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Stuck in the Mud | A Journey Starts Here

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The pretteh Kitteh above is Sunny, the youngest of our fur-babies 🙂

Hello World!

I am writing this mainly to help me get going again (simply by doing *something*), and possibly to maybe help someone who can identify with what I am saying.

For months now I have felt “stuck” in a sinking mud made of fears; the more I have tried to resist and dig my own way out, I have gone deeper into the sand, slowly disappearing, losing all sense of myself. What to do with my life? Where to take my blog (or do I leave it all behind)? Everything within me has been called into question because of external circumstances. I realised I didn’t want good answers, I just wanted reasons to keep feeling lost, letting the current take me where it wills as I have no energy to swim, or dig, or whatever I need to do to escape; splashing around in all those fears winds up making a big ol’ mess.

My weight and body fat are up higher than I am comfortable with, my strength is lower than I’d like to admit. Even my effort has all but died… driven only by “well, I should be doing this”, but everything is half-hearted and all I feel is disappointed and angry with myself. No matter how much I think I’m “over” caring about these physical things they still seem to be part of the picture of who I think I am (on some level), so perhaps embracing that will bring me more peace. I don’t know about you, but when I am otherwise depressed I tend to become more critical about how I look. I even started tracking calories again! *sigh*

The up-side is that I have started to take note of a pattern. The other day I was thinking back to another time I recall feeling just like this. In 2012 I ended up reaching a breaking point and taking 3-4 months off work due to stress. This stress was actually depression and it was largely due to a loss I had experienced the year before (end of my engagement). It was a horrible grief that took me a year to fully process and feel more secure in myself. What I lost was more than a person, it was the life I thought I’d have. Even though I knew it was for the best, I still struggled to adjust and cope with all of life’s other challenges on top of these buried wounds. I didn’t even realise why I was feeling so depressed until I reached a crushing point. I was faced with a choice to either go off work to get better or leave life all together.

I chose life 🙂

While I am not currently having thoughts of suicide (although I did last year when I was sick and in constant pain), I recognise the same hopelessness, lostness, and loneliness that led there when left unchecked. Once again, after all the major changes that have taken place in my life over the last 2 years, I am only feeling the weight of that grief now. The loss of who Marianne Kane was and the uncertainty of who I am now. The worst part is that I feel totally unjustified to feel this way at all:

– taking steps to pursue your dream job is great, right?

– marrying the man of your dreams is amazing, right?

– exploring the world is exciting, right?

– going flat chested to stick it to society and go back to your natural state after 10 years is admirable, right?

In reality, I seem to be afraid of being myself and all I want to do is run home to my familiar things, stick my head in the sand/mud/whatever!

I make myself angry! Why can’t I just get it together… don’t worry, there’s a corner coming up 😀

To look at another trend, I have noticed how I used to live in the future; then I managed for a very short time to live contently in the present; now I find myself living in the past, rejection the now because I feel so alien in it. There are things outside of me that poke and prod, trying to shake me up. Many times, I see how fragile I am and how close to falling apart I am. You see, I have a dangerous belief that the outside world (circumstances, people, environment, success bla bla) have power over me; when that pressure builds, I bend to it.

Life has become something that happens *to* me, rather than something lived *by* me.

It’s like I have been wearing all external challenges and hardships as badges of honour, only to buckle under their weight, failing to access the inner skills that give me strength to either let go of some of it, or find a better way to deal with the load. I recently read an article about evidence-based ways to become more content with life (article here).  The remembering to apply these during times of sorrow, I find, is the hardest part, but when I do, I honestly see more clearly. It’s about turning the spiral the opposite way: stopping the downward pull and getting the momentum to pull you out of that vortex. Having only a few things to consider makes it very doable, too.

Here are those things:

1. The ability to name emotions as they happen (rather than tucking them away for later or ignoring them), even the hard ones.

2. The act of deliberating being grateful no matter what. I have always thought gratitude was about looking for pleasant things, but what if there aren’t any or you perceive everything as negative (as I do in times of depression)? Well, it turns out that the act of searching is apparently enough (it’s science). Just accessing that state of mind can be enough to switch you into a more positive place, even if you don’t actually name anything to be grateful for.

3. Social support and HUGS! In this day and age we are more isolated than ever. We no longer have the same group support in family or community. And for some people (like me, I guess), it can be very difficult to admit you are struggling. Pride and shame both play a big role here for me: I think I ought to be “just fine”, but really I am afraid of crying and seeming weak in front of people who admire me. Reaching out can seem impossible, but confiding in someone (even a therapist) might mean the difference between feeling out of or in control. And it has for me when I finally open up and let the light shine on my inner fears.

4. Just decide *something*! It doesn’t have to be perfect, just enough. Which is why I decided to blog something today. It may not be perfect, but it’s enough to just get me past letting fear hold me back. And it feels pretty good to write my thoughts here. Taking action and allowing yourself to explore *something* *somehow* is often enough to help flip that procrastination and lostness switch and feel purposeful again.

My blog was always a safe haven for me to write what was going on with me, focusing on my fitness of course. Lately I stopped sharing anything because I failed to see that there was any point – who knows, maybe I was afraid what would come out. But now I see no reason why I can’t use this space to explore other things as well, like what creative projects I am undertaking (singing, drawing etc) as well as sharing my journey back to fitness and contentment. Whether or not it does anybody else any good, I know it does me good, so I am writing for the the latter with hopes that the former is a bonus. I enjoy getting positive feedback, but that will no longer be a driving motivation… too much pressure for me! 😉

Thank you for taking the time to read my “good enough” thoughts.

I will leave you with a photo of my other cat, Mud, who decided to lie on my drawing:

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And I can’t leave out Sandy (the dog) and Dusty (the cat):

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30 Responses

  1. Jennifer says:

    Dear Marianne,
    I started following you at the beginning of Girls Gone Strong. I am so thankful to have found you; AND, I’m so very thankful that you put yourself out there on a consistent basis, particularly with your faith. It has helped and encourage me in more ways than I can express.

    And from one artist to another, you should totally keep up with the drawing. 🙂

    Please keep sharing.
    With love,
    Jennifer

  2. Joy says:

    Thanks so much for this raw and honest post and for letting us into your world even when it feels confusing and somewhat murky.

    Hugs and prayers sent your way. You are certainly not alone in this. 🙂 xoxo

  3. Liz says:

    As someone who has struggled with my body not being what “society” wants and as someone prone to depression, I COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY understand so much of what you’ve written here. I first want to say “thank you” for being brave enough to write about your struggles. And yes, I think it’s brave- most of us are conditioned to want to be success stories, and depression or anger doesn’t seem part of the success we’re supposed to continually be! Life just doesn’t work that way. I hope and pray sincerely that our world starts to acknowledge this, and stop acting as if perpetual happiness is some sort of realistic norm.

    I don’t know if it’s social anxiety.on my part or not, but I find I have a very hard time reaching out even in those rare situations when community could become a part of my life (like in church). However, I’ve also found that many people are not looking for or comfortable with face-to-face relationships, almost seeming to prefer the online-only ones! This makes it tough to find new friends, IMHO. Not that an online friendship is bad, but it isn’t quite the same thing. What a difference from just a few generations ago, when my great-grandparents had people stopping by for a visit at their house virtually every evening, and they knew every single person in town. And there was never a night when one said, “Well, I’m too busy to fit in a visit with you, sorry…” I was fortunate enough to know my Granny and Granddad well, and I miss them and their lifestyle, I must admit.

    But we’re living here and now for our own purposes. Marianne, can I just say that I think you are such a beautiful, strong, lovely lady? It is irrelevant what you weigh or how fit you are. I firmly believe in exercise and fitness, don’t get me wrong. But this life is gone in the blink of an eye when eternity is considered. I live in the present, but in all honesty as a Christian I do live for that future in eternity (not so much the one in this life, although of course I hope that’s full of positive things). If I could make a couple of book recommendations, they’re “Battlefield of the Mind” and “Power Thoughts” by Joyce Meyer. Those books, my faith, and the goodness of time spent with God every single morning have been helping me shed that darkness which can hang over me. They’ve been helping me understand my roots of rejection, prevent discord in my relationships, see my own motives behind everything, and to understand what my true joy comes from. As wonderful as being fit and trim is, I’ve come to realize that despite what so much of the world preaches, my sense of self-worth cannot come from how I think I measure up to that sort of standard, because this body is impermanent. As I disassemble those thoughts, I find the depression and anxiety easing, and realize that every day produces a fresh opportunity to do good in the universe. You’ve done some good by writing about what you’re truly feeling in your blog, IMHO. 🙂 God bless you, Marianne.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Liz,

      Your comment rings so true to me! And I also thank you for seeing the value in talking about these things. In a way I always remember what Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

      And Christ’s power did rest on me and He gave me peace.

      Our focuses in life are so often backward, I was looking for things in the wrong places. I have read both of those books by Joyce and I also love her “Beauty from Ashes”. A great book I read during my year in Saudi was “Falling Upward” by Fr. Rohr. He along with my minister from home helped me see the value of making room for people to be where they are at, rather than think I have everything figured out and they ought to learn something from me. So often I have learned something from them.

      I am so happy that we aren’t on this journey alone.

      God bless <3

  4. Susan ; ) says:

    Hi Marianne,
    I came across your blog today whilst searching for kettlebell form stuff. Iv read and watched so many of your posts and videos in the short few hours I have known of your page. I was saddened to read this last post but also felt a sense of relief. Relief that you have allowed these feelings to be out in the open. You may feel like these feelings are weakness but it takes a strong person to openly discuss their inner most thoughts and feelings of this nature. You are an inspiration and if only more people who feel like you do (I have been there myself) had the courage to speak out about what is happening internally and bring up thngs like suicidal thoughts then society may start to realise this is NOTHING to be ashamed of and happens a whole lot more than their small minds could ever comprehend. it’s attitudes of people like Templeton that drive people to live with these feelings and sometimes ultimately decide that they no longer can. I’m glad you are finding yourself through creative outlets. Keep writing/drawing/singing. I hope it continues to be your therapy and will help speed your recovery to feeling safe and secure in yourself again. Take care. Sending love S xx

    • Marianne says:

      Thank you, Susan, for your kind words. I agree that the more people realise it is normal to feel this way and think these things, the less people would hide them in fear of judgment. It has been a truly freeing experience to be coming out the other side, but fully owning and accepting where I was a few months ago. I am doing much MUCH better 😀

  5. A Fan says:

    Marianne,

    I’ve been meaning to write you on this blog entry for a while… Forgive me for not doing it sooner.

    I first came across your videos on YT about two years ago (seems like longer that I’ve “known” you) when I was looking to get myself moving. I’d been stuck myself, and though my journey back to health in both mind, body, and spirit had already begun, I can look back now and count you as one of the most important factors in the process.

    I’d never swung a kettlebell in my life, but for some reason, here I was on YT searching out kettlebell workouts. And here you come, with such vim and vigor, grinding your way through the workouts. I figured that if Marianne can do it, and do it with a smile, that so can I.

    Two years later, after lots of hard work, I am healthy, fit, and teaching others how to swing a chunk of metal!

    I must confess, I kept coming back for the smile as much as the workout advice. More forgiveness, please.

    As time passed, and your plans of changing your website and blogs to include more of your personal journey as a Christian were revealed, I was thrilled to know that I could count you as my sister. I was very much looking forward to hearing more of the “story” of your journey. I’d always found you to be insightful, looking at things through a lens not often used.

    And I was and am heartbroken to hear about your pain and struggles. As a Christian, I’ve often found it difficult to talk to others about these things… You WILL be misunderstood by most. It’s easy to see why those outside of the kingdom wouldn’t understand, but those inside often seem to miss it, too. Sometimes it seems that they act/feel as though God gives us nothing but paths of gold to walk upon and beds of roses to sleep in, and that trouble is for someone less blessed… Ughh.

    Despite whatever blowback you get, your story is important! Tell it!!!

    Somebody gave me a book at a time when I was low. He didn’t know where I was mentally and spiritually then, it was providence. “In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day”. I am not necessarily recommending the book, but the principle. It’s based on the story of Benaiah, one of David’s might men – 1 Chr. 11:22. Picture the scene: in a pit, with a lion, on a snowy day. Not exactly good odds, but not only does he survive, but he is victorious. Think about all of the stories in the Bible where people do great things. It’s always when they are in am impossibly bad situation (sounds like what you’ve described), where and when they have nothing of their own strength left, that is where the Lord works.

    Speak with Him, tell Him your fears, about your pain, what is in your heart. Our Father waits patiently for us to come to Him, and He is ready to help. Truth is, this might be more painful than anything else you’ve gone through, but where else can we turn?

    I am looking forward to hearing more of your story, and seeing what He is and will be doing in your life. Remain faithful, and look to Him for your strength. After all, that’s the only strength that really matters.

    And don’t worry, a corner is coming…

    A Fan & Brother

  6. DJ says:

    Marianne. Glad to see you posting again. My love for kettlebells started by watching your videos. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on life and the ups and downs we all experience. I don’t normally reply to posts but this one just struck me. My beloved wife of 32 years was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy this week. She almost buckled under the weight and considered forgoing treatment figuring maybe it was not worth going on. In the end she percevered and the worst Is behind us. We now look at it as part of a journey we are taking together. Stay strong!

  7. Kirsten says:

    Dear Marianne! I just happened to drop into your blog today, wondering if you had been writing anything lately, and found this brave and moving post. I just wanted to say that I think it’s very admirable to be so honest. I also think your writing might become part of your healing process, whether you choose to share it with your readers or not. I am glad to hear that you have found a good therapist who can help you. I truly believe that your life will become wonderful again, and I wish you all the best!

  8. Templeton says:

    Your blog has been one big set of pronouncements after the other. You’re always boldly announcing one thing after another. So confident! Then you disappear for months, only to write this very troubling post.

    And this post is disturbing. You talk lightly about considering suicide, ramble all over the place, question all your life choices, muse about turning a fitness blog into a creative drawing blog, and incoherently post random cat pictures.

    Sadly, you come across as deeply confused right now. I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist. You might find it worthwhile to stop trying to be a public figure, suspend blogging, and sort out who you are and how to be healthy.

    You seem very lost.

    • Marianne says:

      Templeton,

      This post, as stated, was first and foremost for me. While I gladly welcome comments and feedback when they are considerate and constructive, I take exception to your many assumptions about me, along with your misguided conclusions and advice.

      You see, let me reiterate: I believe there is value to openly questioning and processing life; not just *for* me, but also to show others that life can send you down rough paths and we can all stumble sometimes, but you can also recover after processing, questioning and many emotional ups and downs along the way (and some may hit lows in which they consider suicide).

      Maybe I should be like many other blogs and “public figure” out there and put on a facade of how wonderful life is. The fact is, we are all a public figure to someone, but some choose to put on airs and act “together” all the time, which may actually be more harmful to society. I am not going to do that: I also happen to enjoy blogging.

      Your opinions about how I decided to talk about considering suicide, questioning my life choices, musing or “rambling” ironically carry no weight as you have no way to prove your claim is anything other than your own subjective ramblings.

      Therefore, your advice to “…stop trying to be a public figure, suspend blogging, and sort out who you are and how to be healthy.” is based on ignorance, is rude, and is far beyond your scope here.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Templeton says:

        Marianne, you like it both ways: you want to “put it all out there” (for acclaim!) but when readers hold up your own words then you get defensive and say “you don’t know me!”. Sure, whatever. My comments were based on your posts, your pronouncements. Read your own blog posts: it’s all there. It sounds like you just want applause.

        I liked what this blog once was, but maybe a year ago it went down a black hole. I don’t know why. You did good work before.

        Your blog was about fitness and glutes etc. It was about looking good, feeling good. Then it became about your passion for Christianity. Then it was about pain. And authenticity. And then it just stopped. Now it’s about…what, exactly? Cat pictures? Drawing?

        I liked your courage in discussing your faith on this blog. I applauded it. But I notice that in this long post, including your discussion about contemplating suicide(!), your faith is never mentioned. Not once. That’s fine, faith is a private matter—but again, it’s confusing.

        You put a lot of effort into building a profile for yourself. Tremendous effort. And you built a large following around your fitness videos and posts and photos.

        It might be best to create a separate personal blog and post personal items there. Then you won’t face readers wondering why your posts here are so erratic.

        • Marianne says:

          Missing the point all over again. This blog can be about what ever I decide, since it is my blog. You miss so much by judging me.

          ” but maybe a year ago it went down a black hole. I don’t know why”

          You have read my blogs, so you “know” at least a little of why. My journey is just that. I was no longer writing about my fitness journey because I was suffering in my illness to the extent I could barely walk, let alone train, so I wrote about my pain. I was suffering in depression and questioning my faith, so my writing reflects that distance from God. You apply such high standards to me that I must conclude that your journey never ebbs and flows, always constant, always right. Yet I somehow doubt that. Have some compassion, Templeton.

          Since you are finding it difficult to grasp what my blog *is* about, let me tell you what it is NOT about: You, Templeton. That has surely been clear throughout.

  9. Dixie says:

    Your blog should be about you not us readers. Do we enjoy your blog? Yes. Do we look forward to new posts? Yes. But your blog is yours & should be what you need it to be. If you want to post a workout or express your emotions through words or pictures, or not post for a while, or do any combination of the sort, then that is your choice because this is yours. We readers are being granted a privilege a gift to read & follow you. You are not beholden to your followers.

    Also, one of the reasons I love your blog so much is because you are perfectly imperfect. You are human. I cannot tell you how much it has helped me to see you breath heavy, or loose balance slightly when doing a single leg deadlift, or simply rest for a beat of 3 seconds during a workout. My workouts have improved because I am no longer seeking a “perfect” workout without missteps or breaks for a breath because I see you being so strong, so fit while being human doing these natural things I thought made me weak. Other blogs only show small, edited, perfect form clips but your videos are real. I love that. It shows true strength & natural human fitness, at least in my opining.

    • Marianne says:

      Thanks, Dixie. That was part of why I just went for it with this post. I feel like in the past year or two I am conflicted about what to write or do because of what I think blog should be or what I see on other blogs. I lost myself. I still feel kind of lost at times, but I reckon we all do and it’s ok to say it 🙂 There is another entry brewing about this once I feels inspired to write it.

      As for the workouts, I know exactly what you mean about “perfect” execution of exercises and zero tiredness etc in other workout videos. That is just not real! It’s was tempting to edit those things out, but then all I end up doing is increasing the ideal which is false to begin with. Plus, training becomes more fun when it feels safe to “mess up”. I guess that’s a great lesson for life, too. Perfectionism holds me back in so many areas. I need to take my own advice haha.

      Thank you for commenting and thank you for reading 🙂

  10. Brenda says:

    Marianne, thank you so much for sharing your heart! Although I’m much more “mature” (OLDER!) than you, I’ve had similar feelings lately. I finally decided to start writing again, and it’s definitely helpful… I know you’ll find your way back. Isaiah 43:19 came to mind while I was reading this. 🙂 In the meantime, I will be praying for you.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Brenda, I was curious and went to your blog. I read the post you wrote yesterday… I can identify completely! While I am not dealing with how a more mature woman “should” look, or should resign herself to be, I can feel the struggle you are wrestling with. Getting married and becoming more dependant on a man than I ever wanted to be has taken some wind out of my sails.

      The verse you thought of is perfect! Thank you for sharing <3

  11. trish says:

    So glad you wrote this. Please keep writing {no pressure}. I have (am) experienced similar feelings. Always helpful to know you’re not alone. xoxo

  12. Annette says:

    Marianne, even though I (luckily) don’t have depression, I dated a couple guys who had it…. You can be so proud of yourself for sharing, for being brave enough to go public with your struggles! I don’t know you and we will probably never meet – but here is a big hug from me to you!! You will make it out of the hole (and others) and continue to help others through your struggles. Hang in there and know that you are making a difference by being honest!!!

    • Marianne says:

      Annette, it means a lot that you understand. I feel bad for my husband having to live with me at the min. But, like you said I (and others) will make it out of the hole 🙂

  13. Katie says:

    I’m writing you a private message, but I needed to just say that this is fantastic. I think you should share some of your drawings.

  14. Can says:

    I appreciate your honesty Marianne. You don’t realise how refreshing and wonderful reading your blogs are but I think you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. I have asked for help. I have family members who have been pushed beyond the brink and have gotten help. There is no shame, I am not seeking to patronise. We need to really need to notice each other really and ask simple questions of each other. The love and support is there.

    • Marianne says:

      Hi Can,

      Thank you for your kind words. I agree there should be no shame to asking for help. For the last few months I have been seeing a therapist who is excellent:

      “We need to really need to notice each other really and ask simple questions of each other. The love and support is there.”

      No truer words!

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