I started going to cross-fit about three weeks ago.  My neighbor does it in his backyard and invites anyone who hears the grunting and thinks it would be fun to join him.  If you are unfamiliar with cross-fit, this description of one of my daily workouts should give you a clue to what we’re dealing with here.  

WOD (workout of the day) for Wednesday:

first:  Get a sledgehammer (don’t worry, neighbor has at least three of varying weights -pick the lightest one for your own safety). Stand around a large pronate tire that has presumably fallen off a monster truck and into your neighbor’s back yard.  Lift the sledgehammer above your shoulders and hit the tire as though you are breaking concrete on a chain gang.  Repeat the action as many times as you can for 1 minute.  When the timer goes off, switch arms and repeat the action again for another minute. When you are finished with this work, cry a little.

ifaacademy_combat_conditioning_fitness_02Second: Stand upright. (if you can after sledgehammer business).  Fall down into the grass until you are in a sort of horizontal place with the ground. Push yourself back up off the grass in a motion that might look a little bit like a push up.  Crawl apologetically back up to your feet, put your hands in the air and clap them high above your head.  Repeat as many times as you can in 1 minute.  This is called a burpee.  Why?  I have NO idea.  MODIFICATION:  Fall down into the grass and play dead until the timer goes off.  

Rest for 30 seconds and then start over again.  Do 20 minutes of these rotations.  

Yep. Cross fit.  I’m the special needs participant in a group of highly fit people.  My first day there, they told me there was NO SHAME IN THROWING UP (!) because at some point or other, every one has done it.  I modify everything and have an irrational fear of jumping up on a high box, but still I go every other day.  I’ve been fit before and have often said that I want to learn how to become an athlete.  This is not something that comes naturally to me.  In fact, almost every day when the text message comes telling us what time we will start falling on the ground and getting back up again, I think I might just do what DOES comes naturally instead. “Maybe today i will do what I know how to do well.  What I’ve always done.  What feels safe and intuitive.  Maybe today I will just eat this bag of kettle corn while watching old episodes of 30 Rock and Arrested Development and scroll through instagram until it’s time to go to bed.” (note: there is NOTHING WRONG with that occasionally.)

But then I remember that I actually feel better after cross fit.  I put on my shoes, grab some water to stave off the inevitable dehydration (sledgehammering a tire will do that to you), and make my way to the neighbor’s yard for 30 minutes of hard, hot work.  It’s worth it to feel the strength returning to my legs and arms.  

Justin has been home for 6 days.  His sobriety is precious and it is impossible to do everything right and exhausting to have to work at every aspect of our interactions.  I feel constantly drawn to what I’ve known and how I’ve done things before.  Sometimes, when there’s even just a hint of tension, I start strapping on the kettle corn feedbag (ie…old communication patterns).  For example, we were having a tense conversation in the car about my crappy driving and I felt like Justin was accusing me of not taking responsibility for myself and I just lost it. I screamed. Banshee screamed. I felt every ounce of my own sobriety slipping away…I was seemingly suddenly weak and unbalanced and afraid.  Afraid of not being loved.  Afraid of being abandoned and victimized.  THere was this tenuous moment where it was all collapsing, sliding into the kind of pit that takes days to dig out of. The miracle came when we were somehow able to recover.  I can’t even really remember what that recovery looked like (a fumble and catch?) but the thing is: We are getting stronger.  Slowly.  We are falling down and crawling back up again.  I take comfort in knowing that we aren’t going anywhere and tomorrow is another day to try again.  

Now, quickly, I want to say that I am not so presumptuous to believe that Justin’s sobriety can be undone by me.  I mean, I didn’t cause his anxiety, addiction or his recovery, so it would be pretty impressive if I could CAUSE his relapse.  But I CAN add to the stress that might cause a relapse.  So I am sensitive to that, but not overly.  What I’ve realized is that my brain is in training the same way his is.  I have neural pathways that have gotten really comfortable jumping to their conclusions and subsequent reactions.  I’m allowed to feel tired because the work I am doing is exhausting too!  But the important thing is that I keep showing up, choosing  to hit the tire and giving myself and my marriage the opportunity to evolve into something with real muscle.  And sometimes I cry to release the tired and that’s ok too.

Are there any other family members of alcoholics and addicts reading this who have felt this exhaustion when their loved one first comes home?  What has your experience been?  How long did the funky/walking on eggshells/finding your sea legs part last for you?