My search for self-love, acceptance and happiness began in a moment in time, but my journey of achieving it was many years in the making. However, it was those tumultuous years of heartache and struggle that empowered me to overcome my challenges, become the confident vibrant woman I am today and finally live an extraordinary life filled with love, joy, happiness and success.
My childhood in farm country was idyllic until age 10 when one day I found myself packing my father’s clothes in shopping bags and putting them on the front step. From that moment forward, I felt rejected and abandoned. Then shortly after my parent’s divorce, we moved to another state away from the only life and people I had known. A sense of great loss set in and I felt disconnected as my whole world dramatically changed.
In my new life I tried extra hard to fit in and be liked and accepted. Because I was always a bit adventurous and a risk taker I naturally gravitated towards men who were exciting and fun to be around. However, these were also the men who were emotionally unavailable and lacked commitment (who I now come to realize were just like my father). I in turn found myself continuing to try to do everything possible to make them happy so I could hold on to them and be loved. Unfortunately, it seemed that no matter how perfect I tried to be or how much I did it was never enough. I just kept reaching out and coming up empty handed and eventually I felt like I just wasn’t good enough or worthy of true love and happiness.
My emotional roller coaster ride with relationships continued for decades and it took a huge toll on my confidence and self-esteem. I was living to please others and helping them move forward and live their dreams while dismissing my own needs, desires and dreams in the process. I felt trapped and I was bewildered as to why or how I got into such a painful place.
I felt lonely and unfulfilled and longed to be free from all the pain and negativity in my life. I constantly dreamed I was a confident and successful woman who was living an extraordinary life surrounded by wonderful people who loved, honored and cherished me. I envisioned having a meaningful career where I felt productive and successful, enjoying an amazing social life and engaging in life adventures that made me feel excited and alive. I kept thinking, I’m a smart person I should be able to achieve at least some of these; but I was just too exhausted, confused and overwhelmed so I started comforting myself and masking my pain with drugs and alcohol.
I wanted desperately to feel inner peace, self-love and happiness. And for many years my self-medication regimen worked, but we all know that road is a dead end street. So eventually, I traded drugs and alcohol for food. With this as my new drug of choice, my weight started climbing. Being overweight only added embarrassment, shame, and guilt, to the list of negative emotions I was already experiencing. My heart was aching for love, my soul was crying for freedom, and I knew there must be something better out there.
I came to realize how bad my life had gotten in 2011. My family and I were going on a trip and we had to reveal our weight for a helicopter ride. If my weight was over 250lbs., I would have to pay for another seat at about $650. Because I feared the scale and chose to live in denial about my climbing weight, I didn’t really know how much I weighed. I was scared and anxious as the result of all my bad decisions and behaviors were about to become real and quantified right before my eyes.
I stared at the scale in horror, knees shaking, palms sweating and wishing with all my might that I didn’t have to acknowledge that number that was going to be staring back at me. It was my moment of reckoning! I reluctantly stepped on the scale and was horrified to find out that I weighed a whopping 248lbs. I had gained 128lbs! Tears filled my eyes as a whole new level of anger, shame, and guilt overwhelmed me. I stood there numb and in shock; my self-confidence and self-esteem had plunged to an all-time low. At that moment, I felt helpless and hopeless and such deep despair that I just wanted to throw in the towel. Fortunately, because of my faith, I knew that “checking out” wasn’t an option, but it did cross my mind, and that in itself was a real wake-up call. After a good long cry I finally surrendered and accepted that I could no longer continue on the path I was taking.
After some soul searching on my trip, I was hungry for change and made the conscious decision to step up to the plate and improve my situation. I knew if I didn’t make some serious changes soon, it was only a going to be a matter of time before life would make the changes for me, and probably not in a way I would like. I needed to know what was driving me to dishonor myself. Why did I abuse my body in such a destructive way? What was the source of this deep despair that was bringing me to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore? These were questions that need serious contemplation.
A few months later, I made the agonizing decision to end a 20-year relationship and to focus on me and my needs. That was the moment I started my journey of self-discovery and personal growth. That was the moment I decided to take control of my situation and create the extraordinary life I had been dreaming about for decades.
Since my obesity was starting to cause health issues and doing a real number on my confidence and ability to feel desirable, accepted and loved, I decided that was the place to start. I needed to educate myself on nutrition and healthy living. After searching for the right path, I decided to return to school to get my master’s degree in Holistic Nutrition. I was doing very well academically and was starting to feel a little better about myself and my future and then…..the school abruptly closed, leaving me emotionally and financially devastated.
I couldn’t afford to enroll in another school so I decided to seek the help of a therapist since I knew from decades of self-destructive behaviors that I couldn’t overcome my challenges on my own. I knew that if I could have done it on my own, I would have done it already. Here is an excerpt from a 6 page letter I wrote to read to her so she would know exactly where I was coming from. When I concluded the letter she just sat there stunned and then said “In all my years of practice, I have never heard anyone be so hard on themself.”
“I sit here before you today because I am disgusted and at wits end with myself and almost every aspect of life. I am dissatisfied with my health, my job, my home life, and my social life and I am scared to death of my financial situation. Most of all, I hate myself for getting in so deep that I feel like I can’t get out.
I am tired of not waking up excited about my life and most of the people in it. I have zero passion for what I am doing. I’m just going through the motions and it’s getting harder and harder every day. I should be passionate about my life, but I’m not. What I am is disgusted, angry, sad, bitter and resentful. But most of all I am deeply angry and disappointed in myself for allowing all this to happen.
I’m also tired of not being proud of who I am or what I do and I have no one else to blame but myself. My situation is the culmination of all the poor choices and bad decisions I have made over the years. This is probably because I have no sense of identity. I don’t know where I belong, what I want to do, or what I believe in or stand for. I’ve done this to myself because I didn’t have the strength or self-respect to stand up for myself, and I let others make decisions for me and have control of my life. I live in constant fear of failing, being judged by others, and revealing who I really am. I run from one relationship to another looking for happiness and validation but I never find it, and every time they end it tears one more piece from my heart and further diminishes my confidence and self-esteem.
I feel as though I have sold myself out for most of my life because I am ignoring my wants and needs and living for people, purposes and goals that are not my own. I am betraying who I am and accepting a false self that is being defined by outside influences. I know this is not the life I was meant to live and I often think about doing something positive and productive, but do otherwise because I lack direction, confidence and inner strength.
I need support, guidance, life skills and coping strategies to get me through this critical time in my life. I’m not getting any younger and I can’t keep living my life this way, I deserve so much more. I want to learn to be strong and confident, develop a strong character and sense of self, increase my self-esteem and self-worth, live up to my full potential, find inner peace, joy and happiness, and most importantly learn to love and accept myself. Am I in the right place?”
Turns out, I was. We started making progress as she helped me see that my weight was not the problem but a physical manifestation of how I felt about myself. Unfortunately, we were just about to delve into my “real” issues when she received a job opportunity across the country and thus our work ended after only 3 months. The school closing and my therapist moving left me feeling yet again rejected and abandoned and I was starting to believe this was what I was meant for; an emotionally exhausted woman unworthy of love, happiness and success.
Then a few months later, my Mom gave me a book out of the blue that she had picked up at a book sale. As I peacefully sat in the park, I had what Oprah calls an “AHA” moment. As I was reading, all my beliefs and actions started to make sense. They were all wrong, but at least they made sense. That afternoon all my mental and emotional issues came into focus and for the first time I understood why I was so beaten down and unhappy with all aspects of my life. I was not aligning my life to what I valued and was continually giving away my power.
I felt liberated! I realized I had the power to change my life; I just needed to claim it and own it! At that moment, I glanced at a flower and saw a magnificent butterfly and realized it represented me; a beautiful creature that spent part of its life trapped in its self-made cocoon, but one day realized it had the power to break free and fly. I finally knew there was hope.
I knew I couldn’t tackle all my issues on my own so again I took a leap of faith and decided to work with a health/life coach to help me develop my confidence and claim my power so I could break through the barriers that were keeping me stuck and finally take charge of my life.
Working with my coach was the key to my progress and success. She supported, motivated and guided me step-by-step to see where I was going wrong and why. She then provided me with the insight I needed to see what actions and steps I needed to take to keep me moving forward in a positive direction. I adopted a strong mindset, healthy habits, positive behaviors and targeted actions that quickly improved all areas of my life.
Because of my hopeful outlook and positive attitude, I started attracting kind, caring, compassionate, high-quality people in my life who not only wanted to see me grow and succeed, but many who wanted to help me achieve my goals and realize my dreams. I now have a fun, interesting social life and I’m blessed to be surrounded by like-minded people who have a lust for life.
My health has improved dramatically as I have lost almost 80lbs., increased my energy, improved my endurance and flexibility and let go of 3 prescriptions medications. I’ve felt so strong physically that at the age of 51 I started TaeKwon Do training and just received my black belt in February at the age of 54. I also participated in the BoldrDash 5K obstacle course race and finished in the top 20% of women who ran…most under the age of 35, I was 52!
My coach also helped me finally discover the meaning, purpose and passion that had been missing from my life since, well…forever. I realized the struggles I went through were a blessing and a gift and it was now my life’s purpose to use my experiences to help other women struggling with similar challenges. So I went back to school and became a Certified Health and Transformation Coach so I could empower other women who are hungry for change to believe in themselves, claim their power, and reconnect to their passions, dreams and desires so they can bridge the gap between the ordinary life they’re living and the extraordinary life they dream of living.
My greatest achievement is that I’m no longer that lost little girl who was so desperate to be loved and accepted by others that she was willing to compromise her values and give up her dreams to get it; because now she has found that the deepest most special kind of love comes from within.
That scared little girl has fully developed into a Fierce & Fabulous Woman who trusts, honors and values herself, believes in her abilities, and stands up for what she knows is right. She loves, honors, and respects herself and accepts no less from others. She asks for what she needs, goes after what she wants, and creates what she desires.
Most of all she now knows she is worthy of love, deserving of all the beautiful and wonderful things the world has to offer, and possess the confidence, strength and power to design, create and live the extraordinary life she desires and deserves. And from here she knows all things are possible!