Feel like I should be sneaking in here on tip-toes - there's an eerie silence and a long overdue "HELLO!" from me on my poor little blog... and part of me (almost) wants to apologise for being so distant and neglectful!
However, such is the way of life, that despite my last post being back in February - so much AND so little has happened in the last (nearly) six months, that it makes my little head bobble around, and I don't quite know where to start!
I find it somewhat ironic (for lack of a better word) that the last post was all about "Finding Amy". Well, let me tell you right now that I felt I lost her entirely, gave up looking, got the shits and chucked a wobbly (repeatedly)... but amidst all that, I engaged in this funny thing called "life" that I could never have imagined was going to unfold back in February... Simply didn't see it coming.
In the last few months I've been on an absolute ROLLERCOASTER ride of emotions. There's been times when I wanted to scream from the top of my beloved Mount Panorama that the world was beautiful, that everything in it was a dream, and I thought it couldn't get any better... And then there were times when I felt like I was in absolute limbo, so broken inside I couldn't breathe.
I liked the first one better... !!!
The last few months have seen me unearth a whole new wad of "life experiences" - well outside my comfort zone and almost verging on 'normality' (if there is such a thing for me?! haha). Not to overload you with details, but there's been affairs of the heart, failing bodies, holidays and meltdowns - many tears and much 'thought provoking' self-discoveries and growth.
If anyone were to tell me back in February that I was about to be hit with such massive mental and emotional upheaval as I've been through the last few months, I'd have probably laughed at them and questioned the authenticity of their statement! I might not have been at my mental "fighting fittest" but I certainly didn't think I was anything below 'solid' either.
It was nothing short of a rude awakening, then, when I went from being up on my absolute highest of highs - living on love and happiness, understanding and finally feeling like I wasn't alone anymore - to trying "something I'd never done before" in the form of a counseling session that pulled me, not gently, back to reality that maybe I wasn't quite as 'ok' as I thought I was about everything.
I should explain... A few months ago, I went off on holidays to Gwinganna - a special health retreat in QLD. The holiday I won from the Woman's Day magazine competition. I was all geared up to enjoy this new experience that I'd have never been game enough to do before, but I was "the new Amy" and it was my 'reward' for all the hard work... right?! As part of the package, I was given the opportunity to do a special activity - and talking to the staff on arrival about my goals and what I'd already achieved and the frustration I was having in my body and head (being so disjointed) - it was suggested that I do a counseling session with one of the therapists at the retreat. I baulked at the idea - I've never been overly confident with counseling, but I'd had people telling me I 'may' benefit from the help, and felt it may have been the right time to work on the inner workings of my messy head. Gulp.
I had no idea what to expect, and went in there with an open mind. The therapist was lovely, and really easy to talk to - and I just chatted and laughed with her, talking about myself and what I'd done, how different I was, how weird it was in this new body, some of the struggles, some of the icky dark past... Odds and sods - but the general consensus was happy and good! But she broke me... I was doing my usual "just smile, nod and pretend it's all ok" thing - and I guess that's her job, to break through the barriers and really get to the issue.
Some 'regression therapy' and I was in visualisation mode with my old 6 year old self - back to primary school, the first day I was belittled in class. It's always been in my head - always as clear as day - and the emotions and raw nerves that it produced all those years ago came up right then and there, as easy as clicking your fingers. It hurt, but she had me revisiting this for a reason - the bullying and shame that I've felt my entire life started right there. The self-hatred of my body and always feeling "different" came from these things. She was pointing out that the context of the situation had grown disproportionately over time - that simple little turn of events had grown so distorted in my head that it was impeding who I am today (or more importantly, who I'm trying to be as this 'new me'...)
She had me visualise my current self walking into the classroom to comfort the young Amy, hug her, show her compassion and tell her it'd be ok, not to let the words and feelings upset her anymore, that she was ok just as she was, there was nothing wrong with her. She had me tell her how her life would unfold - what would happen. She had me tell her who I am today, the kind of person I am now, despite all the obstacles and upsets, and give her hope for the beautiful future she'd be working so hard to achieve.
All these things were so intensely graphic in my head, that all I could do was cry... and cry... and cry. I could barely mumble words to express what I was saying to "myself" in my head. She prompted me with descriptions like "you are caring", "compassionate", "giving", "proactive", "happy", "friendly" and "loved".. and the pain in my heart at each new word hurt me more and more, I could barely breathe. It wasn't that I was trying to convince my young self that this was who I'd grow up to be - I was trying to convince ME - the present me - that this is WHO I ACTUALLY AM. All the beautiful attributes that someone who'd just met me half an hour previously could see, that I was so blind to. That hurt more than anything - the realisation that I couldn't even appreciate me for being me.
I left there numb, but 'ok' - so much going through my head, and yet somewhat comforted by the fact that I'd "somehow" helped that little girl, given her a piece of my courage that I knew she'd need. But it wasn't to end there...
I left Gwinganna with a smile on my face - it was an amazing experience overall. The way of life there had really opened my eyes - pushing for healthy mind and body (not just pushing for weightloss and training like a freak of nature the way I'd brutalised myself with the past year, and seeing no results for it!) - was such an eye opener. It fostered a new sense of "self love" and awakened me to how amazing a more nurturing side of good health can be!
But when I returned to Sydney, I was hit by a world of pain. I lost the plot entirely. Pure and utter emotional exhaustion - in fits of tears and not understanding WHY I was as upset as I was. Not being able to verbalise what was running rampant in my head, my heart was aching and I had absolutely no idea what was happening... I really did think I'd lost the plot, that something had snapped inside my (sometimes fragile) brain. I'd never experienced anything like it before. I could barely breathe, I was just so confused. I wasn't hurt from dragging up the past and I was ok with "working on things" for Amy again... so what the hell was happening to me?!!
I went home a broken woman - a brilliant meltdown at my disposal, and nearly destroying my relationship in the process - I was supposed to be coming home from holidays with a smile on my face!! Instead, I came home to what felt like an alien home - like I didn't belong. My "safe zone" was shallow and cold, it felt wrong to be here. I didn't belong here, I didn't belong anywhere. What the hell was wrong with me??!!!
I spent the following fortnight in and out of emotional limbo - I haven't cried that painfully in years (it was so reminiscent of the bad days, I was petrified I'd gone back to that...). I was at the point of pleading with myself to wake up to myself, get on with it and grow the hell up - but the confusion, the hardcore emotional onslaught, the financial issues I came home to, the stress and the anxiety... everything fell to pieces at once, and I was left in a screaming mess. My head finally gave out as much as my body had... It really had been only a matter of time.
.... Fast forward a few months later, and I'm happy to report that things are in a MUCH better place now, and I'm much 'healthier' overall. Unfortunately, the meltdown left some damage in its wake - an 8 kilo gain, I stopped training and 'gave up', winter cravings hit hard and I ate myself into food comas repeatedly. My joints packed it in over winter - I've never had so much pain in my knees as I've had this year, and I wasn't even training! I was a broken woman... I distanced myself from here, my Facebook page, my local network and even my closest friends. I shut down from everyone, I neglected looking after myself, and I lamented being a "failure" and went into a self-pity spiral.
Necessity demanded I get up out of my funk and I found work (being self employed, I had no choice but to seek a new job) - I couldn't even afford cat food, and that was the end of the line for me! If I couldn't look after my fluffy boy, then that was NOT ok! A few weeks ago I started my new role with an existing client, and continued part-time work with another - which not only helped me get my structure back, but it forced me out of the house to socialise and deal with people (the easiest thing in the world for me is to shut down, turn off, go mute...) - and put 'scheduling' back into play. It gave me a project to focus on, be proud of and allowed me the flexibility that having an income affords (albeit a small one, but small is better than none!!). I could breathe again...
Last week I went back to the gym - four months I'd been out of solid training. A few hits and misses along the way, but four months... I'm nothing short of disappointed in how de-conditioned I've become. The self-abuse I put myself through - emotional and food based - and how quickly that weight came back on, and how relentless it was on my head - the mental torture is extreme! The hatred for giving up, the remorse, the "see Amy, you ARE a failure!"... oh my god, it was just unforgiving!
Last week I signed up for the 12wbt again - to force structure and goals back onto my agenda. I'm no longer the girl at 200kgs (she's well and truly gone) - I'm the girl at 100kgs - and irrespective of what's been and gone, the last 18 months have proven to be the hardest by far. Complacency and exhaustion - they've been my two biggest wakeup calls, that I'd very much neglected areas of my transformation OFF the scales. My breakdown was testament to that - my mental health and the self-talk that I've been berating myself with for months are NOT healthy - and yet that's exactly what I aspire to be, and why I've put in so much work the past 4 1/2 years! HEALTHY is my ultimate goal - in both mind and body - and yet I'm not living and loving that in the capacity it deserves - that *I* deserve.
I'm finally starting to reign it all back in, and things are starting to make sense. I don't know if it's a little strange to say... but back in February when I was so hellbent on "Finding Amy" - I simply wasn't ready. I was naive and frugal with my emotions. It's only now that I'm starting to feel that strength again - feeling and noticing the differences that have come from the past few months - that I can appreciate the transition more. I simply didn't understand back in February - the life experiences weren't there - the heart break and triumphs weren't there.... You can't value something you haven't achieved yet - but I'm not ready to pat myself on the back quite yet either!!
I know I still have so much work to do to counteract the damage - and I'm slowly... slowly... stepping up and clicking it back into gear. There's this crazy inner strength I can't even begin to explain, that is pumping in my veins right now - and it doesn't care about what I've done previously or what I've already had to overcome. It's focused on where I am right now - the PRESENT Amy - and the value she has "just as she is, right now."
Maybe, then, I've been going about it all wrong - maybe I didn't need to "Find Amy" at all... If the last few months of personal growth are anything to go by, there's elements of losing the old and gaining the new that hold intrinsic value. A feeble "treasure hunt" for something I 'thought' I should have didn't yield results - but the emotional, dirty, gritty, heartfelt up-and-down reality did.
SO with that, I'm not going to summarise up this next chapter with a happy ending (the way I always seem to do, haha)... I'm still a work in progress, and I'm quite ok with that, for now! For the first time in a long time I'm excited about the hard work coming up (I say that after a big deep breath), and quite frankly, what will be will be. Regardless of what happens next, I choose to be proactively happy... I just need to remember that!