It’s taken over again

It’s taken over… The grief has taken over once more. The last four days have been exhausting. I’ve been swinging between anger and heartbreak with no warning.
I’m so very angry that it’s Christmas. I’m angry with everyone who is able to enjoy their Christmas and I’m angry with myself because I can’t. I’m angry that I have to “do Christmas’ as a single parent. There are jobs that men have and it makes me so angry I’m going to have to do it all without David by my side. I’m angry I can’t get excited about Christmas with Jonathan. I just can’t find my Christmas spirit. I’m angry it has to be this way. These Christmases were meant to be so different. Jonathan’s first Christmas he wasn’t even two months old. Christmas was a blur for all three of us with the sleepless nights and newness of parenthood. The next Christmas David was gone.
No one really gets what it is like. Everyone keeps saying “you’ll be ok” and “in a few days you’ll be fine”. Whether they are right or wrong it does not take away this pain. In a few days the pain may dull and I’ll pop a smile back on my face. Would that make them all feel better? Maybe it would but I’m still heartbroken. Just for this while I’m wearing my pain on my face.
I forced myself to go into work on Thursday, I know I’ll never regret going into the office. I think I give off a vibe when I’m like this and I had an outpouring of love from my friends. Some in words, some in hugs. Knowing that your loved and that your family and friends have got your back really helps.
The final straw last night was getting to my car, about to head off to the gym for a gruelling workout, and my tyre was flat. It was literally the straw that broke the camels back. I have so much responsibility on my shoulders. Being a single mum, running a house, finances etc. I can only handle so much and right now I would love for some one to swoop in and take it all off my hands and sort it out, fix it and make it easier. David was always so good at that. Everywhere I look I just see things that need doing. Some silly jobs like cleaning my car windscreen on the inside. But I soon forget in my busy days until it pisses me off again.
I feel broken, and empty. What kind of Christmas is it going to be with me feeling like this? My mum suggests I just watch from the sidelines and that sounds like a great plan. I’ll just let Christmas happen over there. I’m hiding in my cave for now protecting my fragile heart.
It just wasn’t meant to be like this.

Revisiting my Reasons

Tonight I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m doing and where I’m going, and why. This journey of clean eating and training hard in the gym has been a huge part of my life for seven months now. It’s become habit but at the same time I’ve not been thinking about my motivation. Until tonight that is.

I’m reminding myself of how every decision I make, every day is important. No matter how small that decision is, it has consequences and an impact on my life. It’s up to me if it is a positive impact or negative impact. I see people overweight and ill and know it could have been me. It could still be me. As long as I keep making the right choices it won’t be me. I never want to be smug about my successes, because it could still be me.

I spend hours in the kitchen cooking and hours in the gym training. Hours that could have been spent with my son. Selfish some might think but I know what this lifestyle is doing for me. I know that I am a stronger, calmer, more stable mum. I am brighter in the mornings, have more energy during the day to keep going and patience to handle a 2yr old.

The fact that I have a purpose outside of my son is hugely important to me but that drive I in my life is from him and for him. I know I have to be mum and dad to him which is a huge job considering the daddy he was supposed to have.

The preparation that goes into my new lifestyle is something I love. I love the food prep, most of the time. It’s time I spending listening to music dancing around the kitchen. Knowing this prep is helping me towards my goals. The sore muscles I have is proof that two days ago I really pushed myself. The muscle definition starting to show and my figure that I’m so proud of proves to me that the last seven months have been hard work but worth every minute.

I thought very long and hard of posting this photo of me from a year ago. I don’t want to point at this picture and shame this girl. The person I was then was necessary. I was struggling to breath, struggling to make it through each day. But in the midst of all of that I was being an awesome mum to my little boy. I gave him all of my strength and in returned he pulled me through each day. I am ashamed of the way I looked but I am proud I was still standing. So I post this picture to remind myself of how far I have come and to hold my head up and feel proud.

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The spirit is the part of you that feels like hope

I wrote this blog back in September and never posted it…. it was quite a moment in my journey so I wanted to share it even though it is a bit late.

It was leg day for me at the gym today. Some of you will know this pain. I was first introduced to this particular version of leg day a month ago and it broke me…. Emotionally and physically. I was scared and sore. Only because I had been pushed SO far outside my comfort zone.

Today I have done that same session, with more weights and finished off with some sprint intervals. I think it was somewhere around my fifth sprint I felt something click. I felt alive and a rush of  joy. Like I had found myself on that track. After the worse 17 months of my life I managed to find myself again. I felt like my spirit started to shine again.

Most people will never understand the pain of loosing the love of your life and father to your child. It quite literally broke me but my spirit whispered to me every day “Don’t give up hope. Always have hope”. I didn’t always believe it and some days I didn’t want to believe it. Today I feel like that hope was my saviour and my guide that brought me to this present moment.

Looking back on how far I’ve come in five months and the confidence I’m gaining, I feel so proud. I wanted to change my life… and I told my trainer that. I felt like if I didn’t make this work then my hope would pack up and move on. Where are you when you loose all hope?

I attacked this training and eating plan with such determination. I clung onto it for dear life. I put my all into my workouts and spent hours prepping food.

My focus has been a little more relaxed the last few months… I’ve started to have a life but it still remains a huge part of my life.

Today it’s just really clicked as to how far I’ve come and how strong my body is. And how strong my mind is! Through this heavy weight lifting I’m learning I can ALWAYS do one more, ALWAYS try heavier and most of the time I surprise myself. Although my trainer never looks surprised. It’s like he sees the strength I have even though I don’t believe it most of the time. I felt that strength today in surviving a session that nearly killed me 3 weeks ago AND adding sprints on top. I’m amazed. I’m excited. The possibility of having a life excites me. The possibilities excite me.

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My heavy load

The last two weeks have been rough and I feel like I’m so close to tears all the time. I’ve not felt like this for months.
I’ve been working extra days at work, my mum’s been away twice this month (bless her she deserves the break), I’m tired, my period is due. I think with that all cobbled together my mood had taken a nose dive and with it my motivation for healthy living. I’ve been relying on junk food for happiness which I’ve been trying to point out to myself isn’t really a suitable long term solution.

I had a nightmare the other night.. My mum had gone missing and after hours of searching for her some one told me that she had been found at home. Some men had broken into her house at night and attacked her. I woke up at 4am from that dream devastated. I then managed to convince myself that some one was in the house which at the same time I knew wasn’t possible. However that didn’t stop me from lying awake frightened that some one was going to burst into my room at any moment. Previously I would have rolled David onto his back and curled into his chest, and felt safe. Lying in bed alone and frightened was a harsh reminder of how I am now the protector in our little family. So that’s mummy, daddy, sole-breadwinner and now protector. It’s quite a load to carry that over the last fortnight has felt extra heavy,

I was due to run a 10km race this last weekend, my first in about 6 years and one of my fitness goals. As the date crept closer I realised it would be my first big race without David at the finish line. A part of me knew I would be crushed as I finished. He was always there supporting me. I was in turmoil trying to decide what to do. Weighing up whether I can march straight towards a crushing low vs self preservation. Thankfully I had a cold by the weekend so that was that taken care of. I know so many people would like to tell me that he would be there in spirit but I really struggle with the idea of that. Spirits don’t give hugs on finish lines. David is not here. End of.

I miss being under his wing. Knowing that I could step out into the world confidently, knowing that no matter what happened I always had him. I miss his cuddles. I miss his company, and the laughter.

The depression has crept back in, for sure. I feel so heavy with it. I have cried a fair bit over the last few weeks. I’m waiting for something to happen that will haul me out. It’s taking a bit longer than usual though. I really need to find my spark again and get back on track with my fitness and healthy eating. I know when I’m flying with it I feel my best and reap the rewards.

I’m just a bit busy at the moment trying to carry this load.

Invictus

I was watching the Invictus games this afternoon, hearing about the inspiring and courageous stories of men and women who have managed to piece together their lives and found incredible strength. One of the athletes said “sport gives you back self belief, identity and empowers you’. I may not have served in the army, seen war first hand or had a devastating injury but I feel I share something in common with these men and women. Something happened to me that changed my life forever and left me devastated and broken.

It’s really tough turning my back on my ‘old life’ and moving forward. It was a life I was proud of and felt so blessed to have. I always thought I was such a lucky girl to be as happy as I was with life, it felt like a fairy tale. Then it was taken away from me. How do you begin to think about moving on from a seemly perfect life???
How do you get over that being taken away from you?

I’ve found healing in sport. In the last four months I have had a massive shift in my life. I’ve found purpose, strength and I’m starting to find my new identity. I’ve started to venture out into the world again, trying to find some self confidence and meet new people. Trying to not be afraid.
The gym is my sanctuary but also my battle ground. It’s a place I focus solely on me and I push myself past my boundaries. In those moments when I push really hard I can feel my body asking for more. I love the pain and the burn. Previously I have always just wanted to get finished. Perhaps it’s this inner strength I’ve found that wants to flex its muscles?

Yesterday I felt on top of the world after a run with my sister. She is training for a marathon next month and had to do her final long run yesterday of 21miles. I decided to join her and do some mileage training for my 10km run at the end of this month. I was only meant to have done 8km, but that changed to 10km and at that point I felt so good I carried on and ended up completing 12km. I even had enough energy left to really push myself for the last 1km. I ran the whole way and loved it all. 4 months ago even running 5km seemed like a distant dream. This is such a massive achievement for me.

David was such a huge part of my life. Not just my husband, but my best friend and soul mate. Trying to live without him is proving tough because I don’t know who I am without him. I feel so lost. But my sport is helping me find out who I am, it’s giving me an identity.
I’m different from the girl I used to be but I’m learning to love the new me. I’m proud of this girl. She does more than just exist, she wakes up fighting every day.

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Avoidance of pain or attainment of Pleasure? Part 2

Having really delved into the possibility of not achieving my goals, it is only appropriate to look at the strong possibility of achieving them.

1 Year after starting..
Over the last year I have achieved so much. Within 4 months I had lost my first 18 pounds. Within 8 months I had lost over 2 ½ stone. My body is so much leaner and stronger. I am so proud of the way I look. I lift heavy in the gym and I am running on a regular basis with my mum and sister.

My husband had been in hospital for six weeks before he died. I decided to use those same six weeks a year later to change my life and knew I had to take that first step in the gym. The first day in I met my trainer (fate – I believe) and the rest is history.

I dig deep, I cry, I fight, I try. I fail as well, but I always get back up and take another step. Again, and again, and again.

Everyday I work hard at my goals, I work hard at having a good life. I have learnt that being happy is something I have to create – it won’t just be there waiting for me anymore. I have to go out and find it. I also take full responsibility for my choices. and realise the easy choice is not always the best one.

I have the support of my family, friends and of course my trainer which is invaluable. For my family, their heartache is helped by seeing me happy. I am able to laugh with my friends again and even though all of this hard work is mine, and mine alone, it would be impossible without the support of my trainer. He’s always got a solution – whether it is a shoulder to cry on or a kick up the butt. He’s a good guy to have on my side!

I spend hours in my kitchen cooking myself healthy meals and I go to the gym most days. I have early nights and early mornings. I know the value of making small, consistent decisions that get me closer to my goals. I know that the hard work is in that decision making. Each small step I take, is a step closer towards my goals and no matter how small the step is – I take it! I have weak moments but I know I need to push forward ESPECIALLY in those moments. Those are my ‘walls’ that I need to bust through in order to change and grow.

Years later on..
The years have moved on and I am still healthy, fit and strong. I have a life that has found happiness. I feel like a completely different person.

My down days still come, though not as often. I go inwards. I become quiet and I think. I remember and I ensure that I keep on my path. In most parts I am better equipped for these days. I am stronger, even on my weak days.

My son is growing into a lovely young man – SO like his Daddy. I have a very strong relationship with him. It is SO tough being a single parent but that is ok because I feel tough. I do my best with him everyday.

My family and friends are my life blood. They keep me going and help me laugh. I am able to go out and feel confident being out without my husband by my side, which has taken time. I take chances on people and try new things. I am able to do this because of all of my achievements. I have found new friends through my healthy lifestyle – we hike, run and gym together. Bonds that are strong and they are so supportive.

I have travelled again – knowing my late husband is there with me in spirit. The first time was tough as it is was something we did together and it helped us grow as a couple – grow together. Our biggest and happiest memories were mostly from our travels.
I travel in his memory knowing he would want me to do it. Knowing he would want me to seek out adventure on his behalf. I take my son with me sometimes and he has inherited our sense of adventure. I can feel my late husband with us in the still moments.

I regularly hold fundraisers and help raise awareness for organ donation. I feel confident standing up in front of people and speak passionately about the causes that I support. I use my story to help other people.

I think back to when I was devastated after the death of my husband – the man I loved since I was 17. I remember the pain, the tears, the numbness like it was yesterday. The memories of the hospital still haunt me.
The pride that I feel for my achievements swells up even more when I think back to that year. I did not allow that loss to break me but it was a decision I had to make, and keep making…. every….single….day.

My Ultimate Goals

My ultimate goals
1. My body – toned and slim. I got hot! I eat clean and train mean!
2. My mind – I am determined and capable and proud
3. My life – I wake up MOST days and attack them with a sense of purpose and joy in my heart
4. My son – I can keep up with him, carry him around and care for him, being fully present in mind body and spirit. He is proud of me.
5. I feel happy often and it is happiness I have created

Avoidance of pain or attainment of Pleasure? Part 1

I recently read an email about goal setting and writing about where you would be if you didn’t achieve your goals.
The email said “Our brains are hard wired towards the avoidance of pain as well as the attainment of pleasure. However, due to something called negativity bias, it’s more geared to the avoidance of pain. So, when we are looking at it from a ‘Goals’ point of view we can use that negativity bias (in this case) to our advantage. That is … you need to look at all the pain and negative consequences if you DON’T achieve your goal, if you don’t take the necessary decisions, if you don’t form the necessary habits, if you don’t change any of your behaviours, if you don’t do anything different.”

I liked the sound of this and decided to give it a try. Going through a bit of a slump in my motivation it came at exactly the right time. This blog post is in two parts.. part 1 is how it would be if I didn’t achieve my goals. Part 2 is how I feel when I do achieve my goals.

If you want to know my goals – here they are: http://wp.me/p4DZwR-10

So if I don’t achieve my goals this is how I see my life panning out. It isn’t a pretty picture but has given me so much to think about.

I rely on food and wine to squash my emotions. Every down day that I have I eat and I drink once my son is in bed. For that evening I feel numb and it doesn’t hurt. I climb into bed and the regret starts creeping in. I lie there knowing that the binge was a stupid idea and I am going to pay for it tomorrow.

I wake up the next morning, having had a restless night, and know today is going to be tougher. Perhaps tougher than the ‘down day’ I had yesterday. My eyes feel puffy and my mouth bone dry. I haul myself out of bed and try to wake myself up before I go in and see to my son. I put a smile on my face for him and get through his morning routine. Because my head feels so fluffy I barely notice his smiles and the cuteness of my two-year-old son. We get downstairs and I struggle through breakfast and loose my patience with him a few times. I want to cry. I want to turn my back on him and go back to bed and forget the world.

Over the weeks and months this happens time and time again. My moods are not improving and each day blurs into a week, and each week into a month. I am not moving forward with purpose. I am drifting. After loosing the love of my life how could I ever be happy again?

I don’t notice the lovely things because I am tired, angry and hurt. My weight is at its’ absolute worst and I hate the way I look. The mirror breaks my spirit and I retreat from social situations because I feel so terrible. My friends have almost stopped calling and the invites have become less and less. I don’t feel emotionally capable of stepping out into the world again. I am quiet, cross and broken. I don’t know how I am ever going to do anything but exist. It is possible to raise a son this way but I have no joy in my role as a mother. I take no pleasure in life anymore.

At one point I started on a  journey, but soon my enthusiasm fizzled out. The binging returned and became more regular. The weight I had shifted creeped back in again. All of my achievements melted away, the glimmers of happiness melted away. Looking back on those four months I remember the emotions that had come back into my life after being absent for a year – pride, happiness, determination. I felt strong and capable of having a life after loosing my husband. 

I remember that day that I met my trainer – only by chance – it was the day that I thought my life would change forever. The many days after that that I had gone into the gym and worked SO hard, and all the hours in the kitchen earned me that beautiful figure that started appearing.
I can’t quite remember the exact day I stopped seeing my trainer. I don’t think that there was a conscious decision that I made to not go. But there were more regular days that I missed and eventually I was wasting my money. I promised myself I would start again – just give myself a bit of space and time to regroup. I never did start again. Thinking about that period of my life makes me so angry because I threw it all away.

The years fly by and the newness of being a widow subsides and it reveals this new me. People have carried on with their lives and moved forward. My son has grown up and the guilt cuts deep knowing I have missed out on so much with him. Too many of those days to just ‘get through’, not enough of them that I have woken up to and looked forward to. I am huge, unhealthy and junk-food reliant. I am constantly out of breath and tired. I had been warned of diabetes but it is my reality now.

I am still in this place, this dark, cold and hate-filled place. I see no light, I feel no joy. I wonder how much longer I have to go on in this life.

Part 2…. attainment of pleasure

Roll over and play dead

I wrote this last Sunday night and forgot to post it….

I’ve been putting in a lot of effort the last few days. My eating and training is back on track, I can see myself slimming down again. I’ve managed some heavy training sessions this week and felt proud of me. But today’s been a sucker. Even though last night I passed on wine and sweet things, and slept well I still woke up feeling tired. And another day that J hasn’t slept during the day which normally affords me the time to catch up on sleep or jobs. He’s been more challenging than usual and my patience has stretched way beyond my limits and I find myself using a calm voice through gritted teeth, counting down the hours till his bed time. Not exactly how I planned enjoying our day together.
As we return home this afternoon for the evening routine I can feel my heart start to sink. It’s Sunday after all and I’m returning home to an empty house. The whole process of getting him to bed turns into a battle. He is just so tired and even through the pain I can feel building up I manage to acknowledge he is tired and not 100% well so I remain very gentle and just go through the motions. As I’m reading his bedtime story the tears start to come. Goldilocks and the three bears… Baby bear, mummy bear…… And a bloody father bear. I finally manage to get him into bed and close the door behind me. All I can see beyond is a house of chaos and mess from a busy day. Jobs that need doing and a kitchen that needs sorting. The wave comes and I am done. The idea of a high protein dinner makes me feel nautilus and I need rubbish food and wine. I need something to numb this wave. And I do.
I’m so lonely and so dependant on just a handful of people. When those people are not around I feel so empty. My scar is ripped open and the full affect of my loss oozes out. Tonight I’m waving a white flag. I feel defeated and tired. I’m turning my back, hanging my head and standing in a corner. I’m just going to roll over and play dead. I’m too tired for effort.

Time and Space

I’ve been struggling a bit the last few days. The high I was on last week seems to have calmed down and subsided to reveal a rather pathetic mood. After enjoying a few glasses of wine on Friday night I felt compelled to tuck into a few more once everyone had gone. Thankfully I didn’t but instead I chomped on Js biscuits. Needless to say I slept really badly. But that wasn’t before I sat up for ages missing David and worrying about how I’m going to keep a roof over mine and my sons heads. Productive evening really!!

On Saturday I woke up with no motivation or feeling of commitment towards my goals. I thought “Why do people keep telling me I am inspirational but I can’t seem to inspire myself?” It was not helped with a visit to hospital with J and the memories I have of that place to do with his birth and the beginning of the end of my husband a few months later.

I’d thrown in the towel with my planned run (for the second time) and instead opted for a much needed nap, that only ended up being 20 minutes which was nowhere near long enough. I spent the afternoon feeling annoyed, frustrated, tired, lonely, worried and just a bit narky. Thank god my mum spent the afternoon with us, it was lovely having some company. I got stuck into my gardening which turned out to be the best thing for me. It allowed me a bit of space and time to think. I love gardening with no gloves on, I think it’s feeling the earth in my hands. I feel more connected with what I am doing. For some time I sat in the dirt, with my pansies, thinking. Trying to think through my current mental state and this urgent need I have to fill my face with crap food and a lot of wine. I need to take a step back and examine things.

I’m tired…well yes… That is true. Get some sleep. But that’s not the whole story.

I felt really lonely the night before. I’m so used to being a team of two and it really caught up with me. Perhaps this mood has just been the leftovers of that. I’m feeling like there is no point because yet again my heart has acknowledged that my soul mate isn’t here anymore.

My previous treatment for this broken heart was regular and consistent doses of junk food and wine. Ever since the beginning of May I have ruled out those two treatments. Now that there is nothing to pour over the wound I sit confused. What do I do now?

A lot of people have said to me “just have the wine” and “have the chocolate” and that I’m putting huge pressure on myself that I just don’t need. I know they all mean well but they didn’t have to deal with the self hatred and extremely low self esteem I had. As my grief slowly started to blur at the edges it started revealing this utter disgust I had with myself and I can’t begin to imagine where I was going with that. In the last three months I haven’t woken up once feeling that. Not one day of looking in the mirror and getting angry. That’s how powerful this clean eating and gym training has become to me.

I know that going back to the old remedy is no good even though it is the easiest choice. What can I do to take the tiniest step in the right direction, even though it feels like a step in a direction I’d rather not head. I love this quote.. I think of it often..

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So what is my ‘tip toe’ today? What have I changed about today? I have done it differently than I would have – I know there are un-eaten biscuits in the cupboard and unopened wine bottles under the stairs. Plus today, I have actively sat myself down to have a think about things. I think this afternoon I have perhaps realised how important me time is. And not gym time, or running time, or watching tv. Time where I am doing something nice, on my own with space to think… And breath. And to have the freedom to let thoughts come to me. It’s the freedom of my own thoughts I need to encourage somehow.

Perhaps today I realise that there are going to be these days, try and limit the damage, rather than going all out, and just let go of the rains for a bit.