Iron Sharpens Iron

When I was younger, I never would’ve imagined my life would have taken the path that it has. Not that I feel my life has been horrible, despite the horrible situations or circumstances I’ve lived through. I’ve found ways to overcome mountain after mountain, and perhaps for most of them it was because I just had to. I learned at a young age at that you either adapt and survive or life would chew you up and spit you out, black and blue. I grew up with a pretty emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive step-father. Most kids couldn’t wait to get home from school and I spent everyday wishing I could stay at school because it was safer. We would sneak out late at night to go stay at a hotel or sleep in the car until he would black out from drinking. Truth be told, I don’t think I have ever truly forgiven my mother for putting us second to her love for him. At 18 I was kicked out when I unintentionally came out. A month later my entire family uprooted their lives and moved to my mother’s home country Costa Rica because my step-father was on the run from the law. Suddenly I was alone, in every sense of the word. I began drinking, taking pills, and just being a dumb 18 year old. What started out as something “fun” quickly turned into a crutch to avoid dealing with real life. Thanksgiving of that same year I overdosed in an attempt to commit suicide. 


As much as I wish I could say I did, I didn’t have a life-enlightening experience from my suicide attempt. Although looking back now, I am entirely grateful I failed. Things only continued to get worse with my drinking. It didn’t just become a large part of who I was, it became all I was. I was becoming a person I could barely recognize. Sinking further and further into an endless pit of depression and self-hatred. This is more than just some sad story though. Three years ago, I met two people, Trevor and Sheridan, who would end up becoming my best friends. In time they would end up changing not only my life but my overall perception of it as well. Prior to meeting them I had made the decision to get sober. After nearly dying from the alcohol withdrawals, I was sober for the first time in 6 years. Mentally I was still filled with an abundant amount of pain, anger, and as self-destructive as ever. Trevor was the one who introduced me to powerlifting. I was unintentionally strong for someone who had never touched a barbell before, and the constant positive feedback from him pushed me to continue to pursue it. After 2-3 months I decided to do my very first meet. After that first meet, I was hooked. You could say I traded one addiction for another. Sheridan is the one who introduced me to who I had the potential to be. Ex-addicts can sometimes be difficult to deal with, and boy was I, but she never once lost patience with me. No matter how bad things felt at the time, she would always tell me to focus on the good. Initially I didn’t appreciate that simple sentence until I started actually applying it. 


Looking back I am incredibly thankful for every shitty experience I’ve had to endure. Those situations and circumstances have molded me into the person I am today. You have the potential to change your life by changing your perspective and simply learning how to express gratitude. As I continued to work through my mental health issues I became more and more involved with the powerlifting community. I would go to nearly every meet I could and try to help in any way I could. I would go to various events and gyms across the state to train and learn from other athletes. Doing this not only helped me to get out of my comfort zone but also helped build a foundation of support within the sport. Which is something that would have an impact on me unlike anything else. Iron Sharpens Iron is a biblical quote that I use quite frequently. It essential means one person sharpens another. It’s biblical ties aside, it’s something I truly believe in because it’s something I have lived. I would not have grown as a person, or at least not as much as I have if it had it not been for the village of people that I have surrounded myself with. 


After so many years of feeling worthless and weak, I have finally learned just how strong I am both on and off the platform. So how can I not want to give back to the sport that has given me so much? I recently started coaching as a stepping stone to do just that, because I want to help others the ways others have helped me. My pursuit of coaching has required me to be more vulnerable about who I am and what I stand for. The more I peeled back the layers I hid behind and let people see me for who I was, the more support I had and the more I witnessed it helped others. Others who were too scared to allow themselves be as vulnerable. Others who feel ashamed of their pasts. Others who feel like they don’t have a voice to begin with. Moving forward I’m making it a personal goal of mine to help bring awareness to addiction issues. Currently, I am working on a charity event next year for those who have struggled with addiction, and the mental health issues that accompany it. I know how far I have come and I know if I can, others can too. Everyone should feel like they have a voice and if they don’t, I intend to be that voice for them. We may not be able to control the things that happen(ed) to us, but we can control how we react to them. Things may never be perfect, but they do get better. Your past doesn’t define you. Always remember to focus on the good.

By: Melissa Grix