This has been one hell of a year for me. There have been a couple highs, but even more lows. Some days it seems like the hits will never stop coming. You get knocked down and as you get to your knees and you are about to rise to your feet, BAM!....something hits you again. You get to the point where you are lying on your back trying to decide if it's even worth it to attempt to get back up. You think, why bother? I'm only gonna get knocked down again. I might as well stay here for a while. That my friends is what they call "hitting rock bottom." Pretty sure I was there last week. All I wanted to do was shut down and crawl into a hole some where for a while. It was a pitiful place to be. So I started thinking, how did I get there? How do we all get there at some point in our lives?
I kind of think building your life is similar to building a house. When you are born, you start with nothing but a big hole in the ground where your house will hopefully stand one day. Your parents, family, friends, teachers and the people around you are the mortar of your foundation. Your experiences lets say through high school are the bricks. There are a few lucky souls out there that have for the most part, perfect lives. They have loving and supportive parents and people around them. They grow up with money and good looks and for the most part have the american dream. A Norman Rockwell life. They go to a good school, get a good job, meet the person of their dreams, get married, have kids and retire with a big chunk of change in the bank. They finish their life sitting on a beach somewhere watching the sun go down. If their life were a house, it would have a sturdy foundation with strong walls and bullet proof glass for windows. The roof just rests on their perfect little house with ease and is surrounded by strong healthy trees that would never fall on it. I personally haven't met anybody like that, but I've seen it in the movies.
For most of us, there are some really strong areas in our foundation and then there are a few areas with loose mortar and some crumbling or even missing bricks. Maybe your parents didn't know how to show love, or you were molested by a teacher or relative, or you lost a parent at a young age, or you were bullied in school. Maybe you grew up poor or somebody broke your heart, or you hurt somebody and can't live with the guilt. These are just a few experiences that may have damaged or broke your bricks. Hopefully you get therapy or you meet meet someone or read a book or you have an amazing experience that repairs some of your bricks before you attempt to build the walls that will sit on them.
Some people are giant houses that are made of many walls, a giant roof and acres of beautiful land. Some people are small simple houses that have 4 walls and a roof and not much land to speak of. Is being the giant house better than being the small one? Absolutely not.
So what are your walls made of? Your walls are built on what is important to you. It's different for everybody. Some people are just looking for a basic house. One wall is their relationship, maybe another wall is their job, another is family and finally the fourth wall might be their friendships. Someone who has a larger house might have a few more walls that might be children or their faith or prosperity or fame or a perfect body or a perfect face or maybe one wall may be a goal they have set for themselves. Most people at the end of the day want happiness. Happiness is the roof that sits on everybody's house.
So you start building your house. Some walls are built on a solid part of your foundation. They go up with ease and there is no chance that the foundation beneath them will crumble. And then you attempt to build a wall on a fragile or weak part of your foundation. It's up for a little while and it appears to be strong and then the bricks below it crumble and that wall comes a tumbling down. That wall never had a chance.
Maybe your house is made of mostly strong walls and a couple of weak ones and then one day, something out of your control happens like a tornado or a hurricane and it levels your house. When one wall comes down, it damages the roof a little and it takes a piece of happiness with it. If too many walls come down at the same time, the roof collapses and all that is left is sadness...aka...rock bottom.
Enough of the analogies for now. I think you get the point. So how did I hit rock bottom?
I had a series of mishaps. Some were my fault, some where not. Everything seemed to be going pretty well personally and professionally. My body felt strong and life for the first time seemed to be going as planned. Then bit by bit, things started to fall apart. I had to make some hard decisions that would ultimately change the course of my life. Everything I had mapped out would go away and I would essentially be starting over...again. There were some decisions that were made for me. I didn't get a vote. Those things left me feeling heartbroken and alone. So I poured myself into my work, friendships and my personal fitness goals because those were things I had left.
Chances are if you know me or know of me...you know that fitness is VERY important to me. It is my work and my play. I set high goals for myself and it is very important to me that I achieve them. When my personal life falls apart, I always have my fitness goals to cling to.Without a goal, I feel lost. It is like my security blanket. It is my distraction from the rest of my life that gets me through the bad times. About 12 weeks ago, I tore my calf muscle running. I was on my way to the gym to teach a cycle class. I had only allowed enough time to get to the gym on time at my normal pace. So I was forced to continue to run on it to get to my class on time. My adrenaline got me to the gym and through my class, but the damage I had done to my body was pretty severe. That injury combined with some issues in my personal life sent me into a depression.
Some people self medicate with alcohol or drugs. I self medicate with food. The time spent in the gym was now spent eating. Which in that moment felt great...the aftermath...not so much. When you are a personal trainer and fitness instructor, there is even more pressure to look healthy and fit and practice what you preach. How can I expect my clients and students to listen to me, when I can't even listen to myself? So now on top of the failures in my personal life and my injuries, now the one thing I have left with the exception of a few good friends was my career...and now I would fail at that too because I thought no one would want me as a trainer anymore.
So I continued to work out and do what I could with my injures and vowed to try to eat better. My calf healed and things were starting to look up for one whole week. Things were good in my personal life, I had dropped a few pounds and I was able to get one solid run in pain free. Then BAM! I managed to hurt my back, my personal life was in the shitter again and back to the drive thru I went. It was an all you can eat buffet all day, everyday once again. I would go to work and try to fake my way through the day. My back pain was unbearable. It hurt to sit or stand. The only time I was even remotely comfortable was lying down. Advice and pain pills were coming at me from every direction. Everybody around me was scrambling to fix me both physically and emotionally. Finally, I just shut down. If I wasn't working, I was laying in bed feeling sorry for myself and hiding from the world. The majority of the walls I had built had crumbled under my brittle foundation. The walls I had left could no longer hold the roof and it collapsed on top of me.
FINALLY...the fog started to lift. I had some really good conversations with my friends and clients. I really do have some amazing friends. I try my hardest when I'm upset to push them away, but they keep on coming...or at the very least, they wait until I'm ready to come back to them and they welcome me with open and loving arms. I heard myself talking to my clients...doing my best to motivate them and fix them, when at the end of the day, they were the ones who fixed me. The great part about it, is they have no idea. I know that many of them read this blog and I want them to know that I appreciate them and that they help me as much...if not more than I help them. I went to a chiropractor and he snapped my shit back into place. I followed it with a massage and it appears that my back is on the mend. Some areas of my personal life even seemed to get better. I feel my walls going back up. I know that I have to find a way to fix the holes and cracks in my foundation or they will all come down again.
There is that old saying..."If you do what you have always done, you'll get what you have always gotten."
The older I get, the more I believe it...I feel a change a comin'.