Thursday, March 10, 2011

Gym Hamster: Week 6 - Learning to Breathe

I love this little contemplative hamster! Life has been challenging this week. I've made it to the gym... but stress hit an all time high on Tuesday. I had to deal with a family crisis. In the past I'm not sure I would have been bold enough to share about this publicly... but we all need to share our struggles. While details can still be private... it's important to know we aren't the only ones who deal with very hard and very personal family challenges. Alcoholism is a silent disease that is all too often ignored or avoided. It's time to stop avoiding the issues and face the problems that alcohol can cause.

Alcoholism has deep roots in my family. It's the reason I hate the smell of beer or liquor on anyone's breath. It's the reason I get nervous around anybody who's drinking. Alcoholism can tear families apart. It causes unnecessary worry, stress, and health problems. Even (maybe especially) when you're not the one drinking. It's like a cancer that just will not go away... It's especially hard when it effects the people closest to you. It's hard not to blame. It's hard not to be angry. It's hard not to want to shake sense into somebody... even though you know that's not really possible. It's hard to realize sometimes people are absolutely responsible for their own actions and they have to learn how to deal with the consequences. It's hard to realize that sometimes people do not want to change. And as much as you want to help them and as much as you wish things were different... you have to deal with life as it is and always hope for the best.

The crisis hit Tuesday night. We were supposed to head over to a GF support group meeting, but it was disrupted. I spent a good part of that evening on the phone with family members until I knew things were okay for the moment. Often incidences like this can move me into a panic attack. While I'm in the midst of the situation I can be calm, controlled, and directive... but once the wind has blown and settled... the panic can set in. The anger, the frustrations, the sadness, it all can just come to a head...and all those emotions balled up into one can result in some serious emotional eating. That's my alcohol... the food.

But with the help of my husband... I took a different approach that night. I did eat a few chips (it was 9 -I counted! lol) for some crunch action. Then I stopped and thought about what I could do to immediately help myself deal with the situation. My husband made me a cup of hot tea sweetened with honey... and I pulled out the laptop and went online to a wonderful site called "Step Chat" which is an amazing site that provides free, online "AA" and "Al-Anon" meetings. These meetings are held in online chatrooms, but they are run by volunteers in a very, very professional manner and it was exactly what I needed. By God's amazing timing there was a meeting just a few minutes after I logged onto the site. I felt such an immense sense of relief after sharing my story with the support group that I just felt the frustrations and stress simply release away. If you know me well you know I'm a very private person... it's hard for me to share such deeply personal things... but I wanted to share this with you because it was so healing for me. I will continue to attend these online meetings several times a week if I can.

I was proud of myself for not immediately turning to food. I was proud of myself for being willing to deal with the situation right then and there and not ignore it. I was proud of being able to be strong enough to cry and know it was okay. I know that's a huge step for me... and I'm thankful for friends who have been brutally honest with me about getting help with my emotional struggles.

So I've done a lot of breathing this week. A lot of listening to my body. In a way I'm thankful for the crisis that happened this week. Sometimes we don't know how strong we can truly be until we are put to the test and have the patience, strength, and faith to get through it. Breathe.

It's been a great week at the gym. While I don't officially have a weigh in until Saturday I know I'm down at least a pound this week! A WHOLE pound! I was really stalling there for a few weeks so to see that kind of progress is incredibly encouraging and invigorating.

I've also turned to exercise this week not only to get healthy, but to get serious stress relief. Punching it with every step on the treadmill, every turn of the recumbent bike, every knee lift with the ark trainer I dealt with some serious issues on those machines. And I'm thankful. And I still deeply love my family despite the struggles.

I'm breathing.  I'm blessed and I AM STRONG.

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