Sept 11, 2014
The sweat is a purging force. It feels amazing. But it didn’t always feel that way. I used to hate it. Now, I crave it. Sometimes I sweat so much that when I lean over to stretch after a workout, drop after drop spring forth from my forehead and nose, raining down on the sidewalk below as if from a faucet. The sweat is my way of cleansing the toxic crap that I carry around in my head. I come home drenched, and in a state of total euphoria.
I didn’t always work out. My weight has been a life-long battle, one that started as a teen and continues to this day. The fact that I am now a healthy weight is merely a bookmark in my long and complicated story. I can’t get cocky. If at any point I think ‘Ha ha! Look at me, I beat this thing!’ I’m in real trouble. I’m like the watchman on the wall now, forever looking ahead for signs of danger. If I can stay this healthy weight (and even lose some more) and then stay that way for a decade or so, maybe then I can rest on my laurels. Today, I’m on guard. Always monitoring. Always watching for that old me to resurface. If she does, I’m under strict orders to shoot her dead. That’s just the way it has to be for me.
I began the weight loss process back in October of 2013, well before I learned that Honey and Home Wrecker were having a laugh on me. Once the bomb was dropped and I took my babies back to my home town, I really kicked it into high gear. It was that, or antidepressants. I’d seen the results of a study that showed exercise being just as effective at combatting depression as medication. So I thought, which of those options seems less horrifying? Hmmm, I guess if I work out, I’ll at least lose weight faster than diet alone, all without growing a third eye from a jubilee of side effects.
So starting in April 2014, I’d go across the street to the parking lot of the local high school and just do whatever I could. Walk, do some squats, do some modified push ups on the handicapped rails that flanked the sidewalks. It was uncomfortable and it hurt and I hated it. But I knew. I knew from being really fit once before in my life that this phase of hell would eventually relent, revealing a deep desire to work out and be truly healthy. To want to sweat, to strain, to burn. But back then, I would dread it. I would hate it before. I would hate it during. I would hate it after. I. Hated. It.
And during every workout, every single night, Van’s voice was in my ear. Unbeknownst to him, he was the driving force that motivated me. His words were like water for my thirsty soul. Many times I contemplated whether I loved him because of his beautiful heart, or because I just really needed a drink. It was so hard to make distinctions like that back in those early days. Every day was a nuthouse-worthy mix of emotional storms. These F5 tornadoes of anguish and rage would blast through my psyche, knocking over boxcars and hurtling cattle into the air. Then the sun would come out and the rain would suddenly stop, and I’d think ‘Hm. Pretty sure I’m too unhealthy emotionally to make a sound judgment call about this man right now.’ But I would always talk to him, regardless. I was addicted to his clever hilarity and intelligence and saucy banter. I needed it. Badly.
Something noteworthy happened during those times. I hit wall after wall physically when I’d attempt to do more than walk. I tried over and over and over to break into a run, but I’d always have to stop. I would feel incredible physical pain in every area of my legs and back and joints when I ran. If anyone was watching me on the grounds of that vacant school, I’m sure I must have looked like an idiot. Start to run, cry out in pain. Hobble. Curse. Walk. Try again. Look like I was talking to myself (rather than on my ear buds, talking to my man). But I didn’t care. Let them see me. This is what it looks like when someone is at the end of their rope, people! Move along. Nothing to see here.
But the noteworthy thing that happened is that I refused to stop trying. I’d go night after night, convinced that this may be the time I could do it. It was grueling. It was defeating. It was traumatizing. Why, then, during a time in my life that was already hell on earth, would I sign up for yet another form of trauma? Because every time I’d fail, I’d clench my jaw and swear that I’d try again. That I’d eventually do it. That I’d become a runner. Me…the former fat girl with the really bad knee and hip and back problems. Me, the one that was so utterly disregarded and disrespected, as though I were nothing to him. Every time I’d get a little farther in my quest, I’d become emboldened to try more the next night. And every single time I made even a modicum of progress, I’d say the same thing softly in my head.
‘Why? Because f*** him. That’s why.’ And it would always make me smile.
And when I cross the finish line of my first 5K in December (that I plan to RUN in its entirety), I will whisper it quietly again to myself, and no one will know why I’m smiling. It’s my own little private joke. After all that I’ve been through, I deserve to have a laugh at his expense for once. At least I know he can’t take that away from me.