Last week might go down in the books as being one of the most mentally and emotionally draining I’ve had in a very long time. It started off fairly normal I suppose, but as Sunday turned into Monday into Tuesday and onto Wednesday, things were popping up in my life that began to test every fiber in me. I was angry, I was confused, I was frustrated, and more than anything I simply felt sad. Sad for the changes that will be taking place in my sweet little family over the course of the next couple of weeks and sad for a beautiful friend of mine who was just diagnosed with cancer.
I was in the midst of change (and not the kind of change one hopes for). As the dynamics and family life as I have known it for the past 16 years is on the verge of changing forever, day to day ‘living’ has already been extremely difficult for me. It’s been quite an emotional summer and I have tried my best to stay positive, find any amount of good in my situation, count my blessings, and simply trust that everything happens for a reason.
Sometimes as a mother when you are dealing with a teenager, that’s all you can do. You hope you have done your best thus far, you roll the dice, and you cross your fingers that the end result will be a positive one… for everyone. It doesn’t make letting go any easier though and of course as a mother all you want to do is protect your child and do what YOU feel is right. Unfortunately, a teenage agenda is usually never the same as yours. We all expect to have our children under our roof for at least 18 years so when they ask to leave two years early to live with their other parent, well, it’s just plain heartbreaking. Time will tell. For now, my family of four will turn into a family of three the majority of the time and I will now become the ‘part time’ parent.
God, those words cut me like a knife straight through my heart.
Day by day, I will need to adjust to my new ‘norm’. There won’t be any more talks on our drive back from school. No more seeing him come in to my room EVERY single night to say good night and I love you (yes, even at 16 my son still does this). I won’t be the one who sees him driving behind the wheel for the first time as he practices to get his license. I probably won’t be helping him fill out his first job application. I won’t know who his teachers are or their email addresses. I won’t be able to attend all of his sports games. No more of the crazy daily arguments between my son and daughter in the car for me to yell at. No more asking him for the 3rd time to take out the trash and clean his room. No more nightly struggles with homework.
So many things I took for granted.
My heart breaks a little bit more each time I think about what my new day to day life will be like. I imagine that even with my husband and daughter with me, I will still feel like my family are not quite “complete” each day. I will worry even more than I do already. I will await promises of text messages and phone calls. I’m guessing that the weekends he plans on spending here will somehow get cancelled. And holidays… oh the thought of my precious holidays. Up until now, I have spent EVERY single holiday with my son. There was never a Christmas morning missed, an Easter egg left unfound, or a birthday dinner that didn’t take place.
I feel like I’m losing a limb.
Any mother knows exactly how my heart feels and the thousand things that run will be running through my head. At this point though, I don’t have a choice. All I can do now is squeeze a little tighter when I get a hug, laugh a little harder when he makes me laugh (which is often), and appreciate the times I will have with him. Hopefully they are not few and far between… time will tell and I will find a new normal.
So despite my own roller coaster of mommy emotions, Wednesday night I was hit with another ton of bricks. I went from emotional to a complete wreck in one fell swoop. I was getting ready to go to sleep when I decided to jump onto my personal Facebook page. The VERY first thing I saw in my feed was a post from a beautiful friend. I had been dreading this particular post for weeks already. My positive nature kept hoping for a different outcome, but from her previous posts I somewhat already knew that she was embarking on her own life changing journey.
Here are a couple of excerpts from her blog where she has begun documenting her story:
As I began to read her blog post making the ‘official’ announcement, the tears began to flow. I started reading her post out loud to my husband and could barely get through her words. I had a lump in my throat and so much aching in my heart. I wept for her. I wept for her husband. I wept for her three children. I wept for her sister and her mother. Their lives’ would NEVER be the same regardless of how things unfolded. 38 years old, always extremely supportive & uplifting of those around her (especially women), 100% dedicated to her family, and one of the most amazingly kind hearted people I know. My first reaction was to comment on her Facebook post, but as I began to type and erase and type and erase, I just felt like I had no words. No words that would make her feel better. No words to comfort her. No words that felt “right”. No words to take her pain and fear away. I closed Facebook, continued to cry in my husbands arms, and prayed I would just fall asleep quickly.
I woke up the next morning, still with a heavy heart. I opened up Facebook, re read her post and the countless comments she now had. More tears for a brief moment, but I had my own kids to get situated, work to do, and things that needed to get done. I went through the motions, mostly just numb like a zombie moving from one task to the next. I simply got to a point on Thursday where I could not hold back my tears or emotions. I rarely ever find myself crying completely out of thin air simply because of not being able to control my thoughts, but I felt so out of control with emotion.
I finally got to a point where I knew the only way I could try and get my head on straight and regroup was to head to the gym. Some people need alcohol and drugs, others need therapy, I need to lift. Lifting & training is my therapy. I got ready and off I went. My drive to the gym wasn’t any better though. Not only did I cry en route the entire way , but even broke down a couple of times DURING my workout which has NEVER happened to me before. Even with my husband by my side, I still felt alone, confused, and simply just sad. I felt slightly better once I wiped my tears away (literally in between lifts) and got a decent workout in, but still felt drained and sad. I returned home, ate, spent time with my family, and woke up Friday morning with the same negative emotions running through me.
It’s now Sunday and I still have not found the right words to say to her so have not reached out yet…
So why have I chosen to share my own current family issues and this story about my friend on my ‘fitness’ blog?
It’s simple. Perspective.
My main audience here on my blog and social media are women and young girls who are focused on changing their lifestyles. These women have either caught the fitness bug and/or have made fitness & working out a huge priority in their lives’. Moreover, I see countless emails, posts, and comments from these individuals EVERY single day who are so desperate to lose weight, want to see their ribs, have a thigh gap, wish they could look like girls in the magazines, struggle with body image on a DAILY basis, have a poor relationship with food, are afraid to eat anything, and/or have lived much of their entire lives’ with an eating disorder. Instead of focusing on the fitness and wanting to be truly just “healthy” (mind, body, and spirit), their lives’ have been consumed with this image in their heads of what the “perfect” body is. Many will go to great (and unhealthy) measures to try and achieve these ridiculous standards that society (and our own minds) place on our appearance. It seems like everyone wants to be skinnier, wants bigger this, smaller that, etc. And for what? Is it truly because they are under the impression that achieving these obscure ‘ideals’ will somehow make them happier?
Want to know what true happiness is in your late 30’s?
HEALTH & FAMILY
Instead of wishing and wanting abstract ideals for their bodies, people need to be THANKFUL they have 2 arms, 2 legs, a healthy heart, kidneys, a liver, a functioning brain, and all of their other functioning organs. I remember a time last Fall when I was out doing cardio around my neighborhood. When I first stepped outside of my house and began to warm up before my sprint intervals, I was SO not in the mood. I tried to come up with 20 reasons why I shouldn’t do my cardio on that particular day. I’m tired, I’m hungry, I have a ton of work to do, I need to pick up the kids from school, the house is a mess, I have to get dinner ready, etc. However, I had made a commitment to myself that I would put my 100% effort into my cut so I reluctantly kept going with my warm up. After that, I killed my 25 minutes of hill sprints and on my walk home, I stopped under a tree to take a breath, and snap a selfie. These were the pictures I took that exact day (October 17, 2014).
I took a moment more to myself, looked around at my amazing view, and started to cry. This cry wasn’t a “Oh my God, I hate cardio. I hate this diet. I hate everything. This all sucks…” kind of cry. Instead, I wept because I was simply thankful. I began to walk the rest of the way home and was overcome with a huge burst of perspective and gratefulness as tears fell down my face. Not only was I alive to experience the beauty around me, but I also had the ABILITY to do those dreaded sprints. I had functioning legs and feet to get through every workout. I had a healthy heart that didn’t konk out on me while training. In that very moment, I was just so thankful for my health and my family’s health that nothing else mattered. Nothing. I was content with myself, my training, and my body.
Often times in the fitness world, people lose sight of whats important. In the end though, when your time here on Earth is done, I assure you that you will not want to remember the tupperware meals you prepped. You will not want to remember the countless times you pulled a scale out to weigh your food. You will not need to remember the number of followers you had on social media. You will not remember the chiseled abs you worked and starved yourself for. You will not want to remember the countless times you put a friend or your family on hold in your life because you needed to get your workout in. You will not want to remember the amount of times you dieted.
Want to know what you WILL remember?
The people in your life who love you no matter what size or shape you are. The ones who are there for you unconditionally. Your mother, your father, your siblings, your friends, your partner, and your kids. Those amazing people in your life and your relationships with them are what matter the most. Period.
Have fitness goals… YES, of course. But don’t lose sight of what’s important in your life while trying to reach those goals. Appreciate the time with your loved ones and the soak up every laugh, smile, cry, and experience you have with them.
I myself may get caught up in the fitness ‘obsession’ from time to time, but in light of the recent events taking place in my life and the life of my beautiful friend, my perspective has shifted. Now, I want to make sure that my fitness has more purpose than simply changing my body physically. I want to make sure that each and every time I train, I feel good about doing it and that I’m doing it for the right reasons. My goal from here on out is to get through each workout and feel EXACTLY how I felt that one day amazing & beautiful day last October.
I want to feel THANKFUL that I have been given another day & another opportunity to live and train.
And my advice to others?
Don’t live your life wishing you had more. Live your life being thankful for ALL of the blessings you have been given because in the blink of an eye, your entire world can change for ever. Your life as you once knew it may end up making a turn you were not anticipating. Live each day with purpose and love (for yourself and others).
Regardless of your hardships and obstacles you have faced or are facing, there will ALWAYS be someone who is struggling greater than you. There will also be people who appear to have their lives’ together, but you have no idea about the demons that haunt them or struggles they face behind closed doors.
Be kind. Be graceful. Love yourself. Cherish those around you.
Appreciate your life…
Your. WHOLE. Life.
And to one of the strongest, caring, most supportive, and encouraging women I have ever met…
Jessica, I might not ever find the right words to say to you in person, but I hope this blog post shows you exactly how I feel about you and your journey. We may not speak or see each other often, but please know that I am always only a phone call or message away. If there is anyone I know who can turn this obstacle into something greater, it is you. With all my heart, I believe YOU.WILL.BEAT.THIS. and come out STRONGER as a result. Also, I know how important pictures and memories are for you so the only gift I that I thought was appropriate to give you right now were Aleah’s newborn images and a little something to brighten your evening to make you smile… if you haven’t already, please check outside your doorstep. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Barry, and the kids. All my love. Corina
Last but not least… a collection of inspirational words that spoke to me: