A few days ago a wonderfully amazing man shared 5 words with me that resonated like nothing has before. Austin’s text simply said “I want to feel life”. Regardless of what he was replying to me about, that text stood out from everything else. In fact, I kept going back to it, and re-reading it, which sounds silly to me now, but I truly did. I didn’t just want to remember it. I needed to see it, I needed to let it wash over me, the way other words had affected me at certain times in my life. I knew those words had started a cascade inside me. I didn’t quite know why at the time, and I think that’s why I kept going back to them.
I woke up this morning with the meaning.
Today is a benchmark day for me. Its a 9 year Anniversary. Its a 1 month anniversary. And its a 1 year birthday for my kitten. Benchmarks, each and every one, yet I celebrate them much differently than I ever have previously.
I want to feel life…
When I looked back through all my posts on this 9 year anniversary of my gastric bypass, I see so many changes that I have gone through, not only in my body but also in the ways I think, about myself, my world and the people that share in it.
Nine years ago I wanted to be skinny. I didn’t want to be held captive by my body any longer. I wanted a new Amy. I wanted to shed the skin of the fat girl and become something entirely different. I thought I would emerge a butterfly from that fat girl cocoon that I had been hiding in that past 40 years.
Throughout the past years I have counted calories, pushed my body for a set of numbers that someone told me I needed to hit. I forced myself into so many other cocoons but never quite finding one that really fit for very long. I was born to eventually understand the term flibbertygibbet and I embraced it whole-heartedly.
Then I found focus in my fighting. When I started I was the poster child for ‘fat girl done good’ and things seemed to center around my weight loss. I embraced that, because it was part of who I was, and it always will be. But it wasn’t ALL of who I was. I found the athlete inside of me, yet I still didn’t feel quite like a butterfly should.
I went to Spain for the World Championships. I went to Poland for the World Championships. I went to Prague for the World Championships. I am an athlete, a fighter and a Champion.
I pushed my body. Hard. Harder than I probably should have in hind sight, because that’s what you do, you push and push and push and you never give up, you never quit, regardless of how you feel, regardless of what your body is screaming at you. YOU PUSH!!!
I went from one side of the spectrum to the other. I paid a price on both sides. I hid in both sides, never finding my place, never feeling settled, yet always feeling happy and content. I realize now, I never quite learned how to feel life. Before my surgery I was too busy eating, gaming and raiding. Working my life around my bad habits. Then when I lost my weight I was always too busy training, working out, running and fighting. I went too far on both sides, which for an addict, shouldn’t be surprising. If you’re fat you lose weight. If you’re an athlete, you work out. If you’re an addict, you do what you do to the extreme. I got well past 450 pounds pushing an extreme. I developed adrenal fatigue pushing an extreme.
Extremes is how I live. Its a fact that I can not deny. When forced to balance things, I feel like I am never giving enough. Never getting enough. Hence, pushing (good or bad) is part of the addiction.
Yet when those 5 words popped up on my screen…it finally made sense to me.
It doesn’t matter if I am 10 pounds heavier on this 12th day of April than I was exactly one year ago. I am stronger, I am healthier and I am more balanced than I was last year.
It doesn’t matter if I am not adding 3, 5 or 7 miles to my run log every other day. I am learning to balance a better way to make my body perform, and keep performing for a longer, better period of time.
I realized also in those five words that not everything will be black and white. I can’t contain my life in a set of numbers, whether its my weight, my sleep, my calories or even how many people I love.
From birth we are all taught how to live, how to be ‘better’ human beings. Society dictates who I am supposed to love, which sex I am supposed to love and even how many I supposedly can love at one time. Society tells me I should be a certain size, love a certain way, be a certain weight, maintain a certain bank account, follow a certain religion and so on, and so on and so on…what it doesn’t tell me is how to feel life. It tells me how to endure it, and teaches me how to fear it most of all.
Our parents were taught that, their parents were taught that before them. Then it all comes to a point and we follow doctrines out of habit, forced or otherwise, but habits none the less. To the extent that we end up limiting ourselves instead of growing. Then we hide ourselves away when we don’t fit into those unsustainable norms, when one of us decides we don’t want to be that way any longer, but we are afraid to be treated differently…thus we have an entire generation of people hiding the way they feel because its not supposed to be how life works. Society as a whole doesn’t want us to think for ourselves and I think that is part of the whole issue we have right now in politics…people are waking up and learning to feel life again, and that is straying from the norm…and the people that embrace that, wrong or not are the ones who are getting heard. But I digress…this isn’t about politics.
Today when I woke up I realized I had spent so much time getting my Armor submission photos done last night that I hadn’t remembered to take photos for my yearly update. I was panicked. Then I realized no one dictates how I mark this day, or that I HAVE to mark it in some way.
Today I choose to just simply feel life as it is…live today without numbers and enjoy the fact that I am still here. I was given a second chance at life 9 years ago and last Friday that was reinforced in ways that are still hard to talk about. Even when you get handed a second chance, it sometimes doesn’t work out so those five words have all the more meaning to me now.
I want to feel life.
Not fear it. Not endure it. Not suffer through it. Not count it down…
I want to enjoy it. I want to appreciate it. I want to feel every single moment…
And I will be forever thankful for those people who come into my life and leave their mark on my soul.
Because sometimes all it takes is five words…