I recent celebrated my 3 year birthday of sobriety from drugs and alcohol. I could not help but reflect on all of the good things that have come about, because of my new life. I see virtually zero parallels between my life today, and the life I was living 3+ years ago. I started thinking about what exactly has changed, what brought about those changes, and why. The two institutions (or whatever the f*ck you call them), which have made the most significant impact on my life, coincidentally share many of the same characteristics. The two fellowships (previously referred to as institutions, bc I don’t know what they really are) are my 12 step recovery program and Olive Branch CrossFit. These might seem like two VERY different things, and they are, but I find them to be alike in the most refreshing of ways.
**DISCLAIMER: Before I go any further, I would like to remind anyone who might be reading this, that I am just a regular douchebag, who is placing my thoughts on a blog for my own benefit. I am not a spokesperson or representative of Recovery programs, CrossFit, or anyone else. I don’t know sh*t about anything, and don’t claim to do so. Before any of the haters out there start getting panties in a WoD (pun intended), i would like to cordially invite you to smell my nerd. ***
Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was once asked, by a member of the press, the following question, “who exactly is a member of Alcoholics Anonymous?”. His response was this…”WHOEVER SAYS THEY ARE”. This gives me goose bumps. I love it. It clearly states in one particular 12 step program’s literature that, “the only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking”. There is no exclusivity. I have faced enough rejection in my life, and have gone to great lengths to try and show my “worth”, so to possibly gain acceptance. I am done with that bulls*hit. I keep an open door policy today. If I am doing it, your welcome to join. If you need it, and I have it, you are welcome to it. Life is hard enough as it is, it’s easier to just try to push each other through another day. I have lived a lifetime of mistreating others, and allowing myself to be mistreated. The truth is, I just didn’t know any better, until now anyway. I was taught that life in the spiritual realm is always INCLUSIVE, never EXCLUSIVE. I have found the same to be true with CrossFit. From the moment you walk into Olive Branch CrossFit, you are immediately branded a CrossFit athlete. There are no secret handshakes or special nods. The moment you desire to be part of the Olive Branch CrossFit family, you are a “part of”. How fat, fit, or f*cked up you THINK you might be is not important. What is important is that you want to get a tiny bit better everyday. When I walked into my recovery program, I could barely form a coherent sentence, and if I could, I could not do it without crying or throwing something. No one told me to come back when I had calmed down, or when my head had cleared. They told me that they would love me until I was capable of loving myself, and to KEEP COMING BACK. When I came to Olive Branch CrossFit. I viewed myself as equally unfit, but no one told me to come back after I had lost thirty pounds, or when I could run a mile in less than 12minutes, or when I could do 10 pull ups. They told me to keep moving, keep breathing, don’t die, and KEEP COMING BACK. (When the best advice John Brown has to offer during a workout is to keep moving, and keep breathing, you know you are f*cked.)
Much is taught and learned in 12 step programs about acceptance…. acceptance of people, places, and things, and acceptance of life in general. Everyone who walks through the door is accepted. There is zero emphasis on money, race, religion, education, or sexual preference. What or how much you have done, where you come from, or what brought you here is of absolutely zero value. Everyone is on a level playing field, ground f*cking zero. Looking back, there is absolutely no better place to be, although I did not much like it at the time. One particular 12 step program’s literature states preamble states:
“… is not affiliated with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution, does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes…”
I interpret this as clearly saying, “we don’t give a f*ck about anything, but you and your well being”, and my interpretations are generally accurate, right? (Don’t answer that.) While I have seen no official statement like this from anyone at Olive Branch CrossFit, I have certainly felt it. The only requirement at Olive Branch CrossFit is that you try to become a little better version of YOU, than you were the day before. Nothing else is important.
My friend Doug Terry turned me on to a data collector and storyteller named Brene’ Brown, and a speech that she made on Ted TV titled “The Power of Vulnerability”. The long short of it was that she had interviewed thousands of people who considered themselves to be leading a most fulfilled lifestyle. What she found was two commonalities, both of which are prevalent in both recovery and Olive Branch Crossfit. The commonalities were that the individuals who felt they lived the most fulfilled lives had both:
1. Strong connections with other people
2. Had allowed themselves to become vulnerable
It is virtually impossible to participate in any of the 12 step programs or CrossFit, without a high level of both of these things. I have found that you have made yourself vulnerable, just by walking through the door of either of these places. No one walks in and yells, “look at what a badass i am. Check me out”. Cause if you haven’t been humbled by the time you get to CrossFit, you are gonna be by the time you leave it, and if you haven’t been humbled by the time you get to recovery….well, you ain’t entering the world of recovery. Allowing myself to become vulnerable has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. There have been many 12 step meetings where I have broke down crying, verbalized my fears, doubts, and insecurities, and told secrets of my own, which I swore to keep under lock and key forever. In CrossFit, it might be a little less voluntary, but its gonna come out. In a hot, sweaty gym there are things a bouncing and a jiggling, in the most uncontrolled environment. You simply don’t have the extra energy to try and remain “professional”, act as a “gentleman”, or try to be “lady like”, when your main goal is to remain “alive”, and “breathing”. It is so much a close knit family that during a workout of double-unders, my friend stopped abruptly, went to the restroom, and upon exiting the restroom exclaimed to a gym full of people, “hey, y’all don’t tell anybody, but I just sharted a little jumping rope. I figure if any of the girls have ever felt uncomfortable after pissing themselves jumping rope or doing box jumps, this would make you feel better”. HA! You can’t make this stuff up! There is not a member of my gym who has not been exposed to my ass crack, they are well aware of my stretch marks, and no matter how much I try to suck it in, my gut has been exposed for the whole gym to see….over and over again. If it is an early morning class, I sometimes count my sit-ups by the fart, no fart=no rep. There is no better way to get the day started. Is this disgusting? Absolutely. Do I get carried away? You better know it. Do I take things a little too far? Every Godd*mn day. Is that gonna change? Not a f*cking chance. Do I speak TRUTH? You can bet the farm on it. I have let out the moans and groans that come with being fat, getting older, and outta shape. I have vocalized my struggles with the Pizza Almighty and King Ice Cream. Most members are familiar with my past, my insecurities, and my failures. Like my 12 step family, my Olive Branch CrossFit family not only understands my shortcomings and insecurities, but they actually embrace and celebrate them as being part of their group or gym. I have learned to not only accept, but also embrace and celebrate everything that is ME. Big Beefy Loving Swearing Raging Trying Hugging Yelling Progressing Learning Failing Winning….ME. Each day a little better, everyday.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related.