Muscle Memory

I’ve been running a lot lately, and damn it feels good. On Sunday I went on the longest run I’ve been on in years. I’ve been amazed by how my body has been responding to my training this spring; it feels so much easier than it ever has.  You’ve heard of the concept of muscle memory, right? For those of you unfamiliar, Wikipedia describes muscle memory in this way: “When a movement is repeated over time, a long-term muscle memory is created for that task, eventually allowing it to be performed without conscious effort.” My muscles are remembering what it feels like to run; it’s so much easier to re-gain fitness than to start from scratch. My body is waking up, saying, “Oh! I remember this! I know how to respond to this.”

Lately I’ve been seeing that the heart has a muscle memory all it’s own.

It’s been a rough few weeks in terms of things with my ex. I realized that he and I are falling into some of our old patterns of being; patterns that led, at least in part, to our divorce. Allow me to set the scene. The ex and I disagree on something. He pushes, I push back. He pushes harder. I push back harder. He then badgers, belittles, bullies, manipulates and downright bulldozes me. He knows exactly how to push my buttons — hes’ had a lot of practice at it. I get exhausted (or get completely run over!!) and give in, begrudgingly, because I’ve been backed into a corner. He gets his own way and I feel angry and resentful toward him for trampling me, my feelings and boundaries, and I feel angry at myself for giving in and not standing up to him.

Yeah, that about covers it. This was the typical pattern in our marriage when it came to conflict. It was repeated over and over and over again for at least the last five years of our relationship — possibly longer. It happened again last week. And ever since then, I’ve been feeling angry and resentful toward him, and angry and disappointed in myself. We fell right back into that pattern with ease. Without conscious effort. Frighteningly so, in fact. After all, we’ve had plenty of years to practice it. I can see the benefit for him — after all, he got his own way — but what about me? What’s the benefit to me of falling back into those old ways, of allowing the old patterns to return, of falling into the pattern of that old heart muscle memory?

* * * * *

This post actually ended up being way too long for a single post, so I’ll be continuing it later this week. It’s definitely helping me to gain some clarity by writing all of this out.

Thanks for humouring me, friends.

12 Responses

  1. well…i just “liked” your post but dont get me wrong…i dont really like the gist of it! i know what ur saying…seen it all the time….in fact, when things like that start becoming the norm…where one keeps giving it and t’other keeps taking it…thats the time to get right outta that relationship…ha…i say relationship…but what kinda relationship would that be! you be what u wanna long as ur happy..who cares about the 3rd person out there!

  2. As a runner myself, I love the concept of muscle memory applied to the heart. What a great analogy for falling back into the same patterns!

  3. Quite a helpless feeling when you have to continue a relationship with this person for the sake of your children too.

    *heavy sigh*

    Thinking of you and sending you strength and clarity.


  4. What you said to T – YES – control your own actions and work to enforce boundaries. You can’t change his ‘muscle memory’ but you can change yours. Good on you for recognizing. XO

    • It’s true, I need to turn my attention more inward (toward myself) rather than outward (toward him). I wonder why it’s so tempting to try and control others? I guess it’s because we want it to be other people’s responsibility, rather than our own…

  5. It is so easy to fall into that pattern, I have a similar relationship with my ex, we are back on court after 7 years of divorce because we can’t agree when it comes to solving problems especially involving kids. Keep your head up. Running is a great stress relief.

  6. […] is a continuation of yesterday’s post, where I wrote about falling into an old familiar trap with my ex husband. If you didn’t read […]

  7. I love this…. I’ve been ‘taking a twitter/blog break’ and was feeling lost without my ‘friends’ I stumbled upon this. I too am a runner & divorced. I relate so much to this post it feels like I wrote it. Thanks for sharing.

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