If you read my last blog you heard about The Selection process. I think it’s really important that I tell you why I made the decision and what I got out of it.
What did it feel like to watch myself quit on national TV? It felt awful. I remember when I made the decision to rip my patch off and leave the show. It was an impulse that I was fighting for what felt like hours. It happened so fast but it felt like I was moving in slow motion. I was scared of staying, I was afraid of leaving. I was panicked. There were little things along the way that made me feel confident and just as many things that filled me with fear and doubt. I had no idea what I signed on for. I made my body tougher but what I lacked, what I continue to lack is the mental toughness. I have no idea where this blog is going but walk with me and lets see what happens.
In my life I face my demons regardless of being filled with fear and doubt (I am always filled with fear and doubt). If I waited till I felt safe I wouldn’t get anything done. I love extreme challenges because I get to throat punch my fears and insecurities. I think I should give you a little background. On the show we were all facing inner demons. That’s what made us extreme. We all had a story. We all had something to prove. At 15 I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt and I stayed for 7 months (it felt like years). When I left I went to live with my dad (my parents got divorced while I was away). I always had a tumultuous relationship with my mom and my childhood was a wreck so here it was, my chance for a fresh start. I felt free and safe for the first time ever. Dad got me a gym membership, sneakers and workout gear and I have never looked back, It has been my salvation ever since. My dad saved my life. Why am I telling you this??? Because my dad passed away shortly before the casting call for The Selection showed up on my Facebook wall. Broken hearted and dying to feel anything other than sad I applied. My stepmom describes me as intense, good description.
Fast forward to June 15th…I got selected and into the van I go. Totally terrified and feeling completely insecure. We got to base and piled out of the vans and then I calmed down. It was a beautiful night and all my new friends were an adrenaline high. Then we got miked up (kind of cool) and went into an instruction meeting. Then we saw our barracks and everyone was gasping (not what we expected). I felt confident, it was bare bones military barracks, I was ready for this. Next day up and get ready for formation (still feel confident). We stood in formation for what seemed like forever, it was actually an hour – maybe 90 minutes. I studied the landscape, directions, sounds; everything in the camp that I thought would be useful if we did land navigation. And then I saw the absolute scariest thing I have ever seen in my life. Six of the meanest looking men I had ever seen came over a hill towards us. My brain started screaming…OH SHIT RUN!!!!!! Here we go up the roller coaster. They immediately started yelling and barking commands. I wondered if everyone else was as nervous as I was. I felt bad for my friend Pepper, they made him class leader and he was getting blasted, I sensed he was nervous and I was scared for him. Then I thought, maybe I am too sensitive for this. Then, the physical training started and I felt confident. I consider myself incredibly strong physically. I quickly learned that this had nothing to do with physical strength, it was all mental. I WAS FUCKED!!!! I didn’t look around but I could hear everyone getting hazed. PLEASE DON’T LET THEM NOTICE ME! STAY IN LINE JESSIKA…DON’T SANDBAG JESSIKA my mind was screaming. Then we were told to run a hill in less than 2 minutes and they were screaming DON’T BE LAST! DAMMIT I SUCK AT RUNNING!!! But then I started passing people who were better runners than me so I felt great. My confidence was back – I could do this. More running, more PT, low crawl…I felt good. Then my confidence got rocked again…we had to get in line and get picked for teams…I got picked last SHIT!!!!! THEY ALL THINK I SUCK…that was it. I was rocketed back into my insecurity. I started making mistakes. I started talking to my dad in my head begging him to help me find my strength, begging him to stay with me like he did in my training leading up to the show but, I didn’t feel him (I am not sure my dad would have thought what I was doing was a good idea). The hours of physical training continued and my confidence never returned and all I could feel was the physical pain from the training. My mind was breaking down which is why I couldn’t rise above the pain. I was scared, so scared, I wanted my kids, a shower, my husband, some Swedish fish. I was trying to hang on minute by minute. They kept screaming that it was going to get worse…WORSE!!!! – FFFUUUCCCKKKK! I kept fighting against the voices in my head. Finally we were supposed to run again and I tapped out. This wasn’t for me I thought. Then the indecision set in but there was no room for indecision. In or out that’s it and I was out. Okay well if I was out I might as well accept it. It was the first thing I had ever quit besides smoking. It felt like I just ate a pound of rancid meat. I didn’t think too much about what I had done. I was grateful for a shower and I wanted my kids…. I missed my kids so bad I felt sick. Okay peace set in I was going to see my kids….exhale….
A few days later I felt ready to hit the gym, my safe haven, my happy place and I felt like a total fraud. I started crying in the gym. What is this crying shit? I am in the gym. Something in me changed but I didn’t know what it was. I was grateful to be home with my friends and my clients they were re assuring and they all said they were glad I was back. Some said that the premise of the show I was going on was against what I teach. That was kind of true. Maybe this just wasn’t the right thing for me. I slowly started feeling more like me. I did a bodybuilding show – that felt incredible. Then I felt strong enough to quit my job and start my own company. Everywhere I reached out a hand for reassurance someone was reaching back…. It all helped….months had passed and then the show aired………..
OH NO I SUCK!!!!! EVERYONE SAW ME QUIT. EVERYONE SAW ME SOBBING. I felt awful. The next day I was at the gym and again I felt sick, I felt like a big, sick fraud. I was lifting as heavy as I could for 3 hours and I still felt sick. Ordinarily when my chips are down I called my dad but he had passed so I called my stepmom. She reframed what I saw as quitting, failing, being a punk, sucking at life…. She said what I did was made a decision to leave an environment that felt toxic to me. She said I wasn’t physically weak or mentally weak, it wasn’t about weakness. It was not the place for me at that time and I chose to leave. She reminded me that the instructors said I was doing really well and I needed to hear that. I was peaceful again.
I am peaceful still. I am grateful for the experience. I have done more than I ever thought I would when I was locked up in a hospital at 15. Some people in life take a lot more risks than me some don’t take half as many as I do. I guess I take enough for me. Am I strong enough? I don’t know if there is a limit or if I will ever be satisfied. Do I have enough mental toughness? No way, I have a lot of work to do there. I am trying to find a balance between humility, self-doubt, insecurity and ego. I set a good example for my girls. My dad would be stuck somewhere in between proud and worried that I may be too over the top. Am I proud of what I did? Absolutely, I am honestly proud of the fact that I made it on the show and had an experience that few ever do. During training we had to memorize “The Man in the Arena” by Theodore Roosevelt, and I think it summarizes my experience perfectly.