I am Stephanie and this is my story from fear to love. And it’s been a long time coming around the bend. I can’t even say that I was a work in progress, because I was basically stagnant. If I moved at all I believe backwards would be the best way to describe it, as I was merely existing. I had hit rock bottom and I was terrified, anxious, depressed and feeling hopeless. In a period of two years I had been to 5 different therapists, two of which were marriage counselors and not one of them had helped the situation and in my opinion only made matters worse. The last 5 years of my life had been hell. By this time my husband had his third affair over the course of our 30 year marriage and most of my family wasn’t talking to me due to a misunderstanding following my mother’s death. In my attempt to keep moving forward I shoved all of my pain, suffering and feelings inward and I became toxic, manifesting dangerous physical ailments like MRSA. I also had been unable to walk for 4 years originally due to a doctor’s mistake and more complications due to my declined emotional health. I was constantly in a fight or flight mode and was living my life with a guillotine above my head constantly waiting for it to fall. I felt like I had no one and I didn’t know where to turn anymore. As much as I hate to admit it, I was suicidal. As a last resort, I happened upon life coaching and curled in a fetal position and reached out to Leslie Saul. I poured my heart out in an extremely long email and pressed send. I figured it would be weeks before I heard from her, if at all. I was surprised and hopeful when she responded to me within an hour thinking perhaps that maybe someone cared. We set up a time to talk the next day and I crawled back into bed cautiously encouraged, but still thinking I was beyond help.
The next day I called at what I thought was the appointed time not taking into consideration the 3-hour time difference & waking her up at 6:30am. After many apologies and feeling once again I screwed up, I hung up and called her back at the correct time. We finally talked and set up a game plan to start sessions and feeling slightly optimistic, I hung up.
I won’t kid you the next two years weren’t easy. For the first time in my life I had to as Leslie put it “Face my shit,” which I had never done in my life. In fact, the original program was only supposed to be 6 months before going on maintenance. I was so resistant that it took me a year before I went onto maintenance only to be pulled out halfway and put back into the program because I slid backwards. Leslie never gave up on me though and most importantly of all wouldn’t let me give up on myself. Leslie helped me to realize I was important. I regained my self-worth and identity, but most of all, that I deserve love and respect. It took me so long because I was so conditioned from childhood that I believed I was worthless and undeserving of love. I spent 50 years searching for love desperately through promiscuity, and numbing my feeling through addictions such as alcohol and drugs. When I found love, and I mean love of myself , I became so grateful. I learned many things, but most of all boundaries. I never knew what boundaries were and even if I had, I most likely wouldn’t have felt that I was worthy of implementing them.
Today, after a long painful struggle and dealing with years of issues and obstacles that had been suppressed for 50 years, my MRSA is gone, my foot is almost completely healed, I am no longer restrained to a wheel chair and 75% of my health issues and medications associated with ailments are gone. I’m at a place in my life I would have never dreamt was possible. The drugs which ranged from cocaine in my early years to more recent years’ tranquillizers as well as abuse of my pain medications are gone. The alcohol abuse is non existant as well. I have no need to hide from the world most of all to hide from myself. The pain that I felt emotionally is gone and with that the physical pain. With the help of my doctor. I have weaned myself off ¾ of my pain medications. Although I realize now that the journey is never-ending, I look back now from where I was to where I am and I have peace knowing that change can happen. What used to be an illusion of strength is now been a true metamorphosis of evolution, true love and respect for myself equaling true strength. I seek people’s opinions out only as an enhancement not as a validation. I am the only validation needed and I look forward to my health being restored to 100%. It is rewarding and gave me a new-found strength and a path to happiness and purpose and I have decided to get certified as a PI specializing in infidelity and helping others. My marriage has flourished under my new-found growth as well. My husband admires the changes that he sees in me and it has only enhanced our marriage. Our relationship has grown in leaps and bounds as there are now boundaries and respect in it as well on both sides for the first time ever. My love and my respect are so strong that if a next time ever happens again I will leave with my head held high and knowing that I will be just fine in creating a new life for myself. I have discovered the meaning of true boundaries and implement them in my life daily. I realized that I am stronger for dealing with my issues and little by little I gain more respect and love for myself daily, something I never had before.
I was skeptical, I admit. I never had a life coach until today. I’ve had years of therapy though. 32 to be exact. We started by going back in time to the first time I remember being shamed (shame is my big thing and my goal for today was to rid myself of it).
I am 5. I am sneaking chocolate chip cookies from our mustard yellow ceramic cookie jar labeled “Cookies that reminds me of Winnie the Pooh’s honey pot. Wearing feety pajamas I tip toe into the kitchen trying desperately not to creak the hallway floors on the way. Opening the jar was not as hard as closing it as the ceramic top hitting the ceramic basin was a dead give away. I stuff the Chips Ahoy cookies into my pajama bottoms and head back to my room. Did I say I was only 5? I was ashamed of eating already.
I am instructed to remember how I felt as that 5 year old. And then imagine my parents. What must it have been like to have been them? I thought about my father and my mother. Both unavailable in their own ways, Leslie had me imagine what THEY must be feeling given what they were handing down to me. Their recycled shame, judgement and criticism to me was because THEY were shamed, judged and criticized by their parents. This was not news to me. What was news to me though was offering to them what I so desperately needed. Acceptance, love, understanding and compassion.
So I imagined that.
For example, when my father told me that my thighs were almost as big as his when we were just getting off (or on?) an escalator in some department store when I was 5 (yes 5) I imagined looking at him and saying “Daddy, you are mistaken in believing that our bodies are that important! Silly Daddy. I’m so sorry that you think beauty is so superficial. Your mommy must have made you feel bad about yourself to put this on me. But guess what Daddy? I think you’re great and I love you no matter what you look like.”
If you think this was easy, you couldn’t be more wrong. But I did have a moment of empathy for both my mother and my father. Learning to say “Oh, this is what you needed Daddy” and “this is what you needed mommy” cracked open my heart, just a little, but it cracked.
Tonight I feel freer. Not exactly sure why but something transformed for me this afternoon. Perhaps a deeper “knowing” that my parents were wrong in the messages they gave me. They passed on to me what they were taught. Perhaps what they learned was wrong? I never challenged that notion until today.