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Hi beautiful soul,
This is a deeply personal and vulnerable post. This has been on my heart for years and after a lot of soul searching, I decided it was time to take the leap. To be vulnerable. To trust the universe.
I know there are many people that will relate to this message so let me tell you about a girl who learned not to love herself, then made a decision to love herself and hasn’t looked back.
If you’d rather watch the FB Live where I told my story, watch that here. Otherwise, read below.
I want to say with enormous gratitude, thank you for being a part of my journey. I know that you originally came here for health and wellness tips. I am still passionate about that and will weave that into what I’m doing now.
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Part 1 of My story.
I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. My 3 brothers and I lived with my parents 9 miles out in the country. We had a small hobby farm while my Dad worked in downtown St. Paul, MN. I mostly loved living out in the country. The freedom, fresh air, and openness. There was also isolation.
My brothers and I went to a very small Catholic School. There were only about 8 kids in my class. I didn’t fit in. Maybe it was my red hair or my intense shyness and insecurity that made me an easy target. Whatever it was, my earliest memories are that of loneliness, never feeling good enough, rejection, and hatred.
I was so desperate to fit in that I copied what everyone else was doing. Anything to stop the ridicule, to hide. I remember one incident where the teacher handed back some of our artwork and someone had written on mine “nobody likes you.” Talk about loneliness and self-hatred. I cried a lot, begging my parents to send me to public school. My parents did the best that they could.
They finally let me go to public school in 6th grade. And we all know how easy middle school is for an awkward girl, intensely shy redhead, with an orphan Annie haircut.
I kept up my plan of blending in, just doing exactly what everyone else was doing, copying what they’re wearing, liking what they like. Just trying to survive. It turns out girls don’t like a copycat. Especially one without much of a personality. I didn’t even know who I was. If I didn’t like myself, why should they?
I made a couple of friends and struggled along. The summer before high school my so-called BFF ditched me. She was moving onto bigger and better things and just dropped me without any explanation or warning. More devastation, loneliness, self-hatred.
I met a new friend Freshman year. She was outgoing but came from a very troubled family. She was a rebel. But she befriended me and hey! I had no one else knocking on my door to hang out! She also befriended another shy girl and the three of us were besties until our senior year. She got us into trouble. She was a drinking, boy-chasing, trouble-seeking girl. But at least I belonged somewhere. It was all I had.
Somehow during our senior year, the other shy girl, let’s call her Amanda, and I realized that Rebel was more toxic than uplifting. We broke up with her, complete with a letter and some girl drama. But Amanda and I made an important step toward loving ourselves that day.
Ok, after high school I went on to college. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I saw it as freedom. I could reinvent myself. It would be an experience of a lifetime. It was actually MUCH better than grade school and high school. I made some friends fairly easily. I did just fine in my classes. But unfortunately, my focus wasn’t on my classes. I had discovered something new.
Since I had ditched the orphan Annie hairdo, and let my hair grow long, the boys had started to notice me. And we all know what a shy girl with low self-esteem longs for, ATTENTION! I will spare you the sordid details but suffice it to say I got an education in college. In how I did NOT want to be treated by men. I cringe as I look back and recall how I let them treat me. No self-worth. Desperate for attention.
And I got an education in drinking. We drank several nights a week. This was what we looked forward to. It helped me to escape my reality, be someone else, let loose, get attention. It helped cover up the pain, emptiness, and loneliness.
After I graduated college I moved to the Chicago area. I started my job and met a new circle of friends. I was having fun dating (because I didn’t dare be alone and face myself.) I met my next serious boyfriend not too long after breaking up with my college boyfriend. We hit it off right away and were inseparable. When his brother moved out of the house they shared, I left the house full of girls I was living with and moved in. I was 22. He was 28. We had a golden retriever and it was fun playing house. Life was going pretty well.
Untilthat day. Easter. We were at his parents’ house in Michigan. He and his dad went to take our dog for a walk while the girls got the Easter brunch ready. We got a phone call and rushed to the other side of the neighborhood. My boyfriend, Byron, was laying on the ground unconscious. The ambulance came. They didn’t take him right away. I could see on his brother’s girlfriends face, who’s a nurse, that things weren’t good. We can just pray for a miracle, she said.
That day is mostly a blur. They had to resuscitate him a few times. He never regained consciousness and eventually passed away late that night, with me and his parents, one of his brothers and his brother’s girlfriend by his side. Life was never the same. In one instant I went from what I thought was the “perfect” life. I had a good job, a boyfriend who came from a great family, the dog, the house to being all alone.
I tried to stayingin that town. Eventually, I went back to my job. I went through the motions. But I needed to find a new place to live, alone. And in a town that I never really felt like I fit in. So I went home. My dad flew out to Chicago and we rented a U-haul and he brought his broken daughter home.
At least there I was surrounded by loved ones. But I still didn’t love myself. And I didn’t know how to cope. I was 23. So I did what I knew best to make it through the pain, I distracted myself with anything I could, like going out, drinking. Luckily most people my age were still partying so this was a very acceptable vice.
I got a waitressing job,because again, I had no idea what I wanted to do. And now I couldn’t even make it through a day without crying. Life went on, but I didn’t know how to do that. How could life go on? My entire life fell apart right before my eyes. Here I was again….miserable, lonely, a hot mess who didn’t know how to love herself, and now I was a victim.
But it didn’t take me long to start dating…..remember the part about not wanting to be alone, to face myself, needing to feel wanted? Yeah, back to that. Not even a year after Byron passed away, I met my future husband. And I was still a huge hot mess. And somehow he loved me anyway. We dated for a few years, had our share of ups and downs, and we got engaged.
That’s just what you do, right? Except that I had never healed that broken girl or loved that lonely little girl that was desperate to fit in. So, my body started to act out. As I now know, that’s a sign of dis-ease, something unresolved. A message from your body that something needs to be looked at and given attention. But at the time, I didn’t have the knowledge, let alone the tools.
To be continued……….