When I was 12, I had a crippling fear of death. We were the only ones in the USA at the time, so I was constantly worried what would happen if my parents died. Would we go home? Into foster care? What happened to the dog? To my sister? I used to wake up screaming. I cried when they went to work. It took sitting down and planning my parents funeral and every step I would have to take in case they died for me to stop having nightmares.
I'm good with a plan. And so I've handled every crippling situation since then with a plan.
After I put Alex in jail, I would wake up with nightmares for months. Terrified he'd fulfill the promises of killing me, my parents, or my dogs. I would fumble for my glasses and turn on the lights and try and will myself to breathe again. So I made a plan- if I could see when I woke up, it might be better. If I decided to get a gun for protection it would be better if I had to just open my eyes, not open my eyes and shove glasses on and fumble. And so I paid $5,000 dollars for the ability to see when I woke up so that I'd be less afraid, and the nightmares lessened.
I started to lift heavier weight too, because if I wasn't going to get a gun I was going to be able to defend myself in some way. The day I picked up 200 lbs. was the first time I slept through the night after my court case.
I have become incredibly proficient, in handling my anxiety over the years. I recognize the irrational and the overwhelming. Boomer was a part of that process. Lifting and exercise have been a bigger part. Focusing on being the best I can in my day-to-day work has been even more of a focus, building my own small business, serving and bartending, and trying to fulfill goals I'd set for myself in my career path.
I have a new career to step into, and I'm torn between excitement of the possibility and a stomach rolling nausea from the reeling experiences I've had in the last few years. I've jumped into careers, with nothing but excitement, to watch 5,000 of us be laid off, or our small team of 30, or be head hunted by an office that promised they were looking for a long term solution to their marketing team, - only to be laid off 90 days later with the entire team I was hired with. I work so many jobs because I am a person with a plan, I prepare for the worst. I've had the bottom drop out from beneath me so many times, that possibility is more terrifying then success.
And I'm struggling with the overwhelming. Death has knocked into my life twice in the past two months. With Boomer's loss still fresh and raw, and a dear friend finally losing her battle with Ovarian cancer, I've found the irrational has taken root a bit deeper than I'd like. I've started pausing at the entrance of our apartment, unable to unlock the door, overwhelmingly afraid Onyx has died while I've been at work. I have to count out breaths, because the panic claws up my throat, feeling like I'm drowning on dry land. If I don't hear from my family or my significant other at a usual time, I skip normal concern and straight to possible death scenarios and the relief I feel when a text or call is answered can make my legs shake.
Usually, I'd choose health and exercise as my game plan for these scenarios. A goal, a focal point, a clear path to push towards, numbing the background noise that can grow so loud in my head. But as I look at the timeline of competing on June 30th, I also look at my ability to become obsessive, to use a plan as a coping mechanism, and there's part of me that knows that that kind of focus on weighing and measuring food at this time could lead to a much unhealthier future. And that knowledge is progress. So I'll push back the date of competing and focus on bodybuilding- a sound mind, a sound body- as I move forward towards that goal, delayed but not forgotten.
I'm not ashamed to admit these issues. They are woven into the fabric of my being, much like my rolling laugh, or inability to sit still for long periods of time. I have asked for and received help when the burdens become too much for me to bear alone, and as I step forward I'm keeping in mind that I can always do so again.
We have to move forward. People and sharks- neither can stay in the same place without stagnating and dying. Moving forward to new adventures, as terrifying as they may be, is the only way. And so my game plan is to do just that- to move forward, to embrace the unknown, to take the first steps on this new adventure.
I head to Denver tomorrow and starting Wednesday, I'll be making a drive across the South. Austin, New Orleans, Mobile and Montgomery- stopping for work and for pleasure. Gaining some perspective and beginning my new role with an open road and open mind.