It’s time I shared the REAL story.
Exercise saved my life.
I thought I'd fill you all in on the full story of my past. The dirty dark side because it shaped me to be the strong and powerful woman you see here today.
I wasn’t born into a fit and healthy family. I had quite a challenging childhood in fact. To say it wasn't easy would be an understatement. At the time I didn’t know any different of course but when I share stories of my life I often get strange looks, and when I hear stories about others, I came to the conclusion that my life was a little different. This is not a sob story, but one of strength and power to overcome the hand I’d been dealt.
My father was/is an alcoholic and when I was young he sexually abused me. Many times. It got to a point that when we were at school we learned about sexual abuse and learnt how to yell NO. I still remember this class very clearly. The next time it happened, I yelled NO. And it stopped . At that moment I saved myself from the immediate threat, but it lead to an adolescence filled with escapism and self loathing.
I didn’t tell anybody at the time because you just don’t, you feel ashamed and somehow like it’s your fault and think that nobody will believe you anyway, so I lived with it hidden for many years. I would have nightmares as a child, I was accused of not concentrating at school or of being a day dreamer as my teachers would write in my report cards. I was never diagnosed with anything but with what I know now, I think that I may have been suffering from some kind of PTSD or depression or both?
In my 20's I found relief……….drugs. It started out as what you would consider just being a party girl. I lived every week planning the next party and survived through the week on a cocktail of cigarettes, and redbull. I loved drugs because they made me feel free. They gave me confidence, strength, they made me feel happy and they made me forget about everything painful. I felt calm. I felt at ease. I loved nothing more than getting wasted, then all of a sudden Saturday nights turned into Sunday mornings and they turned into Sunday nights. Then Fridays too and then Wednesdays, because I couldn't wait all week.
It got to the point where the high was never enough and I would keep climbing, keep going for days because I didn’t want to face my life. On the outside I was always bubbly, happy, making jokes but on the inside I was hurting. I hated who I was, I just wanted to be the happy, confident and free Hayley, and drugs gave me that feeling.
So I took more and more until one day I was hospitalised for a reaction to a pill. I had been up for so many days and had taken so many drugs that I started fitting, until my friend took me to hospital and they filled me up with enough valium to sink a ship, until I finally stopped fitting and then slept for a long time. Days in fact. I was in hospital for the week until they let me out. Wake up call? Not yet…. I wasn’t done.
The definition of addiction - addiction is a condition in which a person engages in use of a substance or in a behavior for which the rewarding effects provide a compelling incentive to repeatedly pursue the behavior despite detrimental consequences.
So I guess I was an addict?
The very next weekend I did it all again, and again, and again. Until one day a friend came to visit me and we went out for the weekend. When she got home she told me that she had cried for 2 hours on the way home because she was so worried about me. Then I changed. I saw the effect it had on my friend and thought ‘I must be fucked up’. To change, you need to feel ashamed, you need to feel somewhat disgusted at what you’ve become, you need to feel the pain of staying the same, and I finally did.
I took myself away from Sydney and everything that would tempt me to take drugs. I even then took myself overseas to finally travel, something I’d wanted to do for years. I then lived and worked overseas for 5 years and in that time I found fitness and became a PT. I have no doubt that I used exercise as a new addiction in the beginning, something to take the pain away and something to give me a high, but it also changed my life.
I had finally found something that made me stronger, that made me walk taller, that made me feel amazing and that built my mental strength as much as physical.
Over the 10 years since I found fitness I have built myself up, everyday. I still have days and weeks where life is tough, we all do. But there are less and less of these. Every week you get stronger, you get better, you can handle more, and it hurts less until it doesn't hurt at all.
Training to me is something that brings out the best in you, it certainly brings up some shit along the way that’s for sure, but if I didn’t find fitness I honestly don’t know where I’d be.
I am no longer ashamed to tell you this as I am so incredibly proud of how far I have come in my life and I am proud of how many obstacles that I have faced along the way. I just felt so compelled to tell you all this finally, because if it inspires one person to face their demons then my work is done. I feel like I have just stripped naked in front of you, bearing it all but I still wanted to show you.
This is me.