Picture this: New York City, 2009
I arrived in Brooklyn, the place I would now call home. It was July, it was hot, I was lost, I was scared, I was alone. I felt unloved and maybe even a little dead inside.
This unloved feeling wasn’t something new to me. I had grown up hearing enough times how I wasn’t lovable, no one would love me, and being called a lot of names I didn’t know the meaning of until I got older. I took all this to heart because if my parents said this about me, it must be true. So, I believed I wasn’t good enough, I was a terrible daughter, no one liked me. I said these words to myself over and over and treated myself with disrespect. I had an eating disorder all through high school because I hoped to waste away to nothing. My own disrespect allowed others to treat me in the same way.
I spent my 20s in relationships that relied on alcohol and parties. I didn’t have a grasp on who I was. The only way I related to others was being loud and getting drunk. I thought this was the only way people would like me. If they didn’t accept me or like me, it fit with the pattern I created in my head. I wasn’t very happy, but I didn’t know how to express that. I found myself in therapy where I received my diagnosis of depression. Shortly after when my life as I knew it fell apart, it was proof that I was unlovable and a terrible person. Here I was alone, ashamed, disgusted with myself.
So that when I arrived in the city at the ripe old age of 30, I didn’t even care about myself. I still clung too hard to my trusty friend alcohol and viewed love as some hurtful tool. I truly did not like who I was. I would look myself in the mirror and say terrible words to my reflection, then put on my fake smile and proceed to get black out drunk. I won’t even go into all the mistakes I made over the first few years I lived here, just trust me they are not things I’m proud of. I made a mess of myself and my life without care for the consequences.
Until one night I found myself for what was the second time attempting to end my own life. The pills were lined up and the wine was open. After swallowing a couple something stopped me, I lay down pushing my face into the floor and with tears streaming I thought, this can’t be it, this can’t be my life. I fell asleep on the floor and the next morning after waking up I felt compelled to put on an exercise DVD. The next day I worked out again and then the day after that until this became a routine and a habit. Exercise literally saved my life in that moment. And I don’t even know why that was my choice!
This led me to looking at my health overall and eventually I enrolled in a health coaching program to learn more about nutrition. I began to plan healthier meals for myself along with the exercise, but I knew this alone wouldn’t heal me or make me like myself more. I still participated in dysfunctional relationships and had the worst mean girl inside my head.
From there I landed in grad school where one semester I took a class studying different types of meditation and mindfulness. I was forced to sit with myself listening to all the chatter in my head. While it didn’t go away completely, slowly over time those thoughts started to get quieter.
Through meditation I found yoga. I didn’t like or appreciate yoga at first with its slower movement and focus on breathing but I realized this was an important part of my healing. I didn’t feel quite like I belonged but felt that I could somehow make this my own and share it with others. So, I signed up for yoga teacher training which is where I broke open my soul and voiced aloud my biggest limiting belief that held me back from chasing my dreams, no one liked me, I was unlovable. Voicing this aloud was scary and heartbreaking. I was sobbing as I said it to my group. This was exactly how I viewed myself and my life. I was broken, I was hurt, I was scared, I was angry. That little girl inside me had never really known love, not from myself or others. Of course, she couldn’t show love, she didn’t know how. But now was the time to fix that.
I recognized how untrue some of this negative self-talk was. Of course, some people liked me, I had a couple close friends I could rely on. I began to read many books on healing trauma and discussed these topics with others who created a safe space for me. I removed myself from situations and people that no longer served me and my purpose. I learned what setting boundaries meant. I also learned kinder words to say to myself.
It wasn’t until 2019 after that yoga teacher training that I looked at myself and finally said, “I like you” and it wasn’t until 2020 that I began to understand myself and in 2021 when I began to accept myself, and now in 2022 that I feel free. I am no longer afraid. I love the person I have become, the compassionate, caring, quirky, awkward, probably too loud, silly, beautiful, fabulously flawed human that I am.
Here in my 40s, I no longer want to live in survivor mode, I don’t want to hustle and always be busy. I’m tired of being the strong one, I’m tired of being so independent that I don’t let anyone in. This is not a badge of honor I wish to carry anymore. I’m exhausted. I want peace, I want stillness, I want thriving, I want joy, I want love. And that all starts with ME.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
As a writer, speaker, educator and coach my goal is to help guide people on their own journey to making a wellness lifestyle work for them.
My holistic approach teaches that it’s not just about the nutrition we put into our bodies or our fitness routine, we also need to take care of our own well-being as well.In order to truly live a healthier life we need to realize this is a shift and change in our whole lifestyle and we must cultivate this lifestyle every day.
I’m a certified health coach with a Master’s degree in Health Promotion with a concentration in Community Education.
This degree prepared me to become a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). All of this knowledge is helping me create health education programs for children and adults alike.
MORE FROM THE BLOG…
I was raised Baptist not Catholic, but in my exploration of spirituality and the rituals I would like to participate in, I chose to do Lent this year. Lent is part of the Christian faith and is a time of penitence where we are asked to fast and choose items to abstain from in a way to mark the 40-day period that Jesus was fasting in the wilderness. Giving up certain pleasures is a way to foster simplicity and self-control, it is a reminder of our penance and creates a sort of suffering on our part.
As another year rolls around a new set of trends pop up in various industries. While I don’t consider myself the trendiest person, I do like to see where wellness is headed and if there is anything new I want to try or old habits I want to expand.
Here are a few trends that caught my eye for this year.
Oh sleep, that ever-elusive healthy habit I am constantly chasing. I have found myself over the years stating that sleep is my wellness flaw. I exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, meditate, practice self-love, and many other habits that make up my wellness lifestyle. But no matter what I do, sleep can still be a struggle.
Self-care has somehow become synonymous with selfish. We feel instantly bad when we take time to ourselves or over explain so as not to offend those in our lives when we need some “me” time. When did this become the case? Why is self-care such a bad thing?
Over 20 years ago back in 1998 I laced up my sneakers to head out for a run. I had never actually gone for a run before, but I knew people loved it and it was a great form of cardio, so I decided to give it a try. I ran two miles, felt proud of myself, and then experienced excruciating pain in my knee to the point where I was limping for a few days. And thus ended my running career. I did try it again years later living here in NYC only to have the same experience.
Habits, how do we create them and how do we stick with them? That is a BIG question!
We are all habitual people but why does it seem so hard to create and stick with new healthy habits? Creating habits requires a shift in our mindset to one of belief that we can stick with this and will be successful. The shift focuses on who we are becoming in the process not the habits themselves. We need to become so emotionally invested in sticking with the habit that nothing can shake us.