Why I chose to Live

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“My childhood started off relatively typical- seemingly happy family living together under the roof of a big house. We spent time together, went on vacations, and had a crazy Aussie pup. We were a happy and healthy family. When I reached age 15, affairs ended my parent’s relationship and led to a fall out ending in a broken relationship with my father, who continues to be in and out of my life. My mom and I remained close until her secrets came to surface. I couldn’t fathom she would keep such a part of herself from me, when I entrusted her with every little thing. It hurt me. We were once best friends, but when given the ultimatum of choosing her 17-year-old daughter or her girlfriend, she chose the latter. I’ll admit, I spent a long while filled with resentment, confusion, anger, sadness in relevance to the abandonment- feelings we all get when losing a dear friend. It stung a bit more knowing it was the one person on the planet who is supposed to love me unconditionally. Demeaning words were exchanged, ones that would play on repeat like a damn broken record in my mind. I asked myself what was so wrong with me that my own mother didn’t want me. Depression and anxiety were the messengers of misery who visited often. I found solace in the gym and realizing that the situation reflected her true character and shortcomings as a parent. It helped my mental health tremendously.”

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“At age 19, December 30th, 2015, I was diagnosed with cancer. My boyfriend at the time left because I was “too much to deal with” speaking of my fear of the potential outcomes of my surgeries. The doctors conducted a lymphonodectomy and removed my cancerous cells and sent them off to be determined what stage I was. What an anxiety ridden two weeks that was. The cancer was removed at about .02 millimeters away from my blood stream, when I would’ve been considered stage 3 or 4. At such a young age, it opened my eyes to the reality of just how short life can be. I was given another chance at living for a reason- I knew I had to make it count. After I was cleared to resume activity, I rediscovered my identity in the gym- the place my passion was originally born, also where it sparked into a huge flame.”

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“I always aimed to compete in bodybuilding, so I started working with a coach and stepped on the bikini stage in May of ’17. During my prep, my body was taken into such a deficit with foods, it triggered an underlying pain condition that is here to stay. I spent about a year in the worst pain filled with more hospital visits than I care to remember. Countless tests and surgeries were conducted to determine what the root cause was of my immense pain and what could be done to help. To this day, I do not have a diagnosis other than the general “chronic pain condition.””

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“I was scared, I was frustrated, I had no quality of life. The gym was a definite no go, and I could barely make it to class or work. I couldn’t even eat and whenever I did, I would experience my horrible pain and just go to sleep to avoid it. I was desperate for answers no doctor could give me. I’ve since learned to cope and manage my pain through stress management and knowledge of the components of what I put in my body. Many people may look at my life from the outside and see that I have a “fit” physique and assume that I must have it easy. I’ve had countless women tell me things like “I would kill to look like you” but girl, you wouldn’t kill to feel like me.”

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“Although I do love my body and have learned to be patient and gentle with the process, my body works against me and fails me constantly. I’ve been alone. I’ve been hopeless. I’ve had days (and weeks) I couldn’t stop crying long enough to put any makeup on. I’ve been suicidal. I’ve begged for it to all end. I still have flare ups. I still have to often take naps to get through the day, combating the major fatigue and pain. I still experience depression and severe anxiety. The most important thing I possess, is the stern tenacity to command myself to keep going NO. MATTER. WHAT. I wouldn’t change a thing about me, every little imperfection has led me into the life I have now.”

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“I find immense comfort in knowing the paths I’ve walked allow me to relate to others who have experienced the short end of the stick at times. I am thankful for the ability to connect with people with true empathy and love to remind them they are not alone. You are not alone, no matter how alone it feels. You can make it out, no matter how bad it seems. My door is open, and my shoulder is there to lean on. This is just the beginning of my story.”

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