When I was a little girl, I trained to be an Olympic track and field athlete. I began competing in preschool and training at the gym at 5 am by age 7.
By 9th grade, I didn’t care. I lost my dreams. I found alcohol, drugs, and eating disorders. The Olympics was no longer even a thought.
At age 23, I attempted suicide and rather than passing away, I suffered a massive cerebellar stroke that confined me to a wheelchair. Fast forward to 2019 and I was diagnosed with ataxia. I have only 1/4 of my cerebellum left.
Being told that I could “never” do anything made me give up on life. At some point, I thought: I CAN! I decided to do my best to ignore the negative labels that people gave me and all of the “nevers”. I decided that it was time I started feeling good about myself and to stop trying to to prove to others that I was enough.
I have found support in some unlikely places. People who love me for myself. People who do not label me and are simply phenomenal human beings. I was completely taken aback to be admitted into by a community of older weightlifting women. I first showed up in a picture lifting a walker. Knowing that each time I was able to raise my walker a little higher, walk to my dumpster on my own, sweep my own floor. etc., these women were helping me move. Only they didn’t know that. They didn’t know how exciting it was and STILL is for me to show them: “YOU GUYS!! LOOK WHAT YOUR ENCOURAGEMENT IS DOING!!”
I would absolutely never change the fact that I am faced with my current Issues. They have changed my life for the better I certain ways. They have taught me responsibility, a sense of awe of how difficult things are for some people, and gratitude for literally everything. Every minute I exist, everything I am, is a gift. I absolutely REFUSE to waste it. When everything you believed was important and everything you took for granted is taken away from you, you realize at some point that you are at a crossroads. Either give up and literally die or accept your lot with dignity and grace. I do not know what my future holds, but you can be damned certain that I am not going down without a fight! We all have choice. Many things are beyond my control, the effort I put towards myself is up to me!
When I was at my very first powerlifting meet, the spotter behind me, the other athletes, the crowd, and the entire USAPL conglomerate reinforced what so many had told me that I matter. When I approached each lift, I thought of how my incredible coach always tells me that she believed I could do what others believed impossible. Knowing she and my team in Michigan were cheering for me and that my fiancé was pushing me as well, helped me to be the best me and lift that weight.
So I did.
My fiancé’s face was the last face I saw before I stepped onto the platform. He was communicating with my coach and I know they were thinking this:
Have hope. Believe in the impossible. Just keep going. Go. Just do it .
Leaving a USAPL meet with 2 gold metals was something beyond anything I thought possible, and I couldn’t wait to tell the world.
How has all their unconditional love has changed things? It has quite possibly changed all of the old negative labels and perceptions to positive one. Simply supporting another human being and inspiring them to believe in themselves did the seemingly impossible. Those “old ladies” took an underdog from curling a can a soup to deadlifting 220 pounds and for that I will be forever grateful.
This is inspiring and insightful. The rawness speaks to me