Walking up a heavily populated hill for 30 days straight may not seem like a big deal to many people, but to someone festering with full blown anxiety, it really is.
In my last post I shared about the hell that is Postpartum Anxiety, so in this post I get to share with you the sort of baby steps I took to start taking care of myself. To start feeling like I own a bit of my life again. To start feeling whole again.
I live at the foot of a popular hiking spot in West Hollywood called Runyon Canyon and up until December my attempts at getting my ass up that hill on an even close to regular basis, were beyond futile. I knew I wasn’t even close to being in the kind of shape I used to be before I had a baby. I knew that the days of getting hammered the night before and working it off the next day with my gorgeous friends, were long gone. And I knew that although I was more than okay with those days being over, there would be a million other much more beautiful young people there to take my young place & compare my present self to… To in turn have all eyes on me, the lone mother just pushing her pale mommy ass up a hill. I knew that never seeing a familiar face anywhere I go in this overpopulated city was getting too lonely to bear.
By the time my daughter turned 1 at the end of November, I was screaming for a change in the right direction. Not for my left over baby weight, for my sanity. I’d gotten so far beyond the point of fear & self hate that if I didn’t make some type of change I felt that I was going to seriously implode. I couldn’t bear the thought of my daughter growing up seeing a fear filled shell of a mom. I made a promise I’d give her so much more than I ever had and I intended on sticking to that.
I told myself that if I could just stick to putting myself in a very public place such as Runyon every single day for a month, it could only get easier to be seen and to be present… and to start to feel like I was a part of this crazy city. I mean, it had to have some type of positive effect, right? Anything had to be better than the now that I was in, then.
So I did it for a day. And then the next day I did it again. And then another day. And another. halfway into it, there were eventually a few days that I had to miss due to every one of us at home getting sick at one point or another but I made up for it by adding on another day. The promise was just to do this 30 days, even if it took 40 days. Fellow moms with small children will understand, that timetable was still pretty good.
The beginning was obviously the hardest. When I passed anyone heading towards us, I instantly always shifted my gaze. I rarely made eye contact. I mean most people in LA don’t, let’s be honest. In my past 5 years of California living, I’d honed in on my ROYAL resting b***h face and it was perfect. It was my best form of protection out here. I was absolutely sure that everyone was judging harshly the winded sweaty mom pushing a stroller up hill at 3pm. It was uncomfortable and in the beginning every time I left my house, I dreaded it. Slowly but surely though, I started to realize that this phrase rings true:
“No one thinks about you as much as you do.”
So you’re much better off reevaluating how much you actually take things personally rather than worrying about what the hell other people are thinking about you. Chances are they’re probably not thinking about you at all. And if they are thinking about you, knowing that whatever they do think will not make or break you. If theyr’e judging you, it’s because they themselves feel insecure. People’s opinions of you REALLY are NONE of your business.
Trying to keep this in mind I kept going and day by day it got a little easier physically & emotionally to complete the challenge. I shared with close friends what I was up to and invited them to join, and some even did. *Shoutout to the homies
Somewhere in-between the realization that Nike is making bank off of Runyon Canyon in size ‘S’ & ‘XS” and the first smile at a passerby on my mama-baby trek, a shift started happening. A shift in my being and it was slow but just too good.
After a while it no longer felt like a Me vs. Them world and after bearing the weight of that feeling most of my life and specially the past 5 years, and SPECIALLY this last year, I finally felt like I could breathe. I could actually breathe that smoggy air and not mind at all. Not even one bit. Okay maybe a little bit, it’s disgusting. Have you seen the blanket that covers the city every day?
Anyway, I’m not saying that I landed a cure all here. What I am saying though is that dopamine is my homeboy after being a once long lost friend. Not just dopamine from the physical act of working out, but as the result of every chance I took shooting a smile and increasingly receiving one back. From setting a goal and not giving up on it. From feeling whole again. I don’t know what I expected coming out of this challenge I set for myself, I certainly didn’t expect a cure for anxiety… But what I’m taking away from it is invaluable. Knowing that every single day I leave my house, regardless of destination, baby on hip or in stroller… I AM going to feel anxious, that has been and will always be a part of who I am. But just being okay with that, it’s so freeing. This is a 30 day challenge that put me a half a step closer to accepting myself. Watch out LA.