I dated someone from this core group of friends on and off for 5 years. We were better friends than we were anything else. This group, though – they were (and still are) my family. Everyone ended up marrying each other within the group except for me, this guy I dated, and his best friend.
Even with this amazing support system, I struggled immensely. I was incredibly impulsive, which worked out about half the time for me during those days. Until one night, my impulsivity nearly cost me my life.
Something put me over the edge one night and I made the horrific impulsive decision to try and end my life.
If that wasn’t a big enough problem on its own, many (not all) people around me were shoving it under the rug like it never happened.
Like it was an accident and let’s just move on.
I felt like I didn’t have the money to pay for counseling to “fix it”, so that’s just what I did. Shoved it under the rug and moved on. I never truly tended to what brought me to those dark depths.
I was desperate for safety and security.
At this point in my life, I was pretty fragile. I had been through dysfunctional and painful family and personal relationships. Nothing was steady for me. I was skipping around from job to job, house to house. I was desperate for solid ground.
Around this time, I met an incredible man named Andrew. He was a true gentleman. He would put everyone’s needs before himself, and here he was – taking care of me, who felt she didn’t deserve a second look.
I was so blown away by this man’s ability to take care of others, not just me. I’ve never seen anyone put everyone before himself in the way that he did/does. I was his biggest fan. Even though I always felt those feelings were not reciprocated, he assured me that love takes time to build and we were right for each other.
We were married and off on a new journey on safe, solid ground…
I struggled with seeking his approval for years. It was a classic co-dependent relationship. I wanted help. He wanted to help. He was the Knight, I was the Damsel in distress.
I started to understand that I needed to love myself first before I could feel the love from him. So that’s what I did. I set out to figure out how to love myself first.
Once I became a mother, it became even more important to love myself first because I didn’t want to pass the pain of not loving yourself along to them.
From the moment they were born, I gobbled up all sorts of content in hopes of helping me feel, be, and do better: webinars, courses, conferences, books, apps, podcasts, techniques, masterminds, retreats, therapy… I took little bites out of everything.
I even became a Certified Solution-Focused Life Coach to feel like I was on solid ground as a parent.
Life Coaching felt way too out of reach for me. I knew I wasn’t capable of holding space guiding exploration at that time, but I I knew there were other moms out there like me, trying to love and understand themselves better so they could be “good mothers”.
So I created the opportunity for us to find each other while bringing in other experts to guide us.
(I did this in 2005 and I am still doing it today. That’s a clear calling.)
It takes a village.
In 2005, at the age of 32, I started my first business to support other mothers in living a life they loved. I was in my element, I loved creating community and content to support moms (and myself!) to live an authentic life, full of grace, passion, and purpose.
After a while, however, I became so focused on growing the business that I stopped growing myself. I returned to abandoning myself more and more. I just kept on keeping on along the superficial surface until I couldn’t swim anymore. I started to sink while living an unlived life.
Early in 2017, I realized I had completely lost track of where I was headed on this journey.
My marriage, now into its 17th year, although as kind and functional as it always was, is still often disconnected and diametrical. I still had no idea why. Is something still in the way of me receiving love? Why are we so disconnected? Is this my fault? His? Neither? I had no answers.
My business had lost sight of its original vision. I was filling my time with other projects that weren’t as meaningful as my original passion.
I packed on 30+ pounds while numbing my pain in wine and Netflix. I thought for sure something was seriously wrong with me health-wise because I felt like shit all the freaking time.
Something had to shift.
True change needed to happen. This life I had always imagined was not going to wait for me to catch up. Not only did I need this for me, but I also didn’t want this to be how I modeled life and love for my kids.
My light switch moment came from reading, “Finding Your Way to Change” a friend recommended: I needed to trust that change was possible for me, that I could actually feel vibrant and aligned.
I never trusted myself with anything. I had no idea what I wanted, thought, or felt. I just knew it was ‘NOT THIS’ as Elizabeth Gilbert writes in her essay.
I spent two years deep in analytical therapy with an incredible therapist to guide me into clarity and wholeness.
Finally, 30 years later, I started to heal the parts that brought me to the depths the night I chose to take those pills.
Love Yourself First
With the help of Anne, my amazing therapist – I slowly discovered my voice and how to trust it. I became wild (natural) in the wild (nature). I wandered along the beautiful Okanagan trails and the wild held and healed me as I hiked and hiked and hiked some more.
Slowly, I found my footing and became more rooted in my self and my soul. I started to recover and restore pieces of myself that I buried so long time ago that I didn’t even know existed or were possible. It felt like I went to hell and heaven and back again. And again. And repeat.
My fragmented self became whole again. I started to feel things again. I started to know things again. I started to laugh again. I found pleasure and passion and desire and devotion. I felt vibrant and full of vitality. I felt absolutely alive, terrified, and full of sheer bliss. I knew and trusted myself for the first time.
The biggest shift came while hiking one day. Throughout my work with Anne, I was tending to a lot of inner child stuff. One day, I invited this little girl to join me for my hike and I asked her how we could truly move forward and heal. Here was her answer, loud and clear:
“Stop wanting me dead.”
I literally stopped and sobbed on that trail for a good hour.
All those times I wanted to disappear when I was younger or talked horribly to myself as I grew older, I imagined her little self shivering, cowering in a corner begging me to stop. I made a promise to never, ever speak badly to myself again and to promise I would give as much care to myself as I would her, and my own children.
It felt like a true soul retrieval. It was finally safe to come back again.