3 min read
27 Jul

      I was a small child growing up, physically I was small, but it wasn’t an honest indication of my strength. I was bullied for it, I was pushed around, tripped and thrown down. I was an easy target, and looking back being small wasn’t a big deal for me. It was what I had to endure that led to a deep trauma.  I was in the middle of two horrible worlds, both of them never allowing me a place to find refuge. Abuse at home, and abuse at school. I was smart enough to pass my classes with ease, but I had no real motivation to do anything in life. My freshman year I joined jrotc and started actively working out for the first time in my life. I started putting on muscle and weight, and I loved it. Here was an outlet for me to find refuge to channel my frustrations and anger into.  It was also the first time I became cocky and overconfident. It was my pride putting on a show with no real confidence to back it. I just wanted to show people how I was on the inside- strong. Next, I joined the track team and found a place I felt I belonged and I stayed there till I graduated. I found a place between the crumbling worlds of home and academics and that was athletics. I wasn’t very fast, but I put all my effort into it. I made great friends and started to feel at ease in some ways, but deep down I still felt weak and powerless because of the influence of the other spheres of life. I hated those bullies, I hated the people who looked down on me for my size, and I hated those who turned their back on me to look cool. I made peace over the years, but I never was outspoken about being bullied. It drove me to dark places in my teenage years and adult years.     

      However, I know this I'm not weak, not even close. I have immeasurable strength that those bullies will never possess. While they suffer, I find a reason to rise above. My true strength didn’t lie in my muscles, my true strength was my resilience. I've endured situations that I never thought I would survive, I even survived almost dying multiple times. I know this, they can't say the same- they weren't tested the way I was. My purpose is much bigger than that, and God tells me so now. For all that pain, I'm still alive, and I'm the one here telling my story, not them. I thank my higher power for the strength that I didn’t know I had all along. Spiritual strength is all I ever needed, and God gave me that from the very start. I spent many years of my adult life bodybuilding to feel and look strong on the outside. I drove myself to extremes, and my body paid the price.  Much like most alcoholics, my life was one of extremes I was either heavily working out or I wasn’t working out at all. For a time being the gym became my refuge, my church, my therapy. I could put all my pain into lifting the iron, and I saw the results of the work I put into it. It was the first time I saw my hard work pay off in increments. But during my addiction it didn’t matter, at the end of the day I was still that weak and hurt child looking for his place in the world. I put on a mask of confidence; it was one of many masks I wore during my active addiction.  Just like emotional scars, there are many scars I carry that can't be seen, only felt from my days of extremes.      

     One of those scars was when I looked into the mirror and hated who I saw. My body dysmorphia still saw that weakling inside me and was disgusted at him. I was never big enough, I was never strong enough, I never looked how I wanted. Another characteristic of an addict, my body refused to look how I wanted it to. I had no realistic expectations for myself, and I only wanted to rid myself of that weakness. I hit a point I judged my worth by my physical appearance and it furthered my drinking when I hated the way I felt both inside and outside. In sobriety, I'm learning to love my body as it is, and I have realistic goals physically that reflect my mental and spiritual state. I want to grow and put in the work to do so, but I take breaks and listen to my body now. I'm learning what my true strengths are, and asking God to help me improve on my weaknesses. My body wasn’t the enemy, my brain was, and so was my rotten spiritual core which my higher power purified. I'm learning to put that same focus I had for weightlifting into other parts of my life such as writing, and meditating. I chose to forgive my bullies because it was crucial for me to grow. It wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t going to let their projections of themselves back then continue to bring me down. All it did was show they were the weak ones who had to pick on the small kids to make themselves feel big and I pity them.      

     Because I know my worth now, I know that my resilience is something they could never touch, never understand and its mine alone. It's one of God's gifts to me that I am rediscovering in my sobriety. I am no longer that weak teenager trapped between two apocalyptic worlds. There is only one world, my world, the world my higher power gave to me. It's my world of peace, my strength and my joy. What's even more beautiful is God allowed me to share my story, my life, my pain and my experiences to let others know they are not alone. It's as much healing for me as it is for others. I hope one day one of my bullies ends up reading this, and I hope it helps them, I hope it changes their life. Because they could never break me, they could never make me feel small- I made myself feel small.  God tells me healing doesn’t discriminate, healing doesn’t hold grudges- it doesn’t choose who to help and who to tell to fuck off, I freely give my experiences in the hope it helps others heal. Everyone deserves to heal and everyone deserves to find their own strength inside them, their worth and to know they can survive anything with the help of their higher power. 

With All the Respect and Love, 

Mack  

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