I began to hold the persona of Wonder Woman or Superman - when in reality I was Clark Kent.
I was a machine. I had hollowed out my body to a shell of a woman. I couldn’t feel. I couldn’t shed one more tear. The only emotion that came up within me was anger. And it fueled me. It fueled me like filling up at a gas station, and having 100 more miles in my tank to go.
It showed up as aggression, anger, energy, and superhuman. I began to exercise fervently, and began getting attention. At that point, I would take any attention. But it was positive attention, “Oh Jenn you look great,” so it fueled me more.
I began to hold the persona of Wonder Woman or Superman, when in reality I was Clark Kent. I was human. But I ignored the human emotional aspect of life, because it was too painful to feel.
In fitness classes, I had to competitively be the one to finish first, or have the best score, or lift the most. Sometimes I would hear, “Wow, look at the aggression in her.” It never occurred to me to stop and do a self check. That comment was more attention. More fuel. More fire. So I kept going. Fervently.
I was warned by many close to me, that you can’t keep going at this speed, but I didn’t listen or care. I knew no other way. No other way made me feel alive or worthy, and stopping would allow me to breathe, and then the feeling part of life might attempt to creep in. So I kept going.
Stress - I Never Noticed the Warning Signs
I was on a treadmill. For five years. It was never on slow or walk mode. It was on sprint. Then one day it caught up to me. My body began to shut down. The stress of doing it all overcame me like a wave. The stress was tremendous. The weight on my shoulders was something I could not lift or carry anymore. The weight I had lost came back and then some. I was tested in several stages for ovarian cancer, and six months later breast cancer. I stopped talking to most people and lived in a cocoon for months, not knowing how to handle stepping off the treadmill machine.
I had to learn to feel, act, and be again as a human. I did this behind closed doors. It was lonely, tough, humbling, inevitable, and painful. I began to feel all of it. All the memories. The good, the bad, the ugly. The pain, the sadness, the hurt, the guilt, the shame, the anger, and despair, all came in one like a big buffet package I didn’t want to sit down to enjoy.
Then came the mirror. Looking in the mirror, and seeing, owning, and digesting my own mistakes, my own wrongs, my own failures and stumbles. I still visit this mirror, almost everyday. Owning, accepting, changing, correcting, realigning, starting over. These are part of almost daily tasks within me that I keep shifting. To make sure that everyday I wake up and allow myself to feel, to be human, and find the courage and freedom to be whole again.
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