As a kid I remember a moment that like many small moment seemed insignificant at the time. Years later as I visit my shrink, some call it a bicycle, memories come popping in like little bursts of light. It’s really interesting the shit you think about when you are out there on your own for hours by yourself and not talking to anyone. Is this what solitary confinement is? Forced labor with nobody to talk to?

Ok it’s not forced by an authority figure of any kind, but in its own way it is forced.
I remember a lot of moments from when I was younger but only a few are vivid. Three of them come to mind rather easily.
The oldest one being from my mother. It was an innocent comment at the time I’m sure (I’ve checked and we joke about it now). Even then I’m not sure if it meant anything to me. Now, it means a lot. It as in Sears department store and my mom asked one of the sales associates (remember those) “where is the Husky section?”. For you ladies out there and skinny guys that don’t know what Husky means, it’s like saying “hey, where are the short fat kid clothes?”. Like I said at the time it wasn’t a big deal. Lookin back on it I realize that is the first memory I have of weight. I was a chunky kid that didn’t have any issue with eating all the food on the table.
Flash forward a handful of years and put me in a speedo. Yep, a banana hammock when I was in fifth grade and still shopping In the husky section. My sister had been on the swim team for a few years and my parent finally “convinced” me to start swimming also since I was at all the meets anyways. I did and I wasn’t Michael Phelps by any stretch. But I didn’t drown and that’s pretty good. I started to get a little self confidence by this point and the husky in a speedo didn’t seem to matter as much to me. I still got a statement along the way that resonates with me to this day. It was from my coach at the time ( yes I’m calling him out by name) Dave Williams. He was ever so nice as to point out to not only me but my mother as well that thanks to my physique “he’s never going to the Olympics”. Unlike the last comment about the husky thing, this one hit me at the time it was said. It did t make me sad or anything like that. I knew I wasn’t headed for the Olympics, but as a coach of a chunky kid who has the balls to wear a speedo in front of hundreds of parents/friends/strangers certainly doesn’t need to be kicking that kid in those same balls! This comment has stuck with me and is one of my demons of the pain cave.
The third, maybe not the last, but THE most influential comment EVER made to me came a few years later. This comment was also from a “coach” of mine. I was in middle school by this time and I had taken up running cross country and track as well as swimming. I was far from being that short fat kid I was but I wasn’t anywhere close to looking like a pale skinned Kenyan either. I remember being out on a run with the track team with the group of mile runners getting in some distance. We were on the way back in, maybe a mile or less to go, ( I still remember exactly where this happened) and I passed, not quickly, my coach. He decided a good choice of words at that moment for a 13 year old boy who was not the cream of the crop in the running community would be “are you in a hurry to get back and get a Twinkie?”. I remember the rage that went through me at that point was tremendous. I was a strong kid by this time and was about the same size I am today. Thoughts of stopping and punching this coach right there were coursing through my head, I’d be lying if as I type this I said they aren’t still. That was the rudest f’ed up thing I have ever had said to me. I have taken some low shots in my day too.
This brings me to my point,that has now changed since I started typing this. I’m not sure wether to hold a grudge against these statements or thank the people for them. I have heard that Twinkie statement in my head during many hard runs. Actually, it likely wasn’t that hard of a run if I didn’t hear that statement in my head. I have pushed through some barriers in the pool many times as I thought about being told I wasn’t Olympic material. As I point my bike up the hill I wonder if the husky section is near the top or bottom.
It’s amazing that now you can say just about anything to/about me and it will have little to no affect on me. But these three statements in my life are forever etched in my brain as motivation. They are the voices I hear when I’m in the pain cave. I guess I’m thankful for the company….