Updated: Sep 11, 2018
Whoa! What the hell is going on here? As I look down, I see shoes that I bought, and clothes I know that I picked out for myself, but am I really here? Rushing into the bathroom I look worriedly into the reflection staring back at me, flustered and gushing with anxiety. That IS me! Where did the time go? Suddenly, I feel a tug at the seam of my shirt accompanied by a familiar but unintelligent ramble of garbled words. It's my 20 month old daughter looking up at me with big beautiful blue eyes that turn green when angry, and grey when she's sad. She grins, allowing her chipped front tooth to gleam back at me like a jagged knife. I return the smile then run my fingers through her sandy brown, curly hair. My fingers get entangled in her curls halfway, forcing me to unravel this web of hair wrapped around my hand. "Ehhhh," she screams. "Mommy's sorry," I respond apologetically. Wait! I'm a mom?
I begin to panic as I hear thumping up the stairs. Now what the hell could that be? Oh, shit! There's an intruder! "Hey mom, what ya' doin!' A little boy with a brown sugar complexion, and big brown, puppy dog eyes fixates right on me. "What's wrong?" he asks quizzically. I have not one, but two kids? Ok. Cut the jokes, where are the cameras? "Daddyyyy!" He yells. I can see the vein protruding as he extends his neck to summon this daddy person. More thumping up the stairs echoes in the bathroom that I am still standing in. "What's going on?" Hmmm, a deep, masculine voice reverberates in the room. Then perfection of a man enters the room. I look up at his 6'4 stature enveloped by Godiva chocolate skin, full lips, a prominent nose, and eyes that will capture you and send you wallowing into the abyss. With love in his eyes he smiles and bends down to kiss me gently on my cheek. In a voice that can soothe a shaking heart he asks, "Are you ok?" Is that my husband? He's fine! Lucky me!
Suddenly, a wave of images floods my brain. I see the birth of my children, I see my husband down on one knee, and many images of me in a military uniform, and me sitting in classroom with books everywhere. Many other blurred images come blazing through my head. It is so much for me to take in that I blink my eyes a few times to tie me back into the here and now. This is my life. I am here! I'm really here!
Time can go by so very fast. I recall living out of my 1999 white Pontiac Grand Prix with bucket seats. I was 18 going on grown and had no idea where my life was headed. I disliked my environment at home so I decided to go out into the world with nothing but a car, some clothes and high hopes. For the next 3.5 years I had found myself in the most undesirable situations. I recall many nights sleeping in my car just to have the park police wake me and tell me to move it along. I drove the streets of East, Cleveland, Ohio aimlessly, looking for shelter, or maybe someone decent willing to have some conversation and share a bit of their time and marijuana. Throughout this time, I found myself in 2 very abusive relationships, and addicted to drugs and the safe haven they gave me from the negative thoughts in my mind. I craved the refuge it offered from the hopeless depths of my soul. It was a few foggy moments of clarity I experienced when I attempted to pursue nursing school like my big sister, the RN. I failed. Twice. In my soul I knew it was not my path. After growing tired of waitressing, I found work as a janitor cleaning bathrooms for a living at night in a professional building. In between cleaning shit off the walls, (how the hell did that get there) and toilet bowls stained with urine, I would sit at one of the desks in the cubicles. A younger me thought, "I want to be important, I want to be in an office." It was at that moment I knew I could not stay on this empty path. I had grown weary of the streets of Cleveland. I got tired of the ugly places I had to see, the floors I had to sleep on, the binging I had to to do keep me sane, and the ass kissing I had to do just to get a little extra money for food or a place to shower.
Things changed at home, and I was able to go back there. I still clearly see the worry in my mothers' face when I said I was going to the military. I knew it would be my ticket out of Ohio, and would provide me the discipline, education and opportunity to be a part of something I though was bigger than myself. That one decision saved my life. I knew if I did not leave that slump I was in I would end up dead or in jail, or living a life a single mother would never be proud of. I did not want all of my mothers' efforts to go in vain.
Before I knew it, my face felt the warmth of the San Antonio, Texas sun. It was rudely interrupted by my drill sergeant who enjoyed calling us "freaks." To be honest, I had a ball in boot camp. I saw other people buckle under the physical and mental demands, but the last 4 years of my life prepared me for it. It was 7 days exactly before my 22nd birthday. A friend whom I call "Jersey," was my partner in crime throughout that experience. It made my boot camp time a lot more tolerable to have her there with me. We still talk today. I graduated from boot camp on a leap year (February 29, 2008) and that's when my life really began to change.
Remember when I said time can move fast? Well sometimes, we still need to pace ourselves. I did not do that at all. I hurriedly got married, got pregnant and he left to never see us again. With my heart that never healed from the trauma of the tumultuous relationships I had before I left Ohio, my heart had stiffened. I adjusted to the pain of his abandonment. I went through my pregnancy alone. With the help of my fellow counterparts in the military, and the unmeasurable support from my mother, I got through it and was able to enjoy watching my body change. I filed for divorce two weeks before I gave birth to my first born son. I always wanted a son. I had him alone in the delivery room. 3 days later, my father, sister and mother arrived to help me usher in a bouncing baby boy. In spite of the absence of my son's father and his side of the family, I still managed to maintain my good spirits.
Throughout my time in the Air Force I pursued my passion for helping people, and attended classes for my undergraduate degree. I was acknowledge and awarded as 'Airman of the Month' for an outstanding display of integrity, professionalism, and dedication. My son was healthy and I had support and respect from my peers. Then, BOOM! The unthinkable happens. I acquired a disability that enforced me to be prematurely, honorably discharged from my military career. But things were going so well, right? Time to adjust....
After discharge, I moved to Maryland. Lebron had left Cleveland so it was practically nothing to go back to so I took my chances. That's when I met my husband. He healed parts of me I never knew were damaged and unveiled hurt that I had tucked away. I gave him a fight but he bobbed and weaved and never gave up on us. He stayed up late nights while I groaned over statistics. I absolutely suck at math which is why I chose a career in psychology that has absolutely nothing to do with it! I managed to complete my undergraduate degree and found myself in grad school three months after. I had the momentum! I did not want to stop yet. I felt inclined to make up for all the lost time I spent failing and falling over all of my mistakes. Before I knew it, I had completed two degrees in 4.5 years. Shortly thereafter, I had my beautiful daughter! My family and life was coming together. Finally.
I say all that to say this: life requires risks. It ignites bravery, and makes you uncomfortable so that you can get up and move. That I did. I actually gave you all the short version of my life. The pain, fear, hopelessness and yearning to just give up washed over me countless times. But I am here. I am writing this blog, on a website that captures my business goals, and my contribution to the world. Out of all the uncertainty I felt throughout my life, I have never been more clear about my purpose. I am here to help people through grueling, trying times and to inspire, motivate and push people to finally become the best versions of themselves. Thus the name Finally You. I want you, after all the chaos, to gather the strength, resources and mind set to finally become you. The best you! The experiences I trudged through were not in vain. It shaped my purpose in this life of mine, and gave me tools, and invaluable experience to help each and every one of you. Yes! I am finally me! I am here! And so are you! I thank and appreciate all of my clients. They remind me of the courage I have, and I aim to share some of that same energy with them so that they too can rewrite the story to their lives and become great!