writing excercise – building strength!

I am in week 2 of my “creative writing” class. Saturday mornings lesson was to post a photo of you that you would not normally post, and describe yourself in 3 adjectives – take a risk, write about you, describe yourself in a riskful way, be creative yet take the fear by the neck and write about it.

I chose this photo of me when I was at the height of my “body building”. I wouldn’t normally share this photo, so I guess I took the risk on that aspect.

There are only very few people who have seen this photo, and it’s pretty much the photo I take out when I need to feel strong, or when I need to remind myself of where I can be, and how strong I can be internally as well. I believe I was even very shy about taking this photo and wanted it over and done with quick for my “before and after shots”.

I had a website called “reflections of me” for the gym testimonials that were private between close friends and family, but it went public so I took it down.

I am a shy person, until I get to know someone. I never like a photo of myself (hence the reason I change my profile photo so many times). I am never satisfied, always picking out my flaws, always feel I am not good enough, I put myself down alot.. but this photo reminds me of when I felt strong, and how I could feel internally. I actually can say I like this photo a little.. I really do!

The only place I felt like I fit in was at the gym. When I lost my 161 pounds, and started to weight lift, I felt powerful and strong. I felt like I had all this power over my past. When I lifted weights I would think about “them” a lot – the abusers. I thought about the abuse a lot. But not matter how many weights I lifted; I still knew the physical would never fix the emotional.

The gym was my sanctuary at one time. It was a place where I could go and be whatever I wanted to be – flaws and all. I was accepted, I was rooted on, I was strong and people respected me. I could look absolutely horrible in the gym, and not be judged!

The kind of pain I experienced in the gym was the GOOD pain, not the bad pain! It was the kind of pain that made you stronger, not weaker! It was the kind of pain I was in control of, not someone else’s control.

I stopped lifting weights 2 years into my therapy. I found that it was getting harder and harder to be there physically, and then show up in therapy with Andy emotionally. I was to the point of complete exhaustion trying to pull of both – so I decided to take a leave from the weight lifting, and concentrate on my emotional healing.

3 years have passed and a huge part of me wants to try and do both – emotional and physical healing! But I am not quite there yet. I loved the feeling I had when I was at the gym. I loved how good I felt about myself, but I also remember how I felt leaving the gym, all my insecurities were right back, the shield was put back up, and I never thought I was good enough.

Weight lifting was a very hard thing to do! You had to put all your energy and all your strength into it! I got to the point of bench pressing 150 pounds, and being able to push out 100 pushups in a row! I was at the top of my game. I was doing cross-fit training, I was doing 5k’s and people started to ask me on the street “wow do you lift weights?”.. But no one knew what was under it all!

No one knew that no matter how much I lifted weights, no matter what I wore, how I looked, I still did not feel good about myself inside – I still hated myself, and even today I still struggle with my appearance and self worth. Today I still pick myself apart, feel gross about my body at times, but It’s getting a little better over time; learning to find my self worth within.

Today I still go the gym, and workout, but I dont body build and lift like I used to, I tried, but it’s not there yet, it’s not there the way it was before, because internally something is still stopping me.

I have learned over the years in therapy of why I feel this way about myself, and why it’s a struggle to love my body and myself – the abusers took that away, and I am trying to find it back.

My therapist has tried to encourage me to get back into the weight lifting, but we both know that no matter how much I do it, I still need to feel good about myself “inside” to work hard again on the outside. I still cannot workout in front of the mirror, but I know I will get there someday.

I am feeling closer to that. I am really coming out of my shell and starting to feel a little self-worth on the outside. I am starting to become less and less shy about my body. I am starting to look at myself more and say “you look pretty today”. I am trying hard to see that no matter what they did to me, I am still me, and I am GOOD enough.

So, the risk? How will I feel having this post and photo up? I am already having anxiety about posting this photo and entry, but I guess this is a part of the internal work, just as much as the “creative writing” work. It’s healing and it’s taking a risk.

If I was to describe myself in 3 adjectives? I would say “loving, quiet and funny” – I love to make jokes and prank with people, I have always been known to be a very quiet person, and I am very loving, I am compassionate and have compassion for other people. I love to love!

The “strong” part is what I am working on again both internally and externally. Someday it will come back, and I will be both, but right now I am working on me, the inside of me, so that I can get back, look at myself in the mirror in the gym and say “I am worthy!”.

Jeff goins writes, if you don’t feel uncomfortable writing this piece, you’re not vulnerable enough – MISSION ACCOMPLSHED.


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building a firm foundation

I love this quote. I love this quote because it stands out for those who are healing from their past. I love this quote because it’s strong and stands true! This isn’t only made to be said for woman, but men also!

I think about my own healing when I read this quote. It’s the same thing as “opening up a wound, and healing it closed with truth”. Each wound opened and healed, is another wound they no longer have control over.

People who suffer from trauma can take the bricks that were thrown at them, and build a stronger foundation with those bricks to move forward in your own path. Each one of those bricks is the way to your healing; to wholeness in finding your true self.

I got an email from someone yesterday and it has stuck with me all day today. It’s amazing how many people out there who suffer trauma from their past. It’s amazing how many people out there who are brave enough to take those bricks that were thrown at them, and build a stronger foundation; a foundation where you are saying “I am in control this time”. The person who emailed me, just took a brick and said “no more will I suffer alone”.

I guess you could take a few of those bricks and throw them back, but that is one less brick for you to have in your own path. I have never believed in an “eye for an eye”. I think there is more power in healing, than giving it back to those who hurt you. My healing is winning over their lies. each wound I open and close with truth, is one less piece of power they have over me.

I do alot of my path making in therapy, and I have an absolutely wonderful helper – someone I trust that has truly helped me build this path I have been on for years now. I am truly blessed beyond words!

Then there is my support system on the outside, people who have been by my side with open arms the whole time; helping me with each brick with understanding and care. I couldn’t ask for anything more!

I not only am building a path, but building a support system with those bricks as well; a support system of people who understand what it means to heal, and people who see the parts where you are kicked down and need help getting back up.

Then you have God, who stands over all of us, guiding us in the direction to build that path with hope and love, trust and connection.

It’s hard work, but good work. Some-days I feel like taking those bricks and CHUCKING them back with anger, and sometimes I actually do – but I always pick it back up and start working again. There are times I sit in sadness, and have a hard time working towards it.

There are times I want to give up, and just crawl into bed and have hope that someone is still building that path for me, even though I am not there doing the work. However, I still keep going with the wonderful support by my side who holds my hand at times in helping me gain the strength to keep going forward – wound by wound, brick by brick.

It’s hard, it’s right, and it’s healing.


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gathering strength to move forward

This morning, when I woke up to get ready for church, I had a text on my phone from my support, and one of the things said, was:

I wanted to take a moment to remind you that in a place of taking a break from the flow of powerful, you are gathering more strength to move forward

I sat with that for a few moments and wow! That was pretty powerful words, and I have to admit, came at a perfect time.

Last night I had an emotional conversation with my sister on the phone about the past. We really touched some hard moments. It was a sister moment that left some really intense emotional feelings – for the both of us.

When I woke up this morning, I felt this heaviness – until I saw the text. It reminded me that this weekend was about “honoring how I feel, and being with those feelings; not trying to work against it.

I was also reminded that I don’t always have to be so strong all the time, and that sometimes we just need to rest in the weakness – to gain strength.

I have to admit, I really had no idea how I was going to do that. I don’t know how to “be” and let it be “OK” that I am not feeling so strong. I didn’t know how to rest in the weakness – until this morning.

I went to church, and for the first time ever during Mass, I wanted to get up and leave. I wanted to up and leave the Mass because I felt emotions and anxiety coming on around the conversation that I had last night with my sister. In that moment, I remembered the text from earlier that morning with the words “gathering more strength to move forward”.

I remembered our conversation Friday afternoon about “resting in the weakness” “rest in knowing it’s OK however you feel”. “It’s OK to not feel strong”.

If I had left the mass, I would have reverted to my old ways. I would have gone to be alone, isolated maybe, but I chose to stay, and stay connected. I chose to be and not work against it. I let myself sit there and just feel, instead of using all my strength to figure it out and make it better.

When I left Church, I felt a sense of relief. I felt relieved that I didn’t give into the old messages to run, isolate, be alone, or fight against the feelings. I stayed and heard the liturgy of the word. I stood and sang, and I took the Eucharist and prayed to God for his support and strength.

I went home, relaxed, did some writing, and I even allowed myself to be pampered a little; even though the emotions were still sitting there.

Today I was resting in the weakness, and I have to say it felt good to not fight against it. It felt good to not “figure it out” and allow myself to be in the moment.

I later on sent an email thanking him for the powerful and supportive words, and explained about my “not so good” morning, and I was told “it’s OK, your loved, supported and connected by all”.

Tonight, I am sitting here on my bed, laptop on my lap, candles lit, the house is quiet, I’m having a piece of pizza, with the windows open, enjoying the cool breeze, AND I am feeling sad tonight – and it’s OK.

I know inside that I am connected, and I am resting in the weakness, gathering strength to move forward in my healing.

I am right where I need to be.


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resting in weakness . . .

Today was a day of awe-ness; a day where the hard work of 2 people, sat together and affirmed goodness, to the point of small tears.

Today, in session, I read to my therapist the blog page I wrote last night  – “My Story . My Journey”.

He was one of the many people who liked the idea of me writing a small story about who I am for my blog audience to read. To read about the person behind the healing.

I read it to him, and I didn’t expect to be choked up and tearful as I was reading this. It wasn’t about a particular experience, or a certain part of the abuse, but it was  about “my story”. I was taken back reading it from the outside, not the inside.

Reading it outloud in the room was emotional, and I had a hard time getting through some of it. I was actually surprised – because I always try to be strong when I know it’s a part of the work. But lately the tears have been harder to hold back.

I was also very tearful when I got to the part about being thankful for him, and his reaction was the same. It was about 2 people in the hard work that we do – to affirm my story, and his role in helping me find my path towards me.

I will be straight out and honest – I am the type of person that has to give gratitude to where it belongs. It brings me joy to tell someone how much I appreciate them. It brings me JOY to help the church out because they did so much for me. it brings me JOY to tell my dear Friend Tracy how much I love her support, it brings me JOY to tell my family how much I appreciate them.

I am all about gratitude, and I have always said “gratitude for me is healing“.

Given the life that I have had, I didn’t have many things to be grateful for, and today I choose not to be silenced in my gratitude.

Being with that today, it gave me another foothold. It helped me to be open about how HARD it was this week opening that wound up about my dad Tuesday in the timeline, and then closing it back up.

I am a fighter! I had to be a fighter! I HAD NO CHOICE! I am always working hard in this healing process. When I stepped towards it 5 years ago, I was not going to fool around and sit in it! I was going to stand and HEAL and find a way to get through it.

I am constantly finding ways to make that one step even better towards me. I am always writing, connecting, having ideas on how to move from one thing to another.

I work also outside therapy, by writing emails and reflecting my work. I am always trying to be strong – to move through the process – not giving myself enough room to be weak in the moments where weakness is needed.

Today I admitted that I am “not feeling strong”. I admitted that sometimes I am tired of being strong. I am afraid to not be strong and break down, because I am afraid it will set me back – so I keep going and going – I am afraid to stop sometimes.

In this moment of gratitude today, I was reminded “You don’t always have to be strong“.  I was also told that I should write about the parts that are hard in my blog, or that I should write about the part where I was up all night last night and craved a pain pill because talking about my father when opening that wound Tuesday hurt me”.

He reminded me “it’s OK to tell me your hurting, and that you don’t feel so strong today“. and said “it’s OK to crave something that made you feel good once, because you need a break from being strong”.

Right there, in those VERY words being spoken, is the reasons I am blessed and thankful for Andy’s wisdom and support.

I realized today that I don’t have to be strong all the time. I don’t have to be doing it right all the time. I can be weak, and strong at the same time – “both, and“.

So this weekend, I rest in weakness. I rest knowing that it’s OK that I am hurting and I am feeling a little down. Opening that wound about my father in the timeline Tuesday was painful, and I realize that just because it’s painful and hurts, doesn’t mean I didn’t close the wound. It means I am allowing myself to feel weak, and hurt, and I need extra support.

So with that being said, I am having a little bit of a tough time this week. My sleep has been horrible because I keep waking up crying in my sleep from that memory  – and it’s OK. I will have tough days, and I will have good strong days, but right now, I am resting in weakness knowing that it’s OK  and I am supported and loved by everyone around me.

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