Belonging

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As I mentioned in my last blog I am pregnant. This last week after a whole lot of bleeding, two miscarriage scares, and a few emergency room visits, I was diagnosed with a sub-chorionic hemorrhage. Basically as my baby and placenta grow they cause bleeding in the outer wall of my uterus, if my body can’t clot the hemorrhage and stop the bleed I run the risk of miscarriage and possibly needing surgery. So my OB put me on modified bed rest, with strict instructions to not lift anything, and to keep my heart rate down!

You guys, I have three kids, four dogs, a business to run, and endless commitments, I was doubtful I could manage a week of bedrest, much less the 8-12 my body needed. So instead, I reached out, I told my friends and family what was going on, how I was feeling, and that I needed help and support. And the women in my life showed up for me. From everything like bringing dinner, and rotating my laundry, to making sure my daughter got picked up from school. I had the support I needed to stay off my feet and still manage my life. Many times throughout the week I was reminded just how loved I am, and just how great the people in my life really are. Many nights I fell asleep with a heart full of gratitude and love for the family I have created in my world, as well as the family who shares my DNA.

At different times throughout the week I realized I belonged. I belong with these people who love me and show up for me. I’m lucky enough to belong in such a way that it saves my life. Let me tell you about these families of mine, these communities I belong to.

A little over six years ago, in the midst of a horrific drug addiction, I hit rock bottom. Thankfully I found a community of people who had the things I wanted in life and who could love me until I loved myself. These people showed up for me in every way possible. They walked me through my new way of life -without drugs- and they showed me how to live. They showed me how to speak my truth, and how to live with integrity, they showed me how to own my side of every problem in my life, and how to walk through my experiences and emotions, again, without using drugs. And in turn I stayed clean, built a beautiful life, and chose to give back to the next generation of recovering addicts, the unconditional love and skills which have been freely given to me. Communities like these are built because there is value in transparency of stories and experience. There is value in knowing someone else understands our lives on the deepest level, because it has been their life too. There is value in these communities because on a cellular level we all need to belong, we all need to be accepted for who, and what we are.

When I first got clean I made the decision to live my life and tell my story with full transparency in order to be a beacon of hope for others, especially parents who may have lost children in the midst of their addiction. I wanted others to know a life worth living- after drug addiction was possible, and more so it was worth it- even if they had suffered great losses while using. And while some days it is hard to be a woman who chooses transparency because I am also a business owner in a small community, my commitment to letting others know they belong, and possibly saving a life is much more important. So I will continue to speak up and show others the way out- because after all we belong to one another….

A few years into my new way of life I hit a point where I was drowning in self loathing and shame. I was extremely overweight, and literally hated myself. We all know the feeling of looking in the mirror and not feeling good enough, thin enough, pretty enough, enough, enough, enough. I started wondering if I could get a prescription from my doctor, basically legal methamphetamine, to help curb my appetite so I could lose weight. I started fantasizing about how much better life would be once I was thinner. But a part of me knew I couldn’t take that route because I am an addict, and I have a tendency to abuse drugs, whether they are prescribed or not. And deep in my heart I knew the problem ran deeper than my weight, and no prescription could fix the underlying emotional issues. The problem was my inability to love myself just as I was, the problem was my inability to eat healthy, the problem was my sedentary life style. And so, I joined my local crossfit gym. I hadn’t lifted weights since highschool, and I probably hadn’t ran since the last time I had been running from cops! Long story short it had been years since I had lived any kind of active, healthy, lifestyle so I decided to jump in head first.

I started crossfit at 202 lbs with 47% body fat. I had to modify each workout, I had to lift using the lightest bars and the smallest weight, but the other members cheered me on and lifted with me anyhow. My time was always at the bottom of the score board, but that didn’t matter because I was showing up and making progress no matter what. Over time I started moving up in weights and hitting personal PR records. I started getting better score times, and being able to run more and walk less. I started cheering on the new people and lifting with them regardless of their weights or times on the scoreboard. Again, I belonged. When I hit my first 20 inch box jump my crossfit family cheered with me, when I hit my first 27 inch box jump they cried with me! My new friends taught me about preworkout, protein shakes, and BCAA’s. They taught me the importance of muscle mass versus body fat- and how the scale is a god damn liar. They taught me that strong is beautiful, and muscles are sexy. They showed me how to meal prep, and eat clean. They explained macros, and how to eat cookies without bingeing a whole box! When I tore my meniscus and had to modify my workouts, my friends understood my sadness and helped me stay on track. When I got pregnant with my youngest son my gym family supported me, loved me through my pregnancy and my postpartum recovery until I could be back full force in the gym. When I got my first “RX” and was able to do the workout on the board, ‘as prescribed’ with no modifications, my trainer took pictures with me and celebrated as hard as I did. These people had become another extension of my family, another layer of my support system and strength.

This past weekend while on modified bed rest a large majority of my gym family, including my husband, were competing in a crossfit competition. The night before the event my friend, who just so happens to be my trainer, reached out to me and told me our gym would have a sweet little base camp, and plenty of chairs in case I wanted to join them as a spectator. I was feeling fine and had been off my feet all week so I decided to go. Throughout the day my fellow gym members fed me, sat with me, and made sure I was taken care of. Throughout the day as I sat surrounded by other crossfitters from around the state I realized again that I belong to a worldwide community where our experiences transcend our race, religion, sexual identity, etc. Our mutual love for the sport and the gifts it brings to our lives brings us together as a community. Many times throughout the day I sat there humbled by the sheer determination and grit that was on display. At any given point I could look around me and see complete strangers in tears of joy and appreciation, celebrating their competitors achievements right along with them. An event that will forever stick in my mind was when a woman was in the middle of her timed deadlift ladder when she started to pee herself. You could see the horror and embarrassment on her face and in a split second her team partner jumped next to her and yelled out “its ok, we all do it, keep going”. And the woman kept lifting, she didn’t give up. In that moment she was surrounded by a community of people who understood. And her partner was right- which one us mothers can jump rope, sneeze, cough, lift heavy weights, or do much of anything without running the risk of peeing ourselves at some point?!

During my husbands deadlift ladder I was easily reminded why I love him like I do. My husband approaches his level of fitness the same way he approaches Every. Single. Aspect. Of. His. Life. – with great intensity, dedication, and integrity. As he lifted I looked around and realized the entire gym was watching and cheering along with him. Grown men were standing there with tears in their eyes, moved by Chases intensity, and their own love for the sport. A wave of appreciation came over me, I couldn’t have been blessed with a more amazing man to call my best friend. This past week had wreaked havoc on our sanity, and many times we had cried together wondering if this pregnancy would soon end in a miscarriage. And here he was pouring his heart into this competition.

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Watching my fellow gym members, and crossfit athletes compete with such unity, love, and appreciation for one another, was yet another reminder that I belong. It was a reminder that we all need to belong. Belonging is what feeds our soul and keeps us afloat when we are struggling. Belonging is what helps us live with courage in knowing we arent alone. Which brings me to my final realization.

We as humans, but especially as women, belong to one another. More than ever in todays society we need one another to stand up and say “this is my story, and you belong”. More than ever we need one another to offer grace and love in times of struggle. This morning as I scrolled through FB (in light if the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault stories) I saw many many friends with the status “me too”, to show they had also been victims of sexual assault. Some of these women, and men I would have never guessed had been victims of such atrocities, yet here they were full of courage on social media saying “heres my story, WE belong”. Because we still belong to one another, regardless of the circumstances, we belong.

Today I’ll commit to staying transparent in my life. I’ll commit to speaking up with courage, and showing others the way. I commit to living with integrity, even when it loses me friends. I commit to choosing love, and welcoming those who need a place to belong.

I love you guys, thanks for reading my words…

Walking Through Fear

You guys! I did it. I finally started a blog!!! See, I have this really big dream about being a writer and one day publishing a book, maybe some people will love that book and I’ll end up doing a TED Talk- a girl can dream- right?! This dream scares the hell out of me, and excites me all in the same breath. So- here I am writing my words, and finally honoring my creativity! And while I want to get super “perfectiony”, (thats a thing right?) and add widgets, and photos to my blog before you read it- I think its most important to get my words out there. Everything else can wait…

Part of me wants to introduce myself and explain who I am. In hopes you’ll love me and follow this blog. But that feels awkward and forced. So instead I’m going to write my words as they come. I cant promise I’ll have proper grammar or punctuation, I cant promise I wont say fuck, or stay out of the realm of politics- but I can promise I will stay authentic, loving, and vulnerable with you. Hopefully over time you’ll gain insight into my life, and perhaps find similarities in my story and yours. Because while our experiences might not be the same, our emotions and our insides are.

I have a feeling the people reading this original post are my FB friends, and real life friends- because you’re basically the only people who know I have taken this leap. So lets chat about some things… Tonight my heart is heavy and my mind is racing. Because even though I found a way out of the darkness, not everyone has.

For almost a decade of my life I was homeless and addicted. I slept in park bathrooms, with the door locked, and my back against the door in case anyone tried to come in. I would go days without real food, or a shower. I would go months, and even years in some cases, without contacting those I loved. I knew the deepest darkest depths of a personal hell I had created for myself. I lost parental rights to my oldest son and my oldest daughter- and yet I couldn’t stop using. I remember a specific night where I had accepted the fact I would die alone, homeless, and strung out on drugs. Clearly the universe had different plans for me. Here I am- almost seven years later- healthy, clean, and living a life full of love, serenity, and stability. I made it out alive.

Although I have cut ties with every aspect of my old life, sometimes bits and pieces creep back in via social media posts, stories, etc. Tonight it crept back in. And I am reminded just how ugly, and heartbreaking addiction really is. Nights like tonight I wish I could take my serenity, and my recovery and just give them away to those I love who are still in the darkness. But here is the main thing I have learned in the past six years: I can not give someone something they are not ready to receive. I can not save anyone. We all have to save ourselves. What I can do is pray, and put my passions into carrying a message of hope for those still suffering addicts. What I can do is continue to live my life in a way that honors me, and keeps me safe. Tonight I will pray extra hard, and meditate a little longer. Because I know the healing power of connection, and love. And while I might go to bed with a heavy heart and a racing mind, I know there is always hope as long as I keep love in my heart.

I’m grateful to be on this journey with you guys- thanks for being here, and reading my words. I love you.