Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Watch mama open up her arms to hug me, and I ain't worried 'bout a damn thang, with unconditional love

One of my good friends from high school in India - one whom I did not get to see last weekend, unfortunately - is part of an online exercise motivation group I'm in.  Or at least, the group started as merely an exercise motivation group, in which we were all doing a particular Beachbody program and would post daily about our workouts and cheer each other on as we did so.  Over time, it has morphed into a group of good friends, some of whom know each other in real life, and many of whom who don't but feel like they do, posting about exercise, but also about our lives generally. About husbands, ex-husbands, health issues, family dynamics, struggles, celebrations and mournings. It goes well beyond fitness and exercise, at this point, and it's lovely.

It's one of the reasons I will never join the chorus of those railing against the evils and banalities of social media.  Through social media, I am able to connect on a personal, emotional level with people all over the world.  It has enriched my life immeasurably.

Anyway, this friend has been participating in my exercise challenges for years, ever since I started coaching.  She is a tremendously kind and thoughtful person, and always has something sweet and encouraging to say.

Yesterday she posted about visiting her parents, and about how, upon seeing her, her mother made harsh comments about her weight and the size of her butt.  She was, naturally, hurt and discouraged by the comment, though apparently, this is par for the course with her mother.

She remarked that instead of going to see her parents, she should come with me on my vacation to bask in the unconditional love that my family radiates.

I continue to be so eternally grateful for my family's love, comfort and support.  The past year and a half has been so hard, between the split and subsequent divorce, trying to figure out how to get my mojo back as 45-year-old woman trying to reenter the dating world, being a single parent, Emma's death, the recent custody issues.  My self esteem took a beating, I was sad and depressed and anxious, I gained weight and hated the way I looked, I felt old and ugly and undesirable.

Slowly but surely, I am pulling myself out of the mire.  Since January (when I started the online exercise group), I have worked extremely hard to get my fitness back, and I'm feeling and looking so much better - I've been lifting weights and eating properly, and I'm down two pants sizes.  I've tentatively tried to date, without much success yet, but at least I'm putting myself out there - something good will happen.  My children are happy and healthy and beautiful, and are navigating their new reality with a grace that makes me so proud.

Some of it is the natural ebb and flow of life - things are never all bad or all good all the time.  When you're faced with the worst things you can imagine (and honestly, the only thing worse than Emma dying would be one of my kids dying), you spend some time at rock bottom, but eventually things get easier if for no other reason than they can't get any worse and you learn how to deal.

And some of it is that, through it all, I always knew that no matter how often or how far I fell, my family would be there to help lift me up again, because that's what we do for each other.

There has never been a time in my life when my parents or my brothers, upon seeing me, didn't make me believe that I could do anything I set out to do.  That I was smart and strong and capable and worthy of love and happiness.

There has never been a time in my life when my mother has greeted me after a long absence with anything but, "you look wonderful."  Whether I was 10 pounds overweight, had a zit, hadn't slept regularly in weeks, whatever.

It breaks my heart to know that not everybody has that support system, because I cannot imagine living without it.

I feel like I'm on a roll.  Like I've got some momentum.  My India reunion went a long way toward replenishing some of my love and happiness reservoirs.  I'm still basking in that feeling.

And tomorrow, the kids and I are leaving for ten days on at the beach with my family.  My parents, my brothers and their wives, my nieces.  Ten days of relaxing and reading and swimming and going to the movies and just being with each other.  It's an emotional battery recharge.

It makes me believe that things can only continue to get better.  I will find love again.  My kids will continue to thrive.  I will, some day, achieve 6-pack abs.

Well, probably not that last one.  But I'll keep trying, with the help of my friends and family.

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