What is this feeling? It feels like my eyes are all the way open. It feels like the world is a little crisper, a little brighter. It feels like my body is lighter and my reflexes quicker. It feels like the boundaries holding me back have suddenly gotten a whole lot less intimidating. It feels like my lungs fill with air more easily.

This feeling is apparently the feeling of not being chronically exhausted. It is the feeling of not being sleep deprived and of having eaten well for several days.

I traveled through the past week in a haze. I couldn’t sleep at night and when I did finally manage to fall asleep, I would wake up again at 5:35 in the morning. Day after day this continued. I couldn’t nap in the afternoon though my body was heavy and slow and incapable of even washing the dishes. My mind would not stop spinning. No matter what I tried it was plotting, analyzing, planning, double checking and rethinking. I tried deep breathing. I tried visualizing beautiful flowing images of bicycles racing downhill (this is my version of counting sheep). I tried progressive muscle relaxation, hot showers, midnight snacks. Nothing could get my brain to turn off, and so while my body wasted away from neglect, my mind raced on.

It’s been almost six days since I had a proper appetite, too. Perhaps it was the heat, but there was nothing I wanted to eat. My insides churned on empty and yet whatever I put in me came right back out without leaving the slightest trace of nutrients behind.

About three days ago I decided that sleep was of paramount importance to get myself out of this hole. I turned off my alarms, canceled my appointments, set the AC to plenty fucking cool, closed the shutters, whipped out my buff all purpose everything which I use for an eye mask, and laid down to meditate. I find that wrapping the buff, which is just a micro fiber neck gaiter, around my eyes will actually keep them from opening, an odd reflex that happens to me when my brain spins too fast. With my eyes locked closed, suddenly my facials muscles could relax. I consciously sent my mind to wander, encouraging it to explore images and feelings it came upon as I sank deeper into the meditative state I know to give me the most peace.

It took me several days and several tries to finally get my body out of the tail spin of insomnia I was stuck in. I would fall asleep only to wake again a few hours later. With all the patience and kindness I could muster towards myself I would get up and perform some menial task like washing the dishes or checking in on the forum I moderate. After an hour or two I would try the sleep again. Slowly I was able to extend my sleep sessions back to over four hours at a time.

This morning was the first time I woke up feeling as if I could have slept more in over a week. That means that I broke the cycle and my mind has finally relinquished its hold over my body and is allowing it to rest.

With my newfound energy I let loose! The beast returned to burn its way down the streets again today! Practice this morning was short because of the Obon holiday (Japanese festival of the dead, but without the festivities), but I was determined to get the most out of it. I stayed right on the wheel of the leader and refused to let anyone pass me. It was rough. My legs were on fire. When we got to the turnaround point I hung back for about 500 meters before I saw my opening: a short straight between two moderately tight curves, just long enough for me to hammer it and overtake the two riders in front of me. I took them on the outside which put me on the inside for the next curve, but I had the confidence I could handle the corner even without swinging out for the set up. At one point on the descent the leader tried to over take me. Mostly the return trip is downhill, but there are a few blips in the road where my comparatively weak girl legs slow me down. I saw him coming up over my shoulder and I said,

“Nope! You’re not going to pass me that easily!”

I dropped a gear and lit into the pedals with a fury. Every time I turned around they were right on my tail. Fuck it! You wanna ride me? I’ll pull you! Don’t think I’m afraid to burn it and don’t think you can have your lead without having to work for it!

This is what I’ve been looking for. This feeling of having access to my full power, this feeling of letting go and racing against the wind. I must remember this feeling for when I find myself in the hole again. This is what I should feel like. If I’m not feeling like this, it’s not my fault, it’s a sign that I need to step back and care for myself properly until this feeling returns.

See? The beast, he is good for me.

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