Thanksgiving Struggles

 

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it's always time that I get to be trapped with my giant, loud, and hilarious family. Holidays are CRAZY in our house. They're full of unique traditions, tons of food, and endless laughs. But despite the fun we have, it took a while to get to a place where I didn't feel guilty for being thankful and happy during the holidays. Ever since my younger brother Scott passed away in 2009, the holidays became overwhelmingly difficult and fragmented. It's impossible to feel thankful or hopeful when an integral member of your family unit has been taken before their time. And it's especially hard not to fall down the rabbit hole and want to pretend that the holidays aren't happening at all.

When I get sad, I tend to take my frustrations and grief out on the people I love most. I have a really hard time opening up to my family about my pain and sadness and at first, it was a nightmare. No one knew what to do and the first Thanksgiving without my brother was just awful. We all tried to pretend that everything was fine until my cousin accidentally called my other cousin Scott, we fell apart. I remember sitting in the car with my sister crying, wondering how we'd ever be able to go on without him.

I've found that the only way I can cope is to lean into my grief. To not pretend that I'm not sad and to talk about my brother as much as possible. Finding the balance between feeling sad and happy seems impossible at times but that dichotomy has become our new normal. I miss my brother a lot. And holidays are still a giant reminder that he's not with us anymore. But I try to smile every single chance I get because at the end of the day, I wouldn't trade a single second I had with him and I'm grateful for every laugh we got to share together (mostly at one another's expense). Finding joy and laughter doesn't come easily during the holidays anymore and it requires us to make a conscious effort to find hope, joy, and love whenever we're missing my brother.

The biggest lesson I've learned from being forced to survive an unimaginable loss is how important it is to be patient around the holidays with my family, friends, loved ones, and most importantly, strangers within my community. You never know who is struggling to make it through the day. Anything you can do to help someone else smile is a win. Try to be thoughtful whenever you can of the people around you. We have to make sure that we're all taken care of.  

If you're struggling this holiday season, try to find laughter. Surround yourself with people who care about you be that your family who is related by blood or the people you've chosen over the years. The holidays are all about giving back and making memories with the ones you care about most.

Thanksgiving day is the anniversary of the day I hit bottom and decided to go for my first run so I'm always reminded that strength can come out of despair. I couldn't make it down my block that first day and four years later, I just completed my seventh marathon. It hasn't been easy but neither has grief.  

Gifts aren't always physical objects. The ones I cherish most are the memories I get to take with me for the rest of my life. 

Until next time, #RunSelfieRepeat.

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Kelly Roberts

It all started when a silly joke made headlines back in 2014 when I took selfies with hot guys “hottie hunting” my way through the New York City Half Marathon. But ironically enough, I haven't always been a runner. As the self-proclaimed former President of the "I f*cking hate running club", I spent most of my life finding ways to avoid physical activity. Growing up, I missed over 70 days of PE my senior year. Working out was something I thought I had to suffer through in order to lose weight. 

Then, in 2009, my younger brother passed away unexpectedly and struggling to manage my grief, I gained more than 75 pounds. With the weight gain came a new fight to regain my sense of self and learn to love the body I saw when I looked in the mirror. Then one Thanksgiving morning, drowning in grief and self doubt, I decided to go for a run. I didn't make it half way down my street before I had to stop to walk but for some reason, struggling forward made more sense than getting back into bed. It turns out that running is a lot like grief, neither ever really get easier, you just get stronger. 

Over time, I realized that while some people are in fact born runners, others are made. I created this blog Run, Selfie, Repeat and my new podcast by the same name with the hopes to inspire others to say yes to themselves while making them laugh hysterically because laughing, in my opinion, is the solution to everything. 

Named by Women's Running as one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and by Competitor Magazine as one of 12 Influential and inspiring runners under 30, my mission is to inspire others to get embrace a healthy lifestyle and pursue the strongest version of themselves possible.