Trigger warning: sexual abuse
I grew up in St. Augustine, Florida in what appeared to be a "perfect" family. I had a little brother who loved baseball, I was a cheerleader, my parents seemed happy, my step-dad worked hard and we looked perfect in our suburban, ranch-style house. The outside world had no idea until I was 38 years old that my step-dad was an alcoholic who sexually abused me for six years, starting at the age of 11. Eleven. Eleven years old. By the way, my oldest child turned 11 last Sunday, September 16. The age where you are still a little kid, but can do SOME big girl stuff. Eleven, so innocent and sweet but with a little sass. Like me at that age, my 11-year-old does not know about sex yet.
I still can't put together the list of feelings this brought into my already-confusing, big-kid/little-kid/tween world, but I do know that I was far too ashamed and terrified to speak up. I learned to live my life in fear and fake my happiness. I had a friend who ran cross country and I started to join her on runs when I was 15. It felt amazing. I learned that when I ran, my endorphins kicked in and I was able to escape the pain, anger, and list of other thoughts and feelings in my head. Nobody knew about my demons, but running was my therapy.
I ran distance for the next 23 years, including five marathons, 40 half marathons and too many 5Ks to count. I went away to college in 1995 and lost touch with that beautiful friend. We reconnected at our 10-year high school reunion and have stayed in touch ever since. She doesn't know my story (I have only recently become comfortable sharing it) or how she has touched my life, but I will be forever grateful for our friendship and how she unknowingly helped me. She is still running all these years later. Go Kim!!
Following my third pregnancy, I learned that my sciatica would prevent me from running distance. I became depressed. I was programmed to use physical fitness as my outlet starting at a young age and I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I had some friends who urged me to try CrossFit and as intimidating as it was, I gave it a try. I went the first day, and even though I couldn't walk up my stairs the next day, I went back.
It was around this time that I confessed many years ago I was the victim of horrible sexual abuse. It exploded like a nuclear bomb in my family, and it was horrible. And every single day, I went to CrossFit. Some days I was so sore I couldn’t even walk properly. Some days I was so tired from having three kids. Some days I just didn’t feel like going, and I still went. I can’t count how many times I have thrown weights at the gym, while yelling to myself in my head, “This is not your fault.” How many times I have counted reps in a workout while telling myself that I am finally free from the demons that crippled me nearly my entire life. I used to think that my story made me weak, but now I am well into adulthood and I realize that my story makes me STRONG.
Running and CrossFit have made me strong, both on the inside and on the outside. Thank you Kim Bott and Train Harder CrossFit. I will take these years to my grave for they turned me into a WARRIOR.