Meet Angela van Wyk – “This is My Painfully, Beautiful Story!”
So I have been contemplating this for years now, since my divorce and since my triathlon journey started. I should have noted each passing year, but of course, I never thought that I could – just as so many of us women think… But I Can’t…. Can’t is a horrid word that we just need to delete from our vocabulary. I am seriously over this, I ‘Can’t’ thing.
I spent 7 years of marriage and 5 years as a divorced woman, thinking – “I can’t be a good wife; I can’t be a good mom; I can’t be a runner; I can’t be a cyclist; I can’t be a business owner”. I am Angela – I can’t possibly do a triathlon or lose 40kg. I tried and the more I tried the fatter I got, so clearly I can’t… screw that now!
At age 33 I have decided to just let go. And now when I see that I can’t, I will, even if I just try that which I can control in my life – I can and I will!
Was it Worth it?
I have had a few proud moments in my primary school life and could only ever swim. I medalled at Nationals, made an elite Olympic training squad for 2008, broke many swimming records and ate, breathed and slept swimming. Lonely life it was.
I spent 5 years in a hostel training under a very well-known swim coach and was forced to get on with things, I guess. Today, I can’t catch a ball, was all those years of only swimming worth it? I doubt it! Therefore I run a swimming school, where fun is the aim of the game. I will never own a swimming club.
Gullible, Empathetic, Naive, Optimistic
I would describe myself as gullible, empathetic, naive, optimistic. Now as positive as that may sound, it really is disastrous owning these qualities.
At age 21 when my oldest son was conceived. I was told ‘don’t worry, you don’t need to drink the morning after pill, I know what I’m doing’, I believed it. Uuuummm…. 4 weeks later I have life growing inside of me.
I get robbed on the Durban beachfront, the guy gets caught and people beat him up, I cry out begging them to stop and rather give the criminal my phone – empathetic?
I go out at night and have these awesome friendly men chatting to me and my boyfriend is furious, why I ask? They are just being so nice! Naïve much!
I was married to a narcissist for years, being cheated on, abused and pushed over and when people ask me why I didn’t leave, I firmly believed he was going to change because he SAID HE WOULD. Optimistic. I have the ability to first see the good in every bad.
Apparently, I am naturally athletic which is quite cool! Never ran or cycled but now above average in both! Ow, me, right? Thank you God for this, it has absolutely saved my life to be able to train and place all my hurt, fear, irritations, pain and confusion into something that makes my heart beat faster.
I’m Passionate About…
What am I most passionate about? Being the best mother that I know how. Every single decision I make in life I try to make with my 2 boys in mind. I am all they have. I am their only ‘normal’ and I am their only source of making it in life. No pressure right? But I am 100% sure God gave me these kids early in my life to drive me to be the person I am today. Not sure where I would be now, looking at my direct family’s track record – a lost case I think? Addicted to something and have nothing. God knew I was special and He has laid the road for me so much so that the wrong road was NOT an option – ever.
My Greatest Challenge
My greatest challenge in life was the decision to get divorced. This was not just a divorce, it was messy, scary, life-changing, I would be so hurt emotionally that I actually felt the pain physically.
I never knew what I was dealing with until psychologists started working with my kids, met my ex-husband once and told me they refuse to work with him further as he was a narcissist. A what? That sounds so mental, it can’t be.
I then started educating myself about narcissists and low and behold, I have been an object all along, they do not have the ABILITY to love – and Christine (my psychologist) told me I should feel sorry for people like this as they will never feel true love, they just don’t know how.
The final straw for me in making the decision to get divorced was the moment I asked myself, is this what I want my boys to be for their wives one day? No! So wtf am I doing here? Why am I okay with the cheating, manipulation and all the lying?
I was watching my husband texting… no, let me rephrase… sexting on wechat. He did not know I was standing behind him. When I asked him to show me his phone (which I had never done before) he told me he is talking to our pastor about our relationship and it’s personal.
I walked upstairs went to sleep and the next morning I filed for divorce. He refused, he held a knife against me with our beautiful son watching and told me I need to choose, either he goes or I go but he can’t live without me.
I roleplayed the good wife that loves her husband, got the knife away, made love to him and the next day I was in Inspector Burg’s office getting an interdict against him. In a moment of anger, nobody knows what he would have done.
The next 12 months was a nightmare. Literally, something you would watch on Thriller movies – Stalking; Watching; Swearing. It was ridiculous.
Things Started To Change
Three years later I had an aha moment; I started exercising. 800m run on the treadmill became 5km Parkrun. This became a ride on my bike to the Parkrun, run 5km and ride back. To my first sprint distance triathlon, coming in 48th and feeling so proud.
The very next year at the same event I got on that damn podium and I have been hooked ever since!
I Completed an Iron Man
My proudest moment? Selfishly I would say, completing the full Ironman in 11 hrs 40minutes! Normal moms might say something about their kids, but this here mom feels so darn proud that she completed that full Ironman and in a good time ending 13th in my age category. It was a moment you cannot put a price on. Nine years ago I weighed a whopping 109kg. Depressed and out of breath just walking to the toilette!
Lately, I’ve Been Thinking
What have I been thinking about lately? My old age! For the first time ever I am actually thinking about what will happen to me when I turn 60 years old. Where will I be and will I have everything in place to not have to burden my kids to look after me. So… getting my affairs in order is a MUST this year.
The Scariest Thing Ever
The scariest thing I have ever encountered? There are so many actually, how do I choose? I guess getting arrested for assault and spending time in the holding cells with two real deal criminals!
I slapped my ex-husband in court when he was pulling faces at me. JOH! I’m giggling at the whole incident now. But 2 weeks after that, the police were at my house (Friday 15 December 2016 at 9:30 pm to be exact) and I’m not sure who was more confused, them or me, as I did not look the part of a criminal/psycho/crazy woman. Anyhow, my ex-husband decided to lay an assault charge against me.
Court threw this out, BUT I had never been so scared than that moment. I weed in my pants – literally, I just looked down and felt a warm sensation and realised I had just wet myself sitting next to these two criminals not knowing what was going to happen next.
My Perfect Day
This would probably be spent on my own. I have grown to love my own company over the years. Alone time feeds my soul. A perfect day would be an open water swim with a lekker brunch and a lie down with a cool magazine under a tree listening to the ocean and all its glory.
The Happiest Time of my Life
The day I decided to let go. This was a process on its own. I always tried to control things and do everything on my own. I worked, mommy–ed, cleaned, repeat. This was not life.
Something happened when I turned 30 and I just let go. I stopped trying to control things that were not in my control. I embraced scary moments and knew it would pass. Similar to what I did on Ironman day, I embraced the lows as one experiences the highest highs and the lowest lows, I embraced the pain and the low, allowed myself to feel and it did pass. I also just seized to care about what people thought of me. It’s been amazing ever since.
I’m Most Grateful For…
My independence. I am so grateful that I have a business that takes care of my tiny bubble (myself and my boys). So grateful that I am okay to be alone. So grateful that my body has allowed me to beat it up over the years to cross countless triathlons/races and it still wants more. So grateful that my children were born when they were born. I would never be who I am today if they weren’t around.
I believe fully in brownie points. I believe that whatever you talk/act you attract. I believe that whatever you put out there you will get back. I have just witnessed this too many times in my life to not believe in brownie points. I try and stay on the straight and narrow (not always successful) by keeping my side of life as clean and transparent as possible and miracles have happened because of this. I also believe that if I can reach/touch/inspire ONE person in my life journey, I have lived.
This is only the beginning!”