My Year to Clarity: Letting Go
Hi my names Jill Louise Foley.
I'm 29 years old.
I am currently an ex bodybuilder trying to find her true identity after taking away fear. The fears I had currently screaming at me in the back of my head was: My only value is my body, I am a weak and therefore must become strong, strong enough to never feel hurt. At the peak of my bodybuilding I was 172 lbs on the BC Championship stage, acne covering my back and legs, stubble on my chin, depth to my voice, emptiness in my heart, masked by the effects of weed. Lies in my head, following others opinions on my physique, not having confidence in my own ability, looking outside myself to find eternal love... this is how I became 'Big Jill'.
Since I scared myself with using steroids, I decided to take the opportunity to raise steroid awareness by sharing my own personal experience. I did this by taking my pass to compete at Nationals in Women's Physique (which happened to be taking place in Surrey, BC which is amazing since I'm only a ferry ride away by living in Victoria, BC).
"Make a statement at Nationals"
that was the message I attached to my 5am alarm clock. I took on the task of competing at Nationals naturally. I had used performance enhancers in my prior competitions. In order to be competitive in my 'sport' I had to. Right there should have been a red flag for me. In order to receive a respectable placing in bodybuilding I had to change myself. Changing myself by changing my hormones. Thats what anabolic steroids are derivatives of testosterone. As a woman I don't naturally create enough testosterone to build shoulder caps or an extremely wide back but I must. I, Jill Louise Foley made this conscious decision all on my own. I wanted to win. Taking steroids did help me win. I won a big trophy, I received a lot of praise on my social media pages, I was given a spot on the MUTANT SQUAD (I got free protein!!!)
I was living the fitness bodybuilding dream!
Then why did I feel so empty?
Because I was looking on the outside world for happiness instead of looking within.
'The world's law is based on the belief in scarcity (Insufficiency of amount or supply; shortage). It holds that we are never really satisfied. We continue to feel empty as we vainly attempt to get fulfilled by seeking Love and peace in whatever external forms we have come to think of as desirable. The problem, or course, is that nothing in our external world will continuously and totally satisfy us.'
-Gerald G. Jampolsky 'Love Is Letting Go Of Fear'
Amazing book. Please do yourself a favour and read it!!! Life changing.
I wanted to be a spectacle. I realize now this stems from my attention seeking tendencies which I have had since I was a little girl after my mom took her own life and my Dad remarried a few years later. I never gave myself the opportunity to morn my mother, I just kept my emotions trapped inside my heart waiting for someone to pry them out of me. Whenever I got overwhelmed by not feeling seen(unloved) I had a pattern of performing something extreme in order to receive the attention(my request for love) or sabotage a relationship by instead of expressing my feelings I would just hold resentments become passive aggressive and leave to someone who offered me my attention I craved. I didn't fully love myself, my attention seeking stems from fear. Fear that I was unlovable and invisible. I've recently learnt that fear is a cry for help and a request for love.
My competing was also something that my ego came up with. I would have never thought of competing my body against another woman. I didn't know that was an option. Sign me up! I love being the best plus a really cute guy(he was one of the most attractive men I had ever seen, of course not nearly as attractive as Sean(my future husband), but pretty flipping fine!) who I wanted to sleep with told me I should... Oh being an impressionable 20 year old (I grew up as a nun, so when I moved out I decided to try all the things I never did when I lived at home. I also never developed my own opinion, my soul purpose in a relationship(codependency issues) was to hide myself into serving them until I was so drained of energy I needed to feel loved. I expected all of the 'love' I was giving to be returned, which lead me to being resentful and searching for some sort of validation outside the relationships.
'When we find ourselves irritated, depressed, angry, or ill, we can be sure we have chosen the wrong goal and are responding to fear. When we are not experiencing joy, we have forgotten to make peace of mind our single goal and have become concerned about getting rather that giving.'
-Gerald G. Jampolsky 'Love Is Letting Go Of Fear'
I was told I should do a show so thats what I was set out to do. At first I just wanted to see what is was all about, then the praise I received from my photos (when I started to begin using social media a little heavier), I decided I enjoyed this experience. Next show not as great but I was determined to do better(more, more, more). I just switched to Women's Physique it was the first year it became a new category and I didn't have to wear heels! Which I loved, plus naturally I have a mesomorph body type so I gained a lot of muscle and felt my build was better suited for it. I invested in a coach and place 4th at Western Canadians (a drug tested show). I was so happy! I worked so hard, I had never been so disciplined. This placing gave me a pass to the BC Championships a month later. So I decided to continue prepping until then. I was pretty excited back stage I remember I expected to receive 4th place because 2 of the ladies I just competed with a month ago were also competing and I had just placed higher then them. I learnt that BCs isn't tested which makes what the judges are looking for a little bit different. This was when I made the decision to take steroids. After coming off stage extremely upset my boyfriend informed me that women take steroids. I just didn't know. I looked at oxygen magazine and DLB no one ever spoke about performance enhancers. I felt deceived. I'll never forget how he said it:
'Well yeah. Everyone takes them they're part of the bodybuilding. You have to if you want to be competitive in the sport.'
I'm also (was taught something I'm working on unbecoming) very competitive. If you've ever played a game against my Dad you'll understand why. I'm sure this stems from his upbringing I remember my Grandpa (he also took his own life) being very passionate about watching sports. There is such thing as friendly competition, I was never taught that I was taught winning is fun losing is not. This lead me to compete at everything. I consciously have to break myself away from this mindset. I am not in competition with anyone, no one is me and I am not them. All of us posses gifts and talents they aren't meant to be judged against each other. We are meant to live in love for we all are love.
'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these.
-Mark 12:31 The Bible
I was very competitive and my ego wanted to prove I could win! When I didn't win after taking oral steroids I moved to injectable. Until I won! Then I begun to feel stuck is this world. I had committed just under 10 years to building my body, I looked like a freak amongst the rest of the world. What else can I do? But that is just the voice of fear telling me I am just my body. That lie, as I said followed me around for a long time. I will no longer live in fear.
Photo on the Left was from Knight of Champions 2015: I won the show. I was taking primobolan, anavar, etc.
Photo on the Right was from Canadian Nationals 2017: I had been clean of steroids for over a year. I placed 6th out of 6 ladies.
I am moving into change. I can't explain it in full yet but I will do my best to describe the feeling. I feel lost moving out of my routined way of living (I know feeling lost and alone is just the voice of fear). Bodybuilding strives off routine, Eat Sleep Train Repeat. When you place your body into a routine way of living you are drowning your individuality, we begin to conform ourselves in order to fit in. We don't want to feel alone so we attach our identity to the herd. Instead of feeling aloneness we change our natural uniqueness to become part of something. Thats what a routined way of living becomes. I often cut of interpersonal relationships in order to stick to my routine. I would visit my family always forming my visits around my body, my bodybuilding, my routine life instead of making a genuine connection with the people surrounding me.
'What is not taken into account is the motivation of activity. Take for instance a man driven to incessant work by a sense of deep insecurity and loneliness; or another one driven by ambition, or greed for money. In all these cases the person is the slave of a passion, and his activity is in reality a "passivity" (acceptance of what happens, without active response or resistance) because he is driven; he is a sufferer, not the "actor".'
-Erich Fromm 'The Art Of Loving'
I have come to realize I am passionate about being fit and active, I had become a slave to bodybuilding. It wasn't until I looked inside myself to start unbecoming 'Big Jill' I noticed how much I had conformed myself in attempt to be part of the Fitness Industry (my herd). I want to enjoy running, dancing, eating, reading, talking, lifting weights etc. not because I have to, because I choose to. I want to be clear. Free from conforming in order to become myself. I am on the journey of following love, love for myself (my true self) and love for others (as their true selves).
'A man sitting quiet and contemplating, with no purpose or aim except that of experiencing himself and his oneness with the world, is considered to be "passive," because he is not "doing" anything. In reality, this attitude of concentrated meditation is the highest activity there is, an activity of the soul, which is possible only under the condition of inner freedom and independence.'
-Erich Fromm 'The Art Of Loving'
Our being is driven to find interpersonal relationships when we fail at finding this 'love/connection', self destruction or destruction of another occurs. Without love, a true sense of purpose cannot exist.
Time to uncover my unique purpose.