Tuesday, April 23, 2013

5 Years

April marks a pretty big milestone in my life.  It's my Healthiversary!!  You might be wondering, "Al, what on Earth is a Healthiversary??"  And you'd be completely right to wonder, since I totally just made that word up! (HA!)

At any rate, a healthiversary is an anniversary of health.  That's right, I got healthy in April... 5 years ago.  Well, that's the month I'm choosing to recognize as my first step towards recovery.  April of 2008... I had had enough.  I spent most of that year watching my team do gymnastics.  Instead of doing the sport I loved I was meeting with a nutritionist, a counselor, a therapist, our team doctor and our athletic trainer.  I was having daily conversations with my coach, my mom and my roommates
(add in all of the people I mentioned above), and I was DONE talking about it.  I think I was honestly just exhausted by the fuss... and I knew what I needed to do.

I needed to get better.  I needed to get healthy.  And if I ever wanted to do gymnastics again, I needed to do it FAST.  So I worked hard, extremely hard, at it every day.  I wrote in a journal, I researched strategies, I talked to the six billion individuals who cared about me, and I prayed.

It was a very, VERY, long road.  One that started over a year before hand... and six and a half years later, I'm still walking the road of recovery.  Scratch that, I'm not walking anywhere.  I'm running... at a dead sprint.

It would be a crime for me to say that I'm 100% cured.  That would be wrong.  Because I'm not.  It's a conscious effort and a day to day choice for me to remain on this health journey.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  I had to crawl on my hands and knees out of a hole so deep I could barely see the light from the top and I am not falling back in.  I am out of that hole and miles away from where it lies, and very proud of the distance I've put between it and myself.

Things happen, and life gets hard, and I no longer resort to my old coping mechanisms. Or so I thought. This year, I,  and some of the people closest to me, went through a tragedy.  This was the first time I had been truly tested since I had been on my journey to recovery... and I failed at first.  I will whole-heartedly and honestly admit that I failed for a while.  I let my grief consume me for a long time, and I stumbled backward towards that hole... much closer than I would like to admit to.

The more I learned about the little girl we loved and lost, the more I learned about myself.  Avery didn't want me to fall back into that hole.  As a matter of fact, she absolutely wouldn't have it.  So she sent me some words that would act as a slingshot to get me farther away from the darkness than I had ever been.
I will always carry these words with me, &
have a constant reminder of her unwavering faith.

"I lift my eyes to the hills.  Where does my help come from?  My help comes from The Lord, the maker of Heaven and Earth." - Psalm 121

I've thought about those words a million times in the six months since she's passed.  And each time I find them to ring even more true than the time before.  Avery's faith was so deep and so unwavering, and she was so happy.  So, I found faith in Her faith... and I started to run again- Fast, and towards the light.

My life has been abundantly blessed.  Blessed with people who have encouraged me, supported me, and just plain refused to let me self destruct when it looked like that's the path I was headed down.  Those people: My family who love me more than anyone probably should, my coaches who showed me an abundance of patience, and my friends who loved me with their whole hearts and even though they couldn't understand what I was going through, they surrounded me with more love than I could have ever given them back.

Yep, I'm a lucky girl.

One of my best friends commented on my progress today... and said, "I know you still look out for others more than yourself, but you don't forget about yourself anymore... Your inner beauty has come through more than anything."  If I could even put into words what that statement means to me, I would.  But I can't.  This coming from a person who saw me through my absolute LOWEST, who cried with me and held me and never judged me. She told me I was beautiful day in and day out- even when I couldn't look her in the eye, because I knew she meant it and I wasn't ready to believe it.

Did I mention how great my friends are?

I came across a new Dove Ad.  (PLEASE watch this!!) About the way we see ourselves versus the way others see us, and I melted.  I knew this blog was approaching and this video was the icing on the cake.  I smiled watching it because I knew that the picture I could have helped draw five years ago would look EXTREMELY different from the picture I would help draw now.  I don't see those faults the way I used to.  When I look in the mirror... I see me.  That's it.  And I'm happy.

I hope that every woman can see themselves the way that their friends see them, or the way their boyfriends or husbands or Moms or daughters see them.  Don't hesitate to tell your friends they are beautiful.  They might not believe you right away, but a little positive reinforcement can go a long way. And so can a little help from above.  ;-)  (Thanks, Avery!!)

So... here's to my 5 year Healthiversary, to those who have offered any (and I mean ANY) support along the way... and to the next 5 years!!  

Love True-

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