After surviving a very miserable week, last week I decided to do my best to snap out of that dark cloud and put myself back on track: clean eating, no cheating, the whole lot. I had a very gruelling gym session on Tuesday, the first proper bodybuilding class, it went down like a treat: I felt super strong and on top of the world, but boy oh boy, my legs hurt for three days solid. Work has been a madhouse, emails fired at me left, right and centre, I barely ate or slept to keep up with the drama, and it ended up on Friday night answering emails from A&E where I had to take my son because he went from “mummy I’m feeling great” to “40C temperature, rash on his face and shivering” in the space of an hour. The joy! I had amazing plans for the weekend: attending a very special wedding in my hometown, finally visiting my parents’ new place, stuffing myself with Italian food…. It ended up cleaning vomit for 2 days non-stop. Yet, despite being very upset at ending up being stuck at home, I feel good, like I carved a little happy corner in my mind and I’m wrapped in a warm duvet inside it.
You know what? I think the gym, and my amazing personal trainer Farrah, have been the best thing ever happened to me since going to psychotherapy. I had to break down, mentally and physically, to the point where I became just a clean, white piece of paper, before I could re-write who I want to be in this new chapter. Believe me, my old gym-hating self put up a massive fight, MASSIVE, in order to stop making me change. I have been on the verge to give up so many times. I am so grateful I never did – thank goodness for my resilience!
People have started to properly notice my change. What at the beginning seemed like a temporary gimmick, now it is a rather established “norm” and I’ve left few people a bit unsettled. The main moans I got are that I may be showing off a bit too much, and that I’m not “the metalhead I used to be”. Yes, I am not scared of showing off myself and my hard work (after all, as my Personal Trainer says, we are not putting the hard work in just to go back at hiding, right?). Yes, I may not be all black, metal band t-shirts and leather as I used to. Yes, I may be “in your face”, I don’t do hiding or holding back anymore, but I’m still me. You know, the tomboy woman who swears like a sailor when Formula 1 is on, who would rather roll in the mud than do shopping, who prefers going to the stadium than a club, who likes to be “one with the boys” and all that.
However, like a snake, I’m changing my skin, embracing my entire self, not just few bits and pieces because I struggle with the rest, and instead of basking in my own self-inflicted misery at my numerous flaws and issues, I am learning to enhance and celebrate my strengths and either embrace my issues or work hard to get rid of them. Not wearing my Slayer t-shirt anymore doesn’t automatically mean “I betrayed the metal oath”: I have a nice body and I rather squeeze in a bodycon, colourful dress now, but you bet your ass I’ll still be raising hell next week when I’ll be at Slayer’s gig with my friends. Again, I just changed my skin and I’m working hard on being the best person I’ve always wanted to be, but at the core “I’m still Jenny from the block”.
I’ve heard it multiple times lately: “wouldn’t it be better at being more like this – more like that – less exposed / like you were once”; then again, when I was exactly those things, I should have been something different anyway, and I was negative, and I should have been more other stuff. I’m breaking out of all the labels that I have put on myself, or that people put on me without me even asking, and this is very destabilising for some. Hey, I used to be a total rescuer and a people-pleaser: whatever made people happy, I’d do or be. No question asked. It didn’t go down well, did it? It backfired spectacularly, actually. I ended up just as lonely as I was, with all my unresolved issues still there and with the additional “I have been such a dumb idiot” feeling making everything worse.
Lesson learned here: do what you think it’s best for you. Listen to your inner voice. Stay true to yourself. By all means, improve, experiment, test, try, fail, re-try, give it a go, challenge yourself, but do it in your own terms. You know what is right for you, and if you feel that something is too much / too little, well, if it is right for you then so be it. The truth is, you will not be liked by anyone anyway, not matter how much you try, and anyone will have an opinion about who you are, what you do etc, but you are the only one living your life. My ex-boyfriend always used to say “when someone points the finger at you, he is pointing one at you but three back at himself”: I never ever listened to him (and he loved upsetting me by calling me every name under the sun to teach me a lesson on “listening to your inner voice only”, and thank you so much I finally learned it!) till only recently and it has been a life-changing moment.
How many people objected my daring photoshoot? A lot. What do I think of it? Best day of my life (that I will replicate in a week). What opinion matters? Mine. How many people are telling me (my mum included) that I am training to hard, too much, that I will become a manly muscle monster etc? Do I care? Not one single bit, especially when I look at myself in the mirror and I see the potential starting to show off, which makes me want to train even harder. My friendships, my relationships, who I keep in or out of my life, I do what I feel good doing, and if I’m disappointing people on the way, well, tough luck for them. Whoever truly appreciates me and my efforts will love me even more and stay because they want to, not because I’m going above and beyond the call of duty to make them stay. Whoever feels the new me doesn’t meet their standards, well… I wish them well, but our journey together ends now.