Trigger Happy

Just do that thing.

You know what I’m talking about. The thing that scares you. The thing you’ve been putting off. The thing you love. Stay on the train, this might take a minute to get through but I promise you we will arrive safely back at the station.

The longer I’m granted time here on this earth, the more I realize that you just have to do it. Nike may have coined the phrase to sell a pair of sneakers, but they were on to something. Something much bigger. It goes beyond sports, professional athletes, and regular people like you and me trying to get fit. You can insert that phrase into every area of life if you think about it.

Detaching from negative and toxic people is hard. Especially when they are your family. But if you just do it, one day you will wake up and revel in the peace you have created in your life. No relationship is worth sacrificing your peace of mind. I once had a friend I knew nearly my whole life. We called each other best friends once, but really we just had known each other our entire lives. I recognized that had we met as adults, we probably wouldn’t be friends. That was a bit unnerving. As children, she was a habitual liar. I’m not sure how we all stayed friends with her but she had a certain amount of charm that made us stay, and really she just gave us something to talk about. A stutter surfaced that was severe, and to this day I am convinced it was a direct result of her lying. Fast forward forty years, and she informed me one day on the phone she was taking high school physics online because her son was failing high school. She went on to tell me that she had offered to pay her highly intelligent younger daughter to do it, but she had declined (smart girl). The whole thing was tough to listen to. I was just finishing up a long overdue degree and was tired from working two jobs and going to class. I can put up with a lot of things, but lying, dishonesty, and cheating is not on the short list. Detaching was hard. But it was the proverbial straw that broke the camels’ back for me. After a lifetime of friendship and shared secrets, I let her go. The freedom from her daily BS has been liberating.

Those of you that follow me know that my mother abandoned me as a little girl, and again repeatedly as an adult. Much of the same behavior exists with my remaining siblings, and the ability to finally leave it behind has made my life a calmer, happier place. I can’t control who my family is, but I can control how I respond to them. I can control who I call friend. The circle grows smaller as I do the thing, that which brings peace to me in my life. Not to say that new friends don’t find their way in, they do, but the small crowd I call friends are the cream of the crop. They are the caviar of friends and I feel blessed to have them in my life.

Stay on the train.

Yesterday I was in my local grocery store. The day after the 4th of July in the U.S. was holiday still for many people, including myself. The lines were long. While grocery shopping and long lines are on my list of things I do not like, I have learned to navigate it with calmness. What happened next, as our line extended well into the men’s clothing department, triggered me.  An older woman, who presumably was the grandmother of the children she was with, asked the older girl (who was probably 5 years old) to get a belt off the rack. She then began to beat the crying little boy, who was surely not even two years old, with the belt. He was screaming, as you can imagine. The other people in the line were just staring in horror, doing nothing. No workers came to intervene. No one did anything. I dropped the two items I was carrying and called the local police. As I went to leave the store, I saw a worker and told her to wait for the police, and that the screaming was a small boy being beaten with their merchandise in checkout line 13. I went to my car and couldn’t even leave the parking lot, I was shaking so badly. Minutes later, while no police had yet arrived, the woman was being escorted out of the store by a worker.

I went home and cried. I cried for the little boy. I cried for my lost former friend, who could not understand what she had done wrong. I cried for the old boyfriend who thought he loved me, but really just was in love with the idea of loving a woman, any woman. I cried for my father, and the pain I caused him as a kid because of all of my mother’s brainwashing. I cried for my sisters, and their eating disorders and anger they have carried with them their entire lives. I cried for my brother, who died far too young and that I miss so very much. I cried for my mother, who has never learned how to give or receive love. It was a rough night.

I woke up this morning angry, done crying, and still somewhat triggered. I went to the gym at 5am. I lifted weights angry (which is actually a remarkably good workout). I couldn’t get the little boy from yesterday out of my head. I was mostly angry that the other people didn’t step up. There is a time to mind your business, and there is a time to just do the thing. The uncomfortable thing.  I did the thing no one else would do. I alerted the proper people. I did not approach the woman or cause a Jerry Springer scene, she was already doing that all on her own.

I pumped weights harder, heavier, and more purposefully than I have in a long time. Then I got on the treadmill and I ran. I don’t run….but I ran. The music in my earbuds was loud and angry. I ran until I nearly fell off the treadmill. A woman asked me if I was okay as I stood there and wiped the sweat off my neck and brow. “Yes,” I said, “I’m just angry.”

She smiled at me and said “I completely understand. Get it girl.”

I did get it. I did the thing. The thing that scares me. Going to a serious gym full of weight lifters is scary when you’re a flabby older woman. But I do it. Because the difference between me and a lot of people is I don’t care what people think of me. I do what I know what works for me. I go to a private gym now, where the people are serious about what they’re doing, and it is truly a no judgement zone. No one tells me I am strong or brave but that woman today said the right words. Get it girl. In other words, do that thing.

A cup of coffee later, and I’m good. My anger has dissipated, even though that little boy’s pain will sit with me for a while. I started to think about my gratitude jar, and how empty it is this year. Then I started to think about the things I am happy and grateful about. I’m glad I was there for that little boy. I’m glad I can afford a gym that supports me.  I’m grateful for a father who loves me in spite of the rotten teenager I was to him. I’m thankful for a career I love and for the opportunity I was gifted to finish a degree. I am blessed beyond measure with a wonderful daughter, who is loved by a wonderful man I adore. I am thankful for the wonderful people I call friend, old and new.

Today is my dear friend’s birthday. I am delighted to spend the day with her, free from the anger that took up my early morning hours. I am honored that in spite of all the things that she could be doing, she chooses to share such an event with me. Birthdays are a big deal to me. The day you were brought on this earth to share in this life is monumental. I am thrilled to do this thing with you.

There’s going to be hiccups in this life. The roads will be tough to navigate sometimes. But every new day is an opportunity to do the things that scare you and the things that you love.

Just do it.

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