Thursday, June 21, 2012

Listening

I have never been a skilled listener. I'm a good talker, but listening has never been my forte. I get too excited about my next chance to talk, I think. If you and I talked, you might think I'm a good listener though. I have a good cover and I have been trying to mask my I'd-rather-talk-than-listen-to-you-ness. I really have to consciously try to listen more, ask more pointed questions. It simply doesn't come naturally to me.

But being a terrible listener is quite easily remedied with silence. It makes people think you're listening. I do this a lot, but it typically ends in being caught up in a drawn out conversation that seems to have no end.

Ironically, I'm not very good at listening to my body either. While my marathon training has not yet ramped up to full bore, I have been putting in 20+ miles a week. Each time I've been out on a run, I have been trying to ignore the dull ache and pull of the muscles around my right knee & IT band.

I'll run through it, I tell myself.

Obviously, that's not possible. Your body won't forget to ache and interrupt your plans when you stop listening. It gets a bit angry at you, even. My body punished me over the weekend, halfway through a 10-mile run in the early Sunday morning humidity. My knee buckled, as if someone hit me with a lead pipe and I realized I had stopped listening. We walked all the way back as punishment.

Injuries have a way of making me contemplative, down in that moody part of my heart that gets angry when I stop taking care of myself. I haven't been stretching, icing, doing yoga or weight training in weeks. This pisses my body off in the most royal way possible. I know the solution, I'm just too preoccupied with the rest of my life to make the time. I stopped listening.

It's just hard to break yourself of a deeply ingrained routine that helps you cope with life and forget, at least momentarily, about all your faults. That's how running makes me feel: like everything is perfect. But it has happened time and time again that I push and push and never stop until I cannot take it anymore--it always ends in a sidelining injury.

You need to take care of yourself, my husband reminds me in a way that feels very father-like.

It's can be annoying to live with someone who is always so right about everything. He again reminded me of this earlier this week when a cut on my thumb became infected and I woke in the middle of the night with intense, throbbing pain. It was unreal how painful it was--and it was because I wasn't taking care of myself. If you've never had the pleasure of experiencing an infection in a finger, let me say this: it is truly awful.

But, I'm thankful for a body that feels like it's falling apart at the seams. The injuries, the illnesses---it's an opportunity to learn how to slow the hell down and start listening again. Sometimes it takes a brick over the head to get the point, but I think I got it.

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