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Iron Strong Part 11
The Truth Comes Spewing Out
In 2012 I journaled daily through my divorce, leaving the Mormon Religion, being a Single Mom, becoming a Marathoner and eventually an Ironman Athlete. This story will be delivered in parts and not really edited down from the original writings in my journal (including some typos and grammar misalignment). I do this to uphold the integrity of the Woman I was when I wrote these a decade ago, long before I knew this would end up as a full book and despite the fact my writing has evolved in the decade since I wrote these pieces. They read in present day time from a decade ago. These are stories of hope, miracles and never giving up on your dreams. It is a heroine’s journey of shame, secrets and ultimate seclusion to the Finish Line of Ironman Arizona....and then beyond. An Outward Journey to an Inward Destination of Freedom and Liberation, Iron Strong.
The Night after the Chicago Marathon…
I went out for one last celebratory night with my two Scottish Girlfriends. A monumental night in my life, but I had no idea going in.
We popped open a bottle of champagne with our medals around our necks in their hotel room. After a glass of champagne I was burning inside.
I had kept bottled up the secrets of the past few years and not told a single soul except my therapist, Glinda, who was sworn to secrecy by law. And in an unplanned moment I looked at them as said…
“Do you want to know the real Stephanie?” … They promptly sat down and said absolutely.
They had already showed me more grace, love and acceptance than I had felt in years. Why not? Take a chance. They may reject me. That is what held me back for so long from talking to others.
They will know I am not perfect. My mask would have to be ripped off and I would be exposed. It was vulnerability. And I had learned growing up that vulnerability wasn’t safe. Grief, sadness and anger weren’t safe to feel but not only that, they made you unloveable.
I am NOT perfect. I never had been nor will be and wearing the mask of perfection is fucking exhausting.
It was time to let the world know. And there, sitting in front of two strangers who I had become bonded to the previous few days, I spilled every single secret I had held inside and even swore I would take to the grave because of religious shame.
Everything from how hard it had been wanting to stay with the man I loved so much but also feeling like we both deserved so much more, how much I loathed religion, the abuse that had taken place (spiritually, emotionally and physically), to what was said to me and then the biggest secret of all …. me owning a vibrator!!!! That is the one I swore would go to the grave out of shame.
See I was taught I could physically assault someone, rob a bank or commit a felony and they were less repulsive, shameful and easier to “forgive in God’s eyes” than self pleasuring. My moral compass was completely brainwashed by Mormonism. And guess what they both said…oh honey…we ALL have a vibrator and use one! I had never felt like a "normal” woman, ever in my life, having them validate me.
I told them about all the months of counseling and finally me making the decision at mile 17 that I was strong and courageous enough to leave my marriage that was not in either of our highest good any longer.
Both of them physiologists, I can only imagine what was running through their mind and I was eagerly awaiting the rejection I had come to know so deeply inside. When I was done…I took a deep breath. I looked at them as said, that is all. I looked to door to leave because surely the flawed version of me wouldn’t be loved any longer.
I don’t believe I made eye contact at first because I had just unleashed every last secret I had guarded in the chamber of my soul…the vulnerability was running so thick you could have sliced it with a knife in the energy around me.
You will never believe what happened next…they looked at me, poured me another glass of champagne and hugged me. They told me how strong and beautiful my story was. They said they loved me. They LOVED ME … after I just became for the first time in my life absolutely perfectly imperfect and vulnerable … they just sat there and loved on me. They loved my imperfections, flaws and me.
They continued to talk through the decision that I was about to make. I will never forget their advice.
I wanted to emphasis I wasn’t thinking of leaving because the “grass is greener”… they emphasized right back they knew my heart and KNEW this fact. The grass isn’t greener on the other side absolutely … it is just a different shade of green.
It wasn’t going to be easy to leave and end a marriage with two children … but staying was a long, tiring and extremely difficult decision as well.
I knew what I needed to do. I needed these women to cross my path to gently help me process my thoughts. Not pushing either way….just objectively guiding me.
But most of all I needed these women in my life, at this moment … to love an absolutely perfectly imperfect version of myself … and through this love I gained confidence that I no longer had to worry about the humiliation I was fearing the “divorce” would bring.
I wasn’t embarrassed any more. I walked away a confident and gracious, humble and LOVED woman who knew what to do next.
The next day one of these angels sent me a message:
Know you have the strength to make your life be the way you need it to be. xxx
I knew what this meant. It wasn’t a persuasion either way.
This one message propelled me into my future with added strength to indeed make my life the way I not only needed but also desired it to be.