When I was younger I always felt very alone, not in friendship and family, but in love. In my head I have always been alone, in the sense of being single, because I am not enough. If I was, someone would see me and know what I had to offer was enough. It is because of that feeling that I have made some pretty questionable decisions. Some are funny and harmless to look back on, some dangerous to myself and others, and some make me disappointed in myself. While I’m not proud of all of them – it is the experiences they led to that have molded me into who I am today. Today I am a strong person who can get through almost everything. There may be a small intermission for me to cry and wallow for a little bit, but then I push that doubt back down with the help of a little ice cream and I get through.
I remember feeling so inadequate to those around me because my friends all had boyfriends from an early age. They got to do valentine’s day things, get asked to the prom in super cute ways, and always have their person between classes etc. Being able to say the word boyfriend seemed like such an unattainable thing to me. No one I like ever liked me back, possibly because my liking someone looked a lot like Ron Weasley after he ate the whole thing of love potion spiked chocolate cauldrons from Romilda Vane #michiefmanaged. I once ran into a previous “crush” (we’ll call him Tim) leaving a gym with a friend of mine (we’ll call her Melissa) and made a complete ass out of myself. I realized who it was and started yelling “omg Tim I used to be obsessed with you!! Melissa did you know I used to be obsessed with Tim this is that Tim!! Tim omg do you remember when I was obsessed with you?!” This went on for an excruciating probably 45 seconds that felt more like 45 minutes after the fact. So through my younger years I took the obsess over a person and they will eventually break and love me or break and put out a restraining order. (that last part is a joke – I was never that bad.) None of these guys were ever mean to me, probably because they saw something in me I didn’t yet, and they felt bad for me.
The next phase of me trying to be enough for someone was the drinking. I started working in restaurants and the age old way servers bond is by getting completely shmammered together. At some point it went from having a few drinks to ripping a couple shots before the shift and having mixed drinks in our employee cups as we worked. Then I started disappearing from home for days at a time. Sometimes I would tell my parents where I was, sometimes I wouldn’t. I just kept drinking and eating anything in front of me because people thought I was fun, I was the life of the party. My sobriety test was walking down a line of people while I was in heels and letting them push me. If I fell I couldn’t drive, if I stayed upright I could drive. It is a miracle I didn’t kill or seriously injure myself or, even worse, someone else. At that point in my life though that wasn’t even a thought in my head I was still miserable and alone deep down inside so I continued to roll the dice.
I realized too late that almost that entire group of people who liked me and thought I was fun, were not really my friends. When I couldn’t do anything more for them they were gone. I decided to try and get my life together a little bit. During the last couple years I had ballooned out to 220lb’s and I hated what I saw in the mirror. I started going to the local gym and really putting in work, and I was even talked into beginning to race triathlon. I met a man named Tobe Taylor who started saying hi to me every day at the gym. I wasn’t aware yet that this man would change my life. On a whim I went and ran a 5k he was hosting for his charity, and that was the first 5k I had ever run. I reached out to him about personal training, and he asked me to come in. Tobe trained me through the entire year I was prepping for my first Ironman Triathlon. I finished it and never felt more fulfilled. For the next few years I made some genuine friends who I still talk to today through hours on the bike and pounding the pavement. Chattanooga Triathlon for life.
One weekend my dad brought my brother, my sister in law, and I to a family night for his company. Side note – everyone else had their newborns and toddlers – we were a class act. I was dressed in faded jeans a Nike tee shirt, and I had no makeup on and had not even touched my hair. I met a boy that night, who I tried really hard to ignore because he was short and I really like tall guys, but I couldn’t ignore him. The sparks were undeniable even my brother said so. He asked for my number in front of my entire family, which I would assume he is still proud of to this day. We began dating and quickly fell into a comfortable habit of me staying at his apartment with him, cooking dinner, and going out with friends. The only problem with all of this is, he was from Philadelphia, and had always been clear that is where he would live the rest of his life. Tennessee was just a one year stop over for training for the company. I fell hard. So hard that one night against my better judgment I told him I was in love with him. He said….nothing. Once I had fallen into full on hysterical tears apologizing for telling him he explained why. He had only told one girl he loved her and he didn’t mean it. He said it because it was what people did and he didn’t want to tell me until he was saying what he meant. I buried that feeling down deep and tried to never bring it up again.
Soon enough the year was up and he was moving home to Philadelphia. I made the decision in my own head pretty quickly that I would move to Philadelphia, we would get married, and that would be my life. So I got to work finishing what was necessary at school, and started applying to any job I thought would get me to Philadelphia. During that time period I became a little withdrawn from my own life. Where I use to love watching Green Bay Football with my family I would instead hide in my room with my dog and watch alone in silence. I kind of shut down outside of work and trying to get a job in Philly.
We were long distance for a year and a half, and the night before i was suppose to interview at my current company this boy freaked out. If I was sure this is what I wanted, that he was scared etc etc. So I asked a very straight forward yes or no question, “if I move here and I like it and establish my own friends and places, do you see me as someone you would want to marry and have a family with?” He said yes without skipping a beat. So I went on the interview, nailed it, and got the job.
My Best friends Lee and Katie helped me pack everything I own into the back of a UHaul and hugged me goodbye. The next day my mom and dad drove the truck we borrowed from my brother carrying the UHaul trailer full of all of my things. I rode behind them in my little two door Chevy with my best friend of 8 years Reggie White (dachshund) in the passenger seat and my new baby of 10 weeks Vince Lombardi (also dachshund, brand spankin new puppy variety) asleep in the back. I didn’t cry the entire drive, I was so sure of what i was doing. Then we arrived at my new apartment and my parents helped me get all my boxes up and set up my bed and TV, and then they left. The moment they walked out I fell on the ground, grabbed Reggie, told him it was just us now and we were alone, and then I cried like a baby. Don’t worry Vince was too young to understand what was actually happening, and too busy peeing on the carpet to care.
I started my job and immediately bonded with a couple of my co workers. Those girls became my family pretty quickly. I made my mark in the company with my hard work, and willingness to help others, or crack jokes when needed. For the first year of me living in Philadelphia it was pretty good. I got to see my boyfriend all the time, spend time with his family and friends. He got to meet all the friends I had made and hang out with us. Then his lease was coming up and we had been together over three years and I moved across the country for him. So the natural next progression would be to take another step forward and move in together. He got very noncommittal when this subject arose. His exact words were “Ideally for me you would keep your place and just spend a lot of time at my new place, but we would still have our own spaces when we need them.” I very easily told him that I would not split my life in two and cart my dogs between two separate places just because he was scared. He needed to figure out what he wanted and just be honest.
He landed on wanting me to help him apartment hunt because he wanted us both to feel at home. After the first couple visits it became clear to me he didn’t mean what he was saying.
There were months between me realizing that and us actually breaking up, but our relationship was over. I was alone again. The one person who had finally thought I was good enough, didn’t think so anymore.
Over the last year and half I have floundered. I’ve lost touch with everything I knew about myself and loved about myself and found myself just constantly under a cloud. I am very good at not letting other people know with my outward appearance and actions that I feel dead inside. At the encouragement of a very good and genuine friend I finally broke and went to the doctor to discuss options regarding medications. This was a big step for me because during my upbringing anxiety and depression isn’t something that was ever talked about in a serious sense. It was very much present in my family, taking the lives of two of my family members on my dad’s side, but we still never really talked about it. So I made an appointment and showed up for it, and I cringed when the nurse announced to the waiting room I was here to talk about anxiety and depression. When I sat down with my doctor she had a list of very specific questions that I could not even complete because I was on the floor of the exam room in a ball weeping. Eventually I got it together enough to finish the exam and she let me know that I had severe depression and anxiety. She prescribed me a daily antidepressant and an anti anxiety medication for as needed use. I walked out of that office somehow feeling less than, like having this diagnosis made me less than who I am.
I began taking my daily medication and trying to make a direct effort to push myself out of my comfort zone, shake things up, and maybe break loose from this pit I was in. I Tried boxing which helped, I started lifting weights which has been fun and very body positive, and I tried to really focus on having a lot of fun at the bar I work at a couple nights a week. Laugh as much as possible. Even with all of these things I was still having more bad days than good and I was continuing to eat every single feeling I had. I was still alone, and maybe I needed to be that way.
There was a guy who came into my bar a lot. He was cute, hilarious, and understood my crazy work schedule. We hit it off and shared the same juvenile sense of humor. We had a discussion one day about anything being there and the term friends with benefits was thrown around. I died a little inside. That isn’t who I am. My number is VERY low because I take my health and heart seriously. I will not open myself up like that emotionally or physically unless I know and love a person. For some reason though, I got it in my head that this is the fun thing that would shake me out of the funk. Just do it Liz,you’re an adult and you’re allowed to have fun. I talked myself into it and without going into details….. it was a disaster. I came out of the experience having gotten no joy and absolutely ashamed of myself. It’s a scar I will carry on my heart for a while, but also a lesson learned.
Somewhere during all of this I met a girl who is an absolute inspiration. She is a veteran, has multiple life changing medical issues, and the happiest disposition I have ever seen. I have never seen her not smiling and happy, and she will help just about anyone who asks. It was this girl who stopped in to see my on my birthday and listened to me fall apart talking about wanting to start a blog about life and health and fitness. About seeing a ton of really strong superhero body types represented who are blessed with the time and ability to focus their life on every aspect of health and fitness. Seeing a ton of larger people who are on the frontline of the body positivity movement, which I think is absolutely amazing. Not seeing so many average people, as I referred to them before, not seeing may everyday superheroes. The people who are strong and putting the time in at the gym, but they’re also juggling work, school, kids, animals, and maintaining a quality of life. The people who aren’t big but aren’t small. Where are those people? Her response was pretty simple. Do it, be that person. So here we are.
For a long time I have let the feeling of not being good enough stop me from doing things. I have let the sadness of being single dampen my light. I have ignored the feeling of having more to offer the world, and put the capability to do more on a shelf.
So here we are. I am 28 years old and single. I have gained 30lbs in the past year and a half and now half of my clothes don’t fit. I am a four time (soon to be five time) ironman triathlete. I have been doing two a day workouts 4 days a week for the last month and my arms are looking jacked. I still eat my feelings. I still sometimes feel like i’m not enough, but now sometimes I feel fulfilled alone. The feeling of fulfillment comes from finally being open and honest about things. From scaring the ever living shit out of myself by opening myself up to criticism by some; to hopefully be the light in the dark for others. So that hopefully if there is someone somewhere who feels not good enough, who is scared to seek help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, who is alone in a city away from home because they moved for a relationship, and for anyone else who is lost….hopefully that person see’s this and says…..#samesies.