The weight of this world was not meant for our shoulders. However, I am learning to lift heavy stuff at my local Crossfit box. And Saturday will be my first time publicly displaying such tribal, primitive, and deeply satisfying feats. I’ve worked hard, woken up early, sweated beyond belief, grunted, wrestled, and whined my way through grueling workouts. I’m still an underdog…and I find comfort in this status. My nerves have been obnoxiously high this week. I would like to say that’s all due to the looming event but the deeper truth is I start school in roughly a week and a half and this is a really BIG deal to me. I’m having to contend with fears: my previous perceptions of myself is as a “drop out,” and “good student but not great,” “terrible at math.” All these old adages and excuses for not moving forward with my dream of going to school, and more than than not dreaming big for myself, remaining small because that’s what i’m conditioned to do, that’s what I’ve believed about myself…most of my life, i’ve embraced “I can’t,” and so therefore, “why try?”
The truth is I have big dreams of working in maternal and infant child health, I want to have my IBCLC and even possibly someday my doctorate . One of my hero’s, is a doctor, he has cared for and mentored me for nearly six years. He’s invested in my health and education. He has patiently pointed me to the neuroscience that has restored my belief in God and myself. Basic brain maintenance is my anthem, and I’m living proof it can be taught, practiced, and repeated…so back to my nerves.
Trauma at an early age can and does wire the human brain, the developing brain, for better and worse. There are normal levels of stress and then there are toxic levels. I have sensitive mood emotion circuits not just genetically but epigenetically. Both of my parents endured child abuse and neglect. They and I, both, endured stress levels that did not leave us unchanged. Parts of my childhood are lost and locked down in my amygdala. When my stress levels are high I become hypomanic. My speech can become rapid, my ability to focus altered, my memory inaccessible, my stomach upset…all due to high levels of stress hormones…cortisol, adrenaline…for the better part of my tweens and teens I believed I was, “sick, crazy,” or “lost and possessed.” Mental illness, left untreated, and misdiagnosed has the potential to ruin a life and inevitably end a life prematurely. These hormones wreak havoc on the body systems. I survived most of my ages and stages of development by “pretending.” Essentially, my creative willful amygdala went into overdrive to help me survive. When I reached my early adulthood and even up unto my mid twenties I had no need for such sensitive circuitry but it was too late….Until my babies were born I had little internal motivation to change.
Having my children is so far the one thing in my life, which I have never regretted. And arguably having my children has been my main motivator to stay alive. I began to seek professional help after my baby girl stopped breastfeeding because roughly six months after we stopped my stress levels became unbearable…my journey to health and wholeness has been long and drawn out but it wouldn’t have even begun without the deep seeded desire to preserve my young, and prevent them from being victims to a cycle that I was genetically wired to repeat. I owe my life to them…and now to the neuroscience and to the grace of God, that is in all those details.
Crossfit is an integral part of this journey now because its one of the main ways I keep dopamine consistently present. It gives me a sense of accomplishment, it helps me face internal traumas by realizing that I am strong…strong enough, with room to improve. The woman who pointed me to Crossfit is also one of the first women to pass me this amazing Compass named Jesus…and perhaps too, had it not been for my run in with her I would still be misguided in my identity. A brazen sassy blonde entered my life around the age of 19, when I quit college to live in an abandoned warehouse with a band of gypsy insecure teenage missionary wannabes. This friend (and a handful of others) had the guts to consistently proclaim to me that God loved me….He loved me and had good plans for me. Of course I wanted to be cool and had no clue what that belief would entail but I liked her and thought what the hell….so I ran with it…This belief of God’s love and specifically his love for me laid hold of me then and there. And though I’ve tried to quite it many times, especially when depression or anxiety rear their ugly heads, this simple belief, has not quit me. Now most days I’m trying to just ride the wave of that reality and accept the truth that that’s just the nature of our Maker, love never quits.
Tomorrow is our box competition. My mom will be there, my kids, my baby brother. In two weeks i’m starting school. My nerves are high. Reality is, I have new friends to pursue health and dreams with, colleagues to cheer me along as I hope to do the same for them. I’m not crazy, and I’m not alone in the joy that comes from extreme sports. I have a healthier way to cope with fear and insecurity. I get dopamine through healthy alternatives. Returning to school is not a waste, because come what may I’m still learning. I’ve proven to myself that I can still learn, in a classroom or simply through the hard knocks of life. I have many things, people, and places to be grateful to God for. I have faith, hope, and love. I don’t have to carry the weight of my traumas or the world on my shoulders because I have a Savior, a true Champion, who makes me brave, and offers this same heart to all who are willing to believe and breathe…and I have the scientific awareness to realize that my body best functions when it is cared for. Fear and anxiety are a normal part of life and learning to acknowledge them, work through them are an integral part of the human experience…
Song of Solomon 8:7
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away…