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.
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.
I had the last five days off from work. As a break in my usual routine, it was a nice time for me to catch my breath, and catch up on some tasks I needed to do. Mostly, though, it was a break from the grind of my day job.
In the past, it would have also meant a few evenings of imbibing and carousing, spending money and time drinking and seeking mental escape from the things that keep me awake at night. Of course, that’s not an option for me now, as I have gone sober, so what could have been a raucous week before Pride was actually quiet, thoughtful, and full of introspection.
Over the last two nights, though, I tested myself. I wanted to be around other queer people in a space that felt comfortable. For all of my gay life, that’s been at the bar. Not drinking, though, had never really been part of the equation. I wondered how I’d do.
My first visit, by myself? Awful.
Overwhelmed, unable to maintain composure, needing to hide and catch my breath more than once, it was such a strange experience. All of my bar friends were great, but watching them get more and more drunk was – a lot.
I left early. I was actually not ok.
I had to calm myself down before I drove.
Last night, however? Much, much better.
I was deft at ordering up ginger ale. Paid in cash, and left hefty tips for the bar. I was able to connect with friends who, one by one, told me that they were proud of me and my choice to go sober. Good conversation was had. Hugs. Laughs. Smiles. All the good parts of community and camaraderie.
I got home, tired and satisfied.
I slept like the dead.
And I felt like I could do it again, much like the first time I stepped into a gay bar.
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