domestic violence

I Had Another Nightmare

“I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.”
-Jonas Salk 

Last night I had a dream about my abuser.  It is not something that happens frequently anymore, but it happened.  Maybe it was because I spent so much time raising awareness and thinking about domestic abuse last month, maybe it was the Halloween candy giving me nightmares, or maybe it was because Halloween was his favorite holiday.  Regardless, he was there last night invading my peaceful sleep just like he used to… except things were different.

Unlike any previous nightmares related to my ex, this one took place post-divorce.  In fact, it was as if it were happening in our current lives.  He was trying to win me back after his second marriage failed.  I distinctly remember that he was driving a Lexus and working at a job where he was making significantly more money than he used to.  He was also paranoid, desperate, and completely out of his mind.  The funny thing is, none of this surprised me.  Yes, I thought he was absolutely crazy, but it was not out of the realm of what I would expect for him. He was raving about his manager at work being “out to get him” and mentioned how he had hired a lawyer.  He said he had to use his divorce lawyer because he couldn’t afford “a real one”, and I remember thinking that he shouldn’t own a Lexus if he was worried about money.  Anyhow, despite his full on delusional state and preoccupation with recording meetings and using me as a witness to support his case, he was also trying to get back together with me.  However, this time around it was not in the romantic wooing technique, but rather outright telling me what I needed to do. 

The one thing that was different about this dream was that I wasn’t buying it.  I didn’t feel powerless.  Instead, I was distracted by the fact that I loved Adam more than I ever loved my ex. I just kept thinking that Adam was the person I wanted to be with and I didn’t belong there.  I woke up before I had a chance to express this in my dream, but I was proud of my subconscious for turning around what otherwise would have been just another awful nightmare.  Even with the improved outcome, though, it was still disturbing for me to dream of my abuser.  In fact, it was as unwelcome as if I had run into him in real life.  He’s not someone I ever want to see again, even in my sleep.

The good news is, I feel like even if I did run into him today that at least I could handle him.  There isn’t anything he could say to me anymore that is going to make me feel badly about myself.  In truth, if one of us was going to leave an interaction feeling embarrassed it is more likely it’d be him than me.  After all, even if he still blames me in his twisted mind for pushing him to the point of physical abuse, he is still the one who lost control and put his hands on me.  Even someone as adept at manipulating the truth as he is still has to have some level of guilt or remorse regardless of whether he chooses to act on it. 

Although Domestic Awareness Month is over, I still felt like it was worth sharing this experience.  While there may be some people who get tired at times of my preoccupation with spreading the word about DV, the truth is that those people have the option of not reading my posts.  They can choose not to deal with domestic abuse or pretend it won’t affect them.  I and other survivors of abuse, meanwhile, cannot escape our pasts even if we don’t live there anymore.  Domestic Violence has left an indelible mark on our lives which will linger regardless of how fully we choose to live after abuse.

Please take a few moments out of your day and watch to video above and share it.  Domestic Abuse can only thrive where there is silence.  Help to put an end to the violence. 

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I Believe

“I believe in pink.

I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner.

I believe in kissing, kissing a lot.

believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong.

I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls.

I believe that tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles.” 

― Audrey Hepburn

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Anyone who has seen my wedding dress (or my Netflix instant queue) knows I love me some Audrey Hepburn.  I also love her quote above, which got me to thinking about what exactly I believe in.  After some careful deliberation, I am here to write it down.

I believe in a world where women are not viewed as the weaker sex.   I believe in a nation where equality for women is guaranteed in the constitution. I believe in an economy where women are awarded equal pay for equal work.  I believe in a culture where women are valued for their character rather than devalued as sex objects.

I believe in a world free of abuse.  I believe that women deserve to be cherished and not beaten by their husbands.  I believe that every woman, young and old, has the right to feel safe and beautiful.

I believe it’s time for society to stop blaming victims and start holding perpetrators accountable.  I believe it’s time to stop bombarding young men and women with media that says it’s ok to disrespect and objectify women.  I believe in empowering young women to fulfill their potential rather than shrink into gender roles; because I believe that every person, regardless of gender, has a right to chase her dreams.

 I believe it is not just mine, but every persons responsibility to make it happen.

I believe in women empowering women.  I believe it is about time we stand together as a community.  I believe that we, as women, have the power to make a change.

I believe in a world where anything is possible. I believe that every victim of violence has an opportunity to see her day in the sun.  I believe that every survivor of abuse has more strength and deep resolve than most people could ever understand, and I believe it’s time for each to stop viewing herself as damaged but rather as the resilient and lovely survivor she is.  I believe that hardship breeds compassion.  I believe that struggle builds resolve.  I believe that the most beautiful people are often the ones who have had the most difficult lives.  I believe that every survivor of abuse has the strength within her to live her dreams.  I believe each of these women has the power to touch the world and make a positive impact.  I believe that survivors of abuse are beautiful people with gifts to share with this world.

Where others see weakness, I can see the truth.  Low self esteem does not lead to abuse, abuse leads to low self esteem.  People who seek out victims to abuse are masterful manipulators who distort the truth in their own minds to justify their behavior.  They are incapable of taking responsibility for any of their actions and blame all their problems on other people. When they are in the midst of berating their victims, they do so with absolute conviction.  They believe what they are saying to their very core.  How many people in this world can tune out and ignore that kind of verbal assault?  Not any that I can think of.  How about if the person saying it is someone you love, someone you have invested years of a relationship with, someone you were convinced would do anything for you, someone who loved you?

If people who were abusive started the abuse on day 1, how many women do you think would stay?  None? That’s because it doesn’t.  In my case, it was years before the real assault on my self esteem started, and the physical violence didn’t happen until after we were married. By the time my abuser started needling my self worth, I had a good relationship with him for long enough that I had no reason not to believe him.  When he told me I was depressed and bringing him down, I thought he was right.  It never occurred to me that the place it was coming from was him resenting me for going to grad school.  Over time he took more and more ground until one day I realized that this man I thought we do anything for me, really didn’t care about my feelings at all.  Unfortunately for me, that day was my wedding day.

Yes he still loved me, but his love came with conditions: conditions and standards no person could live up to.  How do you please someone who is hell bent on making you a scape goat for every problem in his life?

No woman, man, or child deserves that.  No one deserves to be another person’s punching bag.  Victims of abuse don’t actively seek out the abuse, and they aren’t the problem.  The problem stems from individuals to weak to take responsibility for their own issues.  Society needs to understand that women don’t choose to be with abusers, and they don’t choose to stay.  Instead, they are systematically cut off from their families, friends, jobs, and finances.  They are blocked from any possible means of escape or ties to their identity.  So before any member of society picks up another finger to point at a victim of abuse and say she deserved it, I would challenge him or her to go ahead and spend years isolated from their loved ones with someone regularly telling them how worthless they and then see if they have the same strength and conviction to leave when things get violent.

Domestic Violence Awareness is something I am passionate about.  So passionate in fact, that I have run a half marathon, full marathon, the Spartan Ultra Beast, and now the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K all in an effort to raise money and awareness… not to mention inspire other survivors of abuse to go chase their dreams!  However I didn’t choose this cause.  Abuse is something that happened to me, and while it dramatically affected the person I am today, it does not define me.  It’s also something I refuse to be ashamed of.  If anyone should be ashamed it’s my abuser, and perhaps the officer who took it upon himself to attempt to publicly ridicule me for reporting the abuse… and all the people who pointed out to me that I must be at least partially responsible “because it takes two” after all.

If one in four women are abused in their lifetime, someone please explain to me how so many of us are getting it wrong?  Better yet, explain to me why we are all so ashamed of it?  Perhaps, because society thinks we should be.  However, I am here to point my finger back at society and say SHAME ON YOU!  Shame on you for telling my abuser and people like him that it’s ok to beat your wife.  Shame on you for turning a blind eye when so many people, including children, are dying at the hands of domestic violence.  One in five teenagers has been threatened or beaten by a boyfriend- TEENAGEERS!  Those are your daughters people!   While I’m sure it’s easier to blame people like me for what’s happened to us, it’s about time you start caring because the statistics show someone you love has already been affected.

So while you are being drowned in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness this month, maybe you can take a minute or two to reflect on how you can help put an end to domestic violence.  After all, what does it say about us as a society really when we make a huge fuss about women dying from breast cancer, but are indifferent when they die at the hands of their husbands?  How can we care about one and not the other and still say we care about women?  Yes, breast cancer is awful, disfiguring, and life threatening, and raising awareness is important; but domestic violence is also awful, disfiguring, and life threatening, and it affects twice as many women.  Why are we not as focused on educating young women on the early signs of abuse as we are on mammograms?

I don’t expect the rest of the world to care as much about domestic violence as I do.  Nor do I expect them to understand where I’m coming from or what it’s like to be abused.  However it is my sincere hope that I can get some people to at least change the way the think about abuse and maybe, just maybe, open some dialogue.  Domestic Violence is no less preventable than late stage breast cancer.  What we need is to educate our society and children.  We need to value women as equal members of society, and we need to support victims of violence.  It’s time to end the stigma.

Bimbler’s Bluff Recap

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
-Colin Powell 

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I am a firm believer that with persistence, anything is possible.  That might have been what lead me to sign up for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K in the first place.  It seemed to be one of those things where the planets are in alignment and everything just falls into place… although I never could have anticipated upon signing up just how true that would be.

I needed a race to run as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE this year, and having done attempted the Ultra Beast last year, it had to be something that would test my limits.  Ever since the Ultra Beast, I had considered doing an ultra.  I had already done a marathon, so it seemed like the next logical step.  Plus, the Bimbler’s Bluff was a bargain at $50!

BLQ-tommy-lasordaDetermination-Quotes-for-Blog-300x300Since I was not super successful with my fundraising last year, this year I redoubled my efforts.  I made an event page, sent emails, and continuously begged for money on Facebook.  The fact that I had selected a race roughly 33 miles in length worked to my favor as I had people who offered to make donations in my memory just in case I didn’t survive.  (Thanks for the vote of confidence guys)  My goal was for this year $500, but I well exceeded it making for my most lucrative fundraising year yet!  That only made me more pumped for the race.

The other exciting thing about my big run this year was that a friend of mine (Vanessa from The Purple Song Project) put me in touch with Lana Ives from Ives International Film.  It turned out that Lana is working on a documentary involving stories of inspiring people.  She had read my blog and thought I fit the bill.  She asked if she could meet me at the race and interview me before the start.  She also said I could have copies of the film and images for my own personal use (i.e. for my blog- so stay tuned!).  Beyond the shock that someone would be inspired enough by my blog to want to involve me in a documentary, I realized that this was an AMAZING opportunity.  If my mission with this blog is to inspire people to go out and live their dreams, especially after abuse, then there was no way I could not accept.

Upon arriving at the race, I found Lana and her assistant at the check in.  I was beyond stoked to find not only that the race shirts were fluorescent orange, but that the race bibs were orange as well! I took this as a good sign because, as we all know, orange is my favorite color. Even better, the bib had my name on it- which meant the runners and volunteers would be cheering for me by name!  Anyone who has run a race with your name on the bib knows exactly what I am talking about here.  Plus, it made for better conversation on the course given we all had name tags.

As far as the actual race, I don’t even know where to start.  Trail runners are such a special breed.   When you sign up and arrive at a trail run, you sign up for more than a race.  Rather, you have signed up to be a part of a community, and it’s clear from the moment you arrive.  Bimbler’s Bluff was no exception.  There was a palpable sense of good will.  When the national anthem wouldn’t play, two runners stepped forward and sang it beautifully.  However, they didn’t sing it alone because almost immediately the whole field joined in.  It was a perfect way to start, and then we were off.

The early part of the course consisted of rolling hills, which are my favorite to run.  I picked a comfortable pace and stuck with it the whole way.  I only stopped to walk if a hill was particularly steep.  I plugged along while everyone else passed me, and before long I was convinced there was no one left to go by.  I didn’t particularly mind.  After all, it was nice to see another person occasionally, and I figured most of them had far more experience with ultras than me anyhow.

The first real challenge of the race was that markers were not that easy to spot.  The red and white tape blended with the foliage in some places and required a lot of attention not to miss them… which many people (myself included!) did… repeatedly.   (Might I offer a humble suggestion of lime green or fluorescent pink next year?)  This was good in the sense that it gave me something to concentrate on; however it made it difficult to watch my footing resulting in several good tumbles.  I caught my toe on and tripped over more rocks than I could count!  I was thrilled when I arrived at the first aid station and plowed through it on to the next one.

The second section of the course had areas that were so steep and treacherous that they were really more conducive to 1394469_10151653824057397_1418743311_nhiking climbing than running… unless you’re part mountain goat.  I did my best to run whatever I could safely and was still feeling good when I hit aid station #2.  I called out my number to the volunteers and headed up a near vertical ascent.  I found Lana on the way up, and she asked how I was feeling.  I told her I was still doing ok and scaled upwards.  My reward was a magnificent view from the top!  The rest of that section seemed to span on forever, and I was sincerely doubting my ability to finish before the cutoff… or finish at all… when I arrived at station #3.  Lana, again, was there waiting for me and she even jogged down the street with me asking me questions as I crossed back onto the course.  I asked the staff at the station how much longer to the next one (which I mistakingly thought was the last one) and they said another 6 miles.  Elated by this news, I blasted past them and they called after me that they had cookies and didn’t I want something to eat.

The next section, again, seemed to stretch on forever.  This was at least in part due to the fact that I hadn’t realized I was out of water until after I started it.  My legs were no longer cooperating and the down hills were worse than up.  At some point I ran a whole extra hill because I had missed a marker.  I thought about taking the ibuprofen I brought with me, but I didn’t want to risk injuring myself by blocking out the pain.  Then I rolled my ankle and landed on it. I was relieved to find at least that it wasn’t badly sprained, and I could still walk on it.  I figured I should enjoy what was left of the race because it could be a good amount of time before I’d be running on it again.  When I did finally arrive at the 4th aid station I found Adam.  He had ridden his bike from home to greet me.  I asked if would make it back in time to see me finish, and he said it would be no problem because I still had 11 miles to go.  The volunteer confirmed this information by telling me I did a great job and was 22 miles in.  I was crushed because I had thought that there were only 4 aid stations with 8 miles left after the last one.  I truly thought that extra 3 miles was going to kill me.  Then Adam filled my hydration pack more than I needed despite my protests.

In spite of the fact that the volunteers were wonderful and supportive, I left that aid station feeling totally defeated.  My pack was the heavier now than it ha been when I started, and I had 3 extra miles to go on top of the eight mile section ahead of me.  Judging by the amount of time it had taken me to complete the last section, I thought for sure that I would never make it past the next cutoff.  It was definitely my lowest point in the race.  The one thing that worked in my favor was that there were not a lot of uphills on that segment. In fact, it was primarily downhill; and I was able to push through 8 miles in 2 hours.  I saw Lana shortly before the last aid station and called out to her “I’m smiling because if you’re here then I’m almost done!”  I stopped briefly at that last aid station- just long enough to say thank you and grab some gummy bears.  They were the most delicious I have ever tasted in my life!  I headed into my last 3 miles on a high.  It was only 4:30 PM, and I knew I could walk the rest of the way and still make it.

However, having run everything but the worst hills up to this point, I was determined to keep going.  Besides, if I was running to inspire and raise money for victims of domestic violence, I was certainly not going to give them anything less than my best.  Plus, I wanted nothing more than to be finished as soon as possible!  So I kept running, despite the fact that my running resembled stumbling more than actual running.  I was emotional on the last section because it was the first time I knew that I could do it: the finish was within my grasp.  I thought of all the hard work and 6 long months of training I had put in to get to this point; and I thought of all the women I was doing this for.  This was not a victory just for me, this was a victory for us.  All those women who were told over and over that they couldn’t accomplish or handle anything, who 564089_10151653823952397_1516264909_nhad their self worth stripped from them the way I did- it was a victory for them.

When I did finally see the finish, I sprinted to it as fast as my legs would carry me.  The people who were there erupted in cheers (not just for me, but for every runner).  Lana was there at the finish, and I told her I couldn’t believe it was over.  She asked if she could give me a hug and I was more than happy to accept it, though I did warn her that I was pretty sweaty.  She asked asked me some additional questions, and then we waited or Adam to arrive (because he underestimated how quickly I would get through my last 11 miles!).  When the race director offered me my glass (and it’s a pretty nifty glass too!) for finishing, I had actually forgotten we were supposed to get anything.  To me, the reward was just in the experience.  I spent the whole day doing something I absolutely love, in good company, with great volunteers, and raised money and awareness for domestic violence in the process.  What more could a girl ask for?

Now that it’s all over, I’m still in disbelief that I did it.  Even more than that, I can’t even begin to process how much love and support I have had for this race.  I don’t think I could have pushed through the pain for as long as I did had I not had so many people rooting for me.  Being someone as independent as I am, I am not used to asking for help… or for anything for that matter.  However, when it came to my fundraising race this year, the response was more than I could have ever imagined.  I am so blessed to have the people I do in my life, from my amazing husband who sacrificed his sleep yesterday to drive me to and from the race and cheer me on, to my awesome family and mom who left me cupcakes for when I got home, to my trainer who kicked my butt for 6 months and helped me become the strongest physically that I have ever been, to all my friends, coworkers, and fellow CT-ALIVE board members, and Arch Angels who offered words of encouragement and made donations.  I dont’ know what I did to deserve to have so many wonderful people in my life, but I am truly grateful for each and every one of them!

My New Home and the Next Step

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”
-Lao Tzu 

 

 

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Sadly, I am almost finished with the last of my training sessions.  :’-(  As it worked out, they wrap up just in time for the Bimbler’s Bluff 50K.  I think I can safely say that I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I’m hoping that will be enough to carry me through what I know will be a grueling run.  As an added incentive to hang in there, I have asked the women I am fundraising for to write some notes of encouragement that I can carry with me and read when I’m exhausted and want nothing more than to quit.  More than just having the letters to read, it will mean beyond I can even express in words to have them with me through the day.  It’s a tangible reminder to why I will be there.  Plus, I also feel like it’s a great symbolic gesture to carry them (the women, not the notes) with me on that day to overcome the challenge together. After all, our strength is drawn from our sense of community.  In reality, I think it might be the thrivers who will truly being carrying me through the day and not the other way around… 

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My cool new swimming gear!

Despite all the initial drama with my trainer, I have to admit that he has kind of grown on me… sort of like a little brother who annoys the hell out of you but you love him anyway...  Once we had a chance to hash things out, we were able to build a pretty solid partnership; and I am truly bummed to see it end.  As much as I would love to continue training even on a once weekly basis, between the amount of time I’ll be spending on triathlon training and the need to cut back on expenses, I just don’t think it will be feasible the next few months.  I suppose I will have to resort to kicking my own butt for awhile.  At least it’s something we all know I have experience with.  Plus with all the swimming, biking, and running that is about to commence, I am hoping I won’t lose too much ground in the conditioning department.  Besides, I always have Insanity and P90X to fall back on for cross training… and my trusty pull-up bar. 😉

The positive part about my training ending is I now have the time and funds (well not really, but I’ll make it work) to start swimming.  Up until this point I have only known how to swim to avoid drowning, so I definitely have A LOT to learn… Possibly even more than with cycling. Maybe I should be more scared… Better yet, maybe the swim instructors should be!

However, I am determined and committed. (I would like to cite the fact that I found a swim suit, goggles, and swim cap all in the off season today as proof!) I have been trying to find an affordable place to swim with a flexible pool schedule for quite some time now, and let me tell you it has been no easy task!  Ultimately, we decided that the Greater Waterbury YMCA will be my new home- for at least the next 8 months anyway.  

I picked the Greater Waterbury YMCA over our local one because they have two pools instead of one and a way more flexibleImage lap swim schedule.  In fact, I don’t think there are any hours that they don’t allow lap swimming during the day.  They also have off street parking AND for some reason the membership was cheaper… which makes no sense because it’s all the same organization.  Anyway, now that we joined, we can go to either one so I guess it doesn’t really matter.  Adam had pushed for the YMCA over the other pools I looked at because they offer spin classes (in addition to a multitude of other classes which I’m kind of excited to try out… if I ever have spare time between all my other athletic endeavors).  They also just did a 10 million renovation so the facility itself is really nice, nicer than our current gym actually and with more equipment including bikes!

As sad as I am to close the chapter on my personal training, I am equally excited about taking the next step in my journey to becoming an ironman (or at least half of one)!  I already signed up for swimming lessons and am hoping to take my first one tomorrow after work.  I am happy that my new home is filled with friendly, helpful staff, AND that they have a triathlon club which starts up this winter.  I am really looking forward to taking on this next challenge and making another step in the direction of my goal… I just hope I don’t drown in the process 😉    

More Things I’m Excited About

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember,

You have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
-Harriet Tubman 

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Well, in case you are wondering why I am gracing you with not one, but TWO posts today, let me explain.  My first post was one that I started on Friday but didn’t get a chance to finish until today.  This one is my actual post about what’s going on today, and I am way too excited to put off talking about it until tomorrow!

Ok, so first off I took today as a “rest” day…rest from exercise that is.  In reality, I have been quite busy and productive, which are actually two very different things by the way.  I started my morning with an all out effort at Fundraising for my upcoming race.  I created an event page, sent out emails, and the donations are already rolling in!  (BIG SHOUT OUT THANK YOU to those who have donated so far!)  This makes me a very happy girl.  Last year I was comparatively low key about my efforts and was not terribly successful in terms of raising donations.  This year I have changed tactics and basically resorted to shameless begging and badgering.  It appears this method is already working much better…

I also used my time this morning to clean out my closets and gather donations for our upcoming Book and Clothing Drive which just happens to fall on the day before my big run.  I am hoping this works to my advantage as I may be able to squeeze out some last minute donations and well wished while I’m there helping to staff it.  😉 Since I am the type of person who loves decluttering and getting rid of stuff, this would have been enough to make my day.  The fact that it was for a great cause was just a bonus. 😉

988291_10151641352072979_1069446167_nHowever, lucky me- it just kept getting better!  I got to spend time with my family this afternoon and meet my brother’s new dog who they just rescued.  Then I came home and found that my credit card balance was lower than I thought.  Awesome, right?   So with this new found information, I hopped on the Tough Chik website and officially registered to be a part of their 2014 team.  This has been something I have been wanting to do but putting off in an effort to save money and pay down some of our wedding debt.  However, I ultimately decided that I could buy a lesser expensive sign up package now and splurge on the uber cool cycling apparel later… maybe I could even set a new riding goal for myself to earn it. Lord knows I could use the added motivation to overcome my fear of my bike! 🙂

Again, this would have also made for a great day on it’s own, but it continued to get better still!

While I was on the Tough Chik page, I noticed they had a charity tab so I (of course) clicked on it and was totally blown away.  Tough Chik is affiliated with a charity called Project Athena, and I am absolutely IN LOVE with their mission:

The mission of Project Athena is to help women with breast cancer and other medical or traumatic setbacks live their athletic and adventurous dreams through the Project Athena Foundation. Awareness for Project Athena will be achieved through the ultra endurance endeavors of an experienced and high profile all-female adventure team who embody the spirit of Athena.

How AMAZING is that? And how did I not know about this sooner?!!!   I am pretty sure that if I built a charity from the ground up, this would be it’s exact mission– minus the “high profile” athletes of course because let’s face it, I’m not that well connected. 😉  More seriously though, I am just excited that an organization like this exists.  It gives me hope that someday I can quit my job and do something like this for work.  Plus, I am totally pumped that I can register to do an event with them.

In case you are not already blown away, I’ll leave you with their video.  In the meantime, I would like to remind you that every person on this planet has the power to make a difference.  What will you use yours for?

It’s October- And I’m on an Upswing

“If you give me any problem in America I can trace it down to domestic violence.

It is the cradle of most of the problems, economic, psychological, educational.”

-Salma Hayek

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Anyone familiar with this blog knows that October is an important time of year for me.  It’s the month in which I married my abuser (and the abuse escalated dramatically), and it’s also ,ironically, Domestic Violence Awareness Month… Clearly my ex had missed the memo.

Normally this time of year I find my PTSD symptoms tend to rev up.  I get jumpy, anxious, and depressed.  I don’t usually put together what’s going on until I’m well into the month, but this year is different.  This year I’m taking on October head on!  This year I am determined to live my life to the fullest!  I will not allow PTSD to rob the joy from my days.  This year I am determined to push myself to new limits and raise money and awareness for victims of violence in the process.

For the past several years, I have been choosing a race each fall to run as a fundraiser for CT-ALIVE (the charity I work with).  Susan Omilian and CT-ALIVE were there for me when I was struggling to move on with my life after abuse, and I can speak first hand to the value of the services they provide free of charge to victims of abuse. Rather than discuss what had happened in our past, Susan used her My Avenging Angel Workshops to help us rediscover our talents and establish goals.  She created a safe atmosphere where we could recognize that we were not alone and that abuse happened to women of all ages, ethnicity, and economic backgrounds.  We were all so different, and yet we all had an instant bond over what we had been through.  Instead of focusing on just getting women out of abusive relationships, the objective was instead on breaking the cycle of abuse.  By rediscovering our self worth, we were able to let go of the past and embrace the future.

I truly believe that the work CT-ALIVE funds saves lives, and not only the lives of these women, but also their children and their children’s children.  Children who grow up in abusive homes are far more likely to enter abusive relationships.  That is why ending the cycle of abuse is so important.

ImageAnd that is why raising money for CT-ALIVE and raising awareness is so important to me.  If I could change one thing that was the most damaging about the abuse, it was the reaction of the people who found out.  The comments about how “It takes two”, “There’s always two sides the the story”, and the people (primarily my abusers family) who just flat out called me a liar.  Not to mention the officer who made it a point to try to publicly humiliate me for reporting it, insisting I would just get back with my ex anyway so I was just wasting his time.  If I could educate just one person to how ignorant and damaging these types of statements are I would feel like my efforts have been worth while.  No one asks for or deserves to be abused, and they certainly don’t deserve to be blamed for it when it happens.  

I think it is unfortunate that we live in a society that is so bent on victim blaming.  If a women is raped, there is always the implication that she did something to provoke it.  We never stop to take a hard look at the perpetrators.  Somehow, they seem to escape blame in the public eye.  Where is the outrage when a man murders his wife and posts the photos on Facebook and then blames her for making him do it?  OR at the judge who over looked the mandatory sentence and only gave a man 30 days for raping a minor because he thought she looked older than her age?  Why are we as a nation not crying out for change?  One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime- ONE IN FOUR.  So why is domestic not in the news as a national epidemic the way obesity is?

In today’s society, it’s so easy to convince oneself that there is nothing we can do to change the way things are.  However, I refuse to believe that I cannot make a difference in this matter.  On October 20th, I will be lacing up my running shoes and taking on Bimber’s Bluff, a 50 K primarily self supported trail race in southern CT.  Every inch of that 33+ mile course I will be running for victims of abuse.  I want to show other women just how much they can accomplish in life after overcoming domestic violence.  I want to show the rest of the world that survivors of abuse are some of the strongest people on this planet.  Enduring and overcoming the 5+ years of mental and ultimately physical abuse was by far the hardest thing I have done in my life: harder than Yale, harder than PA school, harder than the Ultra Beast.  The fact that there are people out there who have suffered so much worse than I did and are still able to pick themselves up every morning and carry on is a testament to their strength- whether or not they realize it.

Every year I pick my hardest race as the fundraiser for CT-ALIVE, and I do it intentionally.  The people I am fundraising for Imagedeserve nothing less.  Furthermore, it is a reminder to myself every October of just how far I have come from that day I left in the pouring rain.  Every step of physical pain and exhaustion is a reminder of the psychological torment and suffering that I and other survivors of violence have endured.  It’s a reminder of what kind of strength it takes to endure abuse and how if my abuser didn’t break me, then nothing any race has to throw at me will.  I don’t know if I will complete Bimbler’s Bluff within the 10 hour times limit, but I do know that I won’t quit.  I also may just have the best motivator of anyone out there. 🙂

This month I would like to encourage you to go purple!  Do something to honor victims of domestic violence whether it is something as simple as wearing purple or making a donation to support a local charity.  Help spread the word that domestic violence is not ok and it is certainly not cool or funny.  After all, the person you are helping to make a difference for may be your own sister or daughter.

If you are interested in learning more about CT-ALIVE or donating to support Susan Omilian’s work you can check out our website.

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Never Enough

“Women are taught to feel we’re not good enough, that we must live up to someone else’s standards. But my aim is to cherish myself as I am.”

Elle Macpherson

atelphobia

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while knows that I have a propensity toward over doing it when it comes to training.  I had thought (and hoped) that by working out with a trainer and optimizing my workouts that I would do better in the moderation department… Yeeeeaaahhh  Not so much. :-/

The problem is, no matter how much I run, bike, or train in a day: it just never seems like enough.  I’m not sure exactly what makes me feel like I need to work so hard.  It’s Imagelike a compulsion.  If I don’t workout at all I feel like crap.  If I go a week or more without training I get depressed.  A couple days without a run and my anxiety goes bonkers.  I have become so physically and psychologically dependent on exercise that the idea of not training or missing a day stresses me out.  It’s like I’m completely addicted to the endorphins.  There is nothing else that even comes close to alleviating my anxiety.

The problem is, the more I train, the more I feel like I need to train.  Doing a quick 5K on the treadmill just doesn’t give me the same sense of accomplishment now as it did a year or two ago.  These days I need to get in a good 8-10 miles at a clip to get any effect.- that’s on top of the 3 workouts a week with the trainer and the easily 30+ miles I’ve been biking a week. 

Maybe my problem is that the fitter I get, the harder I have to work to feel like I’m really pushing myself; and that is what training out is all about for me- pushing my limits and reminding myself that I am stronger than I thought.  The issue becomes that there are only so many hours in a day, and I can’t spend all of them training.  As it is, I already struggle to get in enough calories to keep up with what I’m doing.  I couldn’t imagine doing or eating any more in a day!

I need to find a way to deal with my anxiety that does not solely depend on working out.  Furthermore, I need to appreciate what I can get accomplished in a week and recognize that it’s more than what most people would be willing to take on.  I need to not compare myself to what other people are accomplishing because their my-weaknessesachievements have nothing to do with me or what I am capable of.  Lastly, I need to learn to not be so critical of myself, to stop judging myself based on what I’m accomplishing this moment, and instead to look at just how far I’ve come.  

There is always going to be someone faster, stronger, or fitter, but those people have nothing to do with my journey.  I have done half marathons, tough mudders, a marathon, took on the ultra beast, and I am still standing.  I may not be currently running 30 miles a week, but I am taking on cycling– and that is HUGE for me!

In fact, I just got my bike fitted today! With big girl clip-in pedals even!  To be honest, it scares the hell out of me more than anything else, but life is best lived outside the comfort zone.  Getting into cycling has been a huge fearhurdle for me, and instead of beating myself up that I’m not getting good at it faster or logging more miles in addition, I should be celebrating the fact that I am challenging myself on a whole new level.  Soooo that is what I am going to try to focus on doing.  Instead of obsessing about getting in enough mileage to run a marathon in addition to taking up cycling, I am going to try to focus on one thing at a time.  The most important thing for me right now is to concentrate on the cycling, so that is what I plan on doing.

Rather than stress myself out about what else I could be doing, I am going to continue to remind myself just how far I have come with that bike.  I have progressed from full on panic attacks to clip in shoes!  Again, HUGE!  I rode over 100 miles of hills streets, traffic, and busy intersections on a mountain bike and earned that road bike.  I pedaled though the anxiety and panic to a point where I can enjoy cycling… and I’m sure I will get back to that place once I get the hang of these new pedals… 😉