Taking Your Power Back

As many of you may have noticed, a lot of the content that I post on social media these days highlight my workouts. I don’t know how exactly to explain this, but something clicked inside of me for months ago that just made me lock in. It was like someone pulled a trigger from a grenade and all of this energy just exploded out of me. I grew this insatiable desire to become stronger. Yes, I’ve always been motivated when it came to exercise, but I think a lot of that actually stemmed from fear. I was afraid that if I didn’t workout I would gain weight and size.

The world that we live in idolizes being skinny. So I was blindly following in the footsteps of what I thought would make me more accepted by society. But it’s an unhealthy attitude to have. 

After my elimination from the challenge this season, and the feelings that came from my breakup, I was just tired of losing. I was tired of feeling weak. I was tired of being tired. So I dug really deep. Like so deep into my soul and really thought about what I needed to do to get myself back. I thought back to when i was a kid. I’m so lucky that my parents put me in sports as early as they did, because as a young girl I experienced strength in soccer. I loved being on that field, tracking fast players down for the ball and using all my strength to get it back. I used the field as a place to release my feelings about life. When I played a soccer game I didn’t think about anything else but the game. Eventually, after years of playing I got accepted to a college and I played on the women’s soccer team. But that was a really interesting experience for me. This was the first time that soccer really stopped becoming an escape. 

I’m about to tell you a story that could potentially be triggering so if you’re a victim of sexual harrassment or any other sex based crime be aware.

My freshman year was fun and I really enjoyed all the girls on the team, but my sophomore year really became much more complicated. The summer of 2012 ended and I was about to start my fall semester. I was going by myself to pick up my jersey from the athletic complex. The athletic director took me into one of the storage rooms to give me my jersey. He handed it over to me and said “make sure it fits” and I said “okay” thinking nothing of it.  He was standing in front of the door and blocking my way out and he said, “try it on right here.” 

I just remember not really getting it. I knew something felt wrong but As an authority figure I felt like I had to listen to him. So I uncomfortably walked behind a shelf and changed, and he just stood there staring at me. I put the jersey on quickly, said it fit, and got my clothes back on and walked out of that room almost in shock. I was just trying to comprehend what just happened. 

The rest of that season I wasn’t really myself. Anytime we had a home game our uniforms were white and he would always comment on the color of my underwear that he could see through the shorts. Anytime I was around him or he watched me I just knew what he was thinking and I felt violated.

I understand why women wait a long time to speak up before they call someone out for sexual harassment because I questioned myself for a long time about it. I was afraid to make a scene, I wondered if what he was saying was really bad or did I just think it was.

Back then all i knew was, well he didn’t touch me, so is what i’m feeling valid. It all came to a head during the last few games of the season. I was the last one in the locker room and I had just gotten out of the shower and I heard the door open and shut. I turned around and he was there. I froze. From across the locker room, I stood there in my towel about 10 feet away from him and once again he was blocking the door. He said “I put some pink glitter in your locker, to match your underwear.”  In disbelief I opened the top part of my locker and sure enough there was a little vile of pink glitter. 

My mind was going a 100 miles an hour and all I could think to say was. You cant be in here, you’re going to get in trouble there are cameras. He then proceeded to remind me that hes the AD and that there are no camera’s in the locker room. I quickly reminded him that there were cameras right outside though. And theres footage of him walking in. In his eyes you could see that he was processing what I said. Thankfully that was enough to scare him and he walked out. 

I sat there in the locker room and cried, put my clothes on as fast as i could, and got the fuck out of there. I called my roommate on my walk back to my car and told her what had happened. She supported me and told me I had to say something.

At this point I felt strong enough to speak up so I went to one of my coaches. I told him the whole story and from the very first time i changed in front of him, to the underwear comments, to the glitter, to the locker room. He sat there and listened to me get it all off my chest. And when I was finally done, he responded with, “Listen, this guy has a wife and kid at home, if you talk about this to anyone you’re going to mess up family life.”

I was appalled. My fucking coach just disregarded my entire experience because he was afraid that i was going to break up his family. I was humiliated.

I cried to my roommate and she told me to keep talking about it. She went with me to our trainer in the PT office. He took me right to the board and got me a meeting with people who were high up in the college. They told me that they were going to fire him, but asked me to not make a scene about it. So I agreed. 

The last game of that season was rough. We were in semi-finals or something like that and the time that we were going up against was dominating us. Not, to mention, the girls were physical as fuck and me and this one girl were practiclly fighting on the field. She punched me in the stomach during a play and the ref never caught it but there were already like 3 goals ahead so I was so angry. After the game when we were all supposed to shake hands like good sports I flipped the girl off. The ref blew his whistle, carded me, and my coach started to freak out. He screamed at me. He said I was an embarrassment for having bad sportsmanship and went on and on about how I needed to have a better attitude. 

And I did something that was so out of character for me, I yelled at him right back. Anger poured from my body. I was so mad at this man for blaming me…again. So I screamed at him in front of the entire team and quit. That was the last time I played soccer.

I’m not telling you this story because I want you to feel bad. On the contrary I want you to realize that

Some of the most painful moments in my life have been the reason why I decided it was time to take back what was mine. My power. My energy. My voice. My strength. 

I felt obligated to the team to stay and play even when i was emotionally drained form the experience. But I finally put my foot down and quit and I felt free.

When I look back in time from where I was to where I stand today, I see waves of feeling powerful and powerless. But, there is always a pattern, every time I feel completely at rock bottom, there is a little switch that goes off in my body and it triggers my resilience. I might fall down but I refuse to let myself stay down, and that last little bit of power I have gets me back up and keeps me moving forward. 

Post recent break up and elimination loss, I’ve gained 5 pounds. And I say that with pride. Its 5 solid pounds of muscle. I’m finding my strength again and it’s on the field. It’s not on a soccer field anymore, but it’s whenever I move my body and exert force.

I feel powerful. I’m standing so firmly in myself at this point that I’m not afraid of breaking down, because I know even if I do I’m going to get up. 

As a person, especially as a woman, to grow muscle, to move your body, and to feel connected with yourself is so important. At least for me it is. You have to be strong in this world. Sure, you can also be soft and have empathy and emotions, but you need to be strong. You need to dig deep in yourself and remember all of the times that knocked you down and then re-live getting back up.

We are not victims, we are victors.

If you’ve been struggling with motivation with fitness I just want you to dig deep and find your reason. Find your fight, and when you start the fight, you’ll find your power.