Never forget that walking away from something unhealthy is brave. Even if you stumble a little on your way out the door.
— Mandy Hale
When Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympics “Women’s All-around” last week, all I could think was, “She’s so brave”. Especially given the open-emotionality and dialogue about the mental stressors that had caused it. As a “survivor” who has done the same for my own physical and mental health, I wanted to cry with her, hold her tight, and reassure her that she was doing exactly what she needed to do.
Owning your own frailty, vulnerability and pure humanity is possibly the hardest thing to do. It takes true “super-hero” strength and courage. But once you do so, the POWER you hold to engage with others in a true and authentic way is incomparable, just as Brené Brown discusses in: The power of vulnerability.
Our Humanity is what makes us real and relatable. And in my humble opinion, there’s nothing more relatable than shared pain. As I’ve written about previously, PTSD, “triggers” at moments of stress and strain when our guards are down. When we are human. And we think we are safe, because we’re in the middle of an automatic or “routine” activity that we don’t actually have to think about doing until something deeply hidden, even from our conscious selves, appears under a blinding light. In the case of Simone Biles, I can only guess, that her “freest and safest place” had always been in the air, detached from physicality and the emotions associated with people who had let her down and experiences that had caused so much hurt and mental pain. And yes, maybe her Ritalin helped her to mentally focus on only her sport. But when I lived through the Larry Nassar trials in 2017–18, seeing and hearing all his roughly 150 survivors condemn him, I felt like I was reliving my own childhood. And I thank God every day I had my therapist on speed-dial to help me live through those very dark days. So, I can only imagine how Ms. Biles felt to have her own story told “about her” and then to re-enter the arena that had introduced her to that childhood trauma as an object of scrutiny, or super-hero, not a human being, getting back up on the balance beam to “perform” for us like an automaton. That freedom was gone. The air, where her mind and body moved together without restriction was no longer safe. Instead, it was dangerous. And she knew she had to walk away before she hurt herself more than she’d already been hurt. Please understand, this is just me, a mere Mortal, hypothesizing about a Goddess’s humanity, but I felt so connected to her in that moment, and so proud of her actions, I couldn’t breathe.
That being written, I was told recently, that I write about “gloomy” things. So, I want to close this post in an uplifting way. And what I’ll leave you with is the knowledge that there’s a big, joyful world of beautiful, broken humans who will love and support you without condition or expectation, the moment you choose the courage and bravery to walk away from whatever unhealthy cage is holding you from owning your own humanity. I hope Simone Biles finds it, just like I did. And I hope you do too.
Holly Lynch is a 20+ year communications veteran and life-long social impact advocate and strategist who has helped individuals and companies tackle the toughest challenges in their worlds. Having survived countless life setbacks and two rounds with terminal cancer, while seeing the country-wide collapse of the systems and safety nets for the most vulnerable in and outside our communities, she is now shifting her life and career trajectories to focus on coaching those facing down fundamental shifts and transitions as they try to navigate and rebuild their lives and businesses during these unprecedented times.