The Five Inch Fairway

When the pollen starts to litter a light yellow coat across everything you own, when your local grocer starts moving the Cadbury eggs to the front of the store, and when white pants are no longer a fashion faux pas – it can only mean one thing. It’s Masters season.

The general public calls this time of year Spring but in my family, the second the temperature reaches 60 degrees or we get to March 30th (whichever comes first, in Georgia you never know…), it officially marks the beginning of the Masters season. We glue ourselves to the GOLF Channel every weekend so we can stay up-to-date on who will be key players in Augusta. We argue over who gets to go on which tournament day and then begin to routinely check the weather for weeks in preparation. We’ve developed a bit of a routine over the years.

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Routines are good for me; for people with anxiety routines help keep things in balance. I like to know the plan in advance. I like to make itineraries for pretty much every event we ever go to. If you’ve ever been on a trip with me or been to a party I’ve thrown, you probably know that I get a little unhinged when the timing gets thrown off. I have a hard time just going with the flow. It stems back to the deep-seeded desire for perfection and need to please people, constantly. But routines, like the one we follow around Masters season, I like.

It’s probably (one of the many reasons) why this time of year and that place is so special to me. I’ve grown accustomed to this being my special routine, where everything is the same. It’s a tradition. Nothing changes, at least not majorly. (Last year, they redid the entrance for the new media cabin and I could feel myself having heart palpitations as we walked in.) This time-honored tradition that Augusta National has to keep things the same makes me feel safe.

But the past couple of years, including this one, things haven’t been the same. I wrote last year about it was the first time that my grandmother wouldn’t be attending because of her Alzheimer’s. I really struggled with that – partly because I have a hard time thinking about her forgetting the wonderful memories that we have in Augusta, but also because her not being there is not part of the routine.

My battle with anxiety – and all that comes with it including binge eating, sleep paralysis, etc. – is not an easy fight. There are constant ups & downs, there are constant road blocks. In fact, just last week I got a letter from my therapist saying she wasn’t going to be coming back to practice after her maternity leave. At first, I laughed at because that would happen to me. Then I got sad, because I actually liked my therapist and I was being selfish to want her to come back and not have a family and a life on my behalf. But then I got scared, I would have to start all over with a new therapist. I would have to tell someone new all of my secrets, my fears, my doubts, and rip open those wounds all over again. I’m not exactly looking forward to that. That’s not part of the routine.

I love Augusta because of it’s traditions, because I grew up going to this sacred place every spring and it has become a safe haven for me. Sometimes it feels like Bobby Jones built pieces of this place just for me. As I head into Augusta this week, one of his quotes really sticks out to me:

“Golf is mainly played on a five inch course – the space between your ears.”

This Masters season, my focus is a little different. Instead of harping on the traditions and the routine, I’m going to continue focus my efforts on improving the five-inch fairway between my ears. I’m going to focus on trying to worry less about what other people think, worry less about pleasing other people so much, and worry less about perfection. I’m going to realize my worth, I’m going to put myself first, and allow myself to make mistakes.

It’s not an overnight process (and it’s not going to be easy without a therapist) but I have a support system unlike any other.

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