Hi friends, this post isn't going to necessarily be a long one - hopefully. But I wanted to take a minute and talk about the importance of validation.
When I first started blogging about mental health, I tried to make sure I used the word "validation" as often as possible. It was still a unique concept to me and during therapy, I noticed how nice it was to actually be validated about the things I was thinking and feeling. I often compare the isolation factor of mental illness like being on your own desert island. Validation is the series of life vests, inner tubes, and life boats getting you back to the mainland. It sounds simple in theory, but having someone else tell you that you aren't crazy for the way you are thinking or feeling can honestly make a world of a difference to a person - whether they are mentally ill or not.
It's not that I forgot validation is important. I guess I just haven't really been utilizing it lately. Or maybe I haven't fully needed outward validation as I've been doing much better at self-validation.
But to my story. So over the weekend Greg and I ran a Tough Mudder up at Seven Springs. It was my first ever Tough Mudder/Obstacle Run, and it's something that I've been wanting to do for a while now. I've been training all of these new ninja skills and I wanted to see how I'd hold up in a setting like that. Some of you know that fitness is really important to me. It's been vital in healing my relationship with food and my body in general. The last few years I've been training for health, ability, and skill rather than appearance. It's hard to care about having a six pack when you can now do a handstand on a bosu ball. I don't fret about the scale as much when I set a new PR in my back squat or ring hold.
The run itself was fine. I loved the obstacle portions of the run. The water obstacles were cold AF but I got through them. The running part itself wasn't exactly ideal. I'm not a runner. I don't like running. It's something I'm trying to get better at not completely hating. But I'm just never going to be that girl racing for that "runner's high". But that's okay. The straights were fine, Greg and I actually had a pretty good pace set. The mountain climbing however, woof. Greg and I have been avid hikers as we've been dating. We've climbed Mt. Baker and Mt. Hood over on the west coast. We've done almost all the hiking trails in the Shenandoah valley. I genuinely like hiking and climbing. I think it's fun. And after being able to climb those, I figured Seven Springs would be a piece of cake. Now you see, I've never been to Seven Springs before, but for some reason in my head, I didn't think there were true mountains there. Just some really big hills for skiing and snowboarding. I totally misjudged how steep and hard the hills would be to climb. I'm just glad I wasn't the only one struggling as we made our way up the mountain. I guess there really are ski lifts for a reason!
After like 7 of the 7.7 miles of the race, Greg and I made it to the second to last obstacle. It was a slip 'n' slide - aka the one obstacle that was supposed to be the most fun. We noticed other runners getting stuck on the tarp from lack of momentum so Greg and I made sure to take a few steps and baseball slide down the hill. What started out as fun ended in pain and blood by the time I made it to the end. We got roughly half way down the tarp and my left leg started to feel like it was sliding on shards of glass instead of a tarp. I hit a bump and landed on a sit bone and my breath was knocked right out of me. I started slowing down but I felt like I couldn't breathe.
I stood up and waddled off the tarp, tears already stinging my eyes. I put my hands on my knees and tried to catch my breath. I could only feel my leg and butt throbbing, aching, and stinging. I started crying from the shock and pain. I twisted my torso to see if there was any damage and found that my pants had ripped in the area that was the most pained. I had scratches and cuts running all over. Thank God my shirt was long enough to cover the rip and I wasn't flashing the spectators and other racers.
Greg came running up to me and immediately said, "Babe, holy shit, we need to get you to the med tent." And while I was in a shit ton of pain, through tight breaths I said, "No, I mean yea I need to clean these cuts out but I'm okay." And he said, "Your leg? Babe, your arm..." I immediately looked down at my hand, which looked fine. But as I turned my arm over, the back of my forearm was covered in my own dark red blood. My elbow was sliced - I'm guessing from hitting a rock as I sped down the slip 'n' slide. Greg immediately took off his bandana, and tied it around the gash to try and stop the bleeding. I continued crying wondering what the heck was going to happen next.
But I sucked it up, we ran to the last obstacle and with some of his teammates, we conquered the last one. We ran to the finish and I immediately tried to find the medic - who honestly wasn't helpful at all, so any of you planning to do a run like this, make sure to bring your own first aid kit just in case! Greg took me to an urgent care where they cleaned the heck out of the gash, stitched me up, and gave me a tetanus shot.
But Kelly, what does this have to do with validation?
Last night, as Greg and I were getting ready for bed, he noticed how bruised my leg/butt were. And I mean they're bruised - still deep, deep purple, kinda turning yellow, popped blood vessels, size of my large, wide-palmed hand, kind of bruises all up my leg and butt. It honestly looks like a tiger clawed me and then someone punched every individual scratch. Greg looked at me and said, "Sheesh, I'm still so sorry." And I quickly responded the way I always do, "Don't worry babe, it's fine. I'm fine."
But Greg kept going. "Okay this is going to sound shitty so stay with me. When I saw you hunched over, I knew you were crying and I immediately thought 'Ugh Jesus what happened' thinking you jammed your wrist or something dumb. Then I saw your elbow and the blood gushing from it so I realized you did have a reason to be crying. But you didn't know your arm was even bleeding. You were talking about your leg, so I know that it must have really been hurting you to distract you from your arm. But I don't know, in comparison it seemed like you were upset over the wrong body part. But looking at your cuts and bruises now, no freaking wonder you were so upset. I'm sorry I didn't take that as seriously as your elbow. You were obviously in pain, and now seeing the results, it must've hurt really freaking badly. I'm sorry."
And that was honestly everything I needed to hear. I did complain about the race a few times as we were going through it. I tried to do it in a joking manner but it wasn't really coming across. I worried a lot throughout the race that I was embarrassing Greg and holding him back. I didn't want to be the asshole/weak girlfriend that complained. I was so mad at myself for crying as much as I did by the end, even though I was in excruciating pain. I have been feeling bad and guilty about it since the race happened on Saturday. But hearing Greg validate the pain I was in, the fact that I cried, the fact that my leg was hurting more than my arm - honestly meant the world to me. It made all of my actions and emotions justified. And I was glad that he believed the pain I was in.
So yea, this wasn't even mental health related really. But it reminded me why validation and being validated is so freaking important. Sometimes you just need another person to believe you, even if they didn't experience the same thing you did. It's kinda crazy how your entire mentality can change once it happens...