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8/12/19: Close The Door.

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*Coach MK speaks*

One of the best things about getting older? Knowing someone is an a**hole before they even speak.

Hi! This is Coach MK and THIS is The Morning Mantra.

*cue intro music*

Hi, my name is MK Fleming. I'm a run coach based in Denver, Colorado. But this isn't a podcast about running, exactly. Don't tell my clients, but *whispers* we're never really talking about the running. When you know a crap-tastic event is coming it helps to have a mantra to keep you centered and focused as you move through it. You don't have to be an athlete to be hashtag #coachedandloved by coach MK. And if you are here, then you are hashtag #winningatlife.

*music ends*

Today’s Mantra is: Close The Door.

It’s my BIRTHDAY! YAYAYAYAYAY! The real one, not the Facebook birthday since I never give my real date of birth on any signup forms on any website, period. If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen that once again I am asking for donations to The Blue Bench in lieu of gifts, because I wish this organization had been around when I was younger, in the immediate wake of my trauma.

"Life is a gift!"...I hate that phrase. It rings hollow to a trauma survivor, particularly to those of us who are told our trauma was preventable, or our fault, or when no one is interested in how damaged you are because you possess a modicum of privilege (I don’t have to remind you that isn’t how privilege works, right? It isn't pie that can be shared.). If you met me after 2007 then you don’t know the truly damaged version of me. You saw someone fighting to get her shit together, actively using the tools available to her. If you met me before then, before I left Asia…*shudder* I’m sorry.

I was a problem, one who couldn’t be solved. Part of what started turning me around was becoming a parent. I love my kids intensely, and now that I have launched a new, somewhat promising career, I feel whole. Complete. I look in the mirror and see wrinkles in places I hadn’t noticed before, I see more grey and more white hairs, and I can’t feel anything but gratitude. Aging is a gift given to SO FEW….and after 2 decades of struggle, my life truly does feel like a gift. What set my course in a different direction wasn't shame, wasn't a specific therapist and their magic tools, it was a kind word from someone I admired and trusted: "you are by no means behind."

Not all pain is like mine, not all courses can be changed with a kind word and I have no idea if I'm as admired and trusted as the woman who changed my course in 2006. I know this....yet...I see my pain, that familiar breed of trauma-induced pain all around me and I never want to ignore it the way I was ignored. I say yes, when I should say no. I ask, "what can I do?" then I show up. The line between me and Renee Bach may be thinner than I care to admit (link in the shownotes if you missed that story over the weekend. I’m not saying what she did was okay, I’m saying I TOTALLY see how she could say, “YES I CAN HELP!” rather than ‘oooops NO better send that kid home”).

Two weekends ago I got a phone call I wasn’t expecting, telling me someone close to me needed help. I made choices in that moment that I now truly regret. I chose….not my family. There were repercussions and tears and explanations that someone needed me...this person doesn’t have a mommy AND daddy who loves them like you do...I looked at the gifts I had been given….and I set them aside. I told them they were born into privilege and needed to share me, which is NOT how privilege works; it isn't pie that can be shared. I know that, and I should have known better. It was a grave error. It’s an error I will not repeat. My kids need me to choose them, no one can replace me to them...and no one can replace them to me. I have a great big heart, I’m not afraid to share it, but I don't owe it to anyone, and not everyone who calls me does so because they have no one else to call.

This past week has been heavy as I sat with my husband and our helpers and re-assessed the family schedule as well as my work load. I want to heal all of the trauma in the world, but if I’m not careful then I could just as easily be creating it in the people I love most. Amidst the conversations with my husband, he shared this poem with me. It was...kind of...a punch in the gut. In the spirit of The Amazing Coach Sarah and her love of poetry, I'm going to read it to you now:

Men at Forty

Donald Justice (b. 1925)

Men at forty

Learn to close softly

The doors to rooms they will not be

Coming back to.

At rest on a stair landing,

They feel it

Moving beneath them now like the deck of a ship,

Though the swell is gentle.

And deep in mirrors

They rediscover

The face of the boy as he practices trying

His father’s tie there in secret

And the face of that father,

Still warm with the mystery of lather.

They are more fathers than sons themselves now.

Something is filling them, something

That is like the twilight sound

Of the crickets, immense,

Filling the woods at the foot of the slope

Behind their mortgaged houses.


I left all kinds of doors open in the earlier parts of my life, unsure which rooms I would want to come back to. I’m sure now, I'm where I want to be. It’s time to make more changes, to set new boundaries, to know when I’m enabling instead of helping, to shut some doors.

As I look into the back half of a life, I see not one gift but many. 4 little gifts to be exact and one big gift are in the front of this room, and I need to make sure they know how loved they are, that I will always love them most. Saying ‘no’ is hard. It goes against every grain in my body. But I’m going to have to start saying it to others and stop saying it to my children.

SO. The Mantra: in those moments when you feel the obligation to say ‘yes’ to anything or anyone that takes you away from those who need you most, STOP ask yourself, ‘is this really my problem to solve?” and hear MY VOICE in the back of your head saying CLOSE THE DOOR. then take a deep breath, no matter how much it stings, and look at the gifts waiting at the front of the room for you.

*cue outro music*

You are Coached. You are Loooved, and you ARE winning at life. And you're definitely winning at life if you subscribe to my Nuzzel Newsletter, follow me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram. feel free to do all three!

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