Last weekend I went to Achouffe in Belgium with my in-laws for a few days. It was exciting to stay in a house with 7 people for 3 days and nights, however having breakfast, dining and spending the days together can cause some friction.

Passion for cycling

Fortunately, we all love cycling except  for my mother-in-law. On Saturday afternoon we went for a ride in that beautiful area. After about 20 kilometers with some climbs and a nice descent we stopped at the beautiful La Roche-en-Ardenne for a drink.

Give up or continue?

After the break we got back on the bikes. The first three kilometers were easy but then the climbing began. After sitting our muscles cooled down considerably, so my thighs got sore immediately.

The climbing was never-ending. Everyone was pedalling at their own pace and after a few minutes I found myself cycling alone. My love and his youngest brother were somewhere ahead of me. My sister-in-law, brother-in-law and father-in-law were  dragging behind. One turn was followed by another, and there seemed to be no end.  After many mental ups and downs (athletes know that feeling) I really needed to take a break. I stood on the side for a minute or three, drank a bit and then continued again. “Just go! You can do this!” I  saw my love on the top of the mountain. “The end is in sight!” The last 100 meters were almost a breeze, I was so happy and proud that I finally got there! It turned out to be a big mountain —  2 kilometers without a single  flat spot.

The descent

After a short break we started descending and I found a nice rhythm. My father-in-law, however, was exhausted. He decided to stop. My brother-in-law decided to cycle back to the house at his own pace and then return by car to pick up my father-in-law.

Giving up?

Then I started to doubt: “Do I have to give up or shall I try to continue cycling?”. The first 24 kilometers were behind, it was then only 17 kilometers to the house. But there comes a but —  another big climb. I decided to give up. Disappointed I threw my bike against the fence and sat down next to my father-in-law on the bench at a Bed and Breakfast. I was whining. Emotions went in all directions and grief prevailed.

I started to cry in the car and as soon as I saw my partner in the house I cried even harder. I was asking myself: “Why am I so weak, why could not I do it? Why did I have to give up?”

Was it giving up or something else?

My partner hugged me tight. He knew how difficult it had been for me, but he also told me that I had to be proud of what I had achieved. That long climb on my own and I was the third one to get up there! Do not forget that it was my first time in the Ardennes.

We had a long talk about all that at home. I was in tears again, with a sense of failure. I annoyed my partner because he totally disagreed. He said, “You did not give up, you stopped. These are two very different things. You are so much stronger by knowing when to stop  than by continuing and breaking down!”

You can not see it yourself yet

Of course I am proud about that I cycled those 24 kilometres. And also about that I did that climb on my own. I got on top of that mountain! But why cannot I see that stopping might have been even better than the ride?

I see it as a failure. The others said I had done an outstanding job for someone doing it for the first time, and even though it felt like they meant what they said, in fact it probably wasn’t the case.

I am a perfectionist. Everything has to go well, even for the first time. That’s how it  goes at my work, at school and at home. For example, I did all my exams the first year at school in one go. I would not do a resit. Unfortunately, I did not get my motorcycle license in one go. Not entirely my fault, but I felt terrible for that I had failed. Making a mistake at work feels like the “wall of shame” to me. Even my employer says that I now have the right to make mistakes to get better at my job.

Someday I will succeed

I am impressed by how my partner deals with giving up, stopping, and how he handles mistakes. I can learn a lot from that and I also take a good example from him. For me, I am not there yet but I am sure I will succeed one day so that I will be able to say proudly that my limit was reached. Thinking about that motivates me to get better . In anything.

This is also something I really want to give to you, even though I myself am not there yet. Stopping is something completely different than giving up. And everybody makes mistakes. Give yourself  a chance to get better, for yourself. Indicate your limits. During exercise if you need a short break from your work, take it anytime. Take care of yourself. There is only one you, so protect yourself.

The song of this week is “Afraid of water” by Marco Borsato. With my partner I am who  I am: with my mistakes, limits and points for improvement. All together. In the lyrics  you can hear “I’m afraid of water, but I was not here with her.” With him next to me, I get to know myself. And I dare to stop when I need to. Soon I’ll be able to do it without him having to help me, and you will too!

Love, Renée x


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Expert in PTSD, burnout, personality disorders and eating disorder. Even if I only help one person by sharing my story, I am happy!

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