A FAMILY AFFAIR: GYM FEELS EDITION
By: Lauren Anderson
A few weeks after my older sister Marnna came to do a workout with me, (See blog post: Iron Martha and Iron Marnna) I got a text message from my younger sister, Abby.
“Hey Lauren! I read the blog about you and Marnna at Solcana Fitness and WOW what a blog. You two are awesome. So with that said, I am curious if at all there is any chance I could try a session there as well?”
I just had to laugh. In my mind I was like, “FINALLY!” She continues…
“In no way am I going to be great at it, but I’m still on my journey to find a good fitness balance in my life. If it’s not possible, no worries at all. I figured to just inquire and I’ll see you tomorrow! Love ya!”
I respond immediately. “Of COURSE YOU CAN COME!!! EXCITING! We’ll talk in person later.”
I’m laughing because I too, am a younger sister. So I get texts like this all too well. But I also forget that I am an older sister. And what that means too. I have extended invitations to my entire family to come work out with me many many times. It’s an open invite! But the sincerity and the deliberateness of this text has not passed me by.
It struck me hard in that moment, Little sisters must feel compelled to ask Big sisters. I guess that’s just the way it goes. Whether it’s to borrow clothes or for advice. I had to ask Marnna to join me. But Abby asked me.
My younger sister Abby is everything you want in a sibling and nothing you don’t. She is fierce and funny and energetic. She is quick to hug you, and even quicker to help you. A loyal friend with a tenacious survivor spirit that I’ve always admired. She’s too young to be so wise, so of course her peers seek her council. And this might go without saying, but like most people in my family she is an animal whisperer.
When Abby met me at the gym last Wednesday morning, she was there and ready to go before I even pulled up. We wanted to get brunch after the workout so I figured it was about time I tried the 930 am class. Because we believe in my family everything is more fun with the promise of brunch.
Abby was game, so it was on.
To date, this is the earliest I’ve ever worked out at the gym since I started at Solcana. Cause #nightowl.
But… I am nothing if not consistent, right? Me and the morning are starting to fall for each other a little more. But let me just say, I can tell it’s going to be a loooooong courtship before I say “I do”.
But I’m happy to report 930 feels a lot like 1130, so I was in good company. With Coach Kaitlin at the wheel, Abby jumped into class with a kind of fearlessness I could only admire. She is so damn outgoing. I forget that about her. Because nowadays, I roll with so many comedians who offstage are introverts and observers… I forget what it’s like to be around someone… I dunno. More like me?
I can’t help giggle. Oh my gawd… Are Abby and I alike?
I never saw it before, but watching her at the gym that day, it’s like I was meeting my sister for the first time. She had no problem asking questions when she needed clarification. Laughing at herself when something was hard or beyond her. She powered through the tough stuff and didn’t even consider giving up.
These are all qualities I aspire to on my best day.
But you all know more than anything if you follow this blog– It’s hard to get there. And even harder to stay.
And here she was dominating. It looked effortless
She checked in with me from time to time, and I with her. I found myself flushed with pride.
Not just for showing up at the gym with me, and giving it her all. But for who she is. After our workout, I saw her not just as my little sister, but the woman she’s becoming. And it was freaking awesome.
Since starting Solcana, I’ve had my Mom, (She was first! And wouldn’t let me blog about it at the time…she’s since changed her mind.), my Dad, (See: The Anderson Curse), my older sister, and now my youngest sister come and workout with me.
That kind of support and “Let’s try it!” attitude is something I am so grateful for. I’ve talked about that many times in the past, but having people support you on your journey is so crucial. It’s a make-or-break kind of deal, in my opinion. I’m glad that I can count my real life family in that mix.
(Now to get my step parents and brothers into the gym!
I’m looking at you Anne, Mark, Tim, Matt, and Andy!)
* * *
After the workout we retired to one of my fave breakfast spots and I got to hear about what she thought. That’s when Abby surprised me. She said,
“You know I was a little nervous to join you today. I didn’t know how we’d be at working out together. You know, cause our relationship hasn’t always been easy in the past.”
I was like, “What? What do you mean?” I was honestly shocked to hear this.
“Well, for a long time there, I was scared of you.”
My heart sank into my chest. My little sister was scared of me? I asked her to clarify.
“Well, mostly when you were in that angry phase. You know that 3 year period when the whole family was scared of you?” She said it so nonchalantly. Like it was just a fact.
Ahhh. Yes. There it is again. MY ANGRY PERIOD. I’ve talked about it here before too. But like any great lesson, it still shows up from time to time.
My family calls it, “My Angry Rhino Cloud Years.” Because I was scary and formidable like that Rhino cloud from James and the Giant Peach.
It was about a 3-year time in my life pre-Solcana, where I was so angry at everything, I didn’t realize how scary I was. I didn’t know how I was being. I thought it was all happening internally. Boy, was I wrong.
And no one told me about it either. Because they were too scared of how I’d react. So everyone just tiptoed around me and hoped to God they wouldn’t set me off.
I’m tearing up a little as I type this, because I find this A. Really hard to admit, and B. Really hard to forgive myself for. I pride myself on having emotional intelligence, but I was so IN IT, I just couldn’t see it. So when people tell me about it, even years later, I have trouble reconciling that version of me with who I actually am.
I know now, that I was so deeply hurting, that pain turned into anger. And it just seethed under my skin for years. I was touchy and volatile, and looking to lash out. I was also way too serious.
Now that I’m on the other side of it, I’ve had friends and family come forward and admit how scared they were of me when I was that angry. They’ve even gone as far as to say I was like a totally different person.
I didn’t realize I was also hurting the people around me.
I’m glad we’re talking about it. But it’s a hard thing to know about yourself. I always think “It’s me. Lauren. I couldn’t hurt a fly.” But to have the people who love me the most feel actually fear me?
Especially my younger sister. Who I’m supposed to love and protect. But before I can spiral into full shame, Abby brings me back to the table at brunch.
She goes, “Well, I think sometimes because we’re so similar, sometimes we butt heads.” Ah! So she sees it too! She keeps going, “And when I was younger, you really had strong ideas about what you thought I should do. Especially when it came to school.”
I can hear my sister struggle to stay diplomatic. It’s hard to listen to, but I’m glad she’s getting it off her chest. Even though I had no idea that’s how she felt.
When she’s done, I smile, despite feeling pretty contrite. I apologize and talk to her, woman to woman, about the pain I was in. I tell her the real stuff, the stuff she may not have known. And I can feel her understanding.
I know I am also pleading for forgiveness, and she grants it easily. Another trait I deeply admire in her.
My little sister has just given me a quick and dirty lesson in moving forward. In that moment we’re not just sisters. We’re two equals sharing ourselves. And I can’t help but thank the gym for getting us open and exhausted enough to be this emotionally forthright with each other.
Gym feels are real.
And we left brunch that day knowing on a deep level that we worked out more than our bodies that morning. And after we hug and move to get into our cars and go about the rest of our day, Abby says to me.
“I know you’re different now. And I’m excited to get to know you again. As adults. And I’m excited to do stuff like this with you. Like real sisters.”
“Me too Abby. I love you.”
“I love you too Sis.”