I answered a tweet question today from a “fitty” I follow on there. They’re a personal trainer/nutrition twitter account, and they’ve had some decent content, but today, they left a bit of an acrid taste in my mouth. Well, no – not the OP – more like the comments section
And I already know “never read the comments” is a VERY LOUD internet rule of thumb.
The other replies? Well, I won’t get into it much, as I’m sure you can figure it out, but what was on display was a laundry list of reasons why I doubt myself as a personal trainer and nutrition coach.
As you can see, I am not what you think of when you hear the term “fit”. I do not have a visible ab (nor will I ever). I have excess skin, stretch marks, I do not nor will I ever shave my body hair. I don’t ever plan on using steroids, or even getting plastic surgery.
So why did I let those comments get to me?
Why did this HUGE TIDAL WAVE of doubt and shame sweep over me?
Because I have been fighting with my body for as long as I can remember.
I have come a very, very long way.
But I don’t know if it’s enough.
I have never felt attractive, and I struggle to accept compliments when they are offered. I have battled and inflicted self-harm on myself for years in an attempt to carve my body into a shape that is more appealing to wider society. I have been subsumed in images of plump muscles with visible veins and all the rest my entire life. I have never had a role model in the fitness industry who was also built like I am, or shared my enjoyment and happiness with finding strength and teaching others how to build muscle and confidence through movement and nutrition. I cannot help but wonder if I’m fooling myself into thinking I could possibly pursue this as a life path, let alone one day making it a full-on career.
I will continue at it, however. I have plans to enroll in a L2 Master Health Coach course offered by Precision Nutrition later this year, funded entirely the clients I currently work with. They deserve the best coach I can be, and with their support, I’ll be able to give back to them a level of personal training and support that rises to the level they have earned. I love my clients a ton, and I am deeply thankful they’ve given me a chance.
Today is Imbolc, the half-way holiday between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.
Around here, that means there’s daylight in the sky (barely) until 6p and that brings me joy. This winter has been a mix of joy and light, but also darkness and brooding.
The Boy has been decompressing from his move here back in October, and the slide down from that initial excitement and engagement with a new life in a new place has transitioned into a darker depression than I think neither him, nor I, were ready for. Lots of questions about the longevity of our connection have emerged, and there’s lots of worry from both of us about the path forward.
Along with all of this, I’ve been working with a new therapist and psychologist to get my meds right and my therapy on the track it needs to be on. So far, the meds are still wobbly (but working), and the therapy is about to take a deep-dive into an old place of sadness and pain that I’ve been avoiding for the better part of twenty-five years. It’s not going to be easy, and on the flip, it runs the risk of making me emotionally unavailable to him, and to other people in my life who count on me to be their support. I *know* they all know this is how it sometimes goes, but I really do loathe not being strong enough to carry all the weight.
I am Dad, after all.
Still, there are buds on the trees. The daffodils in protected corners are reaching for the heavens, even when the sky remains mostly cloudy and grey. The moments the sun is out are fortuitous and warm. There is a sparkle of optimism and hope that is alive in every peep and cheep from the hummingbirds and chickadees that surround our apartment complex. Life is continuing and moving onward, and the sun is returning. Not all is lost.
David and I had a lovely date yesterday, having had lunch at a food cart pod, and then visiting a really great comic book store. After returning home, we had a very lovely intimate session in his room. Deep in embrace, I admitted I was scared of losing him. He admitted he was scared of losing me too. Putting those fears out on the table, however, I think has reduced the amount of space and energy they take up in our brains, and we recommitted to putting more effort in wherever we could to make this work. We deeply, deeply love each other, and are a team when it comes to facing down the adversities we share. While I can’t totally remedy the roadblocks ahead of him, nor can he mine, we can be there for each other, in ways that extend beyond just a hug, or a fuck, or even a hand-hold.
I also know that, in the end, his life is vast and has many more curves and pathways ahead for him. While I might not always be in his life physically, I am resolute in the belief I will be in his life, somehow, until the end of my days here. Nothing can shake that from me, ever.
And, this morning, as my coffee swirls under the light of a shitty overhead apartment fixture, I feel secure in at least where my heart lies.
I’m ready to do this work ahead of me, so that I might be an even better lover to David, to my husband, and to my other partners who do lean and rely on me to be there for them, as much as they’ve been there for me.
Things started getting really tricky for me back towards the end of the first year of the Pandemic We All Hate (COVID-19). I’d managed to open up my heart, and love in a way that’s true to who I am, but because of lockdowns and such, forming a stronger bond with those who were far away became next to impossible. I found myself constrained and contained, much like the rest of the world, and stuck in an inside-space, with all of the inside-thoughts that come with that.
Things at work had also taken a turn. No longer were my transit vehicles full of commuters and people just getting around the metro area for one reason or another. Suddenly, it was empty vehicles, or vehicles that became rolling shelters for those without homes, and just as suddenly, I was in a place of damage mitigation and social support for those in need. None of which, I might add, I was trained to handle. I was raw-dogging my way through things, just like everyone else was.
Two COVID infections myself, one short-term relationship with a fellow who decided he preferred a monogamous match rather than being part of a polyamorous situation, and myself left with a broken heart in a broken world, 2021 was shaping up to be one of the most challenging years of my life to date.
Amazingly, though, in that year, I met David the DJ, and Dylan, both of whom quickly became solid supporters of me and my mental health. Both of them had begun the journey of getting a handle on their own mind matters, and it was while learning from them that I began to take steps for myself. Panic attacks at work, along with a severe lack of sleep, and running into anxiety walls while working out all had me back on my heels, worried about what was going on in my head. It was, in fact, a lack of boners, that sent me to the doctors. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’d been missing sex a LOT and suddenly, the machinery that I’ve been depending on for all of my post-pubescent years just wasn’t operational. It was a real problem, for sure.
Since starting therapy, and going down my own mental health wellness path, I’ve been making some pretty decent progress. I’ve recognized where loads of my old trauma responses come from. I’ve begun the process of sifting and sorting and healing from old wounds I wasn’t even aware I was carrying. I’ve started to really make new mental connections to the concepts of love and desire and want and validity. Truly, over the last eight months, I’ve made some real growth.
But, as was the case today, there are still moments of opportunity for me. Today was a challenge of a day.
I’ve fallen in with two beautiful men as of late. One, Cody, lives in Tucson and I met him over my trip to see Above & Beyond at the Gorge Amphitheater a little over a month ago. He and I formed a strange and beautiful bond that’s persisting and thriving, in ways I was not expecting. Then, there’s another David, a young man I met online who was living in Philadelphia, who has recently moved to Salt Lake City, and who, for some reason I have as of yet to fully ascertain, has opened up his heart and world to me. Both of these wonderful connections have so much potential for Joy and Goodness and all the things that relationships can include. It’s a damn Good Thing, and I’m super-duper lucky.
Except that I don’t feel worthy of it. Not fully. Like, I don’t know if I deserve their affections and attentions. Today, as I asked myself “are you worthy” while at the gym, my mind went into chaos-mode, and a panic attack unlike I’d ever felt before, really reared up. I called out of work, knowing full well I’d be unsafe to operate a vehicle in this state of mind, and then made a bee-line, with the dog, to the forest for a respite.
I quieted myself next to the Clackamas River, while Steinbeck kept watch. I let him swim and take a deep drink of the cold mountain water, and as we drove, he leaned in on me more than once, as though to check on me, and tell me I’m worthy of his love. We passed a lone cyclist, who was riding towards the forest, who just reached high and gave us an excited wave, which I returned in kind. He also saw me as worthy, it would seem. I got home, turned back on my connectivity to the world by taking my phone out of Do Not Disturb mode, and caught a message from young David, and DJ David, and Cody, all of whom were checking in on me. All of whom, it would appear, see me as worthy.
I had a vulnerable moment in a video chat with young David, and told him of my struggles. His response has been one of love and gratitude for my allowing him to see this side of me. A text message chain with Cody brought similar results.
Today, I learned that I am worthy of the love I’ve been shown. It was coming at me from all directions, though not from my own inside-self.
I need to continue the work on building up my own sense of self-worth, and not need to rely on external topping off of such things as much. That, for me, is the state of play in my mind these days. I know there’s much more work to do.
Things at home, and at work, had been demanding so much space, so much energy, that I could feel myself spinning out of control. I needed grounding and stability, and a break from it all. I needed to get out of signal, out of touch, and find myself a good pace among trees and rocks and flowers.
I needed the mountain. She was calling to me.
Mount Hood stands prominent in my life as a person who lives in Portland, Oregon. The distant stratovolcano is a sense of place and vulnerability to me, where at any moment, she could blow her top, but at the same time, beckons me with every glance I take towards her, to come and be among her crags and rocks and trails and paths. I love it up there, on her various outcroppings and vista points. I love the smell, the sound, the feel of the ground beneath my feet on her slopes.
The hike was exactly what I needed to find my footing. Decisions about my current situation, my future steps, and how I feel about the direction of my life, were made. The shape of my heart, who occupies it, the level of energy I devote to them, and to myself, were all brought into balance for a while. I shed some tears as my mind relaxed and my body was in motion, and it felt like a much-needed release.
I have some major changes to make in my life, especially with regards to how I earn my living, and how I interact with those around me, and I need to be brave enough to believe in myself. It’s the same bravery I engage every time I tackle a trail up there, with loose stone and steep cliffs, and opportunities to become injured or killed at every juncture. If I can tackle these trails with confidence and agility, surely I can face down the challenges in my life ahead of me that require the same skills.
I don’t want to get political, but the events of yesterday, a culmination of seething hatred that’s been the background noise to my entire life came to an inevitable head. Like a puss-filled cyst, the conservative wing of the Supreme Court of the United States overturned nearly 50 years of precedent by tearing up Rowe v. Wade, pushing abortion access and laws back upon the states.
In doing so, they’ve set the stage to do the same for any and all laws relating to love, sex, marriage, race, disability, and other would-be “inalienable” rights.
That’s all well and good in a state like Oregon, where I live, and where, much to the chagrin of my central/eastern fellow Oregonians, we are a mostly-progressive state that has enshrined protections for a wide variety of human rights and ways of existing.
That’s utterly terrible for anyone living where the power to make laws rests in the hands of these feeble-minded men who cannot STAND to lose power or relevancy.
It’s been this struggle, buzzing around me like a tenacious horsefly, ever since I took my first breath. As soon as I had even a whiff of self-determination, I have questioned the motives of the conservatives, who wrap themselves up in Jesus, guns, and the flag at every fucking moment. Why do they hate me? Why do they hate anyone unlike them, for any reason? Why have they lost their sense of wonder and curiosity about the various forms of human existence, and have devolved into fearful, spitting rats? How did the public education I received as a young person produce me, a curious and constant knowledge-seeker, and yet leave them so fucking ignorant?
I don’t know.
But I do know I’m exhausted. They exhaust me. Idiocy *exhausts* me.
And? Their idiocy will kill people. Willful ignorance like what has been demonstrated time and time again, whether it’s fighting over integration, disability rights, reproductive rights, marriage rights, and on and on ALWAYS LEAVES SOMEONE DEAD.
So much for the Value of Life.
For now, I’m here, in my safe (for now) Liberal Bastion. And from here, I am a force of support, compassion, care, and love to any and all who are now under threat in my own country.
I don’t have the mental capacity to do more or be more. That’s frustrating. It’s always been frustrating.
Sterling is a lovely young man. At twenty-four, he has more peace and calm about his character and demeanor than I’ve ever met. Tall, self-assured, confident, insightful, he and I spent the day together today, traveling a little out into the wilderness to the east of town, attempting to find splashes of sunshine on what was just becoming another very rainy day.
Once we got to Hood River, Oregon, and east of the Cascades, the rain abated, for a while, and gave us a taste of some summer sun that we’d both been seeking.
”Have you been to Timberline?” I asked him.
”I have not,” he replied, much to my surprise.
We headed south, along Highway 35, up and out of the Columbia River Gorge, and made our way along the eastern side of Mount Hood. The rain remained at bay.
I watched him as he took in the wilderness around us. He was taking in all of the trees, the variety of vegetation that grows on the eastern side of the mountains, the way the mist was forming on the tops of the trees, sending plumes of moisture up into already-saturated clouds. He was quietly noting the majesty of the forests, and realizing that he needed to come out here more often, to be among the giant firs and moss-laden pines. His eyes grew bigger with every swoop and turn of the winding road.
The rain returned as we spun around the south side of the mountain, and turned back west. Just after entering Government Camp, Oregon, I took a right, and up to Timberline Lodge, an iconic mountain ski resort and hotel that he simply needed to see. As we climbed up in elevation, the driving rain gave way to driving snow. The Jeep performed beautifully.
Once in the lodge, we wandered around, and I watched as he took in the structure, the history, of the building and the place. He truly seemed fascinated by it all.
Being a tour-guide of a sort for him today was really a sweet change from my usual grind. Normally, I’d be on my third day of the workweek. This week, though, I’ve taken some much-needed time off. I don’t return until next Saturday, giving me another shortened workweek next week, as well.
Today needed Mountain Time. I am so thankful this all started with the gentle nature and calm disposition of Sterling. I cannot wait for more time with him, to calm and focus, to breathe and smile.