My life had no single “defining moment.” I faced times in my life when I needed to take a stand for myself, or be lost forever, living my life by someone else’s design.

I know how you feel

Lack of confidence and anger ruled my world, I felt misunderstood and I was a runner. My anger ran deep and I dealt with it by turning in on myself. My stomach was always in knots and tumbling, I swallowed my voice, by sulking, disconnecting myself and finally just shut down. Or, I would react to even the smallest of situations in an instant.

My parents taught me to keep myself to myself: “You only give 99% of yourself to anyone, and the other 1% you keep. Don’t lose yourself by loving too deeply.  Furthermore, don’t ever let others know what you are thinking or let anyone know your business because they could use this knowledge against you.” That was how I was raised; that is what I knew and how I survived? I was emotionally disconnected and stunted!  I gave myself permission to only laugh or be angry; those emotions were my only forms of self-expression.  I was taught to never be sad, for sadness equals weakness and so does vulnerability.  I was left feeling like a clown with my smile permanently slapped on my face – all the while, feeling disconnected, sad and cut off from the outside world and sharing more of my true self.

I knew by choosing to marry and settle in NY that I could not continue to live like this. My parents did a great job raising me, but their way of life no longer worked for me. My family and I were close and connected when we were laughing, having fun or fussing.  However, intimacy was awkward and was only expressed informally in the third person.  In NY, I asked myself, “who would I talk to; who would tell or hear my secrets?” As I had kept my secrets to myself for much of my life, I felt lost and alone. I kept myself busy to avoid being with myself and I could go on working and working forever. I had to be good at whatever I did, and I had to do it alone. I never asked for anything. It took me a long time to learn how ask for what I wanted. I had to learn to speak up for myself in a way that got people to listen to me. I dominated myself and other people to avoid being dominated by them.

I always thought I was confident, until the day my marriage ended. It took a long time to end it.  It was a confusing experience to not have words to express my feelings because I hadn’t created meaningful relationships with others to share my life with.  It took a long time to discover what freedom looked like for me. I had never lived by myself, I was afraid of the unknown and my confidence and self-esteem were in the crapper.

I kept that my fear and lack of confidence hidden, except for when I had to make personal choices. I simply had none. I existed in a world of little to no self-worth, a world run by limiting beliefs that rendered me replete with negative internal conversations about myself that ran my life: I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, worthy enough. I never had enough, money, time, attention and love.  These were all my internal conversations.  I did however, have a lot of physical energy.  I was likable, charismatic and this made no sense to me. How could I appear this way to others when I felt like this inside myself? It was an extremely confusing time in my life.

Today, my life is such a pleasure to know that these were just a series of conversations that rattled around my head like marbles when I was faced with generating my power. Do you know that these conversations never really go away? The difference is that I can see that they are not real – they don’t mean anything.  I gave them meaning in the past. If you’re reading this, first consider if you desire a great life. Then think about the level of commitment it takes to live your life. Today, I feel connected to others, and because of this connection, I now express myself freely. I own my voice, speak my truth and live life my way.  I invite and encourage you to take back your life, and own it.