thriver

Two Ferries (Plus Some Extra) Recap

“Carpe Diem”Image

There are some experiences in your life that can be described as pivotal: defining moments.  Those moments when you step (or plunge) outside your comfort zone and chose to define yourself on your own terms.  Today I feel like I took a huge leap, and delved full on into the world of cycling.

To be honest, from the moment I arrived at the Two Ferries Ride I felt like an outsider… an imposter even.  Here I was surrounded by all these people who live for cycling, while I am trepidatious at best, and utterly terrified at worst.  Adam had assured me that cycling community would be as friendly as the running community, but I believe he stretched the truth slightly.  The people there were not rude or mean, but they certainly were not as friendly or supportive as the average runner.  Rather, they tended to stick in groups and only socialize with the1369251_10151590400327397_1347518894_o people they already knew.  It was like a great big clique and I wasn’t part of it.  Maybe if I had been a part of the shop’s riding group, it would have been different.  Instead, I was there alone with next to no experience.  I almost cried before we even started.

When we did start, I probably road faster than I ever have in my life.  My fear of being left behind drastically outweighed my fear of moving quickly.  I managed to keep up with the back end of the pack up until the 10 mile rest stop, and then I was left in the dust.  I actually was able to follow the markers without trouble and remain calm despite being alone and completely unfamiliar with the area right up until I missed a turn at mile 19.  I had been climbing a hill for quite some time when I realized I had not seen a marker in a while.  I also noticed that I wasn’t seeing any at the intersections and that I must have gone of course.  If that wasn’t enough of a hint, the cyclists flying down the hill from the opposite direction (with plenty of markers on their side of the road) hammered home the point.  I made it all the way to the top of that hill before I started bawling.

I was faced with two options, I could either back track and find the turn I missed, or follow the markers for the route on the other side of the road.  The problem with option 1 was that I already had missed the marker for the turn once, and now it would be on the opposite side of the road and harder to see.  The problem with option 2: I didn’t know whether the markers I found were for the 66 or 100 mile course.  Worst case scenario I figured I could manage the 66 miles, but I certainly did not want to get stuck on the 100 mile route.  Ultimately, I decided it was better to take a longer route I was sure of than gamble on finding the marker I missed. Since all the rides ended up at the Ferry at some point (or even multiple points) in the ride, I figured that even if I ended up on the longest route I could still get back on track once I found the Ferry.

Luckily, my plan worked out.  The markers led me back the direction I was supposed to be traveling, and I was able to pick up the correct path again once I was off the Ferry.  By the end of it I had been on the bike over 3 hours AND only fell once… though I did have several near misses.  (I suppose if you a clumsy person in general that it tends to carry over in cycling as well)  Many… ok most… of the things I was worried about happening actually did: I fell down, I was clumsy, I was slow, I got lost, and I got left by myself. However, I still survived and finished relatively unscathed.

The people who work in the bike shop were actually impressed that I was able to climb to the top of that hill.  They said I get extra credit in doing so and remarked that “a lot” of people had missed the turn and gotten lost.  1079637_10151590400392397_1128471104_nI suppose that made me feel slightly better.  The one thing that I did feel good about was that fact that everyone else was complaining about the hills while I hadn’t struggled on them.  In fact, they were easier than I expected and TREMENDOUSLY easier than the route I take to the gym.  I figured if these experienced cyclists were complaining about the hills, and I didn’t mind them then maybe I’m not such a complete disaster on my bike after all.

I’m not sure that I will ever love cycling (or anything) as much as I love running, but I am hoping that the more time I spend on my bike the more comfortable I will get both with riding and the cycling community.  I draw hope from the fact that I don’t know anymore who just “likes” cycling.  People tend to either be completely obsessed with it passionate about it, or they don’t ride at all.  This leads me to believe that with enough exposure  therapy practice I too can become a cycle enthusiast and actually ride with a sense of enjoyment rather than a fear of death.  There are fleeting moments now when I forget about the peril and actually enjoy the freedom of the road… primarily areas free of winding turns and intersections.

If nothing else, it is my absolute fear of riding that keeps me coming back to it.  I am determined to conquer my fear and I am willing to accept that it may be a long and arduous process.  This ride was a major step to doing just that,

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… 😉

On Being Blessed

“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

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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 blesseddifficultiesto 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 blessed-life1previously 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 blessed-quotes-13others 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.

An Epic Week!

“There’s nothing like biting off more than you can chew, and then chewing anyway.”  

~Mark Burnett

Haha Story of my life!!! 🙂

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I’m BAAACCKKK!!!!  And no, I was not away on a honeymoon (Boo I wish!)… Instead I have been working my ass off; now I’m here to tell you all about it!  The past few months I have been basically spending every spare second cramming for my recertification exam (the PANRE).  Prepping for this exam basically involved having to relearn everything from medical school that I don’t use on a regular basis (which is A LOT given that I work in a specialized field).  I was taking it a year early so that if I didn’t pass for any reason I would have time to try again; however this did absolutely nothing to make me feel better.  By the time I actually took the test, I had not slept in over a week- despite taking ambien on a nightly basis.  The exam itself sucked as badly as the initial certifying exam, causing me to leave the testing center with a pit in my stomach.  I didn’t feel confident about the majority of my answer choices (it’s really more of “selective the least awful answer” than “select the best answer choice”).  However, I just got my email confirmation this week that I PASSED!!!!!! That means no more cramming for another 11 years!!!   I can’t even begin to explain the sense of relief.  That was first awesome thing that happened this week.  😀

ImageBut wait! It gets better!  Saturday I took my mountain bike out for a nice long 26+ mile ride which brought me well over my goal of 100 miles biked this summer!  Beyond just being stoked about achieving my goal, I was thrilled that I managed the ride solo.  It was my first long one without Adam AND I did it on a hilly route with lots of busy streets and intersections!  This is HUGE for me!  The first bike ride I took with Adam, I couldn’t even do the downhills.  I was too scared.  Our second bike ride was completely flat and, I was still in a panic and hyperventilating.  Now,  I’m riding difficult routes in trafficwithout freaking out!

Instead, every time I get on that bike I feel strong and empowered.  Even Adam admitted he was impressed with the hills I plow up on my regular rides to the gym.  I can’t believe how far I have come in the past few weeks.  I truly feel like I have conquered a HUGE FEAR, and I am ready to take it to the next level!

Since I reached my 100 mile mark, Adam and I went bike shopping this week.  It turns out I am super short even by bike standards, so we had a hard time finding a shop with any bikes in my size to test ride.  It also turns out we hit the season at a bad time.  All the 2013 models are basically sold out, and the 2014s won’t be available for another few weeks.  This is clearly a huge bummer if you happen to be vertically challenged and looking for a bike sooner rather than later.  After 3 bike shops and several phone calls, I was completely exhausted and overwhelmed.

The first bike shop had nothing in my size.  The second shop was super helpful and had a few I could test ride, but would have to order the bike I wanted in a paint job I didn’t care for.  The third shop had crummy service and wanted to sell me the 2012 version with a better paint scheme for almost the same price as the newer models.  Luckily, REI had the bike I originally fell in love with in my size.  Unluckily, they don’t have a store that they will ship it to in our state. So there I was, stuck with the dilemma of whether it was really worth paying a little extra to get the paint job I really wanted AND have to drive to another state to get it… not to mention pay another shop to have it fitted properly.

While I anguished over the decision, Adam went ahead and ordered me the one I fell Imagein love with.  He said he didn’t want me to settle.  He was afraid if I went with a different bike that I would be disappointed at some point that I didn’t splurge on the one I really wanted.  I can’t help but think of how lucky I am to have him helping me through this process. Despite having to work that night, he shuttled me from bike shop to bike shop and was never anything but supportive about it.  I’m not sure I could have been as patient as he was if the situation was reversed!  He is definitely a keeper!

As far as financing this whole process, that leads me to my last big news.  For the past  several years I have had my first engagement ring and wedding band on consignment.  I put them in a store that belongs to a family friend because I wasn’t sure what to do with them, and I didn’t want to get ripped off.  To be honest, I never liked my original ring set.  In fact, I thought the engagement ring was hideous.  It was everything I said I didn’t want in a ring, but, of course, my ex thought he knew better than me and didn’t care what I liked or wanted.  Up until now, I had never had a good idea of what to do with the money if I sold the rings.  I did know it would have to be for something special.  When I was trying to figure out how to afford a road bike, it just suddenly clicked.

ImageThe reason I took on cycling was to get into triathlons- and the reason for getting into triathlons is to ultimately (someday) do an Ironman.  I could not think of a more fitting way to spend the money than purchase a vehicle to do the impossible.  My ex made it a point to regularly tell me how I never wanted to do anything and couldn’t “handle any little thing”.  I’m sure he would just die if he knew what I was doing with the money from his ring… or he would insist I was just doing it to spite him and take credit. lol  More likely the latter.

The truth is, I am always looking for a new way to challenge myself- physically and mentally.  Ever since I started hearing about the Ironman, it’s been one of those “maybe someday” goals.  Now that I am getting a road bike, that “someday” goal has morphed more into a plan.  Right now, I am focusing on getting comfortable on the bike.  I know I need to ride a lot faster and longer, but I am confident I can get there.  That will be my project for this fall.  In addition, I am working on keeping my running mileage up.  In fact, I did a 15+ mile run to celebrate my 26 mile bike ride on Sunday… at least that’s how far I made it before my groin acted up and I had to call Adam to rescue me from the 7 miles separating me and my car…  In retrospect a 20 mile run may have been ambitious following the bike ride, but I digress…

I know what you are wondering, what about the swimming?  Well, that will be the realImage challenge because I never learned to swim properly- like the whole front crawl face-in-the-water style.  I do, however, happen to know a very good swimmer and trainer who is willing to give me some lessons, so now I have my winter goal set as well: tackle swimming.

Finally, conveniently, this spring their will be a REV 3 Half Ironman just a few hours from our house… SOOOOOO if I accomplish my biking and swimming goals (and manage to stay injury free), I plan on being there.  With all Adam’s talk about family planning and baby making I feel like this is my one shot before I will have to put it off for God knows how long.  THEN, should the heavens smile upon me, and I accomplish this monumental task, we will see about a full Ironman.   Aside from the swimming, I think it’s TOTALLY doable…  lol

So that is my epic week so far.  What makes it even better is I am still on vacation AND Adam and I are going away for the weekend to the Berkshires for some hiking and relaxation!

More than anything, I am so happy to feel like I am on the right path to something.  The amount I got for the rings was exactly the amount I needed for the bike and shoes.  Somehow, I just don’t feel like that’s a coincidence.  If I can come from where I started both mentally and physically and even take on just the Half Ironman, I think it will be a huge accomplishment AND speak volumes to what victims of violence can accomplish when they decide to embrace life and challenge themselves.  The fact that the start of my journey to the Ironman coincides with getting rid of the very last piece of my past is purely poetic to me.

I feel like this song was made for me and thivers everywhere. 🙂

A Perfect Day

“We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves..”
-Sir Roger Bannister
 
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WARNING: Sorry Betsy, this is not the post you were hoping for!  
 
So maybe today was not a prefect day for running.  It was hot, humid, and sunny- my least favorite combo.  HOWEVER, today was pretty perfect.  Why?  Because today I ran the Petit 5K Road Race as our inaugural run for Team Thriver!
 
How could a day not be perfect when you spend it with women who have overcome so much, who choose to thrive in the face of adversity?  How could you not be joyful, grateful, and inspired by their presence?  Today these ladies set new challenges for themselves, and they all demolished their goals!  For many, it was a first to cover that distance.  The fact that they were able to do so in such brutal conditions is a true testament to their strength- inside and out.
 
When we first discussed having Team Thriver walk and run at the Petit 5 K, I wasn’t sure if Imagewe would have any ladies come other than Christine, Joanna, and I.  I was elated when there were more than double that number between runners and walkers!  To celebrate the occasion I had made my own Team Thriver t-shirt AND super sparkly tutu, or as I like to call it a Thriver Skirt.  
 
I do believe that my festive attire drew some giggles and laughs from the group, but it also drove home the message of what Thriving is about: living life to the fullest and having fun along the way!  A wise runner once told me, “How could you have a bad day in a tutu?” (after finishing the Fairfield Half in similarly hellish conditions).  She makes an excellent point! How could you have a bad day in a tutu?  Well, I imagine it’s darn near impossible.  Tutus are fun and festive!  Mine not only reminded me to have fun, but helped bring smiles to lots of other people’s faces.  More importantly, it was a badge of honor for me to spread our message about Thriving after abuse.  It was my chance to say, “YES it’s 90 degrees out and humid and I am in a sparkly tutu which I have every intention of rocking every inch of this race!!! Why? Because I am a THRIVER and I can do anything…even in a skirt!”
 
That being said, I got a lot of compliments on my attire; and, as far as I could tell, I was the only runner in a tutu.  However, given the envious looks on many of the young girls faces, I don’t think I will be the only one next year. 😉
 
ImageAs far as the race itself, the course was flat and went by pretty quickly given the weather conditions.  There were plenty of spectators angels outside with sprinklers and hoses to cool us off and cheer us on.  I hope they earned some serious brownie points in heaven today because they earned them standing outside in that heat!  My gun time was not bad considering I started at the back of the pack… and seriously crunched/rolled my ankle in the first half mile (out of the blue) and had to hobble-run a little ways before I could put full weight on it.  Don’t worry, I iced it as soon as I got home!
 
In truth, I wasn’t worried about my time anyway.  First, it was too hot and humid out to really push myself, and more importantly that wasn’t my purpose in being there.  I didn’t run that race for myself.  I ran that race for Team Thriver, and for all the victims of violence that the Petit Foundation helps raise money for.  This race, like the Lavery/McDermott Race, was about a cause greater than myself or even our team; and there is something about races organized around a cause- especially one dear to your heart- that other runs just can’t compare with.
 
That being said, being there with Team Thriver was just icing on the cake.  Those ladies knocked it out of the park!  I am so proud of each and every one of them, and honored to know them.  These are the women who inspire me to run on a daily basis.  They are the people who keep me going when all I want is to quit and stop the pain.  I push myself for them.  I do it for the ones who can’t and to show the ones who can that they are capable too.  Sometimes all you need is an example to realize your own potential.  Once you see it’s possible and know someone who has done it, you start believing you can too.  I want each of these women to see (if they haven’t already) they they can conquer any distance or obstacle they set their minds too.  After all, they THRIVERS!
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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  

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

Then and Now

“Life is painful and messed up. It gets complicated at the worst of times, and sometimes you have no idea where to go or what to do. Lots of times people just let themselves get lost, dropping into a wide open, huge abyss. But that’s why we have to keep trying. We have to push through all that hurts us, work past all our memories that are haunting us. Sometimes the things that hurt us are the things that make us strongest. A life without experience, in my opinion, is no life at all. And that’s why I tell everyone that, even when it hurts, never stop yourself from living.” 
― Alysha Speer

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It’s approximately 3 years and 7 months since I left my abuser, yet it seems like a lifetime ago.  I’m not sure when things changed so dramatically in my life since then, but they have.  For starters, I had to count back to figure out how long it’s been since it happened.  It’s not something that crosses my mind anymore. The anxiety and nightmares are all but gone, and something even more amazing has happened…  Somewhere along the way I found myself.  

I have taken some time recently to go back and read some of my early blog posts.  I was so unsure of myself when I started this blog!  I wanted to speak out about domestic violence and show the world that abuse can happen to anyone and it isn’t something to be ashamed of.  I wanted people to see that there is life after abuse beyond just surviving.  I wanted to let people know about the concept of THRIVING, even though I didn’t quite have the hang of it yet.

ImageEvery race I entered, I wasn’t sure that I could finish.  I would have anxiety and not sleep beforehand.  I was still terrified of failure.  I was afraid of what not meeting my goals might do to my self esteem.  With each victory, I set my sights on something bigger; but all the while I doubted my ability.

However, at some point I stopped worrying about failing.  Maybe it was my first DNF that broke me out of it.  After all, I had technically failed the issued challenge, yet I was nothing but impressed with myself that I had accomplished as much as I did.  Was I disappointed? Yes, but only that I didn’t have the opportunity to finish- NOT because I didn’t think I could.  In the end, I didn’t quit.  The course was shut down- but before it did, I had accomplished something few people could say they they have done.  I took on that mountain and all it’s grueling torture and I DID NOT QUIT. 

Perhaps I was stronger than I realized all along.  Maybe I wasn’t ready yet to take on life at the extreme pace I am capable of.  Ever since my abuse, I had found myself afraid of being overwhelmed.  I wouldn’t plan multiple activities in a week or too many projects at once for fear that it would be too much to handle.  It’s only recently that I’ve found that I NOT ONLY can handle multiple projects and commitments at once, but I am better off for it.  I have more energy and enthusiasm for life when I’m channeling all my energy into being productive.  This has been especially true of my work for CT-ALIVE.  It’s been completely inspiring to brainstorm and put our plans into motion.  It makes me feel like my life has purpose and like I can take on anything.  So instead of taking time to myself to “relax” or zone out in front of a movie at night, I’ve been working on making a difference in the world… and I can’t say I really miss the TV.

It has been as if I all of a sudden woke up one day recently and decided, “you know what, ImageI like who I am, AND I’m ok with it if other people don’t“.  If someone says something negative about me, I no longer have that knee jerk reaction to defend myself.  I feel like I finally have found myself, and I like the person I am today.  I am secure, confident, and more relaxed, AND REMARKABLY: I’ve stopped apologizing.  I am done apologizing for who I am, for having opinions, or for other people’s issues.  I am keeping my head above the drama, and, for the most part, doing a good job at it.  I have better things to do with my time than get caught up in cattiness.  I don’t want to hear negative things about other people, especially when they aren’t even present to defend themselves.  I have finally found my voice, and I’m ready to use it! (For the greater good, of course)

ImageThree years ago, I was lost and broken.  I was in a terrible place and suffered from crippling anxiety.  Today, I stand before you not cracked or broken, but solid and resolute.  There’s very little that ruffles me at this point.  I have too much to be happy about!  I’m focused on seeing the good in people and the beautiful things in life.  I don’t have time for hate or resentment, even toward people who have wronged me in the past.  If someone doesn’t appreciate me for the loyal and caring person I am, it’s his/her loss, truly.   People in this world make bad decisions, and I have FINALLY learned not to take them personally.  I can only control my own behavior, so that’s what I choose to focus on.  

I am moving forward in a positive direction and life continues to get better… I’m pretty sure all the endorphins have had a role to play in it as well. 😉  It’s pretty amazing to look back and see how far I’ve come on this journey; however, I am even more excited about where I’m going!