I’ve been MIA on here lately. A big part of that is my depression, being busy, and being overwhelmed that it’s been so long since I last posted. I think I got it in my head that every post needed to be perfect. That blogs have to be done just so. But then it wouldn’t be mine. My life isn’t just so. So I’m back. Hopefully consistently.
My life isn’t just so. A lot of people with chronic illness and especially those who got it later in life have a very hard time coming to terms with life not turning out even slightly as one thought it would. Archery saved my life. Not in the terms of keeping me from killing myself or dying, those belong to my dog, husband and children in that order over the years. But growing up I did everything. My parents are active people, we went camping, fishing, hiking, swimming. We did it. Growing up then as a teen even more was added by doing new things and things with friends: backpacking, mountain biking, snowboarding, 4 wheeling, mudding, dirt biking, horseback riding, road trips, volleyball, softball, canoeing, tubing, white water rafting. I’ve done so much. And I won’t regret it. But realizing slowly over the years that those things that I loved, that in a way defined me was hurting me that night, the next day, when I finally stopped…. Then the pain set in.
I gained weight. I let my migraines, back problems and fibro tell me I couldn’t, can’t, do that anymore. I tried to fill it with other things but I felt empty. I felt defeated. All I could do was walk my kids to the park or drive them and that’s it. I wouldn’t be the mom who got to show them the world. Show them all the amazing things that I got to do. Then my dad showed me his recurve bow. We started talking about Archery. He tried to show me as a kid, but at the time I preferred my dolls and dress up. In trying to find out how to fill my emptiness I had delved into my ancestry and heritage. I found so much strength from my ancestors, the knowledge that they survived far worse because they were strong, because they were Vikings and being strong was their only option. So I had this fascination with the traditional and when he pulled out a traditional self bow (a type of long bow) and said “here, this should be a good weight for you, let’s try” I had to try. And I was okay at it! I felt connected. Connected to my ancestors and heritage. Connected to my past active self. Connected to my father (that’s a story I’m not ready to tell yet).
Archery uses muscles but doesn’t pound the body. Mild exercise is good for fibromyalgia. Using those shoulder and “angel wing” muscles is good support and strengthening for the neck muscles causing migraines. I feel powerful. I feel beautiful (except when my dad takes pictures, his timing always makes me look terrible). When we do shoots, the hikes are fairly easy. And I never have to tell people I need a rest because we stop at every target! Because my parents have accepted my fibro, they understand if I can’t go up and back to retrieve the arrows. If I’m feeling good them I do, if I’m getting worn out I wait at the shooting stake. If Brent can’t join us, then Papa will pack Findlay around…………. IF Findlay allows it. If not I pack him, or mum will. Or we switch off holding bows and baby between shots!
Then with camping my mum helps with the meals and clean up. Everyone helps with the boys. At the Western States Traditional Rendezvous, Findlay wasn’t feeling well and would not sleep despite everything I tried. I hear mum outside my tent “can we take him for a drive?” My parents drive around for 5 hours so I could stay with the other two and get some sleep because they know my body won’t function if I don’t get some rest when I push it for these weekends. My body still gets mad at me for pushing it, but not to the point where my family tells me I’m done doing that (like mudding, snowboarding, dirt biking, horseback riding etc)
I don’t hit everything. But I’m getting better. Mostly though, I’ve found something that makes me feel normal, feel alive, feel like I’ve got a tiny bit of me still.
What makes you feel normal, empowered, beautiful, alive? I’d love to hear in the comments.