Chasing Happy

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“What I know from my fitness journey is that happiness comes from within and no matter all the great people in your life, all the money, the awesome job, and anything else on the outside…none of it will matter if you don’t address what’s going on inside of you.”

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When my ex-boyfriend broke up with me five years ago I was devastated. I felt like someone stabbed me in the heart and tore it out from my chest. I had the ugliest cry ever that day. You know the kind of cry where you’re so overwhelmed with pain that you fall to the ground, face wet with uncontrollable streams of tears, saliva drooling down from the mouth, body curled up in fetus position and all you hear are the screams and moans bellowing out from your gut? Yeh, UGLY.

Before my ex-boyfriend, I never thought about marriage or family or settling down. I was married to a career. So the breakup was like the Grim Reaper slashing to death my chance to happiness. All I needed was a coffin because I felt dead. I wondered if I would be able to love like that again. Was there someone else out there who could make me happy. What do I need to do? I had a few girlfriends who suggested I spend some time with myself. “Alone by myself?” I just saw that as being more depressing….just slit my wrists now. I wanted to be out in the world. Party and drink and recover. Press repeat.

I also dived into the deep pool of internet dating. I created a profile with my sexiest pics combined with a logline that said, “You plus me equals fun!” I wanted the most hits and winks from guys all over town. I was on a mission to erase my ex-boyfriend from my history. I was determined to find not only a replacement but an upgrade. I wanted someone hotter, richer and bigger below the belt. I went out on several horrible dates and finally ended up dating a guy who had a lot of potential to be the new beaux. He met all the criteria on paper. He was the upgrade I was looking for but deep down I still wasn’t happy. Something wasn’t right about him…something was off. I heard about so many women finding love on the internet, why wasn’t it happening for me?

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I complained to my girlfriends about how all the guys I was dating were all wrong. “There’s too many douche bags out there just looking to get laid, girl. The really good ones are taken or gay. It’s tough out there.” A lot of my single girlfriends agreed. It was like preaching to the choir with all the Amens, hand claps and foot stomps. It felt good to know I wasn’t the only one striking out. But then one day, my best friend from college had a different response to my dating woes, “Girl you’re going about it all wrong. Don’t use these men because you don’t know how to make yourself happy. It’s not fair. Don’t do them, DO YOU!” Do me? I thought I WAS doing me.

I thought about what my girlfriend had to say. I valued her advice because she was married. She met her husband in school while pursuing her masters degree. Their relationship was good and healthy. I wanted so bad what she had but I really didn’t know how to get it? So I tried what my girlfriend called “doing me”. I loved being active so I pursued physical activities. I tried to be like Bruce Lee and took a Kung Fu class. I participated in stair climb races and actually won my age division. I did a few 5k marathon races and ran my fastest time. I was DOING ME but deep down I still wasn’t happy. I went back and told my best friend from college all the things I was doing, ” I don’t understand. I’m doing me. Why am I still unhappy?” This was a long conversation but her last words to me were,”What is your intention? Are you truly doing all these things for you and to make you better or is it still about him…trying to show him you’re better.”

I thought about all the things I was doing and my girlfriend was actually right. My ex-boyfriend loved Bruce Lee and did Kung Fu. I was only doing it because it was his favorite thing to do as a kid. He also introduced me to stairclimb races. I continued to climb because I wanted to show him that I could succeed without him not because I had a love and passion for the sport. Everything I was doing wasn’t really about “doing me” it was all a “show” for him. I wasn’t over my ex…deep down I was still angry at him. I was still hurt by him. I was still sad because of him. What I really needed to do was truly forgive my ex-boyfriend and let go of all the negative emotions I was burying deep within me. He made a choice that he felt was best for him. Whether I agreed with his choice or not, I had to respect and accept his decision. I was putting too much stock in my ex-boyfriend and other men to provide happiness for me.

If I was going to be truly happy, I really needed to look within and clear out the emotional roadblocks. So I wrote down every negative emotion. I didn’t hold back I just let it all out…every nasty thing I felt I jotted it down and then next to each negative word or phrase I wrote, “I forgive.” I didn’t share this with my ex-boyfriend because I wanted forgiveness to be more about me than about him. Shortly after writing this list, I prayed to God for courage and wisdom. I asked him to lead me. After this internal exploration, I decided to do something that made me authentically happy. My plan was to re-invent myself through fitness. I overhauled my workout regimen, diet and participated in bodybuilding competitions. This was my clean slate. This was something that had no connection to my ex-boyfriend. This was something that was all for me.

While training in the gym my intention was to learn how to define my own path, create purpose, make better choices, press forward, stay positive and love me again like I did when I was a kid. Sure it was nice winning trophies on stage but the best part was how I felt about me off stage whether I won or not. I liked being a happy person. I was living life for me and not for anyone else. As I grew to love me more, the happier I became and the void I felt deep within me disappeared.

I haven’t gone back to online dating. I don’t need the “manhunt” anymore. My best friend from college was right all along. I finally understood what “Do You” meant. I am not going to do anything that isn’t authentic to achieving personal happiness. I am going to live. I am going to seek out new opportunities that will make me a better woman and let the love I have for myself open the door for the right man to walk in.

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What I know from my fitness journey is that happiness comes from within and no matter all the great people in your life, all the money, the awesome job, and anything else on the outside…none of it will matter if you don’t address what’s going on inside of you. That’s why we have a hard time getting over a break up.

So for this year in 2015, celebrate the victories in life no matter how big or small. Don’t hang onto disappointing events in your life or cling to people who break your heart or let you down. You can not grow into the beautiful person you’re meant to be looking backwards. Let go. Move on. Look forward. Everything is going to be ok. –Kanika Nikki Utley

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