As part of my attempt to reclaim myself once again, I’ve returned to crossfit after being MIA for approximately one year. I had always read about other people’s experience with crossfit and they’re declarations of how it “saved my life” and other such testimonials. They were down on their luck, lost a loved one, depressed, obese, you name it.
When I was in the thick of my divorce haze, lost and wandering aimlessly from one day to the next, I wanted to be one of those people. I wanted it to keep me on track, give me a reason to get up in the morning, make me want to take care of myself like everyone was telling me to do. I wanted it to be my religion.
Basically, I wanted it to save me.
It didn’t. Plain and simple, it really didn’t. If anything, it became one more thing that I was failing to do well. Up until the Thanksgiving before everything disintegrated in my marriage, I had been pretty regular and worked hard enough to feel good about it. I looked forward to going, not only for the workouts but for the people that I saw and talked to. It was a sense of community that was all mine and I loved the feeling. I was never a truly committed crossfitter, eating strictly Paleo and working on my kipping pull-ups while I kept track of my time on Fran with determination to beat it, but I was “good enough”. Enough to keep me coming back with the intention of someday getting better at some of the challenges or lifting heavier. I may not have been achieving washboard abs or a killer muscle up, but I was happy.
When my world turned sideways at that time, nothing looked or felt the same. The things that brought me joy, made me happy and feeling like I was accomplishing something each day, all seemed to melt into the background. There was a fuzzy haze surrounding my brain, making even the simple things overwhelming.
I couldn’t do the math.
It hit me one day as I slogged through a set of lifts, and realized that I could not figure out the weight percentages, or remember how many reps I had done. I just stared at the bar, and then at my phone app, willing them to tell me the answers. The math, simple fifth grade style math, was suddenly more than my brain would allow. It wasn’t just irritating, it was disappointing and depressing. I was trying so hard to focus, to take my mind off of my “real life” and escape for only one hour, and it was all remaining a blurry mess.
I went home and cried. Then I sent an email telling my trainer that I needed to take some time off and would hopefully be back in time for summer. I was gone for a year.
I worked on myself from the inside out during that year. First being turned inside out from the ugliness of my divorce and dealing with the deep depression that I could no longer ignore. Then, when I could think more clearly after the divorce was final, and I had moved into my own home, I was ready to go back and try it again.
I was more than ready this time, I was excited. I was looking forward to finding “me” once again. And that “me” loved crossfit, and the people in my gym, and the friends that accepted me as the “worlds okayest crossfitter” (I have the t-shirt to prove it) I was ready to do the math. And I was ready to do my best, to commit to the process, and just bring the best version of myself to the gym. No judgement, no expectations. I just wanted to be in my happy place.
The funny thing is how some people have perceived my intentions to return to crossfit. On a few occasions I’ve heard the comment, “oh you’re working on your revenge body”. My ‘revenge body’? I find that an odd way to describe my reasons for going back.
I have thought back to the times, many times in fact, that I worked my ass off to look good for my ex-husband over the years. Honestly, I don’t think I ever really did it for myself over the last twenty years. I told myself that I was at the time, but deep down there was more at stake. I was always hoping that if I could somehow be more of what he wanted, (mentally, socially and physically) our relationship would improve.
Maybe I just wasn’t sexy enough?
Maybe I was letting myself go and didn’t even realize it?
I did Atkins for over a year, lost twenty pounds and fielded compliments from various people – friends, family, neighbors – making me feel great about myself. I had to buy new clothes to fit my slimmer figure, I had more energy, and I thought I was on the right track to reclaiming that girl that he was attracted to years before. It went mostly unnoticed.
Other times I have worked my ass off doing bootcamp classes, running 5k and 10k races, keeping a diligent food diary and eating low carb – just to look good for someone who rarely ever made plans for a “date night” with me, much less took any real notice of my changing body or the effort I put into it. I was part of the scenery.
The last time that I worked diligently to be the best physical version of myself was before the spring that he was offered his latest promotion. We went on a spring break family vacation that coincided with his company convention for a week. I even went out and bought a stunning navy lace dress, the clerk said it fit me like it was made for me, just to wow him at the opening cocktail party, so sure that he would be blown away by my transformation from frumpy housewife to hot sexy wife that he would want to cut out early just to have hot hotel sex with me.
Instead, he barely remembered to introduce me at the cocktail party (as usual) and left me to my own devices over dinner, sitting at the opposite end of the table, to help him entertain his clients that attended. I smiled, made conversation to keep clients entertained, and did my supportive spousal duty for the duration of the night. And later that evening, when I asked him if he was ready to go upstairs to our room, he chose to stay in the hotel patio area drinking with his colleagues and clients until 2am.
I went up to our hotel room alone. Once again.
The remainder of the week was pretty much more of the same. The kids and I were an accessory for his trip, part of the window dressing for his many colleagues and clients to appreciate him as a family man. Nothing more.
So, a revenge body is not what I am going for by any stretch of the imagination. What revenge would I enjoy with a rockin’ hot body now that we’re divorced? I’ve had that body more often than I care to remember during our marriage, and it didn’t make a single ripple in our relationship. It didn’t bring me any more satisfaction, or love, than my regular body did. If anything, it made me more miserable because nothing really changed. All of that work, all of that effort, and nothing really changed in the end.
I had tried to do it for someone other than myself most times, assuming that I would reap the benefits, he would finally love me the way I truly wanted him to love me.
He would see me, notice me, appreciate me. But he never did.
Not this time. This time I am doing it all for myself, without worrying about who will notice or appreciate the work that I put in to get there. There is no one I am trying to impress, to lure, to attract. It makes me happy, that’s my only goal. I plan my days around my workouts now, I look forward to them and to seeing the friends I have there. I am ready to be the best version of myself for myself.
This time, it is only about me. And maybe that is the best revenge?