My body craves movement.  It hungers for sweat.  It knows the healing power of a good work out and also knows that I pushed the pause button on my physical health months ago.  It awaits the reactivation.

My husband moved out almost a year ago, begrudgingly leaving our space and our family.  My boys were 8 months and 4 years old on the night that he announced that he would be staying at his new place.  At that moment, my life changed in a multitude of subtle and loud ways.   I would have to return to work sooner than planned, leave my boys with caretakers other than myself, juggle the mundane details of a life with two under 5s, all under the weight of sleeplessness.

Surprisingly, one of the things that shook and scared me most was the realization that I would no longer be able to afford my health club membership and the necessary babysitting fees.  I cried on the day that I signed on the dotted line, putting my membership on hold.   After nurturing that part of me that looked forward to exercise, it felt as though I were giving up a piece of myself.  At that point, there may have been more of me left on the treadmill and the spinning bike than there was in the heart of my husband.  In the months prior to our official separation, while we lived together but apart, my unemployed-and-always-around-husband offered a break in my routine each day as I headed to the club.   I left the baby with him, dropped my pre-schooler for a morning of play and went to Healthworks.  To sweat.  And to temporarily disconnect from my life.  And to connect to my body.  And to process my emotions deeply and in rhythm with the loud music pulsing in my head.  My work-outs were my joy and energized me at a time when all else seemed to be withering away.  Exercise helped me to redesign my life, my priorities and my sense of self.  I felt powerful and clear at a time when everything was seemingly muddled and potentially devastating.

My body remembers the greatness felt at the end of a lively class.  It remembers the greatness felt the first time this wanna-be runner hit the 5 mile mark.  It remembers the greatness of drinking so much cold water so early in the morning.  It remembers the greatness of my most recent work-out filled pregnancy and the beautiful culmination of a three push delivery.  It remembers the greatness of energy flowing.  It remembers the greatness of a rejuvenating, healthily exhausted sleep.

My gym bag remains packed with the heart monitor and IPOD ready to go.  It’s time to say, “No, I won’t, I can’t, let this be on my list of things that I must give up right now.  My marriage and image of a happy family is enough.  It’s enough.”  And so I smile as I imagine that first drop of sweat rolling down my face.  A life reignited.

-Carol

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