Tag Archives: Trauma

Outlived Convictions


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Over the past few years I’ve been redefining every aspect of my life.

Out of tragedies come blessings unseen and unexpected. Things that I could think up is nothing compared to what life, the universe and God could give me.  I watch every aspect of my existence unfold like a pretty origami.

I whisper, it’s okay to be like water.

Form only to be formless again.
Give up the concrete.

All the little things add up.

Like leaving people and situations that no longer serve me.  It’s amazing how much I kept due to systems, two-way arrangements and outlived convictions.

It’s crazy how much one single person can be a parasite plaguing your life because they made it all about themselves.  Those people I had in my life who took up space and rarely asked, “How are you doing?  How is your mood?  Do you need help with anything?  Is that person, place or thing serving you?”

I enjoy unfriending people I outgrew and who I no longer share the same thought patterns and commonality with.  Particularly, the atheists.

I love creating boundaries with whomever I’m dealing with currently.  I don’t think enough people do this.  It’s very liberating, and time is short to deal with too many things that weigh the shoulders like anvils.  For too long I lived with a heart and mind of steel.  Always, tough, guarded and heavy when the soul needs to feel light to explore freely.

Ah, and to lighten the load further.  I love throwing old clothes away that no longer suit my frame or non-gym mentality.

And would you believe me if I say, I learned many of my new self-care habits from observing my sweet cat.  The way she grooms herself numerous times a day in meditation.  The way she pulls on her nails when she knows they’re detaching because they stopped serving their purpose.  The way she loves herself.

How many people do you know practice self-care?

Personally, I don’t know many.  The people I know are too busy looking for instant gratifications, the next editor app to make themselves appear more beautiful than what they’re not while others are taking drugs trying to escape their own jails and hells.

In treating myself with more love, care and concern, it has allowed me to heal and move past some of my emotional, physical and mental trauma.  It allows me to become hyper-aware when others, including situations are trying to disregard my care simply by trying to take advantage of me in some way.

I’m always surprised by others and how callous they are.  Like how they don’t see the fine line between respect and disrespect, compliments as opposed to insults, caring versus being indifferent.

I wonder about politeness – and is it even real?  Or is everyone just pretending to give something just so they can get something back in return?

These days I’ve learned how to speak and express more whereas before I would write everything down on paper and express myself through emails.  There were times when people who’ve met me didn’t like me very much in the beginning because I was a mute.  I was a very content mute because I love observing.  Nowadays, I’ve found some satisfaction in communicating and volunteering random information with others.

I like that I bloomed in many ways.  I used to think that being vulnerable and open was being weak.  I guess, perhaps I was vulnerable and open with the wrong people.  I realized that with my continual kindness and personal growth, I can be strong by being soft and gentle, too.

-Pennington

Different Now


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Things are different now.  And of course, it’s expected as nothing in life remains the same.  I’ve become aware just how much I’ve held onto things I shouldn’t have due to fear like ideas, fantasies, job, people, places and things.  It’s strange holding onto something and being afraid of losing it.

Where does that come from?  How many reasons do we need to hold onto something?  How many reasons do we need for us to let go?  It’s kind of crazy because as people we live every day of our lives with things changing all the time, so what are we afraid of?

It’s scary to think of what we do, and what we say and how we are shaped by things simply because we’re doing what we can to keep it.  I know I bring a force that unfortunately places resistance to what is, which in the end, means I will suffer more than I must to maintain a keeping.  Well, is it worth it?

The past few years I’ve been learning and practicing with each new day how nothing is meant to last.  Everything is in an impermanent state – every face, feeling, state of mind, impression and precious moments.  And that’s something I’ve learned is okay.  As a matter of fact, with each change came more blessings and visions I could never imagine due to being rigid within my ways.

I did want things to remain the same for me like my identification with the fitness lifestyle and having my body conditioned.  However, everything is different as it’s supposed to be.  If it weren’t different, then I wouldn’t be different, but because I’m different, everything else is different.  It’s been different going back to the gym.  Sometimes it depresses me.

I still suffer from the physical trauma of having broken my ankle.  Trauma can remain in the body like the way muscle memory does.  I’ve been working on it for years now.  With trauma comes some undesirable associations like intrusive thoughts.  So, for instance, going to the gym and getting on a bike gives me anxiety as I believe (imagined; possibly irrational, but feels real) I’ll break my ankle again.  Before I get on the bike, an image will flash where I reinjure my ankle by slipping off the bike in horrible fashion – a visualization I would love to do without.

Aside from the mental intrusive thoughts, images or flashbacks I have, there are other things that come, which I call the lingering side effects of things that may never go away.  I’ll rock out on a cardio machine (preferably the bike) and within twenty-five minutes my feet will start to hurt and swell, each fueling one another.  Sometimes the pain creeps where my metal rod and screws are.  Other times the pain comes directly from the arches of my feet and travels upwards in an ache that makes me shudder and vulnerable.

Sometimes I stop for 30 seconds because I don’t want the machine to reset my time.  Other times I loosen my shoelace or take my sneakers off, so I can continue with my sixty plus minutes of cardio.  These things do depress me, especially if I look back on my past and feel like I was better than.  I don’t want to look back there because there is nothing there for me but pains of what I had, which will give me present sadness and if I’m not careful will rob me of all the blessings I do have today.

So, I don’t do plyometrics anymore.  I don’t jog anymore.  Maybe I will l someday despite the syndesmotic widening in my right ankle.  I focus on the blessings of having all my limbs.  I focus on how far I’ve come like when walking a single block would flare everything in my body because I had to learn how to walk again, which essentially meant walking the fire for me.  I focus on the resiliency and how good I feel when the endorphins fly like a thousand butterflies heading to the sunlight to fuel their wings with solar energy.

Things are different.  I’m forged by a new fire.  And it’s okay.

– Pennington

Updated Aspects (Training)


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The other half of this blog is here entitled Updated Aspect (Life) if interested.

Lately I’ve been having trouble getting into the gym to get in more cardio work.  Lifting has never been a problem once I enter the gym with my mind in the zone, scowl and broad shoulders.  Still, the emphasis is cardio because I have a lot of weight to lose by my standards.  This bad habit started when my ankle broke and when I isolated myself from the world.  I tried going back to the gym to be the fitness buff I was, but nothing was the same.  It was me against trauma, coming to terms with mental illness and recovering from the worst year of my life.

Nevertheless I needed to feel a rush; I needed to balance out the chemicals in my brain somehow.  I wanted to feel alive again.  I wanted to feel my body in motion, so I learned pretty quickly how to workout at home.  I looked at the upsides of home workouts:  not being bothered by anyone or anything.  Working out at home was safe and therefore it became my retreat.  I never thought I’d make fitness at home my full-time job.  I never thought I would pay a subscription to stream videos.  I also never thought I’d canceled a gym membership after being a gym-goer for 13 years.

Of course a month and a half later my headspace was in a much better place after I canceled the gym membership, but it still took a year and a half for me to get back into the gym a few times a week.  Still, a dilemma hovered big as an elephant – getting to the gym on a regular basis seem to be a problem.  This is also something I’ve never had before.  I started feeling like one of those average people.  I’ve never felt gym ordinary before.  I’ve always been the one to rise above the starting point.  Again, nothing is the same.  I’m in no rush to lose weight, which is very unlike me.  I used to drop 8lbs in a month, month after month like I was going to compete somewhere on stage.  Not this time.

The bright side is when I do go to the gym my adrenaline takes over and I forget about the time or when’s the last time I ate or what else I have to do after I stroll out the gym at midnight.  I don’t stop until I have nothing more in the tank – my usual – and I thank God that’s still the same to this day.  My mind-muscle connection is even more in depth, which I find both absurd and incredible.  I’m starting to believe for the first time in my life that less can actually be more.

I’ve changed my training style again.  I used to move around heavy weight all the time.  I toned it down.  I used to do a lot of volume.  I can’t say I toned that down.  Right now I’m focused on basic exercises (not unique ones) and variations of the basics.  I like working with my bodyweight.  I leave the isolated movements and core training for Ballet Beautiful and other Ballet-inspired workouts.  I do tons of unilateral sets since my accident – I still feel an imbalance within my body.  I do pump out high reps; mostly because I was always a 5-10 rep woman.  But how will my body react long-term when the switch has been/is 20 reps and over?  I also do strength-training at home in circuit-training fashion at least 2 times a s week.  Also, twerking which is a fun way to do cardio at home.

I notice other things I don’t do anymore in the gym I used to do is scout out who I wanted to compete with for poundages or on cardio machines.  At this moment, I don’t have the urge to compete with anyone anymore because I’m in my own groove and free in my own zone.  This is both good and bad.  Good because fuck everybody else in the gym – I’m here for me yet bad because you can always get extra drive and push yourself further when you and the stranger are knowingly competing with one another.

So, what about this gym ordinary thing?  I’ve been giving thought to what I have to do to make sure I get into the gym at least 2-3 times a week every month.  I shouldn’t be comparing myself to the 5-6 times a week of cardio I used to do especially because I’m not feeling it.  At the moment, I don’t want to live in the gym like I used to.  I want to perform more than the minimum, but live out of the gym.  But, what can I do differently?  What did I used to do before to get in the gym multiple times a week for hours at a time?

Well, for one I didn’t make excuses.  Two, I always made sure to established good work ethic every single time I stepped foot in any gym.  Three I would think about the professional fitness enthusiasts and how busy their lives are and just how they make time to get their cardio in multiples times a week.  If they could do it, so could I.  Four, I need to create a set routine, one I can’t easily get out of and also with at least 3-4 back up plans just like I used to do.

However, I think I kept this long enough.  Also, I’m open to suggestions.  Please don’t say running, jogging or walking because I’ll cut you with my ankle bone.  Walking still hurts me and this is one of the main reasons I go to the gym to do cardio because I can sit on a machine (bike) and burn calories away with minimal pain.

Happy training!

-Pennington

Barrier Break


A year and a half ago my life changed when I fell backwards on the skateboard and my foot got caught in the back of my other leg just before my bodyweight came crashing down on it and I broke my ankle.  My life changed just because I wanted to have fun, just because I desired to take risk, just because I desired to feel emancipated.  I made a choice despite peer pressure.  I made a choice despite my beginner status.  I made a choice because of adrenaline because of confidence and that single moment changed my life in a nanosecond.

After the cast, wheelchair, crutches and learning how to walk all over again I became afraid of everything from tying my sneakers to going outside.  I also didn’t like anyone.  I felt I couldn’t relate anymore with others.  The people who I thought would be there when the chips were down weren’t even there.  So I kept myself in isolation because this felt easiest.  I wasn’t feeling the world.  During the process I questioned the world.  I debated on my entire existence.  I no longer identified with the biggest part of my life – fitness.  I only identified with healing and recovery.

So I became afraid of everything living in a repeated trauma.  The body is an amazing machine.  Still, the psychological portion is where my issue exists.  For a good amount of time I didn’t want to walk on my crutches from fear of injuring and falling again.  After the cast came off and I could walk without an extreme limp I had the problem of wanting to step in the shower because I could slip in there too.  To this day I fight through many different mental and physical barriers.  I tell myself, “I’m a warrior.  I’m fine.  I can do this.  Everything will be okay.”

But no matter how wintry or full of spring it is, going outside is another battle because stepping on or stepping off the curb sends an apprehensive trigger within.  Then in a split second an image appears with a thousand ankles all lined diagonal breaking at the same time and the bones make a big sharp crunch sound.  This is where I remain frozen.  I get lightheaded.  I feel the panic and anxiety creeping like mad ants throughout my entire body.  I stand on the sidewalk like a lost little lamb trying to hide my terror from everyone outside.  I stand under the shade for 5-20 minutes or find the nearest bench I can sit and rely on.  I try to shake it out my head like it’s the nightmare it has been for over a year plus but it’s painfully difficult.  I wonder when these fears and worries will take flight?

Time, strength, online friends, partner support and my current therapist have been by my side.  I had to break wall after concrete wall in order to get to an elevated place.  What I learned is recovery comes in different stages.  Healing takes forever and a day even with positive self-talk.  Now I have to push through a new obstacle – one I used to love doing actually – riding a bike.  Before the accident I remembered loving to cycle.  I remembered the feeling of the wind giving me foreplay all over my body with its soft breeze.  I remembered feeling like a madwoman cycling and eating down bridge after bridge like some sort of luxury freedom like a huge accomplishment.

But now I’m scared.  Once again mental preparation becomes my only way through.  Like everything else, I’ve come very far, and baby steps are how I work back to the old or with the new.

 -Pennington