I talk about my dad all the time. I talk about how much I miss him, when his memory makes me happy, when his memory makes me sad, how smart he was, how mad he made me, I mean this list can really go on and on.
What I don’t talk about or acknowledge is the crippling grief that fuels it. I mean I’ve kept a normal life; I work two jobs and have worked two jobs through this entire process, I still laugh and smile, but the fact is that I grieve for him every single day.
and I probably will every single day for the rest of my life.
I used to think I knew what grief meant. I thought grief was the sadness felt for a few months following the death of a loved one. End of story.
I was wrong. I was so, so wrong.
Now I know grieving for a parent is realizing one layer of protection and unconditional love is gone. It’s realizing the wisdom that can only come from their generation is no longer accessible. It means having to navigate life without guidance. It’s having your entire existence split into two sections, before and after. It’s long, grueling and exhausting.
For me personally, losing my dad meant losing a part of myself. We were so close and so much alike. So. Much. Alike. We had the same:
- hair and skin
- blood type
- tendency to jump from one hobby to another
- love for “boring” documentaries
- tiny mouth and teeth – we both still have baby teeth!
- quickness to get irritated
I mean I got it all. The very impatience that used to drive me nuts about my dad was passed to me, and would eventually bite me in my own ace.
From the moment he passed, I didn’t give myself time.
I felt like I shouldn’t be sad because I knew he was in Heaven and that I’ll see him again. I didn’t think I needed to process his death because I was anticipating it. Everything was over, I wanted to be happy and I wanted to be happy right now.
Instead of just being, I dove head first into work and tried to continue my healthy lifestyle – what I felt was normal and what I should be doing.
IT’S LITERALLY THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF REALITY.
Handling my grief the way I have been, which is basically living in denial, is the origin of my diminishing weight loss. I wasn’t in denial of his death, I was denying myself the right to fully grieve. 8 months later, that is over.
When I first began living healthier in March of 2015, I was unstoppable. I was juicing fresh fruits and vegetables, enjoying walking, jogging and any other exercise I could think of, and I really just made an overall complete change in my lifestyle. Within a few months of living healthier, my dad underwent testing and later that year we learned his diagnosis: Stage 4 Renal Cancer.
I soon began training for my first 5k and in May 2016, with both parents at the finish line, I finished it. I walked away knowing I wanted to run a half which I then began obsessively training for.
Now I know the extreme training and “diet” was my way of ignoring real life.
My dad was sick, suffering and receiving horrific treatments which was out of my control. Meanwhile food and exercise was in my control so I took that and literally ran with it. I ran and ran and ran, and was obsessed with my food on top of it. Using dieting and exercise to cope really set me up for a toxic relationship with this lifestyle and it’s what has created the situation I’ve been in for so long.
I’m now letting myself live as a grieving daughter who lost her dad. Because above everything else, that’s what I am.
My dad was fighting for his life for nearly the entire time I was relearning how to live mine, and my perception of what’s healthy is wrong. I’ve been a jumper. I’ve jumped from one diet to another, restricting what I can and can’t eat. I’ve jumped from one form of training to another; going from forcing running to wanting a lifting plan to pulling my freaking hair out.
I shouldn’t be focusing on being a runner, a lifter, the girl who works all the time and blogs, what I’m eating, or every calorie that goes into my mouth. I’ve been too busy telling my story instead of writing my book, and doing everything but what I should have been doing: just being.
Being healthier. Being sad when I need to be. As a good friend of mine said yesterday, “being Amy”. That starts today.