PTSD

Fear: The Dream Killer

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”
-Dorothy Thompson

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Let’s take a moment to talk about Fear.  We have all experienced it.  Its evolutional function was to keep us safe and alive.  However the problem comes when we are in no real danger and still living in a state of trepidation.  We are no longer living in a time when our lives are perpetually in danger, yet the fear remains.  Don’t think it’s affecting you?  Keep reading.

I grew up in a household with a constant undercurrent of fear.  My father suffers from mental illness and was labeled with a multitude of different diagnoses through my childhood.  While they struggled to find the right combination of meds, we lived with the constant anxiety that he might take off or worse.  My mother had promised to never have him hospitalized, so we saw first hand what he was like unmedicated and in the throngs of full on delusions.  At one point he disappeared for days and we weren’t sure if he was even alive.  With the changes in his meds, his personality also changed.  We never knew who we would be dealing with.  During most of that time he was paranoid, angry, and verbally and emotionally abusive toward my mother.  I learned to be hypervigilant at an early age, always aware of the slightest change in his mood.

The fear from my home life carried over into life outside of our house.  We all were charged with keeping the secret of my father’s illness as if it were something to be ashamed of.  We were not allowed to have friends over, and as a result were rarely invited to our classmates houses or birthday parties.  For the most part, we all coped by excelling in our studies.  I found solace in sports.  I did both cross country and track and joined just about every club in high school.  Anything to be out of the house.  Running was a chance to escape my problems, but it didn’t resolve my deep seeded anxiety.

I was afraid of everything growing up.  I was constantly praying and making deals with God.  I would count everything as way to feel like I had some control.  I’d see programs on aliens and armageddon and be too terrified to sleep.  Every thunderstorm I would curl up in my bed with rosary beads in hand.  I was terrified of going to school, of trying new things, and most of all of failing.  Being perfect was how I coped with my lack of self worth.  It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I became fed up with living in constant fear and challenged myself to do one thing that frightened me each day.  This is what I wrote about when I filled out my college applications.

By the time I left for college, I was well on my way to becoming my own person.  I was living on my own in the dorms and paying for my own school.  It was the first time I felt comfortable in my own skin.  I started working and volunteering, and spent my summers home constantly out of the house.  Yet, I never managed to escape my anxiety and self esteem issues completely.  Perhaps this is why I I was easily seduced by my abuser.  He frequently complimented me and made me feel like I was the center of his universe.  I would have done anything for him.

It was likely my upbringing that lead me to stay with my abuser so long, unaware of just how much fear and anxiety he had generated in my life- fear of saying or doing something that might upset him, fear of another outburst, fear of him doing something to embarrass me in public.  At no point in our relationship did I even realize I was being abused.  I had mistakingly thought that men who abuse their partners are aware that they are abusive.  In reality, people like my ex truly believe other people are the cause of all their problems and behave toward them accordingly.  This is because people like him are completely incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions and consider their victims the problem, not the other way around.

It was after I left my abuser that my fear and anxiety hit an all time head.  The PTSD symptoms I had were paralyzing.  You know that feeling you get when you are alone in the house at night and you hear a noise?  Imagine feeling like that all the time.  It’s literally exhausting.  It ruled my life, and I hated it.  Running and working out helped.  In fact, they were the only thing that helped– not therapy and not meds.  People see how much I train, and they think I’m super dedicated; but the truth is this is how I cope with my anxiety.  The more I trained, the more I needed to train to get the same sense of calm and relief.  Presently I need to workout 2-3 hours on my days off to feel relaxed the rest of the day.  At least it’s cheaper than therapy though, right?

Now while I realize that most of you have not had to grow up the way I did or deal with PTSD, we are not actually that different.  ImageWhat is different is that my anxiety and fear existed on such a large scale that I had to face them head on.  It was the only way I’d be able to function at all.  Yet, many people live their lives in fear without ever realizing how much it holds them back.

When is the last time you thought about something you wanted to do and then made an excuse to yourself about why you couldn’t or shouldn’t?  That is the fear talking.  Don’t say I could never run a 5K, 10K, half marathon, marathon, or ultra.  The question is not a matter of can.  The question is whether you are willing to put in the effort.  Find a way. If it is truly a dream find a way to make it happen.  Get a coach, find a training plan, write inspirational notes to yourself, and build up to the person you need to be to accomplish that goal.  Perhaps you can’t do it now, but that is the point of establishing goals.  It’s a about morphing into a stronger, smarter, and more confident version of yourself.  Mold yourself into someone you can feel proud of.

Plus I will let you in on a little secret: getting outside your comfort zone and pushing yourself, while incredibly uncomfortable while you’re doing it, feels BEYOND AMAZING once you’ve done it!  It is one of the best feelings in the world- and it doesn’t matter how big or small the goal is.  The more you do it, the easier it gets.  Maybe the first step in your case is just to believe you can.  That’s ok because we all have to start somewhere.  It’s your journey and the only person you should compare yourself to is who you were yesterday.  Make a commitment to yourself to grow into the person you have always dreamed of being.  Along the way you will learn to truly love and accept yourself; and the everyday fear of not being good enough will slip away.  It’s amazing how little you care about what other people think of you when you are truly happy with the person you’ve become.

Fear is just an obstacle getting in the way of your dreams, and it’s time to get over it.  Don’t let your inner critic hold you back.  He or she is just bitter about your awesomeness.  You are strong, inspiring, and courageous.  You have talents and gifts that need to be shared with the world.  It’s your time to start living fully and leave any lingering reservations in the dust.

Repeat after me: Today I stand no longer afraid.

I am not afraid to try new things– Sure it may be scary, but it’s what makes me feel like I am living!

I am not afraid of being disliked– I’m a great person.  I put others ahead of myself and truly care about the people in my life from friends and family to my employees and patients.  If other people can’t appreciate that, it’s truly their loss.

I am not afraid to fail– Because, hey, at least I am trying!  If I do fail or DNF then at least I know I’m testing my limits!  Have you ever stopped to think what you might be capable of if you just tried?  If you never try then how would you know?

I am not afraid to bear my soul– This blog is 100% me and my truth.  I am not going to hold anything back.  I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I am not.  People can go ahead and judge, but I am going to stay true to myself.  How would I be any help to anyone else here if I wasn’t?

Who’s with me?  What fears are you ready to give up?

 

Short and Long Term Goals

“Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room.”
-Christine Todd Whitman

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For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to help.  It didn’t matter who needed it or what it involved, I just wanted to be useful.  Maybe that is why I picked a career in medicine.  What better choice for an occupation than to take care of people all day who need it?  Yet, even spending my days taking care of other peoples needs and having the occasional opportunity to help save a life were not enough to calm the feeling of needing to do more to make a difference.

I have never been quite sure of what type of difference I’m supposed to be making in this word exactly, but what I do know is ImageI wake up every morning with a burning need to do more.  After the abuse, I channelled a lot of this energy into raising money and awareness for victims of domestic violence through CT-ALIVE and the Running for Color Purple Campaign.  While working with CT-ALIVE has given me an opportunity to do some good, I still feel like it’s not enough.  I don’t want to just raise money for victims of violence, I want to interact with them and give them hope.  More than that, I want to prevent women from becoming victims.  This has lead to me really evaluate what I want to do with this blog and my life.

I have the luxury with my current job of having 4 days off from work a week.  That gives me plenty of time to work with for accomplishing my other goals and dreams.  I know I want to make a difference in the world, and I specifically know I want to make a difference for victims of domestic violence.  What I need to workout is a game plan.  My work with CT-ALIVE and this blog have been a good start, but I think it’s time to branch out.  For starters, I have been putting more energy into my blogging and have recently begun putting myself out there.  I joined Team Tough Chik, which I am actually pretty excited about, and have also applied to be an ambassador for Fitfluential and RunKeeper.  I think all of these offer a great opportunity to get my message out there as well as get connected to companies I already utilize and believe in.

The other thing I am looking to accomplish is to put together a talk/program about dating and domestic violence that I can give at local colleges.  I met my abuser in college and knew nothing about domestic violence or the warning signs at the time.  If I can share my story and prevent young women from walking blindly into a dangerous situation, then I will have accomplished something truly fulfilling.  I think educating the masses about the myths and misconceptions of domestic violence is essential erasing the stigma of abuse and preventing more victims.  Abuse thrives in silence, and my goal is to Imageshine a spot light on it and open some dialogue.

Therefore, dating/domestic violence awareness talk has been added to my list of short term goals, along with improving my swimming and cycling, and training for a Half Ironman.  While these things may seem completely unrelated, for me, training and abuse are closely related.  After all, training for races is what made me feel empowered after abuse.  Gaining strength and endurance helped me build my confidence and feel safe again.  Plus, pushing myself through training and exercise while overcoming my past abuse is what I started this blog about in the first place.  Although at most times this blog is more about kicking ass than dealing with abuse, the history of abuse is part of who I am and what drives me to be a better, stronger, smarter woman.

If I am able to complete the Half Ironman, and someday a full Ironman, it will be at least in part due to the strength I’ve gained from my past experience with domestic violence.  It will also serve as a further example that anything is possible in life even after abuse.  My ultimate long term goal is to write a book about my experience with overcoming abuse.  I think finishing a full Ironman beforehand would make the message even more powerful… Not to say that if I never get to the point of doing an Ironman that I wouldn’t still write one, but wouldn’t it be awesome if I could?

In the meantime, I will get back to swim classes and spinning… and maybe writing a talk. 🙂

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. 

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

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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… 😉

Taking the Leap

“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with;

marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.”

-James C. Dobson 

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In case you hadn’t guessed it by the quote and photo, I took a giant leap with Adam and got married last week!  That is last Tuesday to be exact.  If it were up to me, we would have snuck away and eloped on a beach somewhere.  However, because I love him, and I know how much he wanted his parents there, I suggested we elope when they came to visit for July 4th.

We picked a local beach that just happened to have a carousel and then shared the good news with our families.  That is when things began to snow ball out of control (and the nightmares of my previous wedding came back to haunt me with a vengeance!).  It started with a stream of uninvited guests.  I’m not sure whether Adam’s mom invited people out of pure unbridled enthusiasm or whether they just decided to come on their own, but I found myself, again, in the midst of planning a full blown wedding that I never wanted.

Foreseeing the meltdown that was about to ensue, Adam actually offered to elope before they got here; but seeing how excited he was about all the extra guests I could never bring myself to do it.  I had originally planned on having only our closest friends and family present.  I figured how could anything go wrong when I’ll be surrounded by love and support.  Now, I was planning a wedding with people I had never even met.  This was not my safe, comfort zone, elopement ceremony.  This was a full on, no-where-near-my-comfort-zone wedding.

We were engaged all of 2 days when this happened.  I felt like his family had ripped any carefree happiness away from me, and I resented it tremendously.  I could not imagine how these people could think it was okay to just invite themselves without ever even talking to me or Adam.  I was terrified that I was going to be bullied into another wedding to please another bunch of rude people who didn’t respect my feelings.

Then when Adam offered to sneak off and elope before they got here, I realized that even if his family behaved as badly as my ex’s (which would be an achievement to equal) he was nothing like my ex.  He was going to have my back, and he was willing to disappointment his entire family if that’s what it took to get me down the aisle with him.  What Adam wanted more than anything was just to be married, not the wedding or the frills.

So, for this man, I was willing to go through all of it again- the planning, the cost, the stress, the drama.  I gave him a wedding that was everything he wanted because he is worth it.  He is worth taking the risk for.  He never pressured me to marry him and didn’t ask for a wedding.  He was willing to elope despite how much having his family (even the self invited family) meant to him.  There is no one else I could imagine reliving and digging up my past trauma for; and just maybe now that we have dug it up we can bury it somewhere for good!

So once the dust settled and everything was sorted out, Adam and I exchanged vows in a small ceremony at Light House Point in New Haven.  We had our reception at the carousel with less than 20 guests, and everything went smoothly.  As if the heavens themselves were giving us their blessing, the torrential rain, flooding, and thunderstorms that raged on our way there stopped just as we arrived and held off the rest of the evening.  The storms even helped break some of the humidity and make the temperature significantly more pleasant for our guests.

Our photographer, who is the one and only, Super Fabulous, Sassy Mouth, was pleased with the post storm sky/lighting and did an AMAZING job!  I also splurged this time around and had my hair and makeup done professionally- by Krystalized Designs.  She did an absolutely fantastic job as well- which was evidenced by my makeup not only holding up all day until the wedding, but also through the ceremony, pictures, carousel rides, and playing on a playscape (obstacle racer style)… including a swing set.  In fact, both my hair and make up still looked great the next morning, so props to Krsytal!  The fact that she and Marisa (Sassy Mouth) have awesome personalities is just a bonus in my book.  They definitely both helped me feel completely glamorous on our special day which shows in the photos…and although I didn’t get a “wow” out of Adam, he did well up with tears 😉

So that is the story of my fairytale wedding, which was supposed to be an elopement.  I can’t help but think a week later that this is what “wedded bliss” is supposed to feel like.

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The Things that Linger

The shock of any trauma, I think changes your life.

It’s more acute in the beginning and after a little time you settle back to what you were.

However it leaves an indelible mark on your psyche.
-Alex Lifeson 

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When I wrote in my blog how I am finally in a good great place and actually thriving, I completely meant it.  I love the life I have built.  I love the place I’m in… but that doesn’t mean that there are no effects of the abuse that still linger.  Now I am not saying that I am still plagued by the horrible symptoms of PTSD.  I am relieved and thrilled to say that my anxiety has dramatically lessened (basically to pre-trauma levels… let’s face it, I’ll always be high strung).

However, the one hurdle I can’t seem to get over is that nagging fear of losing control.  I don’t mean in the OCD control freak sort of way (although I have that too!), but rather in a I’m too terrified to let go and have fun when snow boarding kind of way.  

Ever since my trauma, I haven’t enjoyed snow boarding.  Prior, I had LOVED it! It makes me a little sad that I just can’t get myself back to that place again. I’m always too terrified to let go and just be in the moment.  The second I start to pick up speed I panic because I’m so afraid of going fast and getting hurt.  It’s as if I have lost trust in my ability to control my board.

Snow boarding was the first time I noticed this, then I tried taking up biking with Adam.  He bought me my first mountain bike, and it spent a year in the garage because I was terrified of being so high off the ground.  I had never ridden on a real bike and was not accustomed to the seat being up so high.  I also had never used a bike with gears as a child, so I was a bit overwhelmed by all the technology.

ImageThen a month or so ago I decided I didn’t want to be confined by my fear (or for Adam to have wasted his money).  I took that bike out on a trail and scared the daylights out of myself.  lol  Adam was there with me, coaching me the whole way.  I don’t think we even covered 4 miles in the course of an hour because I insisted on walking every downhill.  However, I made a commitment to myself that by the end of the summer, I would have the hang of riding that bike.

Our next ride, we picked a flat, paved bike path and cranked out over 18 miles.  I was practically in tears the first half trying to get through the turnstiles (or whatever you call those ridiculous things!) at the intersections and avoid all the other obstacles people on the path.  By the time we turned around to head back toward the car, however, I was pedaling as fast as my little legs could carry me.  The best part is that I wasn’t even tired.  I think it was the high for truly looking my fear in the face. 🙂

Since then, Adam and I have made it out on another 24+ mile bike ride.  I am definitely getting more comfortably with operating the gears, and more excitingly, with riding fast.  I think I even clocked over 20 miles an hour on part of our ride!   I have even made a new deal with myself that if I can cover 100 miles of riding by the end of the summer, that I will invest in a road bike in the fall when they go on sale… with clip in pedals and the whole nine yards! (clip-ins… YIKES!!!)

In the meantime, I still have some hurdles left to get over… like holding the handle bars with a death grip and being afraid to let go or stand up and pedal. I did finally give up on clutching the brakes the whole time at least! lol  

Image

And here is the bike I have already fallen in love with… I can’t explain it; I just feel drawn to it.

Can’t Keep a Good Girl Down

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either,

for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel.

It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart.

You are here to be swallowed up.

And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near,

let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps,

wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” 

― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP

Sooo life has been throwing me A LOT of curve balls recently (huge understatement); and I very well could curl up, cry about it, feel sorry for myself, and gain a ton of weight eating junk food… while hating the whole world. However, the only thing that would accomplish is self loathing, and that’s not really the lifestyle I’m going for.  Sure, MANY things have been sucking in my life recently, and there are several people who were important in my life who have hurt and let me down recently.  I’m not going to lie- it blows…  (ESPECIALLY for someone like me who has still has PTSD even on my best days and some seriously justified trust issues).

On the other hand, I am a firm believer that everything about life can’t suck all the time.  Bad things happen, but they are usually also accompanied by some good.  The problem is people get so caught up in the hurt and drama they forget to look for it and appreciate it.

Well, I am not going to allow myself to get bogged down and not appreciate the good stuff.  Break ups are hard, betrayal is hard, loss is hard, LIFE IS HARD; and it’s going to kill every one of us.  How we choose to spend our finite time on this planet is up to us.

I would rather focus on all the people I can still count on than the ones I can’t.  I would rather make new friends than worry about the ones who have screwed me over.  If someone does something to blatantly disrespect my feelings (on a repeated basis), then they were never worth my time in the first place.  Why waste any more energy over a person like that?  Getting angry and bitter is a huge WASTE OF TIME AND ENERGY.  I would rather spend it devouring some hills (like this morning 😉 before boot camp…. YES, I started boot camp again… with some modified exercises)

I have been through enough crap in my life and  have spent more than enough time worrying about other people and trying to please them.  Now the only people whose approval I care about are the ones who I respect.  I have plenty of friends- true friends.  I don’t need a bunch of shallow relationships at this point in my life.  I am not out to compete with anyone other than myself, and if someone is looking to start drama with me they are going to be sorely disappointed.  Try and interfere with my relationships.  Go ahead and compete with me.  I don’t care.  It’s not worth my time.  I’m secure with who I am.  I don’t need to beat you at something to feel good about myself.  Likewise, I don’t need to collect a bunch of “cool” friends to feel important.  Any friend of mine who is willing to drop me for you was never a good one to begin with, so thanks for weeding them out for me.

I spent this past weekend with multiple amazing people.  They made me laugh until I cried (there may have been a cinnamon challenge involved… get boot camper together and $hit gets crazy!).  They offered words of support even without knowing the details of what’s been going on.  They invited me into their homes expecting nothing in return.  There was no cattiness, no one-upping, no complaining- just enjoyment of each other’s company.  I hung out with new friends and old friends, and they all made me feel welcome and accepted… which is truly all anyone really wants to feel, am I right?

It was a chance to forget all the drama and remind myself that (as cheesy as it sounds) I am not an island.  I have people in my life who will love and support me no matter what happens.  I am a kind, caring, and lovable person: the type of person who will do anything for someone I care about.  If someone has a problem with me, it’s their problem.  If someone treats me badly, and I need to take a step back (or cut them out of my life completely) then it’s their loss.  I will make new friends.  I will build new relationships, and my life will go on.

*******

There are not words to express how much it meant to me to spend time with each of the individuals I did this weekend.  I am extremely grateful to all of them for not only providing a distraction from all the drama in my life right now, but also reminding me how many wonderful people there are in this world who will appreciate and accept me as I am.  In spite of everything that has and will happen to me in my life, I will continue to remind myself how truly blessed I truly am.

There are people who go through there entire lives without ever making a single true, loyal friend.   I am beyond fortunate to have many wonderful friends who care about me scattered throughout the country and in my own town.  Distance doesn’t matter when you have a true bond.  I have more support in my life than I ever could have imagined.  To each and every one of you:  THANK YOU.

Thank you for making even the worst of days bearable, for making the good days even better, and the would be boring moments beyond entertaining.  Thank you for molding me as a person and supporting me when I need it most.  I count EACH of you as a blessing in my life.

Holy Hip Flexors!

“I’m smiling because I love it.”

Shaun T.

Story of my life!

Holy shoulders! Holy hurt!

The good news is month one of Insanity is done.  The bad news is (and let’s be truthful- no one is actually surprised here) “RECOVERY” week has started, and there are still level 1 drills (BOOOO!).  My trainer had warned me that the recovery week was no joke.  It was filled with a lot of torture as promised, but still totally doable.

To be honest, I was really looking forward to the new workout this morning for 2 reasons. 1) I was getting REALLY BORED with repeating the other workouts day in and out (now I get the same one for another 5 days straight…wooohooo!). 2) I needed the stretching after hitting the gym yesterday.

It won't kill you. I promise. No one has ever died of pain.

Plus, I as much as I hate it at times (like when I’m doing it)- I still LOVE IT (yes, even the level 1 drills).  It’s the best substitute I have for missing boot camp, and even if it isn’t quite as challenging as the the torture Mike inflicts, it’s still a really good workout and a great way to start the day.

The other bad news is I am not as 100% as I originally thought yesterday. lol  Our group training session totally kicked my butt, and it wasn’t even that hard.  Not that it wasn’t hard, but there were a few exercises I don’t normally struggle with that were really difficult for me.  For example, usually on ball-to-wall (you squat and then throw a medicine ball up at the wall and repeat) I use the heavy ball and crank them out, but last night I had a lighter one and I still felt fatigued.  I even struggled with the jump rope!

Damn straight!

Admittedly, doing Insanity in the morning, and lifting to train for my pull-ups immediately beforehand probably affected my performance some; but I was dragging WAY MORE than usual.  I hate that feeling- especially because I know it means I should probably back off some until I really am back at 100%.  On a side note I still totally kicked ass on the box jumps and killed my previous PR on the tall box. 🙂

I don’t know why I am so impatient when it comes to exercise.  I hate when I don’t feel like I’m making progress, even maintaining isn’t enough for me.  I have this little fire burning inside that is always driving me to push harder, get stronger, jump higher, move faster, and conquer the next challenge.  Why? Because making those strides is empowering and the feeling is addictive.  I honestly don’t care as much about my physical appearance as I do about ability.  When I demolish a hard workout, I truly feel like I can do anything.  It is the best high there is- completely intoxicating.  It also an amazing outlet and the most effective treatment for my anxiety/PTSD I’ve found yet.

I don’t expect everyone to understand my relationship with fitness.  In fact, most people won’t, and that’s okay with me.  I have my boot camp family and enough people in my life who get it not to be concerned with the ones who don’t. 🙂

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something or stand in the way of your dreams.  If something is important to you, just go for it and forget what anyone else has to say about it.  The only person who can ever stand in your way is you.  You are as unstoppable as you choose to be.  Go out and conquer your goals- whether it’s a marathon or a jog around the block.  Everyone has to start somewhere.  If you commit and believe, you WILL SUCCEED.

Another great one from Motivation,Hope,Strength. Be sure to check out their Facebook page!

What a Difference A Year Makes!

“Happiness is not a matter of good fortune or worldly possessions. It’s a mental attitude. It comes from appreciating what we have, instead of being miserable about what we don’t have.

It’s so simple, yet so hard for the human mind to comprehend.”

-Bits and Pieces 

Today I turn 29.  It’s officially the last year of my twenties.  While many people (especially women) dread turning another year older, I find myself approaching the big 3-0 with the opposite sentiment.  Why? Because life just keeps getting better, and I can’t to see what this next year has in store for me.

Originally, I had anticipated celebrating by going out today; but instead find myself just enjoying the morning at home.  I don’t need any flash or glam today.  I don’t need anything.  It is the most wonderful feeling of contentment- something I don’t think I ever knew how to be until recently (especially sitting still). lol  I guess some things get easier with age. 😉

My Birthday card from my brother and his girlfriend. They know me so well.

I think a large part of how amazing today feels comes from how low things were a year ago (and the year before).  I have had to rebuild my life from the ground up, and along the way I rebuilt myself.  I am stronger, fitter, more self aware and self assured, and all around healthier.  Life is good again.  In fact, it’s better than ever.  I’m better than ever.  A year ago (even 6 months ago), I was still keeping people at arms length.  Now, I can can finally let my guard down and allow people to see the real me.

Borrowed from my girl Kelly

I don’t worry about other people hurting me anymore because I am so much more confident and secure in who I am.  I know I can take the best of what they can dish out.  No person is strong enough to break me. I can handle life’s knocks.  If I get knocked down, you can be sure I’ll get right back up.  It’s going to take more than some harsh words or bumps in the road to break my stride at this point in my life. I have a solid foundation now.  I have a tight support system, and an army of people who LOVE and ACCEPT me FOR ME.

I opened my heart to the world again, and got it completely filled in return. I am SO BLESSED to have as many wonderful people in my life as I do- and I truly appreciate each and every one!  My phone has been ringing off the hook all morning with Facebook alerts and birthday well wishes.  It’s overwhelming at times just how much love and support I have in my life now.  I never thought I would have so many genuine friendships.  The thought of spending time with a lot of people used to exhaust me (or incite anxiety), however, now I’m often impressed at just how easy it is to maintain a great number of relationships when they are healthy and genuine.

All of the hurt, anxiety, and misery I endured makes everything about life so much sweeter now.  I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone, but I also wouldn’t change it.  It made me who I am today.  It brought me to where I am- and I like where I’m at.  29 is going to be a great year for me because I’m determined to live it up.  I am going into my thirties with a bang!

Happiness comes from developing a healthy relationship with yourself. Like any relationship, it takes work.  There will be ups and downs.  There will be times when you will be fed up; but at the end of the day it’ll be worth it.  I have made a commitment to be happy.  No one can do it for me.  I make a conscious effort at it everyday.  Today, that effort will include my next Insanity workout and spending time with the people who matter most to me. 🙂