It has been a process but today, I can finally say that I am happier and healthier than I ever thought possible. Many people ask me how I did it or what was it that helped me. Although there wasn't just "one thing" that did it for me, this is how I was able to find freedom in my mind, body and spirit.
When I was a little girl, I never liked to be hugged. I was shy, introverted, and I avoided direct contact with people because I was extremely sensitive to the touch. Little things like a poke or a jab didn't seem to affect others, but I experienced intense pain. In high school, I developed ganglion cysts in both of my wrists and had limited use of my hands. A doctor wrote me a pass for Physical Education, so I didn't ever have to "exercise" in school again. I thought it was great, but it just furthered my lack of movement making my pain symptoms worse.
At 19, I was driving through an intersection at 1 am in morning when a sleepy driver hit me going over 100 miles an hour. My car was pushed into the oncoming traffic lane and then spun out and hit a brick wall. My car was completely smashed in except the little space I was sitting in. The paramedics said it was a miracle that I lived. I had bad whiplash and a contusion on my knee, but other than that I was seemingly fine. It was the first real physical trauma that I had ever been involved in. I can remember waking up the days and weeks after the accident in so much pain all over my body that I thought something must be wrong with me. It took months to recover and I was never quiet the same after.
At 21, I had gotten a job at Chrysler Financial. I worked behind a desk for 8 hours a day processing repossession claims. It was repetitive paper shuffling and endless amounts of sitting not to mention it was a very "negative" job. By the age of 23, I was in debilitating back and neck pain. I have vivid memories of going home at night trying to figure out how to wash my makeup off when I couldn't bend over the sink to do so. I'd end up getting in the bathtub just to wash my face. I saw several specialists who diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia and 2 herniated disks in my back. They told me that my car accident had caused the issues in my back and neck. They explained to me how Fibromyalgia was an overactive nerve disorder and most likely the car accident had triggered my most recent pain event. They suggested surgery to fix my back, but my insurance didn't cover 100% and I was a broke 23-year old. So, I found a way to deal with the pain. Self medication. I had a boyfriend offer me some marijuana one day and it was the first time my pain, both physical and emotional, disappeared. I began a nightly ritual of smoking pot, smoking a cigarette, and falling fast asleep.
When I turned 24, I met my future husband Nick and he didn't smoke pot, instead, he liked to drink alcohol. So, I switched my "self-prescribed medicine" to wine. Drugs and alcohol were the only thing that would help me ease the pain enough to fall asleep. I rarely ever used them to "party" because I would get so sleepy and really, I wasn't the "party" type. I just wanted to feel good in my body or so that is what I told myself. What I didn't know was my pain was both physical, emotional and ... spiritual. I was searching for God and I didn't even know it. Answers are what I wanted and those, I now know, could only come from a divine source.
When I met Nick, I feel instantly in love with him. He was tall, handsome, funny, came from a good family, and he had a good job. To me, that was more marriage material qualifications than any of my previous boyfriends had had. I desperately wanted to get married because like many of us girls are taught, marriage will "fix" our emotional needs, right? Yeah, no... not so much. Nick liked to drink, and he had a temper, but I looked the other way and insisted he was the one. We got married after I turned 26 and moved across the country to Westminster, MD. This was where my worst nightmare and my journey to finding freedom began.
By 27, life was pretty unbearable. I had gained 40 pounds and I was married to a severe alcoholic although, at that time I still thought his alcohol consumption could be "managed". I saw a "now hiring" for Gold's Gym right down the street from my house and thought maybe this would inspire me to finally get fit. They were looking for people to help out and work the front desk in exchange for a free membership and small salary. I applied thinking it was the answer to all my problems but in reality, it only made me tired and want to go home after work. In some ways, however, it was the "answer" because there was where I discovered my gift for teaching and the power of Yoga and Pilates. The gym was new and the town I lived in was extremely small. The owners had to bring in trainings for all the different group fitness programs they wanted to offer. I signed up for all of them. I started with indoor cycling, then kickboxing, then weight training and finally, a Yoga and Pilates fusion program. I lost the weight, discovered my passion to teach, and found freedom in my body for the first time.
Change happened the most for me through Yoga and Pilates. The feeling I had after teaching or taking a class was something that to this day, nothing compares to. As the years went on, I realized that a lot of my pain could be managed if I also managed my emotional and spiritual health. When I would be practicing yoga, I often found myself praying and seeking God. This was something that I had grown very skeptical about in years past due to issues I had with church yet, here I was "seeking" the Divine in a yoga class. When meditating, I got a sense that a higher power, much bigger than me, was somehow guiding me. I began to search for the Divine life source and ask the deeper questions in life like "What is my purpose?" I would be lying if I said that it was "easy", or it just took a yoga class but, it was where my desire to seek God and find answers first started. It is where I became clear about who God is to me and what my purpose is.
At the age of 34, I had found my Divine and was physically healthy, but my emotional health or rather my "relational health" was at an all time low. I knew my husband was an alcoholic and I was still "managing" my pain with my wine at night. The only place I found any freedom was during my Yoga or Pilates classes. I just couldn't figure out how to bring that feeling home with me. Two kids later and a move to Florida just about did us in. My husband and I separated in 2008, lost our home, and both of children were diagnosed with disabilities. The more my life fell apart, the more my physical symptoms increased. My flare ups where happening more and more and I felt like I was losing control. Life was as crummy as crummy could be but I wasn't giving up and neither did my husband. He began an intense 12 step program and we reconciled about 6 months later. I was so inspired by his transformation, I also began a 12 step program. I decided to dive deeper into seeking than ever before. I signed up for more Yoga and Pilates trainings, finished my 12 step work, read endless books on God, and began the process of removing toxic relationships from my life.
Fast forward to today, January 1st 2019. My husband and I are both 10 years sober. We are more in love than ever before. I can honestly say he is my walking miracle and I'm so thankful for him. We have a new (bigger and better) home and both kids are on the honor roll doing amazing in school. I am virtually pain free and by the grace of God, I've been able to share my message of healing and hope with others. There is no one answer to how I found freedom in my mind, body, and spirit. It was a very long process and I'm still on the journey. I can say this, it all started with that first Yoga/Pilates class. It helped me see, that even just for a few minutes, there was a power bigger than me that loved me and was guiding me. It also helped me understand that if I seek, I will find. Every day is a gift and even when I don't like my circumstances, I am not not my circumstances. I am a child of God and I have purpose. My trials and tribulations don't define me but how I react to them do.
If you relate to anything I am saying, I want you to know there is hope. Don't give up. Keep searching, keep seeking, and you will find.
PS: If you are looking to start a Yoga, Pilates, or Fusion program, Join my membership platform and I will help you! I have classes for all levels and those who have little time and no motivation. I have new 2 new programs coming out this month that will help get you moving and on your way to feeling your best.