Finding Strength in Grief (FF)

I’ve been reticent to write about my more personal journey emotionally and mentally through this 50 day transformation. It seems kind of cliché, but when you work hard to push your body to its limits, you make breakthroughs in other ways. And sometimes, the revelations are ones you were not expecting, and they take some sorting out. So this is me, sorting it out.

I want to start by thanking those of our readers who have reached out to me personally or through the blog to offer condolences and love to me and my family. My mom is one tough cookie and even though a month ago we weren’t sure she’d make it to Christmas, here we are, three-quarters of the way through January, and she is still fighting. You can read more about her progress here if you are so inclined.

If you have followed our blog for some time, you know that I hold very little back in my writing. The catharsis it provides is something I cherish. It is my strongest crutch and one that is always there for me. Writing has no appointments, no distractions, no kids…it just has time and space. I can curl up in it and let it keep me safe and warm. People who don’t know me in my day-to-day life get to know me on a very deep and real level (whether they want to or not!). The older I get, I find there is very little reward in holding in my true feelings. Obviously it is relative upon the situation, but as the old saying goes, “The truth will set you free.”

My truth as of late has been…confusing, to be honest. I’m very heavily torn between the palpable grief and fear I feel in this process of (eventually) losing my mother and the elation and pride I feel at following through with my fitness goals. It’s as though I am Rubber Man and I’m constantly being pulled in opposite directions. Two emotions that are so very far away from one another.

When I first wrote about my mom, I talked about trying to stop destroying myself while I felt so destroyed. Yet now, the question has shifted ever so slightly. How can I feel so healthy and strong while my mom deteriorates? Why should I be able to feel happy when this incredibly sad thing is occurring in my life? This is a battle I fight daily. I am having a difficult time compartmentalizing them so they don’t interfere with one another.

The facility where my mom is now living is lovely. The staff is fantastic and supportive, and they are giving her wonderful care. But I still wish she was home. I wish there was a way we could provide her the care she needs and allow her to be where she wants. While she wasn’t complaining much at first, a certain sparkle has left her eyes as time has gone on. She doesn’t want to interact with other residents and when I’m there, she’d rather watch TV. Her dementia is progressing. She still recognizes me, but sometimes there are just a few beats before she knows who I am. Her eyesight is beginning to fail so she can’t read anymore, which is one of her favorite things. I can’t remember a time when she didn’t have a book in her hands. Her lungs are stable, her oxygen levels where they should be. It’s a very different, improved experience – health-wise – than what we were living with just one short month ago. However, part of the mom I know and love seems to have already left.

It has been reassuring to know she is being well-cared for and the responsibility no longer weighs on our shoulders. But it is still so difficult. I leave so early in the morning to make my workouts; I’m working a lot of hours to help bridge the gap as my husband still looks for employment; I see my children for only an hour or so each evening because of these things. I wonder if I’m being too selfish for taking hold of this opportunity to help myself while others need me. I wonder if I am taking advantage of my husband being gone so much. I wonder if I should work less to spend more time with my mom. I wonder what will happen to my family if I don’t work as much as I can to ensure we stay afloat. I wonder how long I can keep up this frenetic pace. I wonder if there is one right answer to any of these wonderings.

But the focus and control that has manifested from pushing my body out of its comfort zone has been a pleasant side effect I didn’t know I needed. The fog has cleared and I have purpose. I am no longer depressed, nor does it feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I am able to enjoy the little things I was overlooking when I was buried in my sadness. I know it’s going to get hard again as my mom continues to slip away, but right now, I feel loved and strong and happy. So I have to believe I am doing what’s best for everyone by putting my physical, emotional, and most importantly, mental health at the forefront. I have to believe that, or I will crumble.

So I’ll just keep showing up and, hopefully, I’m doing the next right thing.

Inspire. Motivate. Move.

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