Can you remember a time when something unsettling happened to you? What did it feel like? The following are memories that shaped my life. Note: as you read my story, you may be shocked, so I sincerely invite you to leave your judgments behind. Imagine your judgments as monkeys and you’re giving them toys to distract them for awhile. This in itself can be the first step to benefit you. This first step or secret, being honest with your self, is the key to true happiness. Secrets can make us sick if we hold on to them and hide them. So letting go is extremely beneficial.
- You’ll benefit by asking yourself, “What can I learn from this story?” Then look for the positive.
- Another benefit is asking yourself, “What’s in this story that can awaken something within me that will help me?”
- The third benefit is that you may find that your life is a blessing against the backdrop of my experiences. That would be a golden wrapped gift.
I wonder what you’ll receive by reading the following. One of my patient’s wrote:
“Although, we both know you have been an angel in my life, I never can thank you enough for the kindness and wisdom you have given me in understanding and helping me to be free of my drug use, and the devastating effects of my divorce. I have never left a session with you without feeling more in control. Although much of the work has come from inside me, I could never have made the progress I have without your guidance. I will never forget your help in saving me from years of destructive behavior.”
“Oh, God, get off me.” I yelled. But my voice came out in whispers. Charlie had jumped on me after he pushed me down and called me names. I could feel the enormous weight of his body pushing down on my belly. I struggled with all that I had but I was pinned to the cement of the playground. It was as hard as a rock. I panicked thinking this was the end of me. I don’t remember how I got free. I just remember after that, hiding every recess huddled in the back corner of the playground thinking Charlie would attack me at any moment. He liked teasing me and having the power to control me and keep me in the corner.
I was obese from third grade to the end of fifth grade. I felt the weight of the world in my heart and in my feet. My voice was internal and constantly telling me how ugly I was. My shyness led me to pretend I was invisible and my life felt like hell. This was and is my inner child and her name is Pumpkin.
I was in the pediatric doctor’s office and somehow I found my voice. “I’d like to lose weight. How do I do that?” The doctor patted me on my head and said, “You’ll out grow it.” I was seething inside but I swallowed this emotion thinking no one would ever help me.
I was beginning to feel determined since I had a new best friend who didn’t tease me and a fifth grade teacher, Mr. Whitney, who was kind to me.
A plan developed inside my eleven year old head. I thought I was so smart. I started to read about calories and decided to stop eating all day and reward myself with an ice cream after school. That idea sounded good to me. It worked too. I lost sixteen pounds that summer of determination. I was the girl who could make it happen in my mind. I found approval, attention, and power because I was part of the ‘in crowd’ in my sixth grade class. This way of transforming at any cost followed me into my adult life with many consequences as you’ll read later.
He wants to kiss me. I’m in middle school and so ashamed that my mother forced me to ride with his mother to the ice skating rink. We met his older brother and his brother’s girlfriend there. I am once again silent and shy. Feeling so humiliated, I closed down and made up my mind to never date again.
I then decide to redirect my attention to receiving praise from my art teacher Mr. Butcher. “You’ve won an art award,” he said. “I’d like you to do a painting of a classic for the school library’s wall.” I chose Black Beauty, as I had, at fourteen, fallen in love with horses. They can’t humiliate me, I thought. So there I was at fourteen years old painting my heart out with all the innocent passion I had.
I went on to earn the money to buy my own horse and proceeded to train him to tri-state championships and even Canadian Championships.
10’x13’ Horse Mural I PaintedMy championship Horse
One day three years later the mail came. I was in the kitchen reading a letter I received from Seventeen Magazine. I had been chosen one of twenty six outstanding teens across the nation to be featured in Seventeen Magazine’s January, 1966 issue. I screamed, jumping as high as I could, and dancing with joy!
The down side to this honor was that I began losing weight, thinking I needed to look like Twiggy who was just becoming a popular model. (Twiggy is explained more in my book, Not Your Mother’s Diet). I was in my first year of college and I felt I had complete control over myself, free of my mother’s control and criticisms, or so I thought. I again created my own diet becoming anorexic and believing I was in total control. If I only knew then, what I know now. But let’s remember the year was 1966 and eating disorders were virtually unknown.
My Feature in Seventeen Magazine
“Do you take this man to be your lawful wedded husband to have and to hold from this day forward?”
“You may kiss the bride,” said my World Religion Professor, Jeff Smith (later in the 1980’s he is known as the author of the Frugal Gourmet and the T. V. show by that name).
We were married in the University of Puget Sound’s Chapel, Tacoma, Washington. I do, I do, and I do! It was a social basic of life’s events. And it was heaven, yes. Euphoric! Well you know what it’s like if you’ve ever been in love. Then the CRASH… here it comes… but wait I’m getting ahead of myself.
I can’t hold out. My dream marriage is no loner a dream as reality sinks in and it’s not a pretty picture. The teaching job I had was in the inner city of Kansas City. It was right after the riots in the early 70’s and I was scared to death, to say the least.
My Teaching Job
Then there was the close call of my husband being kicked out of Medical School because of poor performance due to his drug usage. His father rescued him because he too was a doctor and president of the Alumni with great influence to sway the college’s board. These behaviors through Medical School were a big part of my early life with my husband and friends. I was continually eating and bingeing or starving myself as well as participating in other destructive behaviors. I was arguing in my head constantly and fears were my inner companions… I finally woke up.
What was it that helped me to wake up?.. I began meditating.
Skidding to a stop and realizing I wanted children, was my awakening. I never felt my higher power closer than when I decided to have my first child. I had already gone through horrendous fears when I had a previous miscarriage, which felt like my insides were being torn out. In my determination I did not go to the hospital, all along wishing that everything would be ok while the pain lasted all through the night… This was not good judgment.
My posture collapsed like a bridge crumbling down. My husband was working his internship shift of twenty four – thirty six hours. There curled up in agony I finally asked something for myself and whispered, “Oh, God help me, I don’t know what to do.”
Here I mention God. With respect to all other names and religions, God is how I choose to address my Higher Power. Though some may argue the existence of God, for me IT represents the indescribable.
And help came.
As much of a wild card as I was, I still only saw the faults of my husband and my resentments toward him were boiling below the surface unknown to my conscious awareness…I still hadn’t hit bottom yet.
I’M STILL LOOKING FOR TRUTH
The next part of my life brought me glimpses of the meaning of healthy love. How did this happen? I was given the gift of finding a group to help me when I became pregnant again. Nursing mothers were very much pioneers in 1976. I loved learning from the other loving mothers as I nursed and mothered my own two daughters. Previous to this experience, I lacked healthy mothering role models. My own childhood was one of darkness and isolation. Today, as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Ph.D., I know that both my parents were mentally ill. My mother was unable to give me the nurturing I needed, leaving me with no conception of motherhood.
The glimpses of healthy love drifted into behaviors of devotion or so I magically thought. “Honey, what can I do for you?” I would ask all my family members. If I was resting, I’d jump up to see if anyone coming home needed my help. I couldn’t help myself because I felt too much guilt deep inside, hidden from plain view. The kicker was I didn’t know what I was feeling. If you asked me about my feelings, I’d say, “I don’t know.’
Well, after twenty two years of thinking that I was devoting my life to the love of my life, the bottom was falling and I didn’t even see it. It just rose up and slapped me in the face saying wake up. Denial was a word that would be understood soon enough.
I stood outside the barn on our ranch with arms open as wide as eagle wings; I looked to the sky with my tears washing my heart clean, pleading with God, “God please knock me over the head so I can get it.” I didn’t really know what “it” was but my penetration of pain drove me to sincerely ask. What followed has become the most powerful point of change in my life. It was God’s perfect wake up call.
As I began my journey into therapy, I became aware that I was co-dependent and I was enabling my doctor husband to continue his prescription drug usage by filling his prescriptions for him.
I had never been so enlightened. I returned to graduate school for two masters. I started to confront my husband and he turned violent. I ended up praying to God for guidance. My divorce attorney couldn’t seem to get a restraining order which is still a mystery to me. I was abused physically until it became so terrifying that I packed my Bronco truck with my youngest daughter and left my home. I had to leave my oldest daughter of fourteen, my horses, and the stables I used to earn my show money. (Before starting therapy I was showing nationally in Dressage with an Olympic Team Trainer, Lenden Grey. I had won a National Championship in Dressage)… The turning point was when I became willing to do whatever God guided me to do to become healthy in body mind and spirit.
Winning a National Championship in Dressage
The resulting next chapter was one of homelessness. Thankfully God did hit me over the head and I was put into a life situation that gave me the opportunity to let go of all the dysfunctional past. Some would chose to view this life experience as being a victim. But I wanted to find the truth in life. The truth at that moment found me looking into a garbage can by a motel seeing a nearly full package of cinnamon buns. My mouth was watering but my shame overcame my hunger and I passed them by.
Another memory finds me parked near the railroad tracks feeling so low that I imagine for a moment doing myself in on those tracts. I looked to the seat next to me and my daughter’s little dachshund, Hans, was there. I said to myself, “I can’t do this to him.” Yes, he saved my life. He was an angel in disguise.
Now I’m free. Yes I’m free and the next steps were the healing of this huge wound of trauma. A friend around that time said to me, “If I had them I’d give you brass balls.” Yes I could now own my courage. What motivated me then was my many personal experiences (really miracles) with my Higher Power as I know it, and my faith led me as well. I also had many friends that helped me.
I would constantly remember a dream I had about standing in a dome like room with my attention drawn upward to the ceiling. I exclaimed, “Oh what a beautiful yellow birthday cake.” This cake was the ceiling. Imagine that. Then my self- doubt started chattering in my head and the cake fell in chunks on top of my head. Wake up! This was a dream of faith and the spiritual food I needed to be able to hear this, “Just put one foot in front of the other and keep going forward.”
Miracles are not just yesterday’s stories. Miracles happened to me all the time as I journeyed to this new consciousness. There is always another step. That’s the adventure and I am eternally grateful.
I can’t tell you all the angel people who have helped me to heal. But I can tell you that when you ask for help you will receive it. In my book Not Your Mother’s Diet I share with you all the specifics of learning to ask the right questions and examples of how your answers can be realized.
So I had nothing and wandered from friend to friend’s house. I was utterly hopeless and homeless. My doctor Ex-husband filed bankruptcy. My heart was torn open without anesthesia when I lost my oldest daughter to becoming a surrogate spouse to my Ex (she did come back to live with me after his second marriage). Goodbyes were said to my beloved show horses.
I remember the loss of that dream and the loss of my gorgeous horse ranch. I recall the bitter tears from the string of lead weighted losses that ran down my cheeks when I took my dressage whip and whipped my travel trailer bed into shape. “That feels soooo good,” I thought. As I write this now I wonder what had I forgotten? What helped me through this pain of loss? What happened to my sense of humor if I even had one at that time?
What helped me through were the spiritual experiences I had one after another. I‘ll share just a few of the mountain of experiences I’ve had.
I remember one time sharing my spiritual knowledge from my personal experiences as an intern in a clinical review session of the hospital. The psychiatrist looked over his glasses and down the conference table at me and asked, “Are you crazy?” At the time he was sitting at the table stroking his stuffed cat and he asked me if I was crazy?
I had always wanted a light tan leather jacket. Coming out of one of my night classes I found this light tan leather jacket hanging on my Bronco truck’s side view mirror. Ask and you will receive. The only thing I forgot was to give God my size. The jacket was a men’s large. You could think of it like a boyfriend letting you wear his letter jacket. Even though it was way too big for me, I felt Spirit loved me each time I wore the jacket. I wasn't helpless, I could ask and help would come.
Finishing my two master degrees, to buying a twenty six foot travel trailer to put on a friend’s land: I’ve come along way baby. So from 1991 to 2008 I started from scratch financially and from the good ‘Little Red Hen’ consciousness I awakened to the ‘Daring Hen’. Then I learned that I wasn’t a hen after all. Guess what, I was an eagle. Through a five day’ Shadow Workshop’ in the Black Mountains of North Carolina I discovered that I can fly above mountains and see through the eyes of eagles. Being like an eagle vividly makes my heart pound with the qualities of freedom and individuality.
So if I were riding a galloping horse this is the pace I’d go with my writing. We’re at the place of healing my trauma, and healing my own addictions with food.
I was interning at Glenbeigh of Tampa, a 12 -Step Eating Disorder Hospital with patients asking to have me do the visualizations and the hypnotherapy techniques that I created.
I built a very outstanding private practice and helped put my two daughters through college.
I bought a piece of waterfront property in Historic Downtown Stuart (which is like a little Key West), using sweat equity for five years with my loving mate (Jeff) and making it into a magical cottage that was the rave of the 2008 Historic Home Tour.
My Magical Cottage
Wait let’s walk again… We are Barefoot in Paradise Everyday!
Yet I must tell you about the wobbly legs and the hot racing heart of the many loves I encountered. This too is savoring nourishment for the Soul. But I just remember the best example is when I was running upstairs to an appointment and my panties were falling down. Thank God I had an ankle length skirt on and somehow I got to the bathroom in time before my panties dropped to my ankles. I was beyond dirt poor I was learning to be creative at the most basic level. Under ware didn’t show for the most part and I had my clothes from being a doctor’s wife which lasted for a few years. You can imagine how the stretched panties might apply to the passionate lover I had in my life at that time.
Each new love seemed to be the next long time partner. I finally came to the realization that I had traded my co-dependency issues from one lover to the next lover. These relationship choices were made from unresolved issues from my past.
This work of gaining freedom from relationship addiction led me to learning multiply ways of finding my own power to change, and becoming a recognized authority on dysfunctional behaviors.
I once asked God in my contemplation, “Why me? How come I have all these behaviors to work through?” The answer I received is, “Now you know what works and you can share your knowingness, in your heart not just your head, with others that want to change.” I can accept that now because I love to help others. My heart is open to you.
BE in the NOW
All my dreams have come true to this point. Yet as one dear spiritual friend said, “You always have a dream you’re molding.” I love to share this power to change and the power of love to manifest one’s dreams with others. I do this through books, workshops, seminars, coaching, teaching, and all around creativity… If I did it, you can too… All you need is someone to show you how to do it, someone who has walked the path herself.