Every single experience in life, good, bad, challenging, exciting, heart-break, joy, and everything in between has something to teach us. I’ve been reflecting a lot on my past experiences, as I have been digging deeper into some emotional wounds and trauma, working on healing my limiting beliefs I have carried with me since childhood, and becoming more aware and connected to my spirituality. Everything I have gone through in my life has taught me a lesson, even if I didn’t know it at the time. I have become stronger, more resilient, more compassionate, and have grown tremendously through struggles. I have also felt pure joy and unconditional love through my most cherished memories.
Most of us try to put painful memories behind us, stuff them down, or numb them out. I think it is extremely healing to acknowledge them instead, to reflect and discover the true meaning behind them and to learn from them. If you can acknowledge them, you can release them. Let them go instead of stuffing them down, so they will no longer hold you back.
It’s also powerful to sit and reflect on the most joyful memories and experiences. Keep these close. Think of them often and remind yourself how it feels to live in BLISS, when you felt most empowered and excited for life. When you felt pure love or peace within your soul. For these are the memories that will get you through the difficult times. They remind us in the hardest of times, that life can be beautiful again.
Reflecting and doing the work to release and heal has brought me a whole new level of awareness as I go through life’s ups and downs. I take each experience as they come. As challenges come up, I ask myself, what is this experience teaching me? How can I become a better person from experiencing this?
I am resilient. I am strong. I am always learning and growing. I am grateful.
I reflect back on some meaningful life experiences that have allowed me to learn, grow and become a better person. At times I was challenged so much I felt completely hopeless and broken. Other times, I felt on top of the world, full of joy, and unstoppable. Below are those experiences and the greatest lessons they taught me.
The birth of my Son:
I experienced a true miracle sent from God. I felt pure joy, unconditional love and my heart felt so full. I was also scared shitless. Being a Mom taught me how to put someone else’s needs before myself. At the age of 22, where my main priorities were boys, booze and a having a good time, Motherhood opened my eyes to what was truly important in life.
Break-up and Heartache:
When I ended an 8 year relationship with my first love, the father of my Son and an alcoholic, the plan I had for my life shattered before me. My perfect little family fell apart. But, I also felt powerful and proud that I stood on my own two feet, finally found my voice, was able to stand my ground and make a difficult decision that would eventually save my Son’s Father’s life. He is now 10 years sober, in part because I walked away. He chose fatherhood over alcohol. Ending our relationship saved his life.
8-year Battle with an Eating Disorder:
Focusing on and controlling my body and diet allowed me to numb out feeling any kind of emotion. It kept me in a bubble and gave me something to focus on. This control gave me a sense of purpose. I thought if I had the perfect body, I would be more loved. But when I did become so thin that I lost my period and fit in a size XS, it still wasn’t enough. Perfectionism and the rules I set for myself, were not actually serving me. The more I restricted and over-exercised, the more my body resisted. I couldn’t fight my body anymore. I learned that my body was my biggest teacher. So, I stopped fighting and resisting and I started listening. My eating disorder served a purpose to keep me safe. It was there when I needed comfort, when I couldn’t bear to deal with my emotions and feelings, and when I was lonely or needed an escape. I also know it became a part of my subconscious programming. Whenever I felt sad, anxious or uncomfortable, I instantly wanted to eat. It became a habit so engrained in me, it was automatic. I needed to recondition my inner programming to overcome it, which is something I continue working on every day. I’d be lying if I said these thoughts don’t still exist, but what’s most important is, I acknowledge them, and I am no longer fighting my body.
I fell into a deep depression, which I directly connect to my battle with an eating disorder. I became hopeless, sad, and felt like there was nothing to live for. Depression taught me that I was a fighter. I fought every day to get out of bed, to get in the shower and continue to move forward each day. To try again. To smile even if I didn’t want to. I remember sitting outside one day after isolating myself for weeks, and feeling the sunshine on my face. I sat there with my eyes closed, face towards the sun and felt a sense of calm and happiness come over me. Coming out of depression, made me appreciate the little things, like the warmth of the sun.
Becoming a Pro Fitness Competitor:
Fitness has always been a huge part of my life. It began, standing in the back of my Aunt’s aerobics classes as a little girl, with a dream I would become an instructor one day just like her. I stayed true to that dream, studying Exercise Science in college, becoming a Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer, and jumping head first into my career as a fitness professional. I was a little soft spoken and shy, but when I was teaching and motivating, I came out of my shell and shined! Eventually, I started training for fitness competitions as a way to challenge myself. After a few competitions under my belt and not feeling like I brought my best, I decided I would compete one last time. This time I would give everything I had and WIN! When I say I would give everything, I meant it. I gave up social gatherings and dinners out. I lived and breathed diet and exercise. I counted every single calorie, I measured every gram of food, and never wavered from my plan. The passion was lost in my relationship, along with my period, and my sex drive. When I won first place and my PRO card, I thought I would feel on-top-of-the-world, but instead, I felt empty. I had given up so much for a plastic trophy and a six pack that wasn’t sustainable. I proved to myself that I can be disciplined, set a goal and accomplish it and for that I am proud. But, I learned although it’s important to have a passion, I should never allow it to affect the quality of relationships and truly enjoying life. After pushing my body so hard for so long, I noticed my Eating Disorder crept right back in. Of course it was going to creep back in. I restricted and over exercised for years and my body was SCREAMING for relief. I also blame the years of intense training as the reason why I struggled with secondary infertility, which forced me to step away from the gym and change my perspective on what it truly means to be healthy.
I finally found a man who accepted and loved me for who I was, flaws included. He encouraged me to follow my dreams, supported me and always listened. He wanted to know what I was thinking, how I was feeling and find ways to make things better. This was all new to me. I learned I had a guard up from previous relationships, but he allowed me to feel safe enough to let them down. I knew he would never betray me, like I have been in the past. What sealed the deal for me, was the relationship he developed with my Son. He understood my Son would be my #1 always, and he was okay with that. He wasn’t trying to compete. He just wanted to be a part of it. I learned to let my guard down, get out of my head, follow my heart, commit, and say “I DO”.
Infertility (I wrote a whole blog post on this one):
I blame my struggles to conceive, on the years I abused my body. I lost my period, wasn’t ovulating or producing enough hormones, because I dieted and over-exercised myself to the ground. This was a huge wake up call. It forced me to slow down. Rest. Eat. Pray. I started to connect with my body and my intuition. I began to practice yoga, meditation, visualizations and felt more spiritually connected than ever before. Infertility truly saved me from myself.
Anxiety and Fear:
I have been an anxious person for most of my life, but have found it to be at an all time high this past year. I am a very scheduled person and always need a plan. I am not spontaneous and a go-with-the-flow type of person. I don’t like surprises and I like to be in control. So, when something throws off my schedule or doesn’t go my way, anxiety creeps in and I worry about everything. Recently, I’ve been challenging myself to live less in fear and more in flow. I can either allow anxiety and fear to control me, or I can learn to let it go and LIVE. I try to pause and breathe whenever I feel anxiety creep in. I meditate more often and repeat mantras that help me feel more peaceful. My favorite: “Inhale love, exhale fear”. Anxiety is there to keep me safe. Fear keeps me from taking chances; from disappointment and failure. If I don’t take chances, then I won’t get hurt. But, I no longer want to live like that. If I keep playing safe, I will miss out on so many amazing life experiences. I want to THRIVE! I have a long road ahead of me, but I am learning to live more in flow and not let anxiety run my life.
Pregnancy has allowed me to soften. To rest. To be kind to myself. To listen to my body and intuition on a much deeper level. I am taking steps to acknowledge and release limiting beliefs of myself, forgive myself for the past, let go of shame and guilt, and continue to heal. By working on myself, I can better serve others. I want to be the best Mom I can be to my 10 year old Son and to my growing baby.
I am extremely motivated to live a more fulfilling life than the past 10 years. I accept and acknowledge the past and know each experience had a purpose in my life for a reason. I’m sure there will be more difficult experiences ahead which I will learn from, but I want there to be more joyful moments. I will look at each experience as a lesson. I will never stop learning, I will live in gratitude and I will always do the best that I can.
Take time to write down the past experiences that you still hold onto. What is the greatest lesson you learned? How did you become a better person? Can you let go of shame and guilt associated with them?
Acknowledge, Surrender, Release and Heal.