Bausch found inner strength to turn life around

In her long, painful journey back from a serious eating disorder that nearly killed her, London Olympics cycling silver medalist Dotsie Bausch learned about being true to herself.

That meant having the courage to be imperfect and vulnerable.

Bausch shared her story of learning to accept vulnerability and become more connected with herself and others during Monday’s Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Women and Girls in Sports Luncheon at the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The event drew more than 400 female athletes from the local high schools and colleges.

By Barry Punzal – PresidioSports.com

It was during her many therapy sessions that Bausch learned to become comfortable with herself — “the courage that you need to be imperfect,” she said. “To me, it means, first and foremost, you absolutely have to be able to become vulnerable. I found great power and great solace out of a wretched near-death life in vulnerability. It truly shaped my whole road and who I am today.”

Before she became a seven-time national cycling champion and an Olympian, Bausch suffered from anorexia and later bulimia and almost died.

“I did go down hill really fast,” she recalled. “My skin turned grey, my teeth were turning black, my hair was falling out. I really had no vibrancy and no joy, no personality, no connection to people; I didn’t have an interest in anything. I was really truly dying from the inside out.”

Learning to accept vulnerability helped in her recovery.

“We have to allow ourselves to be seen to connect in relationships,” she said. “If we don’t strip off the barriers and take off the mask that so many of us are wearing, we can’t truly connect with each other because people can’t see us; they can’t see who we really are.”

She pointed to shame and fear as the roadblocks to finding one’s true self.

She said fully embracing vulnerability will overcome the fear.

“It’s the only way there. Not that it’s the comfortable thing or easy, it really isn’t. But it’s a necessity because we have to be willing to do things, and there’s no guarantee at the end of the road. Because, if there was a guarantee, everyone would do it.”

She challenged the young athletes in the room to “tow the line and risk losing to win, even if there are never guarantees. Get uncomfortable and don’t take greatness to the grave with you. What’s the worst that can happen.”

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