As I pedal down the dimly lit streets of London, early hours saturday morning and there are revellers out and about, looking for the next party. hanging out waiting to get home, looking lost, wasted, tired or even just laughing in hysteria....
I am on my way to a training session, long ride, fresh (kinda) from a night sleep and ready to embrace the cycling session.....
..I think to myself - how times change. A few years back - that was me hanging out from an all night party, lost and confused, often wishing that I was home tucked up in bed or that i was that cyclist - healthy and smiling on their way to a great day of sports and fun!! Real fun! I shudder as I get flashbacks - the memories are still strong, some ok but some scary......
This is where I share how I came to be a cyclist. How life has a funny way of shaping your outcome and your destiny, even though we think we control it - I learnt that trying to do that (even now) is not my best friend. In fact of all the things I had imagined, I never thought that spinning pedals and racing on tracks etc would be my game! Life is full of surprises - it is how we deal with them all that makes us - how we embrace it that shapes us. How we play it that lets us win the game!
I grew up first part of life overseas. My father was a pilot, he was away a lot. I thought that was ok. It turns out that when he finally left/was never there it impacted hugely. Next stop back to the UK with mum and brother....my mum suffered lots and got quite ill for some time. - she thought I was too young to understand but kids are smart - I was smart, and I had to jump from age 10 to a grown up pretty fast. It was a scary time as well as although I could see she was not right I was not really sure how to help - My dad had gone, I had to fend for me and my brother. I was away at school, which I loved, but perhaps because it was a happy place away from the battles at home due to my parents divorce. I missed my Dad - why had he deserted me? what had I done so wrong? why was I not good enough?? This is what haunted me (still can"!)- I craved that love that seemed to have gone with him. It was eery..isolated. - We are shaped in our beliefs as children apparently in the first 5-7 years of our lives. I still have a lot of unravelling to do....... we are all 'work in progress'. I set about seeking emotional contentment for years - but instead fell into cycles of unemotional torments in relationshipsa and some pretty horrid situations of both physical and mental abuse. I see now I did not feel worthy of any more - My dad had gone, and I was not good enough.
Fast forward to when I am actually 16 - and then my eyes are more exposed to the world. So far I have been cloaked with lies/cover ups and generally with child's eyes, but also seen upsets, felt hurt and let down - especially by the one person I idolise - My dad.
Why do I tell all this.....well it explains what came next, a deep rooted desire to be the best person ever - to be perfect in every way shape and form.....so I developed an obsession with this and with food. I struggled for many years with anorexia. I was plagued with self hatred yet desired so much to enjoy the teenage years. I battled with bouts of being at home and looked after by my Mum (she was better then but crippled with fear for me)- to travelling abroad and being outrageous as much as I could be in my tiny childlike frame. I partied - but I was also weak....I wanted that escapism...that free spirit, but I was also trapped in my own hell of the food battle, and the battle of self hatred. The seeking for I guess the emotional father that never was.....
And why do I say this, because as I say - life has a funny way of shaping us. What doesn't kill you (and I have faced death a few times) makes you stronger....stronger but also a fighter!
Life was not always like a prison cell - I had fun, I travelled, I did not get to go to Uni due to ill health but I did other things - life was mapped that way - no regrets, just gratitude. I found parties and more fun....but maybe a step too far. As with an addictive personality - you crave more and more...the thirst and hunger is not satisfied...it is insatiable...but the downward spiral hits hard as more and more the desire to escape gets bigger and you lose sight of reality and you - and even more self hatred but also destruction.. I developed a battle of lots of addictions - a vicious cycle of basically hitting the 'F it' button. I self medicated to feel better - but in the end it took away everything I had - I was close to the edge.
Eventually it all crumbled when my boyfriend died in 2008 and then the dad that left me died in 2010 - I went into a very deep depression but abused myself to escape the pain. I didn't want the pain, I was childlike in dealing with emotions - so long I had escaped, traumas too deep, wounds that were still open but too scary to face. But I was also killing myself,my soul and what was left of life.
Fast forward - I found an exit from this helll - a lifeline- or rather a helping hand and a guide that has shown me that I can overcome and you can make a change to situations - not control but to actually let go of trying to control. I started on a journey that I continue - it is called a second chance at life - and not many are lucky enough to have that gift or to pull through to rediscover that they are actually worth a chance, that life can be tough but we can also be strong, and we don't have to go it alone either and people out there are actually genuine friends and they care.
I am a grateful person today - I have had times when I looked death in the eyes. Life is full of surprises, but I was tempting it too much - too close to the edge.
I have had to work hard on myself - I have to every day. Turning around and admitting that you have to choose to live or die is hard work - life is hard work but not as hard as that choice.
Why have I chosen to share this....it took some thinking about. it is exposing myself a lot and it is not for a heroic tale....I share my testimony to others who have had similar stories - we help and we grow and we still hold together when life gets tough..
So as I have grown into a new happier existence - I guess I needed to channel that fighter I discovered in me, that strong person that I never knew existed when I felt like giving up - I wanted challenges, I discovered I am capable of healthy fun things, I found sports, I embraced my dancing, my love of the outdoors and then I embarked on one of my scariest challenges which was literally to shape my life today.
I rode the LEJOG in 9 days for charity - and went through an emotional and physical rollercoaster, but the best natural high to date at that time! I discovered I had a fight I did not know about and a determination and strength...that addictive person in me craved more of this....and thus my cycling career was born.
For me the discovery of cycling was again one of those surprise things that I did not seek....but it has given me another branch on my new life ....It gives me an outlet to channel my frustrations - but it has also helped me explore my potential. It has made me realise how amazing life can be and that i play a bigger part in it. I can strive to achieve - I do also see how damned determined I can be ,and equally can still revert back to feelings of low self worth that I am not good enough - if I don't win the race, if I get dropped - if I can't keep up with the bunch, if I can't climb that hill.
What it has shown me is more about myself, about how I deal with the emotions and not to be so hard on myself - I try , as I said it is work in progress. I have also discovered a network of people that I can truly call friends. In those dark days I really had no-one, nothing, I relied on a crutch that was false that was actually my enemy - that wanted my down fall. People only wanted you for what you had.....it became lonely. I now struggle to find time alone - ha - but I am back to me - the person I wanted to find...but a new me!! As I said - I have a gift of a second chance at life, and not many people can claim that! I want to make the most of that - sometimes all at once.....!
Day at a time.
But it does seem to get more amazing......I owe a huge thanks to cycling, and to CC London. But more to the point - this is to say that we all have hidden treasures and strengths and we can get through things, just when you feel like the edge is too close - friends like our club community are just amazing....I have amazing support networks. It never has to be suffering alone, and we are all winners in our own right.
We are lucky you chose to join us :)
The older I get the more I realise how truly amazing life is and how amazing human beings can be. We can achieve so much and do what for some are unimaginable things. We can also handle more than what we ever think we can, and by heck, we can endure an immense amount of pain! But also, some of us use that pain as fuel towards other emotions; some towards good, others towards bad. For some it fuels resilience and the motivation to continue to better themselves in all or some aspects of their lives. I think we both fall under this category ;)
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A new traditional cycling club for the City of London and surround. All welcome whether you are an accomplished racing cyclist, want to race, or just new to cycling and want to venture further than City roads, then we are here for you.