Last week, I did the unthinkable. I shared my story with about 10,000 people.
When I encounter people, I always tell them my story. My story is powerful and impactful and in my 20’s it was very different from it is now that I am 40.
Back in the day, it was about being the victim and receiving pity from the people around me.
Now, now it’s about inspiring others and give them the little nudge to move forward to not only follow their dreams but really be well with themselves.
Here’s what I shared:
From Foster Care to Creating Freedom
I have had enough experiences that last me multiple lifetimes.
I am a foster child and grew up in the system since I was 2
I was sexual, emotionally and physically abused during this time
I was raped twice in adolescent years
I married twice and divorced twice
I gave up a son at birth
I struggled with alcohol abuse until I had my a DUI
I loved the wrong people for the longest time
Left a 9-year relationship that had detoured into something else
I’ve seen my children struggle and succeed and struggle some more
I have watched my youngest son fight for his life from three liver transplants
Why am I telling you this?
Because people told me that I would not succeed and that I could not live my dream life
I have learned that listening to others is for the birds and that I love to go against what people tell me I should do
Here is what I know from the depth of my heart:
You have got to believe in your dream and know that you must earn your dream.
What I didn’t realize is that by following my heart that it would give me the ultimate life I wanted. A life with freedom. But it also gave me so much more than that.
A life filled with love from my boys, my friends and most importantly, love from me.
Love yourself and you will not only create your freedom but find your voice and unlock your confidence!
The feedback I received was overwhelming and had me in tears. So, supportive and yet here is what I really got out of it: I could inspire and motivate people. I made connections and build relationships. I could love myself through my story by showing others that it doesn’t matter where you come from, all you need is to believe that you can.
It has been an amazing experience to be so open about it all and be transparent about my past.
I haven’t always felt good about myself or my past let alone despite appearance thought life was good. Life was damn shitty at times and I am owning it. Life was freaking hard on more than one occasion but the key has always been to not live there.
No matter how difficult things may get, there is always a way. You just should allow yourself to take a moment and go within. Give yourself the rest that you need. Journal it out, writing about your thoughts and feelings is one amazing tool for you to reflect on in the future because you can then go back and see how far you have come.
Situations are temporary and you can’t control them anyway. What you can control is you and how you feel and respond to everything in your world.
Here’s to overcoming anything that tries to get in your way.
It’s lovely to be me and I am enough!
There are some memories that are branded into our minds more than others, and they shape us, stay with us and sometimes create a wrong belief about ourselves.
I was about 8 years old, I came home from school one day and found my foster mother in what I consider a rage of a sort. She angrily ushered me to my room and began uttering the words “you are stupid! You will never amount to anything! You will be just like your parents.”
During this shouting down at, me she threw everything in my closet and my desk on the floor telling me to clean it up and reorganize it. I wasn’t even sure that it was all that dirty, to begin with. I don’t ever recall my clothes lying about on the floor and my toys being all over the room. I don’t even know what possessed her to do this angry tantrum.
I already knew I wasn’t good enough!
My parents have taught me I wasn’t good enough with their abandon and rejecting of me. I knew I could not be loved.
And yet, everything about me showed that I was far from stupid. I had honor roll grades and I worked had on my homework and school work. I struggled with dyslexia some, but it didn’t stop me from learning to read and eventually reading 10 books a day.
I played the recorder and had many recitals. I was active in gymnastics and won competitions. I danced folk dances – and frankly, I was quite good at all of it.
But deep within – I was stupid!
For years, I struggled to acknowledge that what others believed of me was grossly inaccurate. But I kept quiet, nodded my head and smiled. I didn’t contribute to the conversation, instead, I enjoyed the company of the wrong crowd a bit too much. I fit in because well there isn’t much to it to being drunk!
Even after I earned my first degree, making nations dean’s list 3 years in a row – I still didn’t feel smart. With all that life has taught me, I couldn’t find the value of the things I did know. I worked hard, an overachiever in the hopes of fitting in.
And as I was approaching my second degree I said to myself:
What if I am not stupid?
What if I don’t have to believe what others believe of me?
But then I had heard people tell me that I am intelligent – but it was not until that moment that I was able to question the accuracy of it all.
I earned my degree with honors but what I walked away with was much more profound to me. During three years of learning the mental health field and counseling, so came a lot of self-exploration. I learned a lot about myself during these three years but it wasn’t easy as life – real life still happened.
But for the first time, I could say: I am not stupid!
Look at the things I have accomplished. I am not my parents. I have and am raising my children. I have earned degrees and I have survived life. But ultimately, I have found a way to me without the need of fitting in or putting too much value on what other’s think of me.
There are moments still where I find myself wondering if I have anything to contribute – but then my voice whispers to me that it has nothing to do with being stupid. People just know different things and are experts in different areas.
Who I am is enough!
It still feels weird acknowledging all these things without thinking of it all as gloating and needing to be validated.
And then I tell myself to Shut the hell up because you know what – my road wasn’t easy.
My skin has been shed.
It’s lovely to be me!
Anger is a feeling and not something we should hide from. I have felt plenty of angry in my lifetime. And over the years I have found that letting go is not about forgetting the events, but to help you feel more fully.
Here are a few steps to help you letting go of anger.
Feel it fully. If you stifle your feelings, they may leak out and affect everyone around you—not just the person who inspired your anger. Before you can let go of any emotion you need to feel it fully.
Give yourself a rant window. Let yourself vent for a day before confronting the person who troubled you. This may diffuse the hostility and give you time to plan a rational confrontation.
Remind yourself that anger hurts you more than the person who upset you, and visualize it melting away as an act of kindness to yourself.
If possible, express your anger to the person who offended you. Communicating how you feel may help you move on. Keep in mind that you can’t control how to offender responds; you can only control how clearly and kindly you express yourself.
Take responsibility. Many times, when you’re angry, you focus on what someone else did that was wrong—which essentially gives away your power. When you focus on what you could have done better, you often feel empowered and less bitter.
Put yourself in the offender’s shoes. We all make mistakes; and odds are you could have easily slipped up just like your husband, father, or friend did. Compassion dissolves anger.
Metaphorically throw it away; i.e., jog with a backpack full of tennis balls. After you’ve built up a bit of rush, toss the balls one by one, labeling each as a part of your anger. (You’ll need to retrieve these—litter angers the earth!)
Use a stress ball, and express your anger physically and vocally when you use it. Make a scrunched-up face or grunt. You may feel silly, but this allows you to express what you’re feeling inside.
Wear a rubber band on your wrist, and gently flick it when you start obsessing on angry thoughts. This trains your mind to associate that type of persistent negativity with something unpleasant.
Remind yourself these are your only three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it. These acts create happiness; holding onto bitterness never does.