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  • Writer's pictureJaime Pollard-Smith


“At some point you have to start becoming something. You can’t just unbecome into nothing.”

One of my coworkers and friends is a sociology professor. He is a good listener and deep thinker, which is why I tend to bounce ideas off of him. But me being me, I don’t always welcome his thoughts with an open mind.

“Stop deconstructing my unbecoming!”

For months I rolled my eyes at his comment, but lately it is beginning to make sense. Maybe I AM actually starting to become something.

We lost Jane (my husband’s mother) almost eight years ago. It was a deadly car crash; she was here one minute and gone the next. The official cause of death was listed as “a bruised heart.” In a whirlwind of shock and grief, our family packed up and left Colorado to move back east.

I spent the next several years working on my physical self. I built strength, stamina, conditioning, flexibility, endurance and improved my overall health and well-being. I revamped our family diet to treat food as medicine and heal our bodies. Our new, healthier selves served as the foundation of a community that grew to become like family. Jane’s death is honored in our pursuit to build better versions of ourselves and our community members.

It has been six months since my mom passed away, but in many ways, we lost her years ago. Her mind was gone long before her body stopped working. As I grappled with the loss of yet another mother in my family’s life, I created a new plan of action. Losing Mom did not lead to building a CrossFit community— it led me back to myself. I began working to understand my mind just as she was losing hers. Physically I was fit but emotionally and mentally I needed growth.

I have spent my late thirties focusing on my internal self. Words became my tool of choice. I poured my heart, fears, joys, and questions on the page and uploaded them at 7 am every Monday morning for almost two years. I read every self-help book I could get my hands on. I tediously peeled back the layers of my identity to discover my true self. My journey brought understanding and unlearning. Mom taught me how to write, but losing her taught me how to be a writer.

Thus, my story is told. Out of a bruised heart and a blank mind my new identity was forged.

To say I am grateful for the pain would simply be untrue. Most days I would give anything to see my husband hug his mother or my children sit in my mom’s lap. Yet I can appreciate the lessons I have learned along the way. I have fought to become the person I am today.

Loss and grief shattered my world. I studied and scrutinized my dismantled identity. The only way over was through, so I acknowledged and faced all the feelings. As a delicate egg cracks to reveal new life within, so my journey of brokenness lead to birth.

In The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, psychiatrist and researcher Bessel van der Kolk writes: “The challenge of recovery is to reestablish ownership of your body and your mind — of your self.” My body and mind are finally coming together and allowing me a chance to feel whole again. As the only living matriarch in my immediate family, my role is etched in stone. I am ready to own this new self.

A teacher.

A teacher and a mother.

A teacher, mother and coach.

A teacher, mother, coach and writer.

A matriarch creating art to heal herself and others.

This is my journey towards wholeness. This is what it looks like to re-establish ownership of my life. This is my becoming.

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