There were waves! Oh my Gawd!!! We needed this. Three boards in the truck, a few Kind bars and some granny smith apples, two jugs of water and a few beach towels and we were on our way. It would be the perfect way to kick off the last of the slow weeks that we would be sharing over the next month or so. The traffic creeped along sluggishly, reminding us once again, how far away we were from the beach. No matter, chest-high to head-high waves would make it worth the drive.
Duck diving under waves was just what my husband needed, what we both needed to clear the headspace we were in. The last time we drove to the beach, just the two of us, the waves were blown out and choppy, it wouldn’t even be worth the paddle out. Today was the day, I thought at the time, I just knew it.
Once we pulled into the parking lot, my husband bounded out of the truck, taking the steps two at a time to get a view of the waves. With my door ajar, my heart fell. I heard the crashing I was after but it was dampened and there was too long of a pause between each of them.
Trying to keep his cool, my husband called out to me from the top of the stairs. He was headed down to the beach, in case it somehow looked better from the shoreline. It didn’t. We stood together for a few minutes before calling it and heading home again. There should be a word for that kind of dashed hope.
When we came home, the responsibility to all the things we should’ve have been doing felt crushing. We needed to work out, and to get to work on our various projects. Without letting off that little bit of steam it seemed oppressive to close the door behind us, effectively sealing us in again.
In times like that, I usually turn to words. Written or spoken, I work my way through my feelings or disappointment or irritation, giving space and merit to my husband’s feelings in addition to my own. But yesterday I couldn’t. I needed to get out of my own head. I needed to hit something. I needed to hit it hard. I needed to hit it until I didn’t feel so much. So I strapped on my gloves and planted my feet in front of the punching bag.
You should know that I have spent the vast majority of my life avoiding anger. Though this can be masked to look like enlightenment, at its core it was merely weakness. To feel anything you have to be vulnerable and sit with it, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. I refused that for a long time.
Yesterday, I not only felt it, I harnessed its violent energy. This was no time for Jock Jams radio on Pandora. It was a time for the random Death Metal I have dodged from my husband’s playlists for years. I hit the bag again and again, sending it lunging toward me and swaying away like a pendulum. I hit the bag until my arms felt too heavy to keep going. My husband looked on, a bit shocked (that bag has hung for a long time and I hit it more yesterday that I have in all the combined years we’ve had it). He offered a few pointers on stance and keeping my face protected. For once, I listened, more intrigued than afraid.
Not only did I shun working out like that before today, I hated seeing him do it too. Watching his muscles flex and the quickness in his movements is an amazing sight. But thinking of him landing those blows on something other than the bag was a trick my brain always played on me, so I looked away. He seemed too raw in those moments, and too ferocious. Because you might not know him personally, please know that I don’t include this to mean he would ever hit ME, I simply mean that it is jarring to me to see the force of hits landed by him.
I have to say though, I felt so powerful yesterday doing it myself. I wasn’t worried about the fly away hair, or the punches I didn’t land. I didn’t apologize for the primal grunts that I somehow made, heaving all my might behind each hit. When I took my gloves off, my knuckles were bleeding and swollen. I should have been disgusted with myself, but I was honestly intrigued.
All of my life, I have been very good at controlling chaos and channeling it into something other than what was presented to me. I hadn’t considered that this kind of work out was an expression of the same sort. After I was done there was a quiet mercy, a truce of sorts that settled over me. I was still able to surprise myself and that was a beautiful thing.
In the end, I was so thrilled that I had the opportunity to feel disappointed and irritated, that we followed that incorrect surf report and it didn’t pan out, because in that discomfort I learned resiliency. Though I don’t think I will pursue a MMA career, or even join a boxing gym, there was a subtle shift of freedom that occurred as I expressed myself wordlessly today. Suspending the judgment I sheltered for so long about anger, I was able to work through my own, starting with the acknowledgement that I had it to begin with.