Wednesday, March 25, 2015


A few weeks ago, I became fully, wide-awake aware, that this grief was killing me.  Not enough so that I'd actually physically die, but enough so that I continually felt as if a meat slicer was in my chest, merrily chopping away at my innards.  At the same time it was as if an anvil such as blacksmiths might use, was slung around my neck, making it difficult to breathe and slowing my feet. It was intolerable and made me....desperate.

Which I had to be to do what I did next.  The morning after this reckoning, I high-tailed it to the fitness center at Luke AFB, which is a convenient 15 minutes from where I'm staying with my son and his wife and family while resting from the road.  I already had my exercise gear on so that I could do something...anything...that day.  The energy that is grief was so powerful I felt that I could easily implode and I needed to physically exert myself in order to belay it.

In speaking to the staff at the desk of the fitness center, I was very specific.  My first request was for a former Marine to be my personal trainer.  One who would yell and scream at me and push me beyond any limit I ever considered having when it comes to exercise.  Which, to be honest, wouldn't be much because by nature, I'm much more a person who sits and reads as opposed to moving my body.

No Marines were available but this so helpful staff member took me to one of the annexes and introduced me to the man who guides what is called the Warrior Training Program.  Or, as someone I met recently who works that program calls it, the WTF program.  And he put me to work immediately, challenging my own concepts of what it is possible for me to do and not do. Apparently there isn't much I can't do, when pushed.

I'm in week 3 of this Warrior Training program and it's one I guess is fitting for me, since I strive each day to live into the personae of a Fucking Warrior Goddess.  Three times a week, I show up ready to sweat and burn and cry and grieve and push, push, push this grief; if not out, then at least around.

And thus far?  Let me tell you-I've learned that I'm capable of more than I ever considered.  I've done 10 real push-ups at a time (not the girly kind), when I didn't know I could do 1.  I've lifted 20 lbs of free weights over my head after coming out of a squat and done it 20 times.  I've run in between doing those.  I got on the rowing machine.  I've done all kinds of shit and you know what?  The meat-slicer has eased up a bit.  And the trainer, after I told him that I'm widowed and my breathing sucks, reminds me to breathe, encourages me, and very definitely pushes me.

This isn't for me to lose weight, to get in shape-none of the reasons I might have exercised before. This is solely to keep the grief moving because I reached that point of desperation.  Dare I say that I almost actually anticipate going to the gym now so that I can get some grief relief?  Even if my muscles hurt the next day?  Because I almost actually do anticipate that very thing.

Tears oftentimes blur my already sweaty vision as I'm lifting weights, throwing the damned medicine ball against the wall, squatting with weights on my shoulders.  I get dizzy, both from exertion and emotion.  My husband was huge on exercise; I went along with him but mostly I'd try to talk him into shorter or slower exercise walks.  Being in the gym reminds me of so much with him but I don't care if I sob my way through it.  I just need to keep doing it.

The 27th of this month marks 2 years since I took Chuck to the ER and our Odyssey began and I'm not trying to hold anything back.  The entire thing was traumatizing and horrifying and the memories run like a video in my head and I'm going to just keep sweating and crying my way through them.

I think of what Chuck would think if he saw me doing all of this at the gym and I know what he'd say.  Miller, every time I think I know you, you go and do something that surprises the shit out of me.

The desperation of grief.  It led me, ultimately, to the gym~


  1. It's hit you Alison. Adrenaline. In my opinion, there is no better drug. I've wrote about it myself, with Crossfit and how bringing yourself to a physical breaking point can actually be euphoric and mentally healing event, with effects lasting for a few days until you're ready to go back. (Shameless link: )

    I'm a former Marine myself, so I can appreciate the yelling, no-holds barred, throw you into the fire approach. It's good to have some intensity and fire in some aspect of our lives once in awhile, and the more you keep at it, the more it will become addicting, and you'll find that you'll end up being the one doing the pushing and yelling at yourself.

    Keep at it!

    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Mike, and thank you for your service. That one hour of sweating and pushing myself and forcing the grief to move in my body has quickly become addicting. This is the first time I've ever exercised with no intent of health or slimming down. This is only to move the grief. Whatever else comes with it is incidental~

  2. Alison,
    My, have you hit that proverbial nail on the head this morning for me! I feel anxious and overwhelmed trying to do all of the things we widows need to do to hold it together. I feel like I need a release and was not focusing on what that release could be. I am a regular exerciser, but lately not to the extent that I am actually RELEASING much.

    Thank you for making me realize what I may have known all along. I am the only one responsible for my possible happiness and release of all these emotions. I loved your talk of "tears blurring your already sweaty vision...YES, that is what I need - throw myself into some crucial exercise and let what happens, happen. All Good, thank you so much!!

    1. Jill,
      Let me know how it goes for you, if you get back to the exercising and how it works for you.

      The exercise is keeping me from going over the edge, I know~