Thursday, April 12, 2012

It's More Than Just a Rope Climb

On April 11, 2011, I completed my first CrossFit workout ever. It was, appropriately, Death by Burpee. I don't remember a whole lot about that workout, but I do remember it was not pretty. I could barely do a burpee, much less multiple ones in a row. It had been a couple of years since I worked out consistently. I was bored with exercise and routines in general. Enter CrossFit, the sport that has literally changed my life.

I have become part of a family. A family of like-minded, results-driven individuals who share a love for pushing their bodies, minds, and spirits to the limit. Who encourage each other like no other group of people I've met. We all share one common thread, passion. We are passionate people who, coincidentally, are also very spiritual people. We care about each other. We support each other. We cheer for each other. We know that our strength comes from God and not ourselves.

Over the past couple of months, the fat has started to come off my body. The muscle I knew was there, is finally making an appearance. It didn't happen overnight. There were times I wanted to quit. I gained 20 pounds and it showed. But I stuck with it because I believed it would work. It finally did. But that's not the most important thing I've taken away from this experience.

When I decided to write this blog, I was originally going to include a before and after photo. Honestly though, my physical transformation on the outside pales in comparison to what has happened inside. I found my confidence. I believe in myself for the first time in a really long time. For those of you who know what I experienced in my previous marriage, it took away a part of my soul. I was broken in so many ways that I never thought could be repaired. I resigned myself to living single for the rest of my life, because it hurt too badly. I'm now lucky enough to be married to the greatest man alive, but that brokenness from the past has always taunted me. There's that programmed voice inside my head that lies and tells me I'm not good enough, I'm not important, and I don't deserve happiness. I'm worthless, I'm a terrible person, I'll never make anything of myself. I'm crazy, I don't deserve to be loved by anyone, not even myself, no one will want me. When you are told that over and over, even when that person is gone from your life, those tapes still play in your head. It took a conscious effort on my part to erase those messages and replace them with positive words. It was really hard work though. Really hard. Until now.

On my one year anniversary of my first CrossFit workout ever, I climbed the rope. I made it to the top! I know it seems strange to some people to make such a big deal about accomplishing a rope climb, but for me it was more than just developing the strength to get to the top, it was about me believing I could do it. It's huge for someone who's been through what I've been through. That rope is symbolic for me. It represents so much more than just a cool thing I can do now. It represents my confidence in myself and believing I could do it, no matter what my thoughts were telling me. Yes, I can now do all sorts of amazing things I never thought I could ever do, flipping 275 lb tractor tires by myself, handstands, carrying 210 lb men on my back, etc. All of that has changed me, and given me a confidence I've never known. But what's really changed me is the people, the community. I have never been around so many positive people collectively at one time. I owe so much to the coaches and to my friends. From always cheering me on, to making sure I squat low enough, to not letting me use my age as an excuse not to try something, to setting an example of persistence and kindness, these people have changed me. I've learned to let my guard down (some days are still harder than others). I've learned to let people in. I've learned that I deserve to be surrounded by encouragement. I've learned that I deserve the rewards for all my hard work. I am worth it and I belong.

My symbolic climb to the top.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

leaving on a jet plane, don't know if I'll be back again

Ok, so the title of this post is kind of dumb, but it's all I could think of. I'm basically here to say goodbye to this blog. I feel like it's served it's purpose and it's time to move on. I may revist on occasion, but right now I really feel the need to focus on other things. I plan on leaving it up because I do think it could possibly help people, and that was my original intent. But for now, I'm heading in a different direction with my writing.

Feel free to check out my new blog and follow me there:
It's full of witty humor. I promise.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

"...she's been here too few years to feel this old"

Hang by Matchbox 20

Love is supposed to make you feel young. It's meant to free your spirit, not suppress it. It shouldn't suck the life out of you. I've experienced both types of love. The toxic love that slowly darkens your inner light, and the unconditional love that makes you feel alive and creative and radiant.

Sometimes things just don't turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes, people aren't who they say they are. We get hurt, we get our hearts broken, we give more than we will ever receive in return. Maybe we were deceived, maybe we were too naive, or too trusting. Maybe we looked to others in order to fulfill our own shortcomings.

It happens to the best of us. Now what? Well, frankly it's pretty easy. You get off your keester and you do something about it, or you shut your mouth and quit complaining. I realize that sounds harsh, but it's true. The hardest thing for anyone to do is to face their fear head-on and do what it takes to be happy. I have the utmost respect for those who've been brave enough to say "no more." Who realize that a moment of discomfort is worth it in order to live a lifetime of peace and happiness. You may think making the change is too hard, but not changing will only result in the slow strangulation of your soul. So what's it going to be? Will you be courageous or will you be a coward?

Monday, June 13, 2011

"I guess to build yourself up so high, you had to take her and break her down"

Stupid Boy by Keith Urban

I have an overwhelming need to write today. I don't know why today, right now, while I have so much work to do, but I'm learning to listen to the nagging inside my heart that won't let me rest until I obey. Maybe I was inspired. Maybe I was directed. Maybe it was fate, maybe not, but I came across Baron Batch's blog today. As a lot of you know, I workout at Capstone Crossfit, and I follow them on Facebook. They posted a tweet to Baron this morning about coming to workout there this week. For some reason I clicked his name and his twitter account had a link to his blog. Me being the blogstalker I am, I decided to check it out, and let's just say, I was incredibly surprised at the many talents he has been blessed with. I happen to read a post about ripples in the water and how everything you do has a purpose that leads to this ripple-effect. It was profound and moving, and I would encourage all of you to read it. God has some truly wonderful things in store for this very gifted individual. Here is the link:

After reading this, it got me thinking about my original purpose and what I set out to do with this blog. I can't tell you how many times I've been in conversation with different people and the topic of domestic abuse comes up. In fact, it happened just this past Saturday at lunch with a friend. Depending on the person, their views are always different, but there is without a doubt, a common thread. The thread of complete confusion and inability to totally grasp "why." The "whys" vary from person to person, but there is always a "why." Why would someone treat another human being that way? Why on earth would anyone put up with that? Why won't they just leave? Why would anyone choose to be with someone so horrible? There is no clear cut answer to any of these questions, and each situation is different, but I'm going to do my best to explain things from my perspective and my experiences.

Why would someone treat another human being that way? Well, that's a hard question to answer. I believe there are a few different types of abusers. There are those who are insecure and have to put you down in order to feel better about themselves. There are those who are mentally unstable, and are usually un-medicated, leading to complete chaos and inconsistency. There are those who grew up in abusive homes and are simply repeating the patterns they are familiar with. There are the alcoholics and drug addicts, the ones with unsolved parental issues, and those that are just downright mean. And then, there are the worst of them all, the sociopaths and narcissists who care nothing about anyone but themselves, but manipulate you to believe otherwise. In my past life, I was lucky enough to be married to a person with a combination of these, but mostly the latter.

Why on earth would anyone put up with that? Why would anyone choose to be with someone so horrible? These two questions go hand in hand, and are by far the most difficult for those on the outside to wrap their heads around. Let me start by saying that abusive relationships don't begin as abusive relationships, at least not blatantly. I think it's safe to say that an overwhelming majority of women would discontinue a first date if she were put down, called a bad name or made to feel inadequate ten minutes into a date. There are the spineless exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, bad behavior on a first date does not equal a second date. In fact, the bad behavior doesn't really start until much later, usually after the wedding, once you legally "belong" to them. BUT, I must be very clear here....although the abuser doesn't exhibit these behaviors at first, in fact, it's quite the opposite end of the spectrum, there is almost always a feeling deep down that something might not be quite right. It's too perfect even. Listen to that feeling friends. It's that feeling that could possibly save your life. No matter how charming and perfect and doting this person may be, if you get a gut instinct that something is amiss, run and don't look back. Trust me on this, because once they have you in their snares, it's very difficult to get out.

An abusive relationship is not bad all the time, especially not a first. Eventually, you have a fight, he calls you names, punches holes in the walls and then he brings you flowers and tells you how sorry he is but he just can't help it because he loves you so much. He is on his best behavior for a very long time after that. But inevitably, it happens again and again and the periods of good behavior get shorter and shorter, and the fighting escalates. You slowly begin to become the reason for his outbursts. "If you would just to this or that, I wouldn't get so angry." Or "if you would just be better at this and make me feel this way, I would stop yelling." Along with that, the mind games begin. "Have you ever thought about doing this, or wearing this, or being friends with this person?" Those questions eventually change to "Do this, wear this and don't be friends with so and so," but it happens so subtly over time, that you don't even notice. When you love someone, sometimes you feel it necessary to do anything to make that person happy. It's a natural process. We all want our mate to be happy. What's different about abusive relationships though, is that these requests become next to impossible to fulfill. The abuser sets the bar at a certain level and once you reach that level, they raise it again, and it's a constant game you will never win.

Why won't they just leave? This is actually the easiest question of all to answer: Fear. Fear of the abuser, fear of being alone, fear of failure. Usually once the violence becomes physical, the one being abused is so mentally and emotionally beaten, they don't even know which way to turn or who to trust. They are entangled in this sick and twisted game, that seems to have no way out. They have been cut off from their family and friends, they may not have their own source of income, and they have been made to be so emotionally dependant on the abuser, that leaving seems worse than staying. They have been told (or made to feel) over and over that they are worthless, that no one loves them and that the only person who can save them is the abuser. They begin to believe this and until they reach their breaking point, they won't leave.

So what is that breaking point? It's different for everyone. Mine was children. I knew I could never live with myself if I ever brought an innocent human being into a situation like that. I know it sounds funny, but I saw the way the dogs would run and hide from him when he would get so angry, and one day it just hit me...those could be our children. I literally woke up and wondered what had happened to my life. This wasn't the way it was supposed to be. No one should live in fear of their spouse, and no one should feel so repressed that they can't be who they are. No one should have to lock themselves in the bathroom just to get away, just to get some peace and have some sanity.

I'm one of the lucky few who woke up and was able to save myself. But I didn't do it alone. I owe my salvation to a lot of people. My father in particular, for raising me to believe that I was a strong and independent woman. He always told me to make sure I could take care of myself and not to rely on anyone else to do it for me. Had I not been given that, I wouldn't have made it on my own, nor would I have had the courage to leave. I owe so much more to my friends than I can ever repay. One in particular, you know who you are. She was the only one who refused to put up with the ex's behavior. She stood her ground when she didn't like the way he treated me, and refused to be around him any longer. When I was being manipulated into thinking he would kill himself if I left, she was the one person who told me it was either him or me who would end up dead and I had to decide who it was going to be. She's tough as nails and she was the strength I needed when my own was gone. Circumstance of life caused us to part ways for awhile, but as is true with any real friend, we have been able to reconnect recently and it's as if no time has passed. I still don't think she realizes what a big part she played in helping me get to where I am now. I am also thankful to my sweet husband for showing me that real men aren't jerks, and for loving me in the gentle and unwavering way I need to be loved. He took my healing process a step further by allowing me to trust again, and showing me that love doesn't have to be so hard, and it never has to hurt.

After reading Baron's blog today, I do think that maybe my life does have a grand design, and that maybe I was strategically placed in that situation so that I could bring hope to those who need it. Maybe it wasn't a mistake or a choice I made, but maybe there was a greater purpose for my pain.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."

title quote: Anais Nin

Hello Friends, it's been awhile. This journey is not an easy one for me. I have to reveal parts of it in small doses, so as not to become sucked back into the dark abyss. I'm afraid if I dwell for too long on the subject, it will come between my husband and I, and that's something I'm not willing to let happen. But at the same time, this process is very healing for me and exploring it only serves to make me stronger, and in turn, makes our marriage that much stronger.

A few weeks ago at church, the preacher said something that really resonated with me. He said that we all have sins and that stuffing them down only eats away at us, and if we're willing to open ourselves up, we'll find that everyone is struggling with the same things. I see my past in that way, and through opening up about it, I have found that a lot of people have experienced, or are experiencing some of the same hurts I have, just on a different scale. We, as humans, tend to put on a smile and act as though we have it all together. In reality, we all have the same weaknesses and have all experienced the same disappointments, just in different ways.

I told myself when my nightmare was over, that I would make sure it was worth every tear, every hurt and every sleepless night. I would not allow it to turn into a wasted experience and I would not lose all those years for nothing. I would do whatever it took to make sure I helped others who may be experiencing the same situation. I wasn't sure how I would do it, or when or where, but I made a promise to God and to myself that I would be available to listen, counsel or just hug whenever the opportunity presented itself. I may not be a professional, and I may not have all the "right" answers, but I can offer hope and a shoulder to lean on. It's funny how God holds you to your promises. He's given me multiple opportunities to share my story, whether it be with someone who's marriage is falling apart, or just someone who is at a crossroads and is confused. I don't claim to be a relationship expert, but I do feel, through my own journey, that I'm able to see things from a different perspective...experience is invaluable education.

So for those of you out there who are struggling, those who are hurting and those who don't know which way is up anymore, know that peace will come if you seek it. Know that there is life outside the chaos. I encourage you to share your hurts with others. You may be surprised what you find out about yourself and those around you. Your happily ever after may turn out completely different from mine, but it does exist, and it starts with you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

"this kind of love is what I dreamed fills me leaves no doubt"

title quote: This Kind of Love by Sister Hazel

Today I want to write about my amazing husband Jason. I realize I've barely touched on my "previous life," but I think it's important for me to share the wonderful things that have happened in my life as well. So, where do I begin.... How about I start with why I love him.

I mean, come on...the guy loves cats...

And he dresses stuffed animals in little girl shoes. What's not to love?

Ok, seriously though. I'm a very lucky girl to have such a wonderful, supportive and PATIENT husband. He really does embody the ideal qualities every man should possess. Loyalty, encouragement, honor, respect, masculinity, hard-working, compassionate...I could go on but I'm sure most of you are gagging at this point, so I will stop. 

There comes a point in your life when you realize the "nice" guy is what you deserve. Maybe it's called growing up, or maybe it comes with being burned one too many times, but once you figure out how to spot the bad guys, it's relatively easy to avoid them.

Before I met Jason, I was keeping a journal. I had to have a place to keep all the thoughts and feelings I was having and needed a way to keep myself sane. Here's part of an entry I wrote shortly before we met:

            I have a deep, raw desire to love and be loved. I want to believe I'm worthwhile, and I want someone else who believes it also. I know that love can be different. I know that love will be better than ever before, as long as I let it be, and I insist on it. I don't think love has to hurt as much as it did in the past. I don't think I have to allow love to hurt me as much as it has. I honestly don't believe it is God's will for me to be miserable. I want love, but I don't want destructive love. I want and deserve a balanced love. I need to slow down and take time to love in a way that won't hurt me. I will love from my strengths and not my weaknesses. I want someone who I will enjoy loving and who will enjoy loving me. Some one who will challenge and inspire me, and will adore me for who I truly am. Everything I have endured has only prepared and propelled me to this very moment. I will make a conscious effort to take life slowly and not force love. God has a plan for me, and when He and only He is ready, it will be revealed. I can't worry about when I will find love again, or with whom. So I will simply live my live each day, doing what makes me happy, and maybe one day, when I look up, love will just be there, patiently waiting.

And there he was...the love of my life, just waiting. Now, I know that love isn't a fairytale, but ours is as close to a real life fairytale as you can get. He is the most loving and affectionate man I know, and he does it without being sappy. He's still a man's man. Right now he's drinking whiskey out of a mason jar, and that's why I love him. He loves children and animals, and his chosen path in life is to help the afflicted, the sick and the needy. He serves his community in a way that would make most people cringe, but he's still a man. He's an athlete, he's strong, he likes guns and he loves to get dirty. He really is perfect...for me at least.

The moral of all that sentimentality, is this: there is life after suffering and you can find happiness. I, for one, never expected it to happen, but it did. I am so very blessed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"hitting walls and getting scars only makes you who you are..."

title quote - Broken by Lindsey Haun

There's a line in this song that reads: When you're broken, in a million little pieces; and you're trying, but you can't hold on anymore; every tear falls down for a reason; don't you stop believing in yourself.

That's powerful stuff if you think about it. Most of us have been in situations that were hard, or trying, but have you ever really been in a place where you can't hold on anymore? Where every breath is a struggle and you really wonder if you'll ever get out alive? I have. It's a dark place and I never want to be there again. The human soul can only take so much before it's broken beyond repair. I am thankful for my faith in God, even though there were times I sometimes wondered why he would ever allow me to experience the things I've experienced. But I never lost that faith, and that's the one thing I know allowed me to dig myself out of a nightmare. Without faith, we have nothing, and without faith, I would have never had the courage to leave.

I've hit walls and I have scars, but my scars are on the inside. Most people never see them, but on occasion, they rear their ugly heads. I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful man who sees that and tries his best to reverse the damage. It's a process that takes a lifetime though. As the years go by and as I begin to see what marriage and real love is supposed to be, those scars are growing smaller. They will always be there, but they are much easier to manage now. And really, they've made me the person I am today. I'm a much more compassionate person now, and I'm also a lot stronger.

I feel thankful to have the opportunity to share my story. I'm one of the few who ever has the chance. Abuse of any kind (physical, verbal, emotional) is difficult to escape and even harder to understand, especially to those on the outside. Why do they stay? Are they stupid or weak? What makes a person put themselves through that over and over again? What does it take to reach the breaking point? Why won't they just leave?! The answer is both simple and complicated, and if you stay with me on this journey, I'll try to explain it the best way I know how.