This story isn’t about me as it is as much about a community of people that unknowingly (until I would tell them) saved my life every single spin class. This story started when I returned from 2 years of working 24/7/365 for Club Med in Eleuthera, Bahamas.
I won’t deny that for one second. Never missed a sunrise or a sunset. Worked my ass off. Met amazing people. Built amazing relationships in a confined bubble of a space on this planet. However when that came to an abrupt end due to an acute injury and me having to literally sneak off the island, out of the club, and back home to my mom’s house, I had no idea the dark turn it would take.
One of the most important relationships in my life came crashing to a halt not even a week later when the person that I thought was my person, broke the news to me that they had slept with my roommate. In an instant my plans incinerated and were drowned out by the dial tone on the phone that I just slammed down. I crawled into my bed, on the bottom floor of my mom’s house and that’s where I stayed for the next three months. In the dark. In the solitude. In my head which was spinning. I came out only to pee and occasionally shower. My mom would leave food at the door not knowing how to reach me or what I was actually going through. I knew the days were getting longer and lonelier when I stopped talking to my grandma, who I spoke to multiple times a day everyday and who was my everything.
I had given up my career path in television and media and a great job at a major news outlet in New York City; I had given up my apartment and my social life in the city. All of my friends had continued to live their lives while I was experiencing everything that GO life in Club Med had to offer. I never took vacations with my family growing up, never traveled throughout school because of sports, never hung out with such an amazing group of people from all over the planet that would for 2 years become my extended family. Everything in Club Med (at least in a family village where I worked) happens at warp speed because your life is scheduled and you literally work until you pass out, if you sleep at all…if someone can see you, you’re working. Whether you’re sober or not. Your perception of reality becomes based on a schedule of building sand castles and flying on the trapeze. Trust me, I am not complaining at all. I literally signed up for it. It was some of the best 2 years of my life. Not one regret. However, falling out of that bubble and back to a reality that I could no longer function in was a shock to my entire being. And therefore I retreated into myself. No job. No schedule. No responsibilities. No rent to pay. No dog. No where to go. No people depending on you to show up. No-one concerned if you didn’t show up. Nothing.
It was an empty, lonely, uncomfortable, unfamiliar void. That’s where I stayed for 3 months. In my bed. In the dark. With the shades down. The shitty TV on. Alone.
And then the thoughts started to creep in. Why am I here? Who gives a fuck that I’m here? What is my purpose to still being here? Everyone I loved and connected to was still partying on an island where I could never go back to. Where do I go? Who do I call? Who can I talk to about all of this that would understand? And those thoughts circled. And circled until I got so exhausted trying to answer them that I’d just pass out. The walk back from the bathroom was the worst because the room after all this time honestly fucking stank, it was dark, the bed was a fucking mess, my life was a fucking mess and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to climb back into that bed again and go through the same bullshit for another day. How do I get out of there? How do I just end it and make the sadness stop? What takes the edge of the loneliness when no one is around? Pills? Pills and alcohol? I was too much of a chickenshit to even think about cutting. Plus I’d been stitched up so many times from sports injuries that it didn’t even cross my mind. I’d go to sleep just not wanting to wake the fuck up. To take the burden off my mom and my grandma, but mostly myself.
Depression is heavy and exhausting. It’s mentally draining as fuck. The struggle just to push the thoughts back. Yet everything in my life has been a competition —growing up the tomboy of all tomboys in my neighborhood— I never quit, never gave up, and fucking hated losing more than anything. That totally twisted sense of never wanting to lose is still a huge part of my personality. So it was a constant battle in my head. Don’t let this beat you. You’re stronger, you don’t lose, you can’t quit. And just wanting to be able to take a deep unhindered freeing breath of inner peace. There was barely any air to breathe at the bottom of that hole. And to this day, I have absolutely no idea what clicked inside my brain and my body that picked me up out of that bed, into my mom’s car, and to the gym.
I still find myself trying to figure it out sometimes. Yet in that gym I found a spin class. When spinning was just being born so it was symbolically fitting. I found a seat in the darkest corner in the back of the room and I just rode. The music moving my soul. It’s always been the music. After the class I didn’t talk to anyone, just got back in the car and drove home. Crawled back into bed and collapsed. Yet the next day I woke up and did it again. And again. And again. And again. I soon started hanging around after class. Talking to the instructor and people in the class and in the gym. And started staying after class and hitting the weights. And then hitting the steam room and the shower. And then the adrenaline and the endorphins kicked in. And for the time I was out of the house, back in society, back around people, was less time for all of those other thoughts and feelings and questions to swirl around my head. My head was full of feel good music and my body was drenched in sweat, and there was laughter and most importantly people around.
Days became weeks, weeks became months and time was no longer the enemy. I found out how to get certified to teach spinning and as a DJ I already had the music in my DNA, and now just needed the opportunity to teach a class of my own. I passed the test, auditioned for a class and went from sitting in the darkest furthest seat from the front of the class to teaching one. It’s funny how when the fresh air hits you in the face and you put yourself back out into the world things slowly start to happen if you let them. I went back to school, got another degree while teaching spin and feeding myself endorphins for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Over time I got more confident in my spin teaching and hit the city to audition for jobs in all of the gyms that would have me. I got those jobs and made it my mission and my purpose to create the same welcoming, non-judgmental, come as you are and leave better for it spin classes where it was about the people and showing up. Not how fast you rode, or how far or who you passed along the way. We built families. We rode through life together in a city where it can be extremely hard to find safe places to be yourself and find yourself and find others to accept you as you are.
Over 11 years of teaching we went though dates, relationships, marriages, divorces, illnesses, births, deaths and everything life had to throw at us. We did it together, up hills, and along the flats, through the sprints and the warm-ups and cool-downs. We did it in the dark with the music blasting and our heartbeats in our heads and on our sleeves. When those classes ended (for reasons I still harbor some bitterness about to be completely honest) there were some of us that stayed in touch and are friends to this day, and others that continued on their way. We all brought out the best in each other and supported each other through the worst.
That one spinning class I stumbled into in my disgusting sweats saved my fucking life. I think and I hope that I was able to help others in the same way it helped me. To this day I have no fucking idea what made me get out of that bed after months and months, and I may never truly know. What I do know is that it’s worth finding something that makes it worth waking up for. It could be anything. Just be kind enough to yourself and give yourself the time to find it, or for it to find you. The struggle doesn’t go away. The fight to never go back to the darkness and the room with the bed and the food on the floor outside the door lingers, and some days are harder and messier than others. Find the people, find the places and the spaces where you can just breathe and just be. It’s the connection to a community and to good human beings that healed my soul. it’s knowing that when I show up I can make someone’s life better that keeps me going.
The battle scars are still there, and I don’t hide them at all. They are there exposed for everyone to see, right next my semi-colon tattoo because my story is far from over.
Story submitted by Randi.