By now, most people know about and have an opinion about gymnast Simone Bile’s decision to withdraw from the 2020 Olympic competition. Some say that this was an act of self-indulgence, that she is a quitter and a big disappointment. Others laud her for honoring her health and well-being, despite a media backlash that would intimidate anyone with less fortitude and self-respect.
This mighty little gymnast performs super-human, gravity defying feats which, on the best of days, are incredibly dangerous. The fact that she experienced the “twisties,” where she lost her ability to sense where she was in space, made her choice to withdraw the best option for her safety.
She just said no. She courageously faced the consequences with dignity, in front of the whole world. She admitted her limitations and did what she had to do. Even on the ground, Simone Biles flies above us.
I find her behavior inspiring. As a mother and grandmother who has undergone abuse from my family, the best thing I did for myself was to emotionally walk away. Because of the potential for triggers, I needed to monitor my mental rumination and deep attachment to my son and grandkids, even deleting some social media accounts. I stopped grasping for contact, stopped hoping for a miracle, stopped trying so hard. Ultimately, I knew I had to leave the game.
We all fall down. We all lose our way and experience our own version of the twisties. We all become fatigued, burned out, scared, confused. We parents and grandparents must understand that if our grown kids treat us with disrespect or even abuse, we must accept the reality of the dynamic and make a courageous decision to let go and move in the direction of self-care and dignity. If we get mental or emotional twisties we must prioritize our health and sanity. We must say no to anyone who hurts us.
The good news is that as we get stronger and make decisions on our own behalf, as we learn to allow our hearts to take flight, it won’t be in front of the whole world.