Not cave-person, as in Neanderthal.
I mean, when it gets tough, do you pull on your big boy or girl panties and FIGHT, or do you crumple into a ball, and ‘cave’….?
For years, decades, I was a caver. I was also a doormat. I never stood up for myself. I would TOTALLY avoid conflict. Of ANY type. Maybe that came from coming from a home with an alcoholic father. I just wanted PEACE. At ANY price.
I wouldn’t stand up and fight for anything. I caved.
Including my weight, my appearance, my self-respect, and my health.
Oh sure, I could drop a significant amount of weight. In my early 40’s, I once dropped 60 lbs. in 4 months. Yep, four months.
I eventually gained it back.
In 2009, I dropped 60 lbs.
in 2012, I gained back 50.
I really cannot put my finger on why I changed from a caver to a fighter, but I did. I KNOW that having some testosterone (or more) in my veins due to being post menopausal…probably helped.
Or maybe, I just got fed up with myself. My gutlessness. It was, quite literally, killing me. Blood pressure COMPLETELY out of control, and ankle swelling from taking so much blood pressure medication. Damned if I did, damned if I didn’t.
My whole family, both sides…dies from heart disease. (Knock on wood) Not cancer. Or, on my father’s side, heart disease with a sprinkling of diabetic complications, including also some Alzheimer’s.
Take my dad. No, first take my dad’s only sister; always morbidly obese. She got diabetes. She died of diabetes…I don’t remember her exact age, but I’m sure it was somewhere between mid 40’s and mid 50’s. So tragic. So premature.
Then, my dad, the ‘beer alcoholic.’ After a DUI took his license away from him for a year when I turned 18, he stopped drinking. But a few years later, he got diabetes. He lost most of his excess weight, but the damage was done, and he had quadruple heart bypass surgery in his mid-late 60’s, got dementia around the age of 76 or so, and developed congestive heart failure and was gone at 77. Totally unnecessary. So tragic….to lose this ‘life of the party’ man:
I realized that at 60 plus, I was MUCH closer, in time and actual lack of health, to that heritage than I wanted to be.
With raging blood pressure and unbearable symptoms from too much blood pressure medication, I had to make a choice. The LAST thing I wanted to do was end up like my maternal grandfather. The kindest, most gentle soul that I ever knew: (me with him, circa early 1960’s.)
Above, with my grandma. Note what’s in his right hand. I NEVER knew him as a smoker. He quit before I was cognizant of smoking. I don’t know how old he was when he quit.
But he was the gentlest soul I ever knew. A true heart of gold if ever there was one. The man who never raged or cursed. I NEVER heard a single swear word out of his mouth. Nothing but love, sweetness, and kindness, with a sprinkling of old-charm humor.
Then, in his 70’s, he had a stroke. A MAJOR stroke. The kind, gentle man who never spoke a swear world in his life, couldn’t speak at all. Except…I kid not, for swear words. The only words he EVER spoke, ever again, after his stroke, for the several years until he died, were swear words. And the tears would just silently stream down his face. In embarrassment. In horror. The kind, gentle soul was still there. But it was knowingly, painstakingly TRAPPED inside his body and couldn’t get out. Couldn’t control his words. And it MORTIFIED him.
It was the most horrifying thing in the world to witness.
I cannot begin to tell you how devastating to watch the most wonderful person in your universe suffer so knowingly, tragically, like that. For YEARS.
It’s why my mom has had an ‘advanced directive’ for herself for years, and is scared to death of being ‘paddled back to life’. Fear she could ‘return’ like him. She would rather die, straight away, than go through what he went through.
I realized if I didn’t get my shit together, I could end up just like my dad, with dementia, or worse yet, like my grandpa, my brain and heart and soul trapped in a useless body that I couldn’t escape.
I STOPPED CAVING AND GOT MY SHIT TOGETHER.
I STARTED FIGHTING.
I will NEVER stop.
I may yet get a heart attack. Or a stroke. But it sure as shit will be as late in life as I can control. And we can control a LOT if we stop caving, and start FIGHTING for our LIVES.
So which are you? Fighter, or caver?
Which do you WANT to be?
What’s stopping you?