Why anything. Why do I do what I do? What is the driving force behind each action and each decision I make?
Let’s take something “simple” and break it down. Warning…. I will be completely honest with myself and with whomever is reading this.
Why am I choosing to compete? The simple answer which is an ego based lie is, “To push my body to the limits and see what I am capable of.”
The truth: I’m empty. I’m broken. I crave fulfillment. I crave purpose. I am burdened with the constant sense of inadequacy. I have never been enough.
Have I preached self love? Yes. Do I practice it? I do my fucking best. Do I fail? Yes. Every day is a struggle, and simply ignoring my subconscious thoughts about myself isn’t gonna cut it any longer.
Why do I carry this sense of inadequacy wherever I go? Let’s take a trip down memory lane….
As many of you know, I was adopted at age 7. My mom was a meth addict who abused alcohol while she was pregnant with me. She gave birth to me at age 16 and my Dad was 26. They didn’t stay together, they took turns trying to co parent and raise me, and I was recycled through countless foster homes, and sexually and mentally abused at a young age. I have vivid memories of being locked in closets, waking up to naked people passed out in my living room, salvaging for food in cupboards while my mom was getting nailed by multiple guys in her room, not having my diaper changed for days, foster families that would beat their own children in front of me, and sexual abuse that kills me to think about to this day because I’m convinced it was somehow MY fault.
My family didn’t want me. Hell, every foster family I lived with didn’t want me. You would think my day of salvation was the day I was adopted, but it wasn’t. It was a new chapter of pain and turmoil. Yes, I was adopted by a Christian family that showed me conditional love, gave me shelter, fed me, clothed me, but I endured a new form of mental abuse. Every day this idea of God was presented to me, if I ever lied, stole candy without asking, or sinned, he was watching me. I was ostracized from the family whether or not they realized it. I was always treated differently. They didn’t look at me the same way. They made me believe I had “attachment issues” and “abandonment issues.” All the church parents would gather round and talk about how fucked up their adopted kids were compared to their biological kids. I wasn’t allowed the same privileges as my older brothers. At a very young age I distinctly remember sitting in church as the pastor read a passage about the sheep in God’s right hand and the goats in God’s left hand. I pictured myself as the only goat in God’s left hand and the rest of the family as sheep in God’s right hand. No matter how hard they might have tried, I never in the 9 years that I lived with them felt like I was a part of their family.
One comment my adopted mom made regarding my weight that will stick with me forever, “Out of everyone in this family, you have the most fat potential.” What the fuck does that mean? She said it with a negative connotation and the word “fat” was in there, so it must not have been good. I learned what the word “potential” meant that day. Usually when you tell your kid they have potential for something, it’s for something good and positive. “You have the potential to change the world” or “You have the potential of a becoming a great artist, keep practicing!” Not, “You have the most potential to be fat.”
I already had a fucked up view of myself by the way they treated me, it quickly became worse with that comment and as I started going to school and socializing with other kids. In P.E. I was always the last kid picked on the team. No one passed me the ball and for good reason, I sucked. I believed I sucked, therefore I did. I always wore big baggy sweatshirts, hoods, and jeans. I hated shorts. I hated being in a swim suit. I hated being seen.
I had my first boyfriend during Freshman year. I remember the first time we held hands, the first time we kissed, the first time he choked me, and the second time he choked me. I wasn’t about to let it happen for a third time. The fucked up part was he had an image and reputation of being the “godly and pure” guy at school. He was a youth group leader and we played in our youth group band together. Everyone thought he was perfect. He wouldn’t have choked me if I didn’t deserve it, right?
High school was stupid as shit. Everyone pretending to be one thing, doing another. Even I pretended to have a relationship with God. Maybe I actually did, but it was short-lived and the only time my family showed me “love” or approval. As a conflicted teen being told I had all these issues, hopping from therapist to therapist, getting diagnosed with this or that, being put on these drugs ….. I started to act out and say “This is bullshit.” My family invaded my privacy, read my journals, took away every privilege including friends, internet, leaving the house, and music! Music for Christ’s sake…
I attempted running away so many times. April 20, 2008 was the day I left home with literally the clothes on my back and never went back. The only times I went back was when I was arrested for shop lifting and drinking in public. I had to drop out of school so the police wouldn’t pick me up and take me home again. I stayed off the grid and under the radar until I was 18 years old – over a year of hiding.
The greatest kindness I have ever been shown has been by complete strangers. People offered their couches, their homes, and the food on their table to me. Friends of Youth helped me obtain my birth certificate and SSN so I could start applying for jobs once I was 18. The true day of my salvation (so far) has been the day I decided I couldn’t live in a toxic environment any longer.
Over a year with no place to call home posed its own problems, as well as the internal struggle and self loathing. I was quickly introduced to the drug scene. I did cocaine before I had a beer, and I became heavily addicted to ecstasy, heroin, and meth. I recall one week long binge on ecstasy where I didn’t sleep, I didn’t eat, and I lost 15lbs. When I finally did sleep, I slept for two days straight and woke up so weak I almost blacked out in the shower. My ecstasy addiction got to the point where I didn’t have any serotonin left, and I would spend hours crying in bed, unable to move, and finding it difficult to breathe. Months later I was introduced to oxy, a drug that numbed your mind, interrupted the constant flow of thoughts, and allowed you to float on Cloud 9. Oxy’s were expensive though, so I turned to tar as a cheaper alternative. No matter how many times my friends tried to stop me, I refused to quit. Nothing they said mattered. Who were they to stop me from relieving the pain and suffering I endured? I got used to the nausea and vomit, all I wanted to do was turn off my brain. Whenever I would try to come off any drug, my weight would shoot up, and I developed an eating disorder. I fell into a vicious pattern of drug binges and bulimia. I still have journals saved from when I truly thought that my value and self worth depended on my self control to starve myself and control my weight.
Only one person’s words carried weight when I finally made the decision to quit everything. My ex husband and best friend. When I met him I was tied up in heroin and meth, coming into work high and puking on my breaks. I couldn’t lie to him. He knew. He looked me straight in my eyes and told me, “I can’t be with you if you choose to continue doing these drugs.” That’s the day I quit cold turkey. Everything. Quitting heroin opened doors to a new life, a life I had the opportunity to share with Derek.
We fell in love hard, so hard it knocked the wind out of me. I didn’t need drugs. We created a love that was a new kind of high, not one you can buy from a dealer. A genuine love that lasted 6 years. In those 6 years we grew together, over came obstacles, we were each other’s rock, and we pushed each other to be great and do more. But like many things in life, it came to an end. I refuse to let the bad outweigh the good, but there are thoughts I can’t deny when I look at my failed marriage….
“You are inadequate” I tell myself. “You are not enough.”
“There is nothing you can do to make people stay. They will outgrow you. They will no longer need you. They will move on. Once you have served your purpose, they will discard you.”
Every guy that has friend zoned me, every person who leaves me, every B that could have been an A, every day I weigh myself and I’ve stalled out, every time I fail to reach a PR, every time I binge or fail to track accurately, every time I make a mistake at work, every time I disappoint someone ….
“You are not enough.”
I have always considered myself blessed. I hate to believe that I have struggles because I know it could be worse. You turn on the news and you see the world crumbling to ashes, meanwhile I am warm, clothed, fed, and sheltered. But denying I have pain that I carry with me every day is counterproductive for my own healing and internal peace.
So why am I choosing to compete? The raw honest truth, not an ego based lie, “I am trying to fill an empty void. I am striving to be enough.”
This type of thinking is bound to create unhealthy habits and set me up for failure. So how can I change the thought process and dialogue to set me up for success?
“I AM enough. I am MORE than adequate. Everything is inside me and I am capable of achieving anything. I know what needs to be done, and I posses the strength to execute.”
I can only begin by believing that this is true, and that in and of itself is a journey.
Without smoke and mirrors,