Body Armor.

Fear is such a funny emotion. It can ebb and flow, it can surge suddenly, or it can build slowly, creeping up on you like ivy, quietly choking you off before you realize what is happening. Fear can motivate or paralyze, it can spur anger or kindness, it can masquerade as happiness, love, worry or denial.

Whether it’s provoked from the jarring 2 am phone call or sudden heavy footsteps behind you in the dark, fear cloaks you, physiologically manifesting in your veins before your brain can begin to process and decode the danger.

Last night, fear found me. I don’t like to poke at these demons, because I know that despite valiant efforts, I can’t outrun the worry that befriends danger. I was doing a pretty good job camouflaging myself, wrapped up in a quilt, insulated and protected from the chill in the air. Then the words found me…”I blacked out during practice, holding 400 lbs.” His good nature and decidedly positive outlook helped me battle the fear for twelve hours, offering me respite in the sweet shelter of denial.

And then I saw the video.

And I watched it again. And again. And again.

After staring for the fifth time as 400 lbs pressed up against his windpipe, my throat hurt. As he fell backwards onto his elbows, mine burned. My stomach absorbed those 400 lbs, feeling heavy with worry and fear.

“It’s not a big deal. It happens occasionally.”

The knowledgable and respected veterans agreed, enjoying the video like they would any good episode of Jackass. But the wife? The wife worried. Yes, the wife is green and raw, new to the experience and disrespectful of the process. But the wife is also powerless and ripe for a revolution, ready to declare Martial Law. {Martial/Marital – not a coincidence!}

“If it happens again, you’re going to the doctor.”

I watched it again. I watched his body sway, the five feet, eleven and three-quarters inches looking like a twenty story skyscraper. His head tilts back, his eyes, I imagine, are rolling the same direction. The loss of grip comes next and the bar slides down his massive arms. Arms that could deadlift 700 lbs now look like limp noodles as they fall to his side. One last awkward, unconscious attempt to brace for impact is made by his elbows before the camera cuts.

“I told you, it’s not a big deal. My coach says…”

I replay it again. Quick, powerful…cheers from the crowd encouraging his feat of strength. And then I’m taken by surprise again when he starts to sway. I watch it intently, mesmerized as the iron giant’s tight form slackens and falls. The onlookers’ shouts turn to bellows as they rush towards him, the image going black again.

“I don’t care if God himself told you it was fine. One more time and I will fly to California and personally escort you to the hospital.”

Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Probably.

Has it happened to others in the sport before, and will it happen again? I’m sure of it.

But there is something so terrifying about watching the video that it makes me want to hop on a plane, grab his sweaty, chalky hand and bring him home with me. No, you can’t play with that toy anymore, it’s dangerous.

I am not his mother, I am not his god, I am not him. I cannot tell him what to do any more than I can tell him what to wear, who to be friends with, or how to drive {though I do try on that last one!}. Tucked away in the wrinkles of my brain is the recognition that he knows it IS a big deal, and he would probably be at the doctor without my goading if a repeat episode happens. But I need to feel the power behind delivering a rule. I need the safety net of his promise, the assurance that his common sense wasn’t knocked out when his head hit the wall.

I need the nightlight to protect me from the dark of fear, from the boogeyman who steals Olympic dreams and ends careers too soon.

I need to be able to add another tool to my kit, because fear will return. And it might even bring more friends. And maybe I won’t be completely prepared, but I’ll battle it anyway. Maybe I’ll use the shield of nagging again, or whip out the sword of ultimatums. It’s an ongoing battle against fear, and while I might be temporarily wounded, there’s a lot of fight left in me.

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2 thoughts on “Body Armor.

  1. Great blog Beth! Maybe to give you a little bit of comfort while you’re so far away, this happened to me about a month after I started as well. I completely blacked out andfell forward with the bar, while still pretty much holding on to it. It does happen, not that that settles your stomach any more, however after the first time you learn when it’s about to happen and when to let go before it does. Since then I’ve been close to passing out probably another 5 times, but let go of the bar and recovered instead. The passing out is a combination to the bar hitting the throat, the hard holding of your breath, and the fact that it’s just heavy and physically takes a lot out of you. I hope you feel better, or a little more at ease now. You’re already such strong awesome wife for letting him follow his dreams so the last thing you need is silly worries. Look far enough back on my Facebook and you’ll find mine. Hope you’re staying warm in Chicago and turn off your nightlight for the night….he’s in good hands and we’ll take care of him until you get here. 😀

    • Thanks, Lindsay! I know he is in the best of hands, and that makes this a million times easier. I was doing pretty well not worrying until someone commented on Glenn’s post that it had happened to him once and was the result of a heart arrhythmia…and that’s when I got thoroughly freaked out! Thanks for the encouragement, and see you in a few weeks!

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