On Quitting

Unemployed, Unmarried, Untethered Woman Quits Again

Today is August 11, 2018. I woke up in a crisis of loneliness. It’s not a new feeling, but it was heavy today. I can never quite escape myself, regardless of the distractions. TV, music, Facebook, outings, bike rides, grocery shopping, alcohol, weed, nicotine, projects, laundry, cleaning, driving around aimlessly, NPR, whatever it is that I’m trying to forget I can’t get away from it. “It” is me. How do you quit yourself?

Today, I’m supposed to be riding a mountain bike in an epic race in Leadville Colorado. 100 miles at 10,000 feet of elevation in under 12 hours. Today I should’ve been at the starting line. Today is the day that I prove to myself that I can do anything. However, today I woke up in Boise, ID. I quit training for this particular race in June. I was in a bike accident in April, some broken bones, a concussion, a tiny amount of PTSD and I quit. It took 5 weeks to be able to sit on a bike seat without pain. It took 8 weeks to be able to ride for more than hour without constant and shearing, stabbing in my right shoulder and arm. It may take a lifetime to be able to ride without terror always sitting at level 4 ready to blow to a 10 with a tight corner, sandy descent, or slippery, shale climbs. Today is the day that I get to sit with myself and go over everything I’ve quit. Every time I’ve given up. All of the almost’s, just about’s, and if only’s.

Today, my right eye has been twitching all day. I think it started yesterday. I took a shower, put on makeup, washed my car, got some coffee, went for an easy bike ride, felt sorry for myself, cried a little, shit my pants (literally), took another shower, shaved my legs, and put on a sun dress and said to myself and the dogs…“Yep, this is you. Now put on some extra eyeliner incase you cry later”, and headed out the door to write this piece. It’s like a Goddamn AA meeting in my head. “My name is Amber and I’m a quitter. I’ve been a quitter since I was 18 months old. The last time I quit something was this morning.”

Today, there are a few reasons why this race keeps coming up in my mind. I think the most obvious is it highlights my accident and brings up a trauma that I have learned to ignore. An undercurrent of this, is the story behind the race. How I was supposed to create this great “Jon Krakauer(esque)” article, really showcasing how the seemingly impossible is really possible… even for ordinary, average people. I quit though. I took this opportunity and I quit it and threw it on the pile of shit I’ve quit before. I’m remorseful and a tiny bit drunk right now because I know I gave up on myself. I found reasons and excuses to not do this. The accident, the bike wreck that took my body out of the game…. and, well, really my brain, isn’t the reason. Plenty of riders come back quickly and strong. My fitness wasn’t the reason, I still could have showed up to that start line, whatever my results may have been. I quit because it was an option; I took it and I don’t like how I feel.

Today, I’m reconciling that part of my being, the quitter, the part that runs, the part that gives up, the part that finds an excuse, the part the justifies the end or the means, even though that part is just a liar. That part lies and cheats and steals all of the things I work towards. That part sees the sweet relief that comes with a good, honest, attempt and it undercuts everything I’ve worked for. That part sneaks in when I’m low. It shows up and speaks mendacious poems to my suffering body. That part of me preys on my exhaustion and my mortality. That part of me will make deals with my ego. It will sweet talk and whisper the things I like to hear when I’m down and in pain. I have to keep her around, she is in fact, part of me, but I don’t have to always give her cookies when she asks for cookies. Just because I’ve had a hard day doesn’t mean I need to fill my body with poison, just because I had an unfortunate event, doesn’t mean I need to rob myself of the opportunity to show up and try.

Today, I’m done. I’m over it. I can’t do it like this anymore. It’s not working. This is not working for anyone. If I can’t answer to myself, who can I answer to? A boss, my children, God? Who? Today, what if… I preserve, uphold, carry on, bear, continue, persevere.