Most of us have an event in our lives that shifts our perspective and forces to evaluate every aspect of our life. I’ve had several which include the birth of my children, the death of one, divorce, four surgeries that temporarily kept me from doing what I love, divorce, my parents’ illnesses and having to file for bankruptcy. However, nothing changed my life and my perspective like the morning of Thursday, November 12, 2015 when, around 8:20 a.m., I received a phone call that my son, who turned 18 that day, had been shot.
The short version is he lived, is healthy and thriving in ministry.
The long version is part of me died that day and while that’s good in some aspects, the fall was hard and brutal and it has taken me years to recover.
How do you stand when your personal misfortune makes international news and while you are praying and crying by your child’s bedside, you are fighting the lies of the story, defending your family and still trying to leave the hospital in between his naps starting at 5:00 am so you can go train your clients because independent fitness professionals don’t get paid when they don’t work?
You “pretend” like you stand. You crumble after you’ve helped everyone else up, smile and say a few motivating words and then hit the floor in agony behind closed doors because you “have” to be the strong one. But after the floor beneath you crumbles and you fall through, you’ve got to do something else. When my body crashes three months later after merely surviving on coffee, energy drinks and whatever I could find that would get me through the day and I came home screaming and throwing things and could not be consoled, even by my son who was healed and running hurdles again, I knew I could not secretly crawl on the ground anymore. I wanted to stand. I wanted my health back. I wanted to sleep again. I wanted to enjoy my work again. I wanted to do what my soul longed for as I became keenly aware that life could be over at any minute. It was time to live and do it for real.
The first thing I did was find a therapist.
Therapy allowed me to share my part of the story from my perspective and allowed me to dig deep into the anxieties behind the situation and the guilt I felt behind it. My therapist is (I still see her) objective and hears me. She helps me reflect on the facts while acknowledging my feelings but separating the two and leaves the space for me to heal. I love the support I receive from family and friends but sometimes they just want you to “get better” and “get over it.” I wasn’t ready and they were often frustrated.
The second thing I did was re-evaluate my work schedule and adjust.
I had been a fitness robot for years. I’d teach all the classes I could and if people asked me, I’d train clients 20 hours a day. My body was exhausted. My adrenals had crashed. My thyroid wasn’t working. I felt bitter because people didn’t always care about my pain or whether I had slept. They wanted me to get on that mic and make them feel better. I needed to feel better for me. I gave up classes. I called in more often than I had in 10 years (sometimes because I was depressed or tired). I wanted to spend time at home. I wanted to know what it felt like to be at home when my children got home from school. I wanted to make myself happy. I wanted to feel appreciated instead of resentful.
I also made my own health a priority.
This one took a while. I was too tired to do ONE push-up and making a smoothie was more effort than ordering my soy latte from my driveway. I was embarrassed because my body had went through so many changes. The stress of the last couple of years had aged my face, put several percentages of body fat on me, killed my endurance and forced me to buy new clothes because my old ones were all tight. Now instead of crying because of the situation itself, I cried because of what the situation had done to me. I, literally, cried, every day when I got dressed in the morning. I stopped wearing tank tops to teach and train. I avoided pictures. As I began to see specialists and and slowed down enough to make sleep a priority (and that is work), I felt a little more energy to start lifting a few weights. I then began to add a little more cardio and watched what I was eating. The disciple of it all has taught me how to handle my stress better and I’m grateful that I had the knowledge to help myself get back on track. The knowledge has also helped me tremendously with assisting my clients in a new way.
I also changed my circle.
I just had to unfriend some people on Facebook (and limit my time on there in general) and make solid friendships in real life. I am surrounded by fierce, praying, supportive people who hold me up and check me when I am all over the place. I need accountability, like we all do in some form or fashion. I also have some amazing online connections and communities that keep me inspired and going forward when I sometimes question if I am where I am supposed to be.
Lastly, and the most important, I own my story.
What happened was super unfortunate and painful. However, it is my reality and I don’t hide from it. We can use our pain and turn it into power. I have never been more loving and nurturing in my life. I am more understanding. I am more considerate of how I handle other people’s pain. I am more in tune with my family. I speak from a very raw authentic place. I know that life change in an instant.
We all fall down but getting up is a choice and a conscious one.
All of my social media handles are @hiphealthychick Blog: www.hiphealthychick.com
All of my social media handles are @hiphealthychick