I want to share my journey with you
I recently made a commitment to myself that I would start writing blogs as a way to get my message out. I want to inspire, help and heal more people than I can see on the individual or small group format.
You never know what’s around the corner
And of course, the universe has a funny way of shaking things up when something new is underway….and last night I received a very unexpected and disturbing friend request on Facebook, which brought me back to the place where I began to use exercise as way to cope with difficult emotions.
A difficult past with a positive reflection
Like many of you out there, I am a trauma survivor…a few times over honestly, but the BIG one, the one I’m referring to here, occurred in an abusive relationship that spanned a few years of my life as teenager (16 to about 18 years old). After almost 20 years of working on healing from the physical, sexual and emotional abuse of this relationship…BOOM! There was his face and a ‘friendly’ attempt connect.
After a near panic attack, several hours on the phone with my sister while figured out how to secure my social media sites and investigating why this person would have thought of me now… I reminded myself that I am no longer a victim…I calmed down. While working out extra hard this morning, with my “Girl Power” playlist blasting in my earbuds, lifting heavy weights…fully immersed in owning my own strength and power, I reflected on where this positive coping skill began.
Working out is not just for you physical body
During the time of this relationship life felt so chaotic, I felt like I had no control over my body or my life. At that time my Dad would go to the gym in the evenings (his coping skill for dealing with a house full of 3 teenagers no doubt!) and I started going too…of course not to the one he went to, the one across the street…heaven forbid I be seen with him! He’d drop me off at my gym, then pick me up when he was done with his workout. It was in this space that I felt in control, I got to choose what I wanted to do with my body, I got to choose how hard I pushed my body. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was creating a release of positive brain chemistry that helped my mood tremendously and sometimes, could help me sleep.
Exercise was my medicine for anxiety and depression
During the intensity of ending this relationship (and boy it was CRAZY!) trauma symptoms started to really set in…for those of you lucky enough to not know what this feels like, it’s a mix of depression, rage, paranoia and anxiety. Somehow It clicked for me that if I went to the gym and worked out hard, I would come out feeling some relief, even if for a short while…it was relief or a new perspective.
Another aspect of trauma is disassociation, feeling as if you’re not attached to or in your body. I found that exercise could help me come back into my body…even if for a short while. I’m not saying I didn’t need other types of help to move past this…and I’m not saying I didn’t react to my trauma with some seriously dysfunctional behaviors (there were lots of those!) but I feel incredibly grateful that for some reason I was able to start to make connections between my mental health and my physical health. I experienced first hand how these impact each other.
Turning hell into healing
A few years later I began to connect to my sense of spirituality and explored how meditation could help ease my emotional pain too. My clients often hear me say we have an opportunity to take our biggest struggle and tragedies and learn from them, turn them into something good. In a strange way, I appreciate the difficult experiences I have had, without them I would not have learned what I know and would not be able to guide, help and heal others the way I do in my work now.