I don’t remember the exact moment I realized I was different, but I recall it was some time in my early childhood years. I remember being such a sensitive little girl. Everything made me cry. I remember when my dad’s mother passed away, and I watched him cry at her funeral. It felt like my heart was made of bricks, as it sunk down into my stomach. I don’t even think I was fully aware of what death was, but I knew my father was crushed. I felt it. It seemed as if I were dying, too.
Growing up as a child athlete, I faced so many emotions. My innocent love of the game (basketball/volleyball) moved through me like a lightning bolt. I wanted to give 200% all the time, as well as push my teammates to do the same. Victories were over-the-top. Defeats murdered my spirit. Even when my team came out on top, if my performance was less than I had expected, I would cry. I was overcome with emotion on the court, too. My high school basketball coach called me “scrappy” because I would sacrifice my body to the floor, if I had to.
As a young adult, I was a train wreck. Everything touched me in a way that was hard to explain to most people. My pain caused pain. Other’s pain caused me pain. Seeing a hurt animal caused me pain. Everything painful in the world caused me pain. I felt my emotions and the emotions of others. At the time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I didn’t get it. I thought I needed to be put away in a little room for the rest of my life. I thought nobody would ever love or appreciate me the way I was. My 20s, while exciting, were also some of the hardest years of my life.
I’m 32 now. I’ve experienced things most people shouldn’t have to. I’ve seen the highest highs and the lowest lows. I’ve felt every possible emotion a hundred times over. I’ve carried my own burdens, as well as the burdens of others. I’ve been judged for being who I am. I’ve been applauded for my driving spirit. Battered. Bruised. Broken. I’ve felt for you, too.
As a cyclist, I’ve been overcome with many of the same feelings I had as a kid. It overwhelms me. I cry when I race poorly…and sometimes when I do well. I’m passionate about racing, even though I’m not that fast. I’m driven. It’s more than a bike. It’s more than a hobby. It’s so much more than I can put into words. I JUST FEEL IT.
While I still believe it to be a curse at times, I am mostly honored to have this gift. It makes me so amazingly complex, yet, so simple. It definitely makes life a challenge, but I think I’ve done well with the cards I’ve been given.