Point of Pain

Monday, April 21, 2014

I used to be an athlete. And by used to I mean that for over half my life, I spent six days a week in a gym playing basketball. I started at the Westminster Rec Center, then the YMCA. Eventually, I started playing for a competitive club team several years older than me, and at for my school, juggling playing on several teams at a time. I used to be a competitive, ambitious athlete. 

When you're a competitive athlete, you will play through injuries. Your knee hurts? It's probably just a sprain. Ice it tonight, we'll see you on the court tomorrow. Your finger hurts? Here's some tape; make your free throws now. When I was in high school, I had several rolls of pre-wrap, athletic tape, icy hot, my knee brace after I tore my ACL and meniscus, a couple ankle braces, and knee pads in my gym bag at all times. Pushing through the pain is part of the game. 

But then there's the bad pain, the pain that makes you stop. There's a point where your body says, I cannot do this anymore. If you keep pushing me, I will not make it. Pushing your body past a certain point can injure you permanently. Sometimes it's hard to identify this point, sometimes you think it's better to ignore this point. But ignoring the point where your body says, "no more" is dangerous. This is what I call the Point of Pain, or PoP. 

While I was pretty familiar with my various PoPs as an athlete, it was not until coming to college that I realized that many facets of my life had similar PoPs that I could not identify. Pushing past those PoPs, well, it hasn't ended well at all. 

A PoP is not a single, random point in which your body says stop. It builds, and builds, and compounds and compounds. Looking at the points in my life where i have reached my PoPs, I can certainly say with hindsight 20/20, I've had it coming. 

While I don't want to get too personal, I have reached my PoPs with toxic relationships, overworking myself, over-criticizing myself, and not taking care of my mind, spirit, and body. And I sit here, writing this, and I think about how stupid I am to not have seen these coming, or to try and push through the building pain in hopes that it will go away. My folly, my fault, my weakness is that I cannot stop the pain before the PoP. I haven't taken preventative measures to avoid these now very painful PoPs. I haven't taken care of myself and I screwed up royally at a job, I hit a PoP. I haven't paid attention to my psychological wellbeing, and now I don't want to do anything for school, I have certainly hit a PoP.

How do I stop the problem, address it, before I hit my PoP? Before I royally screw up at something or lose all motivation? 

I'm not sure. I don't know. All I think I can do is try to identify future PoPs and hope, and work hard to prevent myself from hitting a PoP. 

Sorry for the long post, and the rather personal nature. But as always, thanks for reading. 



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