Note: I started this post almost a month ago and never finished. Will be choppy.
For awhile I floated through the days with little care because nothing could be worse than losing George. I lost my purpose and my life for the time being had no meaning. I wanted to stop existing. I remember on Christmas Day 2013, staring out of my hotel window wanting to just throw myself out of it. Defenestration was appealing but the result was not. I didn’t want to stop living, I wanted my life to be suspended. Put on hold until I could process what was happening to me. Or some way figure out how I can rewind everything back. But there I was, staring down at a massive Christmas display in downtown LA waiting for the day to be over and the nightmare presses on. My only expectation then was to make it to the next day.
Eventually all those days I bobbed through began to add up. And soon I was 3 months out, then 7 months, a year, two years and so on. But somewhere during the journey the mindless day began holding meaning. This Friday I didn’t cry myself to sleep, so let’s see how tomorrow will go. And soon I found strength to will myself to improve. Began walking Bodie for miles at a time. Those little bits helped. Started cycling a few times a week. Those little bits helped. And soon I had self-expectations to be active for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Because those 20 minutes helped my mind process the loss. And soon all those little bits started adding up, and mentally, physically and emotionally I was steady.
The expectations of others has always fueled me as well. But like so many it’s hard to live up to them. But one thing that is not difficult to ask of me was something my mom kept harping on me about: go through George’s boxes. I would roll my eyes and say I’ll get to it. But we both knew I was a coward. It bothered me I wasn’t strong enough to do it. Even as the two year mark came and went, I couldn’t do it. Opening those boxes, seeing his pictures, finding the memories, reliving losing him, I wanted to spare myself from it all.
I went back to Connecticut in the middle of October. The three year mark is just a month away and it was time. I knew I had to go through what I’ve been avoiding. I expected it to be as painful as the day he passed. Feeling lost, hopeless, and confused. But when I opened the first box and saw lyrics to a song about me, I wasn’t afraid. I wanted to find more. I wanted to swaddle myself in his love again. I could read his thoughts and feel him. I ripped through those boxes, shuffling his pictures, pulling and turning pages of his notes. Seeing his handwriting, reading his thoughts and immersing myself in the love we shared. I expected it to be so agonizing but it was rejuvenating. Pleasant and peaceful to be connected to him.
and then I realized, where I am now is because I have high expectations for myself and who I want to be. But expectations can also prevent me from taking those necessary steps to becoming the person I am meant to be.
Today would’ve been three years married to George. A undercurrent of sadness lingered around all day. I cried on my way to work, cried in my office and then cried on my way home. I taught spin class tonight and sitting astride the bike I felt so happy for having the opportunity to feel so much love. I just feel his presence whenever I’m riding. I can’t explain it. It’s just there. A calmness takes over and I feel it in my muscle fibers and it burrows deep into my bones. He loved biking and when my legs go round and round, I know I’m doing something I was programmed to do. I’m making memories with him still when I’m on a bike, indoor or outdoor.
This was my first anniversary where I’ve spent it pretty alone. The first one I was at Times Square cycle for survival and then went to sacred heart’s alumni game. Last year I spent the second anniversary out on the town with my boyfriend. And this year, went to work. Nothing eventful. And I’m happy I did nothing. I felt like I could really sit down and reflect. Think about George and how much I miss him. Think about the day we got married, how exciting and emotional it was. Seeing all the interesting people at the Manhattan court house. This life I’ve been living without him and how different it is. Wonder what it would be like if he was still alive. I allowed my brain to wander. It was peaceful, and I’m glad for once I didn’t try to distract myself from the chaos.
life moves forward, and so have I.
I love you George. And I always will.
The months after George passed I wanted so badly for time to rewind, and everything to go back to normal. Getting out of bed each day was a struggle, but there isn’t any other choice but to put both feet on the ground and keep moving forward. I’d be mindless through the days, running on autopilot, but when the fog lifted and realized I was powered by memories of a past life, I had to figure out how to remain positive under unbearable conditions.
This is when I started using fitness as a tool for displacing my grief and stress. Looking back, I believe I used and still use fitness as an avoidance, or an emotional replacement for my loss. But hurling my body up a hill when all I wanted to do was cry felt amazing. It gave me power, it allowed me to sort my thoughts and begin to believe tomorrow will be better than today. No matter how bad the grief was, the next day it would be better, and fitness showed me that open door. Clipping into a bike and sprinting for 30 seconds wasn’t enough, so the instructor challenged the class to 45 seconds. Could I do it? Of course, because I believed at the end it would be better then what it was at the time.
Believing you are worthy of happiness, worthy of satisfaction can change the outcome of any situation. But there’s a different between being worthy and entitled. Only one person can control how you feel. I had to make myself believe I could be strong again. Grief is powerful and how it’s channeled can mold your new life. I wanted to feel strong, so I chose to also transform my body to look strong. The changes also impacted my mind and self confidence. I knew I had to go on. If you think you can’t go on, you’re already defeated. Kill or be killed. So if you look forward to what’s around the corner, there might be a new lifestyle, adventure or path that awaits. Sometimes we need to be willing to step out of our comfort zones, make necessary changes and see what will happen. Even in during the darkest days, there’s a sun behind those clouds.
im beginning to lean toward changing this blog or just starting a new one focused at health and wellness. Though going through grief opened up this new love of helping others, taking care of myself, and trying different avenues of fitness. I don’t think I’m an expert by any means. I think I have more to contribute to an arena like that than continuing the course of this blog.
ive been asked several times if I want to do a figure transformation and possible do a fitness competition. I’ve said no, but I also like stretching my body and pushing it to places and levels it’s never gone before. As I’ve continued with circuits, and boot camp style workouts I’m beginning to think I can achieve that physique that is so elusive. I dropped 50lbs after George passed away, maybe I’ll look to drop my body composition to less than 12% fat. Still humming and hawing but beginning to lean tilt toward possibly trying.
For the past month I’ve been having a difficult time falling asleep without using melatonin or other sleep supplements. So as I type this I’m laying in bed at 1a waiting for them to kick in. I’m sure I’ll be extremely tired and irritable tomorrow. Coffee will be my savior, and I shall drink several cups guaranteed.
Today I was invited to try a new gym in Montgomery and see if I like the boot camp style. I’ve done boot camp classes before but this one was a bit different and was mentally very tough and the workout varied. So it wasn’t as aggravating as other boot camp style workouts I’ve done in the past. I was asked if I’d like to teach one a week at a super early time slot. It’s under consideration. I have to say, I love love love teaching and coaching fitness. It truly is my calling and seeing how hard people work and get the results they’re looking for swell my heart.
But that’s not the point of this post. The workout was tough and many times I wanted to stop but kept pushing through. I did the workout with my new assistant coach, and she too was feeling beaten down by the exercises. But we both sweated our butts off and we completed it. She mentioned how she was impressed how quickly I got through it and would complete an exercise and move on to the next station. I was impressed with her resilience and ability to adjust, and not quit. I loved that actually, she just didn’t quit until she finished. I think my players will really admire that about her too because this day and age it’s rare to have. But I sat and thought about her words and my mind set during the work out.
the physical pain of any workout can never match the emotional pain I’ve been through. I don’t focus on how bad I hurt during an exercise, I just look forward to when it will be done. Sort of like grief, I always wanted the next day to come hoping it would be better. With working out, I will never skip a rep or compromise my form, because it will be over and I control it. With losing George, I was out of control. Losing him has continued to fuel me and has forced a different midset as I venture into every day life. Part of my every day is exercise and fitness. He’s shaped my work ethic and how I approach it. He’s like my motor. It’s pretty cool when you sit down and really think about it.
On Friday I got dolled up and headed out. I grabbed a purse that I don’t use tremendously often but I did year ago when I first got it. My sister gifted me a George Gina and Lucy purse in 2009 and I remember being so excited for it. I would carry that thing everywhere. George would comment about how it’s in my favorite color purple.
Before I headed out, I checked all the pockets to see if there’s any old receipts or trash. There were some old coffee and metro receipts, and I think one movie ticket. But then I dug deeper into the front pocket and pulled out a buckeye. Hard little round nugget with a darkened slit that looks like an eye. I remember walking past Rockefellars grave in the Cleveland cemetery and George picking up the buckeye. He handed it to me, grinning, and reminding me how the nut looks like a bucks eye. I dropped it in my purse to remember our trip to his hometown of Bay Village, just outside Cleveland.
Today I found a towel I used when we lived together in Jersey City. I pushed my face into it and it smelled like George. His scent stung in my nostrils and my heart swelled. But then it cracked like a glass in boiling water. It was too much.
Today is George’s birthday. I’m feeling his absence a lot today. There’s this hollowness inside me I can’t fill. It’s almost like his death is very real today, which is odd because I know he’s not coming back. But I can’t explain it. I feel very off and sad. This morning I watched a video we had made when we used to blog, and it made me so happy to hear his voice, and see him smile. But then it’s gone. I have to search for it if I want to hear it. I allowed my mind to float back in time to when we grabbed a cab to his birthday party in K-town. We had just started dating and it was carefree, wonderful, and fleeting. I was embarrassed by the age difference, but I couldn’t get enough of him. I miss his sense of humor, I miss his lightheartedness, I miss his laughter, I miss his sense of calmness through all the chaos. I miss him so much. But I’m so thankful I got to be with him.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
I got back from New Orleans this evening and this Memorial Day weekend has been nothing short of fantastic. I feel relieved, relaxed and most importantly happy. I had a great time with my friends. And of course when I reconnect I tend to think about those people who have come into my life. All the laughs, experiences shared and how people grow together and separately.
I also think about all the men and women where this holiday weekend is very somber and painful. This post doesn’t really have a lot of point to it, I kind of have been contemplating the reoccurrences of emotional hurt. I went to the WW2 museum in New Orleans and they have telegrams posted to family and spouses saying their sons are missing and cannot be located. It made me feel for those who ventured off to defend their country never to return again. I also ached for the loved ones who received those telegrams. To love someone so much where you feel invisible can also break you down to nothingness. Makes you appreciate the people who impact your life momentarily or those who are in it for the long haul.
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
Im spending this Memorial Day weekend in New Orleans. I wrote my graduate school thesis on The Battle of New Orelans so it’s great to be back here 8 years later. I still love reciting the history and folklore of this city. I got to reunite with my HS friends and again wonderful to know how much love and support I have all around. And it makes me appreciate the journey in a weird way.
my friends here are married and they are HS sweethearts. They’ve been together now for 9 years and we were talking about how they’ve grown together as a couple. From braces to wedding bands, and they still appreciate and respect each other deeply. Coincidently this interesting article came out in the NYT which I wanted to post. Im curious for people’s thoughts on it. It’s very pessimistic but having friends be married and then soon divorced I don’t think it’s tremendously off the mark.
“Life is short, live it. Love is rare, grab it. Anger is bad, dump it. Fear is awful, face it. Memories are sweet, cherish it.”
I’m looking at old photos from the past couple years and I’m certainly a survivor. My journey has included a lot of experiences and meeting new people, and I wouldn’t trade it. The road in front of me is clear skies and rocky terrain, but you know what, when Im told I can’t do it and I’m not strong enough, those words echo and transform into coal to move this engine. What happens to coal under extreme amounts of pressure? That’s right. Feed me more doubt, I’ll show you what I can do.
This is the house doubt built.