Saturday, September 11, 2010

I crossed the threshold

I made it to 30, with only moderate scarring. It was only 15 short years ago that I was contemplating suicide every single day; even going so far as to hold a loaded rifle to my head one particularly dark night. I never thought I'd see the end of the hell that was my childhood. Never thought I'd escape and learn to be happy. My, how things have changed!

My 30th birthday was absolutely amazing. The night before, we threw an impromptu game night that lasted up until midnight, when I officially turned 30. I spent the day of my birthday just doing random stuff around the house, nursing a slight hangover. I took a long walk with Justin & Scooby to make up for our lack of hiking (which was our original plan for that morning), then visited w/ my Dad & youngest brother for awhile before heading to Shoji's for dinner with family and a few close friends. We were a group of 20 (my idea of a small group) so dinner was obviously crazy/wonderful! The only disappointment being that my best friend had to miss yet another of my birthdays; especially this one since it was a milestone. Other than that, the night couldn't have been more perfect. There was no single moment that stands out from the rest. I just felt like I belonged somewhere and that, my friends, is such an incredible feeling!!!

I wouldn't say I feel "different" since my birthday. Truthfully, I started noticing things changing in me about 2 months prior to my 30th. At first, I just thought it was the usual growth spurt we all encounter at random times throughout our lives. Now I attribute it more to aging than anything else. (Though using the word "aging" seems to give it a negative connotation and I do not feel negatively about growing older. I embrace it!) Maybe it's all a product of my crazy head, but I've noticed little differences in myself lately. I think my recent promotion has played a part in all these changes, as well, but most of them were in the works before that ever came to fruition. I could list all the mini-evolutions I've made lately, but I think the biggest has had to do w/ my health & fitness.

I'm not one who believes life ends at a certain age or that you should give up once you reach that age b/c it's "all downhill from there". And if I did, 30 would certainly NOT be that stopping point!!! For me, it's almost like the beginning. I finally understand the importance of not surrendering my life-force to others. I have found something that requires me to have energy and if I use all that energy being a crutch for someone else, I won't have any left to fulfill my needs. It's sad to think that it's taken me 30 years to realize that there is a fine line between helping someone in need and completely enabling them. I have spent my entire life giving myself up to others. First, there was my mom. Then my ex-husband. Then a string of "friends" and family who used me as a doormat b/c I thought my worth lied in what I could do for everyone else and doing for myself would be selfish and wrong.

As I started approaching my 3rd decade on terra firma, I made what started out as a small commitment to get my body in better shape. It didn't seem very life-altering at the time. I mean, 20 minutes on an elliptical and a little strength-training seems pretty simple. I expected the effects to be purely physical. But they've gone beyond that. It requires a lot of energy to be more physically active and aware of the food I'm eating/feeding to my family. Some days, I don't want to do it. I want to sit on the couch like a lump b/c I've had a long day at work or Trin is being a pain. I am forced to rely on myself for motivation. I can reach out & occasionally I receive support from others to keep up the momentum. But I cannot and will not consistently depend on others to do for me what I should do for myself. In realizing the importance of relying on myself, I had an epiphany. Why am I relinquishing my energy to do for others what they should be doing for themselves? Aren't I just as important as they are? Shouldn't I be using that energy when I need it, rather than handing it all over to people who are taking advantage? Why put the needs of others above my own if they are not willing to do the same for someone else? They're hoarding me. And I'm allowing it.

Sometimes repeating this thought process out loud makes me feel selfish. I am a lot of things, but selfish has never been one of those. (Narcissistic, yes. But not selfish. There's a difference.) But that is simply my way of falling into old patterns. I have walked that same path for so long, I've worn grooves in it. And occasionally I find myself slipping into those grooves b/c they're familiar & prominent. It's at those times that I have to remind myself that I'm allowed to think about my own needs. They're just as important as anyone else's. If I continue to let others wear me down, what will become of me? I will be too stressed out to be a good mother or wife. I will be too tired to take care of my body, which will eventually kill me. I am letting other people rob me of life; rob my child of her mother and rob my husband of his wife. If I can't do it for myself, I should do it for them. (Which is actually two-fold, b/c they make me happy. So it all comes back around to my benefit.) That is how I justify it, anyway. :)

Now that I've learned how to tell people no and reclaimed my energy, I'm putting that energy to good use. I'm taking the time to choose my food carefully. I'm working out at least 5 days a week. And on the days I don't do a typical "workout", I am still staying active and spending less quality time w/ my couch. And I feel amazing! I have energy, my head feels less foggy, and I'm starting to see my body shrink, which gives me immense satisfaction & pride. What once seemed like a purely uphill battle seems quite a bit easier since I'm not passing my energy onto everyone else. I have been consistent w/ exercise for over 4 weeks now and I have yet to hit a major roadblock. (Knock on wood!) I know that there will be obstacles, and I'm prepared for those. During the times I cannot manage to motivate myself, I'll turn to friends and family for support, or find different ways to draw strength. My main goal is to be healthy. I don't need to be a MILF. I don't even know if my poor body will ever be svelte. But I want to feel good about myself. Physically, my goal is to make it back to my pre-baby size. But this lifestyle change is less about the outside & more about the internal benefits. I want to be healthy so I can watch my child & grandchildren grow up. I wouldn't even mind much if I made it to see great grandchildren or even great great grandchildren. I also want to prove to myself that I can put my mind to something and accomplish it. I draw confidence from my accomplishments and I feel as if a fitness goal is a huge leap in the right direction. I don't want to cry every time I try on clothes anymore. And I wouldn't be too awful sad if a few of the people from my past saw me and said "damn, she's aged well". :)

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