Last night I was at dinner post workout and coach shadowing with some of my Solcana CrossFit gym homies (shout outs to Ariel, Sally, and Kate!) and I was hemming and hawing about what to write about today. This, of course, after we dove into the regular girl talk at dinner…you know, the stuff like sex, politics, religion, world news, make-up, periods…the usual. My friend, Sally, thoughtfully said, “Jenn! You’ve been on a whirlwind lately. Why don’t you talk about how Solcana CrossFIt has impacted dating for you?” Aside from being one of the coolest, wisest, most open, and real people I know, Sally brought up an interesting point. And, since this blog has a tendency to get real with the people, this topic made sense to me.
For most of my 30s (I’m 37 these days. I know. You can’t believe it either!) I didn’t date much. An occasional short lived thing here and there – one where I was usually treated poorly and accepted it. Oh yes, cheat on me. I can take it. What’s that? You don’t want to talk to me for six weeks? No problem! Oh gosh, no, really, it’s okay that you don’t want to put any effort into seeing me at all because I don’t deserve you to.
You guys. That’s how I operated. I did not feel worthy of any kind of love from a person and therefore did not receive any. It was a miserable and lonely existence bookended with anecdotes from friends – who I know were trying to help – telling me I was “too picky!” and that “getting married was so easy!” and that “I could be in a relationship if I wanted to!” Sigh. Not the kind of support I needed or wanted considering how awful I felt about myself, you know? I know their intentions were good, but, well, the comments made me feel terrible.
So, I spent a lot of time alone lamenting about why no one wanted to love me. I was terrified of emotional intimacy with most people (thanks, childhood!) and was miserable.
Now, I’m not here to preach. I mean, everyone’s heard this self-help platitude: We need to love ourselves before we can love anyone else. Okay. But if I’m being honest, I think it’s missing a big point, and that is this; if we want to experience true intimacy, we need to be taught to love aspects of ourselves–again and again–by the people around us.
The humbling truth is that sometimes the only way to learn self-love is by being loved – precisely in the places where we feel most unsure and most tender. When that happens, we can’t help but feel free, relief, and feel permission to love in a deeper way. This is the gift of intimacy. If you take a risk and show your vulnerability, and it is met with disinterest, OF COURSE you are going to feel the tender inside of you shrivel and retract. FOR SURE you may think twice about ever sharing that part ever again. Every time we face the choice to share our deeper self, we stand at a hypothetical cliff. Often, it’s just too scary to take the step forward.
Enter Solcana CrossFit. To the outside observer, you see a gym where people lift weights, grunt, and push themselves physically in a multitude of ways. CrossFit often is viewed as intimidating or scary. Maybe it is. Other places. Not at my gym, though. If I’ve said it to one person I’ve said to a hundred people: Solcana CrossFit is the most squishy, soft, gentle, and vulnerable community I’ve ever been a part of. Don’t get me wrong. It’s bad ass and hard and tough, too. It’s just that this communicty has allowed me to fee myself from the power of shame and fear around how I feel about myself. This community has allowed me to be part of new friendships that see, relish, and value my true self. This community has the generosity of spirit to encourage me to push myself and to show me how capable I am – even in times when I’m full of self-doubt (snatches? HELLO!) This community has allowed me to carve my path towards intimacy because I can practice leaning on my gym homies and giving more back to them – real relationships of inspiration. I’ve read that it is so important to build these types of relationships in our non-romantic lives before we find them in our romantic partners and I’ve spent the better part of my time at Solcana CrossFit doing just that.
Solcana is a space where I can show my body in form fitting clothing (without even thinking twice), completely drop my ego, wear my heart on my sleeve, reach breaking point after breaking point, cry doing workouts, and BE LOVED. I feel supported. I feel safe. I feel empowered to try to do things that I never, ever thought my body or brain were capable of comprehending. I put it all out there. No regrets. I let my homies see the real me. The good, the bad, the ugly (and, the crabby. Especially last night after a grinding day at the office). They love me regardless (and vice versa if you can’t read between the mushy lines of this blog post).
It’s because of this experience (and a really great therapist) that for the first time in my adult life I am actually experiencing real and true ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS. Sure, I’ve dated a lot, had boyfriends, but looking back it is hard for me to really classify them as ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIPS. There was nothing two-way about them.
I’ve talked a lot of about the mental health benefits of exercise and this is right up there with them. Solcana CrossFit has helped me to see the value of the space I occupy in life and to expand it as far as I want. I feel confident and capable, and I love the things that my body can do. I love that I have been able to have some of the most real conversations of my life with my Solcana homies and that if I need to debrief or destress after a terrible day the first place I think of going is to the gym. And then I go. I can lift heavy things. I can run. I can achieve. And I can fail. And through whatever it is I go through, I’ve got this wonderful, soft, supportive, and really g-d strong community to fall back on.
I’ve learned from my gym homies the value of imtimacy and it’s allowed me to bring down the emotional barriers I’ve had around me as ‘protection’ for a very long time. They’ve helped me learn how to date (without being a chaperone!) and I can’t thank them enough.