our lower backs. I wish he'd remember we don't all exercise for a living and when he says 'combat stance' I don't really know what that means. I wish he'd give me more reminders about proper form because I haven't done this kind of stuff since last summer. And, gee, these cords seem kind of dangerous, what if it slipped out from under my shoe and the carabiner popped my eye out? Then, like magic, my cord slipped out. (Fortunately, the clip hit me on the top of my very hard head. No harm done.) 

It's scary how fast your brain works when it comes to issues of identity. Within milliseconds, I was thinking stuff like this: I'm uncoordinated. I'm fat. I don't belong here. Why did I come? I should just leave. Everyone is going to think I'm a big fat idiot. The trainer thinks I'm a whiny chubbo who probably couldn't find her core if she had a map. Well guess what, he doesn't know anything about me. About how much weight I've lost and how I did a boot camp last summer that was WAY HARDER and I never fell or bonked myself on the head, yeah, that's right, I'm talking to you, NO DON'T LOOK AT ME OR ASK ME HOW I AM! ACK! Don't see me crying. Why am I crying? Oh, God, just stop crying... etc. 

I don't know how my memory can be so bad when I'm trying to remember the title of a movie or where I put my glasses, but it only takes fractions of seconds to recall exactly how I felt in junior high P.E.

So I left class this morning feeling really kind of like a piece of crap. And guess what we're doing tomorrow? Measuring. I heard him say something about scales and body fat percentages and timed laps and pushups and situps and all I could think about was the President's Physical Fitness Test and the clipboard showing me exactly how short of the mark I am. Tomorrow, I am sleeping in. It's an act of emotional self-preservation. But because I'm tough and stubborn and miss the butt I had after last year's boot camp, chances are good I'll go back Monday and pretend all of this never happened.

9 comments:

Jackie Parker said...

This totally made me want to give you a hug and a pep talk. Not that you need it. But just in case.

Melissa Walker said...

I hear you, Sara! The thing I always dreaded: FIELD DAY. My friends still claim it was a fantastic part of our elementary school years. To me, it was a day of DREAD. Taking tests on my physical prowess and then leaving with a handful of white "participation" ribbons instead of the red, blue and yellow first-place, second-place, third really did a number on my confidence. Which is why I'm a yoga girl now.

Alyson Noel said...

I can't tell you how many times I tried to fake sick to get out of the Presidential Fitness Test . . .

Definitely the most dreaded day of the year for me!

Lauren Baratz-Logsted said...

Does it make you feel any better if I say I got my copy of SWEETHEARTS today?

And yeah, put me down with Melissa as ha-ha-ha-hating Field Day.

Sara Z. said...

Thanks for the hug, Jackie. Too bad it wasn't a pan of brownies.
And Lauren, yes, it does make me feel better!
Are children still subjected to this I wonder?

Natalie Hatch said...

As a High School PE teacher I can tell you that you're not alone, most people grow up dreading things like this. But remember you're there because you are wanting to improve, and everyone else is in the same boat. And if the instructor is an 18yr with no cellulite and lots of personality, ah chalk that up to life. I'm 37, and just lost 29kgs (over 60lbs) in 8 months. Having twins caused the weight gain. Now I'm back to it, and I will get there. You will too!

Gerb said...

Oh, Sara, I feel your pain. I always had a sort of hate/hate relationship with PE. The thing I hated those charts showing where "average" kids should be. Blech. My personal humiliation was how far I could (not) throw a @#! softball. That pencil trailing down to the bottom of the page? Yeah. That was me.

Sara Z. said...

Natalie - way to go on the baby weight! Yes, the beauty of doing this as an adult is that I'm there by my own free will and can choose to do the tests or not. It's nice to choose...not. :)

Gerb - those softball throwing skills are so important.

Kelly Parra said...

Junior high PE was tough! And those presidential fitness tests don't really count in the real word. :) :)