“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.
For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world.
For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”
“Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.”
― Steve Maraboli
There are not too many people who can say they have been blessed with a second chance at life, but that is exactly what I have had. I don’t just mean with my marriage either.
The funny thing about being in an abusive relationship is that you never realize just how bad the situation is while you are in it. If you are a naturally upbeat person like I tend to be, then you focus on the positives and try to rationalize or ignore the bad stuff. Even when I was with my abuser, I still believed I was a lucky person. I thought my abuser and his family loved me. It was what I wanted to believe, so I did wholeheartedly. It wasn’t until the day of the wedding when he and his family so blatantly disregarded my feelings that I could no longer make excuses or ignore the truth. That awakening is what escalated the abuse. (If there’s one thing an abuser can’t handle it’s getting called out on his bad behavior… even when done in the meekest fashion possible!)
Had the abuse never progressed to being physical, I’m not sure that I would have gotten out as quickly as I did… or at all. My abuser had done such a great job of manipulating the truth that it was hard to believe even what in my heart I knew was wrong. From the second he put his hands on me, though, it was black and white. He was the one with issues who couldn’t control his temper. Up until that point, he had found a way to blame EVERYTHING on me. He would twist the situation until he suited him; however, despite his best efforts- there was no turning this situation around. When he did try to rationalize it (and make it my fault), he claimed he was being mentally abused by me and I drove him to it. That was when I realized he was completely NUTS. All this time he had me convinced that I was the crazy one, and now here he was grasping at straws letting his true colors show. That is when I closed the door to us and started putting my life back together. The fact that it was such a difficult lesson to learn does not make it any less valuable. I didn’t stand up for myself. I let someone walk into my life and tell me what I was worth and how to live it. No one has that right. It’s not a mistake I’ll make twice.
My point is if my abuser had never beat me up, I might have never realized how awful my life had become. I had been essentially pigeonholed by my abuser for years, but because he did it so slowly over time, I never realized how much ground he took from me. I gave up my power, my identity, and I let him control my life. I was watching everything I said and did to avoid settling him off or being criticized.
Once I was out from under his thumb, it was as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders- a weight I previously never realized had existed. I was on cloud nine for about three months before the PTSD symptoms kicked in and put my life in upheaval for months on end.
While I may never be rid of my PTSD symptoms, I have gotten a lot better at recognizing and dealing with them. They still rear their ugly head at the most inconvenient times… like when I trying to go for a relaxing run on vacation and end up panicking about being abducted or attacked by bears… Yeah that’s a good time. I used to resent having to deal with them, but now I feel like they are a small price to pay for everything I have gained from the experience.
Despite any lingering effects, I still feel incredibly blessed to have gone through the whole ordeal and come out of it a better person. A person deprived of sunlight will appreciate it like no other- the same applies to someone deprived of the freedom to be herself.
The fact that I have a husband now who loves me unconditionally for who I am, and not who he wants me to be is just icing on the cake. My life is no longer filled with people who knock me down and disregard my feelings. Instead, I choose to surround myself with positive people who are more interested in encouraging and uplifting others than tearing them down.
I am beyond fortunate to live the life I have now- on my own terms without apologizing. I have to say it feels pretty darn good. I am lucky to have the ability to finance my goals because running marathons isn’t cheap and triathlons are going to be even more costly. I am also blessed with an incredibly thoughtful and supportive husband who not only made sure I got the bike I fell in love with, but also made sure I had a road kit to change a flat AND a flashing back reflector so I’m visible to traffic. He’s the kind of guy that doesn’t cheer from the sidelines; he runs along side me… even when it’s clear that the pace is painfully slow for him.
As awful as my life was back then, that’s exactly how wonderful it is now. I appreciate my life now in a way I never could have before. Furthermore, I appreciate my husband and marriage more because of everything I’ve been through.
I only wish I could let every person in an abusive situation know how much better life can be- richer, fuller, happier, fulfilling. People going through abuse are made to believe that they are weak and helpless, but nothing could be further from the truth. Before I was in an abusive relationship, I always thought that abusers were aware of what they were doing. However, having spent years with my abuser, I can honestly say that he didn’t believe he was abusive. Instead he blamed EVERYTHING in his life on EVERYONE ELSE. I just got the brunt of it because I was closest to him. He truly believed that I was everything wrong with his life because he was too weak to accept responsibility in his own life. Abusers are weak individuals who need to blame their problems on other people. They are the ones who can’t handle life, not their victims. Anyone who is able to endure abuse day in and out is stronger than any abuser out there. The problem is, they aren’t aware of it.
My goal is to make victims and survivors aware of just how strong they are… and how much better life can be.
“What we choose changes us.
Who we love transforms us.
How we create reshapes us.
What we do remakes us.”
— Dr. Eugene Callender
I hate the “word” PTSD. I hate the whole concept. I don’t like feeling labeled. I have a hard time accepting that it now part of my life and an even harder time accepting that it is part of who I am. It makes me feel damaged- like there’s something wrong with me that can’t be fixed. I can’t stand how my mood fluctuates when I’m tired (like instant PMS!); and as much as I love working out- I sometimes resent the fact that I have to in order to just feel normal instead of an anxious, moody mess. Not that I come off that way to other people. It’s funny how incongruent your thoughts and feelings can be with your actions at times.
Yesterday I watched a documentary called “Beyond Belief” which followed the story of two 9/11 widows who decided to turn their grief into productivity and created a charity to raise money for Afghan widows. (Part of their fundraising included a biking from ground zero back to their homes in Boston- a 3 day and well over 200 mile trip) Their goal was to help foster healing and understanding, as they truly felt connected to these women despite the cultural differences and different sides in the war. The statistics mentioned in the film about the number of widows in Afghanistan is beyond shocking, it’s downright tragic. The circumstances these women live in are so dire. They have no money, no education or way to create a source of income, and are unable to feed themselves or their children. Yet, (much like the 9/11 widows) they are incredibly strong and grateful for what little they do have. In the film, they discuss the concept of posttraumatic growth while describing these women- which, unbeknownst to me, is actually a real, studied phenomenon (If it’s on Wikipedia, so it must be real- right?)
Wikipedia defines it as follows:
Posttraumatic growth refers to positive psychological change experienced as a result of the struggle with highly challenging life circumstances . These sets of circumstances represent significant challenges to the adaptive resources of the individual, and pose significant challenges to individuals’ way of understanding the world and their place in it . Posttraumatic growth is not simply a return to baseline from a period of suffering; instead it is an experience of improvement that for some persons is deeply profound.
I have to confess, I like the concept of posttraumatic growth FAR better than PTSD 😉 I would MUCH rather focus on growth (who wouldn’t?). I mean, let’s be realistic here. What are the real odds that I ever would have started this blog, set up a charity campaign, run a whole marathon, joined a board of a nonprofit, and become an advocate for other women and victims of abuse- if it had not been for the phenomenal growth I experienced as a direct result of trauma? I am a better person now than I was before the abuse- annoying PTSD symptoms or not. I know the depth of my strength. I know who am I, what I want, and where I am going. I know my resolve and determination are stronger than any doubt that I or anyone else could muster. Most importantly, I am putting my energy into helping other people heal and creating a positive impact in the world. Not to say that I would not have strived to make the world a better place without the “postraumatic growth”, but I don’t think it would be with the same level of passion, committment, unflinching determination.
All that being said, I’ve decided it’s time to pull out my running shoes for some actual racing and fundraising, so I’ve signed up for the Colchester Half Marathon at the end of February. 🙂
“Clear your mind of can’t.”
I got my butt kicked (again) tonight… and I loved every second of it…
It’s funny how I can feel my mood start to dip when I get tired. Yesterday I got called in to work the overnight shift because someone had called out (yup, I missed boot camp- TRAGIC!) Luckily I had already worked out once that morning, but didn’t get a chance to nap before going in due to the short notice. I slept a couple hours when I got home this morning; but I could tell I was still dragging. It’s funny how my anxiety/PTSD has a way of rearing it’s ugly head when I’m even a little sleep deprived. For example, today I ordered broccoli pizza. I specifically picked a new restaurant because I wanted white broccoli pizza (ricotta, garlic, etc), which our typical place doesn’t offer. Well, they showed up with a regular pizza with broccoli on it, and I kid you not– it almost ruined my day. I think this is partially because I was starving, but even at the time I thought it was RIDICULOUS to be so upset over a pizza. Besides, the sent me a new one when I called, so I got a whole pizza for free which should have made me happy. Instead, I was in a bit of a funk the rest of the day….
Until boot camp. Boot camp always lifts my spirits. It’s the perfect combination of exercise and meeting up with friends. 🙂 It’s about conquering challenges and instantly makes you feel good about yourself (if you survive the workout ;)). Tonight we did intervals of exercises with the goal of going as hard as possible. By the time we got through to end of each round, my quads and calves were outright refusing to function. I attempted to just focus on my breathing and keep pushing. It was definitely rough, but I knew I couldn’t stop.
1) Mike would have totally called me out, and I am secretly (or not so secretly) terrified of him (jk…sort of)
2) I knew everyone else was suffering as much as I was- probably even more in the case of the new people!– and I didn’t want to cheat.
3) I HATE giving up. It’s just not an option for me.
Maybe it’s the joint experience of absolute misery (have I mentioned how much I hate intervals?) that has the group so bonded, but there’s definitely a tight-knit support system- which is a real comfort when you’re struggling!
In the past, I would have stayed home and avoided people if I felt my mood dipping. However, now I know better and use that as even further motivation to drag myself to the gym, for a run, or to boot camp. I’m glad I have gotten to a point with my PTSD symptoms that I can feel them coming on, recognize the source, and do something about it. I am pretty certain that I will never get rid of my symptoms completely, but at least I have gotten better at coping with and managing them. Everyone has his or her own battle or struggles in life, and I certainly could have worse problems to deal with. Instead of focusing on how much happier or healthier I could be, I remind myself of how blessed and lucky I am to have not only survived everything I’ve been through, but overcome it.
Sorry I’m so late actually posting this! It took me forever to edit. I hope it’s finally in English!
“Victory is won not in miles but in inches.
Win a little now, hold your ground, and later, win a little more.”
Today I did 100 push-ups– IN A ROW!…well…sort of in a row. There were brief rest periods, but that was only because my arms were turning to jello. None-the-less, breaks or not, 100 push-ups is a milestone worth celebrating in my book! Why? Because I celebrate the small victories in life- and this month in particular, I need all the small victories I can get.
So far, I have not written much to acknowledge Domestic Violence Awareness Month (I did however, write a post about Breast Cancer Awareness– somewhat ironically). Perhaps I’ve been avoiding it. I have faced it head-on in terms of charity work and running a half and full marathon to raise awareness. Yet, somehow I haven’t taken any time to focus on it here.
October is a difficult month for me. My wedding was October 21st. The day was traumatic, and the two months that followed were even worse as the abuse continued to escalate. Despite the fact that I currently have a happy and productive life -with an amazing network of friends, family, and even work out buddies– when October rolls around I feel more stressed, anxious, and above all sad. As content as I am with my life, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. I’m still grieving for the naïve part of myself that was rudely awakened to just how cruel and vile some people can be. I didn’t choose to become a different person; it was forced upon me. While I don’t regret what I’ve been through, I do (at times) feel cheated that my view of the world was shattered in such a base and senseless fashion.
Perhaps it wasn’t a great idea to schedule my marathon tapering and recovery in the midst of a time when I need running therapy the most; however, I truly believe running the full, grueling 26.2 miles of the marathon was an appropriate tribute to the other victims of abuse. It was a testament to ability of the mind and spirit to endure suffering and overcome a seemingly insurmountable distance. Running in October gave the races extra significance, as well as added motivation for me to finish.
All that being said, my first post-marathon run on Monday was AWFUL. I had been itching to go all week and thought I had enough time to recover (I know, being sick all week probably shouldn’t count as recovery time!). Unfortunately, my body didn’t agree. My knees were bugging me from step number one, and my legs felt like lead. It was the marathon all over again! I couldn’t believe I was still having issues (and, no, I shouldn’t have been surprised). I tried to enjoy Penny’s company instead of being frustrated. She wasn’t paying any attention to my internal struggles. Instead, she spent her time rolling in every muddy puddle she could find until she finally emerged looking (and smelling) like the swamp thing. Once sufficiently covered in mud, leaves, and-who-knows-what else she would return back to running up ahead and beckoning for me to chase after her. We ran and hiked for about an hour; and then, much to her chagrin, I brought her home and gave her a bath. At boot camp that night, I continued to drag and felt crummy. I was feeling sick and frustrated with my body for being achy and uncooperative. Given that I am still feeling under the weather, I was somewhat dreading going back tonight. I didn’t want to go through another work out unable to do my best. I HATE being held back for any reason- sick, injured, etc.
That is why I am EXTRA happy to have FINALLY had a good work out day. LOL I didn’t even have any knee trouble- despite all the running. We did sprints with 100 reps of 10 different exercises in between (YES- Another infamous 1000 rep workout). The exercises included jumping jacks, one-handed mountain climbers (that’s right one-handed, because we are hard-core!), crunches, skaters, power jacks, crab toe touches, low plank obliques, heismans, power jumps (I may hate these more than psuh-ups), and then finally PUSH-UPS. It was not that long ago that I couldn’t manage ONE real push-up (NO “girlie” push-ups allowed at boot camp!). Today I did 100. Take that PTSD October stress!!!! I am going to own you this time around!
“If you feel bad at 10 miles, you’re in trouble.
If you feel bad at 20 miles, you’re normal.
If you don’t feel bad at 26 miles, you’re abnormal.”
Gosh, where to start?
Well, first- yes I did just post Yoda for inspiration. Trekkie-Star-Wars-geek? Guilty. But seriously, who doesn’t love Yoda?
Everyone says running a marathon will change your life… Something about getting a new found sense of being able to conquer anything. To be completely truthful- I don’t feel any different 26.2 miles later. At first, it was a bit of a let down. I thought it would be this amazing epiphany; but, I didn’t feel anything when I finished (other than enough pain in my legs to literally make me sob – in fact, I was so debilitated by that point, that the thought of needing to hobble to the bag check AND car seemed like a more difficult task than the marathon itself.)
Now I am not saying the marathon was not an AMAZING experience (in a hating every painful moment of it kind of way). However, I think the true benefit was not in the event itself, but rather in the training. Marathon training changed my life. It changed me so dramatically that I absolutely believed I could conquer anything before I ran the whole grueling distance. If I didn’t believe it to the core, I never would have made through the race on a good day, let alone a bad one. Marathon training gave me confidence. It was an outlet for many of my PSTD symptoms. It gave me something that was mine. It was an excuse to be selfish and generous at the same time. It gave me an opportunity to give something back. Marathon training helped me redefine my identity. I survived marathon training before surviving the marathon, and I will never be the same. 🙂
Finishing the marathon itself was just the icing on the cake. The weather was beautiful! The spectators and volunteers were awesome. The course had a few nice views, but, for the most part, was not my favorite. Adam and I held a solid 10 min pace for the first half, and then things started to get a little hairy. Somewhere between mile 14 and 15 I had my first breakdown. I had stopped at a water station and my left knee immediately seized up. I tried to start running again, but it wouldn’t cooperate. I was just over halfway and couldn’t fathom how I would make it the rest of the way when I couldn’t even walk. I sniffled and limped next to Adam for a short while before I finally forced my body to start jogging again. The swelling and pain in my knees was throwing off my gate, and it wasn’t to long before my hips started acting up too. We took short walking breaks every few miles for a while, but every time we stopped I would start unraveling emotionally due to pain and utter frustration. Adam would put his arm around me and assure me I was doing fine, but I was embarrassed to be struggling (and now crying) in front of him. He had not done any training and made it look effortless while I worked my butt off and struggled every second. I wanted to run harder (maybe I was a little delirious) and felt angry that my body wouldn’t cooperate. Every step from start to finish was painful. It was one of my worst runs in a long time; and I was beyond disappointed that, of all days, my epic-bad run day had to be this day. By mile 19 I decided I was through with walking breaks. It hurt more to walk than to jog, and it was way too much effort to get going again just to take a few moments rest. I jogged the rest of the way to the finish without stopping. The closer I got, the more determined I became. I was happy to find Adam again around mile 24 after having lost him for a stretch. We pushed to the finish line as fast as our beaten down bodies would carry us, and then I fell apart all over again. I was just overwhelmed- not only by the pain, but also the whole situation. It was a culmination of everything I had been through the past several months. It was finally over!
At the same time, I think I was still feeling a little disappointed in myself (despite running practically the entire course, managing 9 miles more than I ever had before, and raising money and awareness for a great cause.) It’s only now after the fact that the magnitude of this accomplishment is just starting to sink in. Perhaps once I recover from the shock of it all I might be able to enjoy the victory a little more. 😉 Once again, it’s just surreal. I know I was there, but I have a hard time believing I did it.
The amount of support I have received throughout this process has been phenomenal and well exceeded anything I could have imagined! I am so grateful to everyone who offered well wishes, congratulations, and donations. It has been such an amazing journey!
As always, comments and feedback are welcome and appreciated. You can also email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to share any info on this blog, just please give credit back to the site. Have a great night everyone!
1. Thank the person(s) who shared the award with you by linking back to them in your post.
2. Pass this award to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know that you included them in your blog post.
3. List 7 things about yourself.
1. Thank you “Fabulous at Fifty” for this award- You truly are fabulous and so is your blog!
2. I would like to pass this award to (in no particular order because you are all amazing):