MY STORY: Full disclosure and LONG... but there is a point.

To say that the past couple years have been rough for me is an understatement. I have put a lot of pressure on myself and tried to navigate through it all the best I have known how, for myself, for my daughter, and for my clients.

I made an appointment the other day for the first time in a long time to see a therapist.
I started playing out in my head on the story I will tell them so they understand where I have come from so they have an understanding of where I am currently, and maybe the whys.

I say story, because that's what we do. We tell ourselves and others a story. I think so many times we are afraid to just be real, be raw, and express to those what is really going on.  I have been good at being as transparent with people in my life that there is a key thing I have been leaving out.


Here is my played out story (I will make this as short as possible):

I was born into a home in California, by a woman that didn't know how to take care of herself much less her children.  I was the youngest of 3 sisters; 1 sister next to me was about 10 years older than me, next was 13 years older and the oldest I don't even know but she was out of the house already by the time I was born (She passed away on my birthday in 2000).  Reason this is important is because the two in the home helped keep me alive. There was no food in the house and often our mother would be gone. One of the sisters (the middle one) was often left to take care of me through the day instead of going to school.  That is until finally she stood up on day, told her teachers what was going on and LONG story short at the age of 3, police showed up with social services and we were all separated and taken from the home.
The stories I could tell you......the neglect (being left in a car at a bar while our mother went home with men-drunk), the abuse (being tossed out of a moving car for crying), the fact that when I was put into foster care I was extremely malnourished and had no idea how to behave or bond with anybody.  I was pushed from foster home to foster home. That is until I was finally placed with a family that wanted to adopt me. This family had two boys, one 5 years older than me and the other 10 years older than me.

This family, at the age of 6 1/2 finally was able to adopt me.  They are an amazing family. Highly educated and loving. But they had their hands full with me.  Both my parents worked up in the education system from Teachers to administrators. My mom finally retiring (sort of) as a Clinical Psychologist, and my Dad retiring as Superintendent of Schools.  I was able to stay in touch with and keep a relationship with one specific sister (the middle one) and by proxy had somewhat of a relationship with the younger sister next to me. My one specific sister, to this day is and always will be one of the most important people in my life. I had a relationship with my maternal Grandmother up until the age of 12.....I cut off that relationship after much therapy and realization of my deep memories that I had blocked that I was and was being severely physically abused by her.

My dad passed away over 10 years ago from Cancer. And my Mom re-married an amazing Man a few years ago.  I learned what it meant through both my Mom and Dads relationship and the relationship she has now with her husband what it means to Love. Through the hardships, through cancer and illnesses, through all the difficulties and growth, through support, through love...I learned some of the most important lessons about life.  Don't confuse though....In this family there were a lot of hardships and dynamics that were very rough for me. In short, I never felt like I was fully accepted as their child. My one brother was highly successful in academics and I wasn't. My other brother, who was actually adopted by my Dad and his former wife, wasn't even in the home living with us until he was 18 and that was short lived.  I had a lot of trauma, a lot of trust and bond issues. And until I was an adult I always felt like I was never good enough to actually be part of their family. I always felt like my opinion didn't count, I was always letting them down, or could never life up to their expectation of being the daughter they had wanted and worked so hard to adopt.

I spent a few years in high school, doing going through all the motions I thought I was supposed to. I was successful in Music (played 7 instruments), I was very involved in the performing arts, I worked a job at a local Bakery/Cafe, I had amazing friends that to this day are still in my life. From the outside looking back I had my shit together.  On the inside, I was doing drugs (mostly my junior year) I was barely getting by in school, and at one point got arrested for stealing my neighbors car and joy riding with friends. I was a troubled kid but I managed to graduate and go off to College.

I was 18 and went to a school in Northern California where I started dating a guy that abused me mentally and physically for months until one night after a break up he sexually assaulted me. He was so intoxicated that the next day he didn't even remember seeing me. When he was confronted by my best friend, whom I had known since middle school, he decided to come over and shove his way into my dorm room and physically assault me to the point I ended up in the emergency room.

I moved home.  I was out of control at that point, starting to do drugs again, and now I was drinking heavily and VERY suicidal. I was kicked out of my parents home and moved in temporarily with a friend of mine. A few months later, as I was working 2 full time jobs to stay a float.... I had a moment, a brief thought, that saved my life.  

If you have read thus far..... stay with me... because this is the turning point in my life.....

I had a choice to make.... I either stay here in this moment and keep heading down this path that ultimately at that time could lead to my death, or I get the fuck out and leave everything behind.

I had some friends that lived in Michigan. But one specific friend I was very close with. (long story but, I knew these people through the internet and had been talking with them for 5 years--another story for another day)  So I packed up my little 2 door hatchback car with everything that I could. I bought a huge map of the united states and I drove.

A week later I met a man that I had 'known' only via online. He was amazing in every way and everything I needed. 4 years later I married that man, and 6 years after that we had an amazing baby girl.  In 2012 however we divorced. Not because we didn't love each other but looking back it was more because we had become more friends than lovers.   We continued to stay best friends and co-parented our daughter like no other.  This past November he passed away from heart failure.

My Health:
For the past Many years I have struggled with my weight. At my heaviest I was over 300lbs. At my best I was 165 which is a little underweight for my build. My Perfect weight is more around 180.
Through the ups and downs of my weight though I had a passion for fitness. I met a man many years ago that taught me how to power lift which then later lead me into competing. He was an amazing Man, and at the height of my life....he was killed in a car accident a little over 3 years ago.

I fought Cervical Cancer (very minor), I have 2 autoimmune disorders--Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I had serious complicates with my Lupus after I had a slip and fall on ice and tore apart my knee. I had to have surgery which seemed to kick my Lupus that was in remission into a full blown attack. I struggled and still struggle with daily pain. A year ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 Lupus induced kidney disease.
After working through that, this past August I managed to swing my leg over to get on my bike and slipped two disks in my lower back (L4, L5 and S1) and its pushing my nerve out causing numbness in my foot and up my leg and of course pain.

Through all that, it lead me to gain 60lbs, and push me into serious depression and anxiety again.

My Mental Health:
About 5 years ago, when I thought I lost everything.... I was driving home down the freeway and a curve was coming up.  I had this serious moment that I didn't want to take the curve. I just wanted to keep going straight into the ditch and into a tree.  As I took the turn I gripped the steering wheel tight and kept the last second...I slammed on the breaks and skidded to a stop just before nose diving into a very deep drop off.  I sat there, crying.  Realizing I was at a breaking point. Everything that I had been through in my life came flashing before my eyes. So I turned around and checked myself into Psych ER where I was admitted for 5 days.  I have struggled with mental health issues my whole life.  Coming from a family history that is genetically strong with depression and a slew of other mental health related issues.  My biological mother and father, sisters and even a nephew (who committed suicide) all have struggled with mental health issues.

In this admission I was faced yet again with the idea..... you either figure this out... or you're going to die.  But this time there was a lot more at stake. I had a beautiful amazing Daughter that I was responsible for that needed me.  And just as important... I knew I had a place in this world to tell my story to and make a difference.

THIS moment..... this point in my life is where shit got REAL.

I woke the fuck up. Don't get me wrong, I have had my moments... I mean common... this is life, and its hard. BUT I realized a lot about myself and a lot about the trauma I have gone through (and trust me, there is so much more than what I am writing here) and how to triumph from everything we go through.

Over 3 years ago I decided to take a path, that if 5 years ago you told me I would be where I am today I would have laughed in your face and told you "you are CRAZY". I decided to work for myself and open up a fitness studio.  I decided that if I can help just one person see their strength and power then I have completed my life mission.

From a young age I thought I wanted to be a social worker and help children in the system. Then I wanted to be a teacher so I can help young kids who are slipping through the cracks be seen and heard. What I didn't that I would end up taking all of my education, my trauma, my story, my growth, my abilities and put it into a business that I would create to help those in all walks of life feel that through physical strength comes mental strength.

My business is still in the growth process....I have been doing it one step at a time.  As I grow and learn, I mold my business into something greater each year.  Ultimately, into a safe place where those that come across my path will be inspired to achieve strength and power in their own life.

Here is the deal and what I have learned:

-NOBODY can take power away from you...YOU create your own power.
-Trauma in life, is for a lack of better word(s) is hard, but YOU can own it or let it own you.
-You are responsible on how you respond to life's ups and downs. You can either learn from it, or let it defeat you.
-Nothing in life is permanent--except DEATH. So LIVE!
-Its okay to cry, mourn, get's NOT okay to dwell and let it take over your life.
-Give yourself a little bit of time, and then find your strength, and move forward.
-STOP looking at circumstances that seem not fair and let them mold you into someone who thinks the world owes you because you got handed the shit stick.
-Learn to take crappy unfair circumstances that you go through as moments in time but not something that defines you.
-ONLY YOU can define you.
-Nobody is responsible for your happiness, your success, your strength, NOBODY.
-Learn to see life as something greater than you.
-If its not working, whatever it is, life is short, you don't have to be stuck, Learn from it and move the fuck on.
-It doesn't matter how old you can change--but you HAVE to do the work.
-Love in a relationship is wonderful... but if you don't love yourself can't truly love another.
-If you feel weak... surround yourself with those that you feel are powerful.
-You might realize and see that EVERYBODY has moments where they are weak, you are not alone.
-It's not just about loving yourself, you must realize and find YOUR WORTH.
-If you have an addiction-Food, drugs, Alcohol, Sex... whatever it is....see it, own it, and fix it.
-If you don't know how to fix something, ask for help.
-It is OKAY to ask for help.
-Find meaning in your life.
-If you can't find meaning then go to a good friend, a family member, somebody that knows you well and ask them these questions: "what do you see my strengths are?", "What do you think I am/would be good at?", You might be surprised by the answers.
-If you fail, try again, if you fail again, try it again-change something, then TRY AGAIN.
-And no matter what, DO NOT give up.

These are just a few of my wisdoms....In writing that all down, It was actually very cathartic.... you should try it. What are your strengths/wisdoms?

I have been in a relationship with someone off and on for 5 years. I am not fully supported in this relationship by some of my friends and even maybe some of my family. Through our last recent break up a couple months ago I found I kept telling this sob story of all the shit he had done to me, or ways he didn't support me.. blahblahblah..... What I really needed to be looking at, what I eventually started looking at is MY bullshit in that story. In doing so, I realized I had a lot of triggers from my childhood and adulthood trauma. I realized that I wasn't paying attention to my worth and successes and even failures but focused more on him.  I can't be in a relationship with someone, who also has triggers and trauma, and be successful if I don't fix my own crap.  It goes both ways. I am not perfect, but I am and will always be a work in progress.

I will tell you this, we are never too old to change, to grow, learn... Tell your story, figure out your shit, fix it and don't be scared to take chances.