What a massive couple of months it has been. I’ve been a little absent from the blog since March, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say or if I could even say anything. For those of you that follow the Fitness For Wellness Instagram and Facebook pages, you might know that I suddenly lost #gymdog in early April. Who knew that a 18kg four legged ball of muscle and fur could break your heart into a million pieces by abruptly leaving your life? I know I’m not alone in that heart break, he meant so much to the Fitness For Wellness community and his absence has been sorely felt by everyone. #gymdog had an undiagnosed heart condition and while out for a walk at his usual go-fast pace, he had a heart attack. I was able to get him to the vet where they treated him as best they could but his heart just wasn’t going to get any better and I had to make a decision. I was with him until the end and he knew he was loved. In the days, weeks and months that have followed, I have felt the immense love and support of the Fitness For Wellness community picking me up, sitting with me, feeding me and feeling that loss with me. I’m really not sure what trying to navigate my way through this would have been like without them.
There have been ebbs and flows of good days and bad days. Good days I describe as where I nearly feel normal again, being productive and making it through the day without shedding a tear or dozen. Bad days are when the loneliness birds leave stones in my heart and I struggle to do even simple tasks. Those bad days are inevitably accompanied by a flood of tears that seem to know no end and the ability to people becomes something that other people do, but definitely not me. In those bad days, I have had an army of women around me that just seem to know when I’m not quite right. They’ve made it ok for me to not be quite right at that point in time. While I feel like nearly two months afterwards, I shouldn’t be crying as hard as I did the day I lost him, they make it ok that I feel that way. They give me understanding and comfort in the pain that I feel and they feel it with me. And that is what gets me through.
We all go through stuff. That is life and it happens to everyone. The actual event may vary from person to person as does the response to the event. One of the workshops I attended at Filex this year (huge fitness convention for those that don’t know what Filex is) was Trauma Informed Personal Training. The amazing speaker, Thea Baker, talked about the big T and the little T in terms of traumatic events. Big T’s included things like being the victim of an assault (sexual or physical), the victim of a car accident, witnessing atrocities of war. You get the idea, they are massive events that on their own inevitably change you one way or another. The little T’s are things like divorce, losing your job, other relationship dysfunctions (think narcissistic boss making your life hell as an example). The big T’s are often one off events that may have different effects. The little T’s are more likely to be cumulative in their effects. How each individual responds to those events are how that individual responds. There is no right or wrong way. There’s just the way for you. I think one of the starkest examples of that is the two victims of George Pell. One victim coped with trauma of what happened to him through drug and alcohol abuse and eventually committed suicide, unable to reconcile the events within himself. The other was able to compartmentalize the event, and is a functioning human being who now helps those in a similar situation as he experienced. He was also able to provide evidence in court that convicted George Pell for sexual abuse. The same traumatic event with very different outcomes for each victim.
For anything that is going on in your life, I think you need to understand your boundaries of how you are coping with it and where you might need a little help. When you don’t understand or even see your boundaries, is when things may get a little dicey for you. You don’t always recognize your boundaries (you would have thought emotions could be easy to manage … yeah, no). I was having a moment just a couple of weeks ago. Struggling to people, anxiety was peaking and I really wasn’t functioning well. What did I do? Put myself to bed for two days. Like a naughty child … “go to bed until you can function again”. It wasn’t until well after the event that I realized that was not the best way to have handled that particular moment. I needed a number of things, like another human to talk to and perhaps even a float (which resets my anxiety and is a fabulous salve for my stressed mind). But I was a little too far down the path to understand what it was I actually needed.
If, in dealing with traumatic events in your life, the only thing you do is wave your hand at another human and say “Hey!! I need help!!” you have recognized the boundary you have at that time. Trauma, whether it be a big T or a little T, has a way of isolating you, making you feel like you are the only one. Humans are curious that way. You don’t have to be alone with it. While you might be the only one feeling the way you do, which is completely ok, you don’t have to be feeling alone with it. Have you ever had a conversation with someone, about not being able to people? About how you plan your trips to the shops so that there is the least amount of people there? About how you love to make plans to do stuff, but when it comes time for the event, you wish so desperately for it to be cancelled so you don’t have to go? And then that conversation becomes “I really thought I was the only one feeling that way. I’m so glad you shared that with me” and then all of a sudden neither of you are alone.
People often beat themselves up for feeling the way they do. I’m guilty of it but I’m learning to do it less. For me, all that does is make me feel bad about feeling bad and then I’m just going around in a bad circle. If I allow myself to feel the way I’m feeling for a time and be ok with feeling a bit crappy for a while, I find the emotions take their natural course and I feel better sooner. I have been so very lucky to have that army of women around me these last two months reminding me that it’s ok not to be ok. And they also seem to know when to tell me that. It must be a gift. Now is a good as time as any to thank that wonderful bunch of people who have surrounded me and cared for me in the hours, days and weeks after the event. You are amazing humans and I am so lucky to have you all in my life.
If you’ve read all the way to the end, thank you. My message today was just as much for you as it was for me. Be kind to yourself. Sometimes it is what it is and that’s ok. You are not alone. Lastly, I want to celebrate the canine who truly thought he was human. Shadow loved resting on a pillow, often as the big spoon but more often as a little spoon. He knew only love and gave only love. He lived life to the fullest up to his very last day. I and the Fitness For Wellness community will miss him every day. Vale Shadow 23 Feb 2005 – 03 April 2019