As the decade closes it's unbelievable to look back on how much change can happen in 10 years. I think of who I started the decade as at 25, and if I was to meet that girl today I wouldn't even recognize her. I would want to give her a giant hug, tell her that her whole world is about to come crumbling down, but that it's all for the best. I'd tell her to let people come in and out of her life without so much attachment or fear.
2010 I started 2010 at 25 newly engaged and surrounded by people I thought would be in my life forever. If you would have asked me at the time, I would have told you I was happy in love and was sure I was marrying the right person.
I lost someone I loved very much unexpectedly in February. This caused me to go numb for a few months and my fiance to stray. By September 2010 I was single - heartbroken - financially ruined - depressed and less than half of those "friends" remained in my life.
I spent 3 days on my bathroom floor through the long weekend. I couldn't even eat.
It was the first time I had been suicidal. I didn't see it coming. I remember my sister calling me at one point to say she was worried I was going to intentionally drive off the road. I loved my nephews too much to ever attempt to hurt myself in any way, but I certainly wished I was dead for most of that year. I felt like a failure in every way. I couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wasn't wise enough yet to understand that the universe was doing me a favor.
I would walk my dog for hours after work because I had too much anxiety to be in my condo by myself. I needed to call people to come to sleep over so I could function. It was a tough lesson for me to learn that many people I had supported through breakups over the years were not so willing to repay the favor. On the flip side of that many people, I wouldn't have expected to help me reached out.
I felt embarrassed being around anyone who knew my story. I deleted all social media and changed my email and phone number. I received backlash and negativity from people who thought I had deleted them personally. Many so-called friends didn't bother to reach out to hear my side of the story before drawing their conclusions based on his side of things.
There were many times at work I had to disappear into the office in the middle of a class to make phone calls to get calmed down through a panic attack. I was blessed to be in a supportive work environment at the time. Thankfully, my coworker at the time never made me feel bad about this, and he picked up the slack where it was needed.
Martial Arts was my savior. For months I kept hopping around to new gyms so I could train where no one knew me. It was the only 2 hours out of the day I could feel somewhat normal.
Late 2011 I found a groove as new amazing people slowly came into my life. I tried out for the Olympics in boxing and channeled all of my pain into training. I had a roommate come into my life who was a much-needed support at the time as well as a new gym I loved. It's amazing how life throws new people at you in your time of need as soon as you're ready to let the old ones go. I was not nearly healed from my "almost marriage" - but I was certainly having fun trying new things.
I'll never forget the time one of my senior students looked at me after I made her laugh and said: "It's so nice to see you happy again, I was worried about you and I missed your silliness." It broke my heart that my students were so affected by my pain in 2010-2011. I spent the following years doing my best to be as silly as possible... Dance moves included.
2012 - I won 2 world titles and many martial arts tournaments. Training life and work-life was great. But emotionally I felt alone even though my fitness levels and finances were finally on track, loneliness was a strong tone of the year. Winning those titles didn't do anything to change my life the way I thought they would. I felt empty inside afterward as I had no one special to share it with. The wounds from my called off wedding were healed, but I felt unlovable on a deeper level. I needed to deal with some childhood trauma and self-worth issues. I began going to AL-ANON meetings. That was my first step to falling in love with therapy.
2013 - 2015 Were a few great years of travel - competing - and having single adventures. I was finally comfortable enough in my 30's to enjoy casual relationships and enjoyed being single without so much loneliness. Although holidays were usually tough. Tinder and Bumble were certainly a fun distraction. I pretty much gave up on finding love or having kids, that made me more available to just enjoy things for what they were. I started caring less about other's opinions.
Many girl's trips to Vegas, Montreal, and a trip to Thailand made for an interesting life. I rented out my condo for 4 months so I could enjoy a gypsy summer of travel. That was a fun summer! I worked at Cowboys part-time and through the Calgary stampede, such an experience :) I let friends come in and out of my life without any resentments. I had many friends in these years that were temporary in the sense that, we enjoyed each other when we were both in the same place, and they floated out once they found someone or were no longer craving adventures. I started paying more attention to letting things go when they had run their course.
I competed as much as possible and won a 3rd world title. I fell in love with Jiu-Jitsu and did an MMA fight. I earned my blue belt. Found team Emergent and got to train at Tristar multiple times - These were some of my most favorite years. so many adventures and experiences.
I started to look at every lonely holiday differently in 2014.
I would think "if this is my last single Christmas ever... What would I look back on and wish I would have done???" And I would do that. I would talk to the hot stranger or hop on a plane and go somewhere I couldn't really afford. I'm so glad I had a few years like this before I settled down and that I changed my thinking.
I hate how society can make people feel like they should be at a different point in their life than where they are at... it never helps anything.
"If you're going to be 30 and single... be awesome at it"
2016 - The program I worked in for 8 years and loved dearly at Jack James High School was closed and I was transferred to a new school. Although I started off being as positive as possible it was an extremely toxic environment for me. My work life became my worst nightmare. Every day was a struggle. I couldn't sleep at night or enjoy my day. Tinder/Bumble swiping was a fun distraction at times.
I also lost a very close friend to suicide. I miss her dearly and talk to her all the time. I am proud to say that although it did devastate me, it did not cripple my life the way previous deaths had. I did not blame myself this time or wish I could have changed it. I knew I did my best and it was out of my hands. That she is all around and proud of me.
2017 - A Traumatic Brain injury caused me to quit martial arts, call off a fight for the first time, and I could no longer do my job as my brain would panic in noisy areas. I fell in love with the mountains and yoga. Went to Nepal in desperation to not hate everything about my life. Serious depression nearly caused me to give up. CTE is no joke. I needed antidepressants for the first time in my life as well as sleeping pills. Nepal saved me. I put that entire trip on my credit card because I knew how badly I needed it.
2018 - Post-concussion symptoms plagued my entire year. I couldn't work, be in large groups or handle stress. I fought a battle with the insurance company that entire year and racked up over 50 000$ worth of Debt. I also couldn't exercise, had very little energy and gained 32Lbs. My concentration and focus were limited and I had a big fear that I had permanently damaged my brain. Funnily enough ... 2018 is also the year I found love again. 8 Years of being single after calling off a wedding in 2010. Someone who had been right in front of me proved to be exactly the man I had always wanted ... It just took my life being slowed down for me to notice him. And there's no better feeling than having someone fall in love with you when you are at your worst.
2019 - I finally won my 17 month battle with the insurance company - slowly got off of all my medications and antidepressants - Permanently resigned from the Calgary board of education after 15 years of service and healed my brain through holistic ways. Got certified in Qigong & Reiki. I also started life/wellness coaching.
I Have done a lot of inner work to learn to love myself no matter what my circumstances are. I've been back at the gym for 3 months now and it's safe to say all my concussion symptoms are finally gone. More importantly - I'm no longer upset that I'm not as fit as I used to be. I'm accepting myself as I am now.
Quitting a high paying secure job to go travel the world and pursue my dream would have scared me in the past ... But I couldn't be surer of my path. At the age of 35, I can finally say that I love myself! Without the trophies, without being at my goal weight, without knowing where my next paycheck is coming from... I love myself... Right now... As I am. I believe in my dream and my ability to help to teach others to love themselves and heal.
It has taken so much trauma to teach me the things that I have learned ... and I know my concussion was a gift even though it was tough to handle. I'm so blessed that it happened.
So wherever you are in your story... Know that you are not stuck there! Life changes and you can adapt! As I move forward with my travel blog in 2020 I won't only be posting the good stuff as I have in the past. You saw me hiking all the time in the mountains, but what I didn't tell you was that it was the only thing I was able to enjoy with my post-concussion symptoms. Most other things in life were extremely challenging.
Wow, that was quite the rant to close off 2019!
For all you single people out there... I hope it makes you feel better knowing that I was alone for 8 years before finding love at 34. I know I needed to learn something's before I was ready... And I'm glad it took that long.
Happy new year everyone! Please reach out for help if you are not in a good place.