Monday, October 17, 2011

Out of the bleachers

For years I was only a spectator.  A cheerleader.  There for everybody else.  Cheering for everybody else.  Whether for life's great gifts of happiness and joy or through life's struggles.  I was always there. In recent years I was there as family members were dying.  I stopped my life to help keep their lives going.  I have no regrets about this.  I wouldn't trade it in for anything.  Ever

But, I was also there for friends.  As they struggled with their own demons.  Depression.  Alcoholism. Bad marriages.  I listened.  I cared. I supported.  I was the cheerleader. I drove them to rehab.  I helped cover their lies.  I picked them up in the middle of the night when they needed to leave a bad situation.  I listened to stories about how their lives were falling apart.  I helped pick them up when life knocked them to their knees.  And, worse.  Then they would fall again.   I would pick them up again.  They would fall again. Eventually, I stopped picking them up.  I had to walk away.  I had to walk away because somewhere while trying to save others I lost myself. 

You see, along the way of my semi-professional cheerleading gig I disappeared.   I became invisible.  Invisible to the very same people I was cheering for.  In fact, to even those not needing my services necessarily.  Life went by.  I let life go by.  My friends didn't seem to notice or care.   I would be a room with them and somehow I would not be included in conversation.  They would ask how I was but never listen long enough for me to answer. Often I could be in a room with them and they would barely notice I was there.  Sometimes I would leave the room for periods at a time and do something else.  I don't think they flinched.  

How could I become so invisible?  I'm 5'10" (6'1"+  in my pretty heels).  I'm kind of hard to miss.  Yet, people didn't see me.  Life didn't see me any longer.  

Then I started to run.  I ran more.  I ran longer.  I ran in the dark.  I ran on the prairies.  I ran in the woods.  I always ran alone.  Yet, somehow I started to become less invisible.  People started to see me.  I didn't know these people.  They were cyclists I passed on the trail who waved and smiled.  They were runners who I met up with at a light who asked me how far I was running that day.  It was the uber runner guy at my running store who fitted me for new shoes for an hour while talking about my running journey.  About my upcoming races.  About me.   The more I ran the less invisible I became.  Suddenly, people started to notice me.  Strangers who I never knew started talking to me about how different I looked.  I didn't ever remember these people to begin with.  Yet, they somehow remembered me. I guess I wasn't as invisible as I thought before.  Perhaps just to certain people. I was being seen. I just wasn't being noticed. 

Once I started to run I felt better about myself.  I started not needing to save other people.  This was hard for me because I always want to be the one to help others.  To cheer them.  To heal them.  I think it was a way for me to ignore saving myself.  But, unbeknownst to me, I was back to being a cheerleader.  This time, though, it was for me.   I signed up for races.  I ran them alone.  I had nobody cheering me for my life.  Ironic, it was.  All those times I was there for everybody else. There were never there for me.  Races were no different.  But, it was ok.  It was really ok.  It was ok because I had other people who seemed to care about me.  Sure, they were strangers.  However, they asked about me.  They asked about running.  They wanted to truly know how I was doing.  They didn't settle for my standard "I'm fine" answer.  They wanted to know how I was really feeling.  How my running was going.  When my next race was.  How LIFE was. More importantly how MY LIFE was. 

Oddly enough, some of the people I tried to save and had to walk away from have re-entered my life recently.  They have finally saved themselves.  They are back for redemption. To thank me. To tell me that when everyone else gave up on them that I never did.  That I was the only one to stay when others walked away.   That's good to hear.  Even better to hear is them ask about me.  To listen to me.  To hear me. To notice me. 

I'll always be a cheerleader.  I'll always be the one screaming my lungs out for you to succeed.  For you to do your best. For you to stop struggling and start fighting.  For you to never give up.  Because I will never give up on you. Ever.  Even when you give up on yourself.  Even if you give up on me. 

However, excuse me if I do walk away from time to time and cheer for myself once in awhile.  I'm worth it too.  


After all, life is NOT a spectator sport.  And, it's about time for me to join the race. 


  1. It's Becky BitchesOctober 17, 2011 at 7:52 AM

    I love this! I notice you and I heart you for being exactly who you are!

  2. Man you have a way with words! Great post Andrea! I second Becky's response! I notice you and appreciate the friendship. You are always the 1st to ask me how things are, or how things went. Thank you!

  3. I love this post and I think you are incredible! I am glad you were able to recognize the need to pull back and focus on yourself. It can be easy to get swept away in someone else's problems and lose yourself in the process. It is nice to hear those you have helped are coming back to you. Let them revolve around you for a change, as it should be! You are an amazing woman, Andrea! Simply amazing.

  4. Thanks y'all. You are the reason I finally do get out there. Without people like you and all your encouragement (and silliness & laughter) I think I would just stay on the sidelines. I can't thank you enough! You rock!

  5. It is interesting how things unfolded yesterday, with multiple conversations revolving around a similar thread of "being there" for someone. I can say with question you are a great friend and every word you typed is true. Thank you for cheering me on. I hope to be there for you, whenever. I should be better.