Two days ago as I was taking my children out of the car in front of my house, a former co-worker walked by and said hello, cute kids, the typical things people say as they pass a woman juggling her brood, but the funny thing was, I don’t think he actually recognized me. I worked in the same office as this person for 6 years, but for whatever reason – maybe context, maybe the fact that I don’t look quite like I did before – I apparently was a stranger.
All kinds of thoughts went through my head like, “Well, that whole talk I just had about becoming irrelevant when you leave the workforce, that sealed it”, “Do I look THAT different right now?”, “Did I make THAT little of an impression on this person for 6 years that I am no longer in their visual rolodex?”. Bottom line, unless I see this person again, I won’t know quite what happened in that 30 seconds, but regardless, it got me thinking about the changes that have taken place in my life over the last 7 years and it caused me to want to dig deeper.
This is a side by side photo comparison of who I was in November of 2006 at age 31 (on the left) and who I am today, August 2013 at age 37 (less than a month away from turning 38) on the right. It was difficult for me to decide to share this photograph, not because I am clearly larger and out of shape in my ‘before’, but because looking at myself at that age and at that place in time, every single emotion of pain, unhappiness and despair comes flooding back over me like a wave. It is powerful.
My weight has always been an indicator of my internal happiness, whether people (including myself) have known it or not, and at that point in my life, I was not happy. I was just a few months away from leaving my home and separating from my then husband. I was already making bad choices in the company I was keeping. I obviously wasn’t making great diet and exercise choices. I was in complete inner turmoil.
But like most people in turmoil, I channeled that piece of myself that wanted better, wanted CONTROL, wanted to succeed and be a fighter into something else – my career. I had no idea that my professional life was about to take off in ways I could hardly imagine. In 2 years I went from being a contractor with no prior military experience to being hired directly into federal civil service at what was the equivalent of a GS 14/15 pay level at the highest Navy command in the Pacific. I was 32 and the leader of an unstoppable team of superstars, an expert in my field, I flew all over the world, rode ships, got shot off aircraft carriers, gained the trust and the ear of the most powerful military leader in the Pacific. It was a wild ride…and I did it all while struggling more than I could ever tell you in my personal life.
Right around June 2009 at the height of my career with the government, I looked around at my life and I made a decision. I needed to get my life in BALANCE. I needed to make changes so that the person I saw on the outside, and the REAL person who was a single mom at the time, was that woman who was at the top of her game professionally. This required a lot of work – emotional, mental, spiritual WORK. It wasn’t until I took the time to talk to a professional about my issues – about this disconnect between all the pieces of my life – that I started to heal myself and attract and allow the right people into my personal life. It was then that my heart started to change, and when I was finally in a relationship with someone I knew I could trust, who supported and loved me for who I AM imperfections and all, amazing things began to happen. I realized I was WORTH SOMETHING. I know people like to hear stories of individuals coming to marvelous revelations on their own, but I personally did not. It required a Divine intervention. It required the right person to make me SEE myself as he saw me. HE thought I was worthy of the world and he gave it to me. He saw ME through my ‘weight’ and I began to understand that I hadn’t just struggled with my weight my whole life, I’d struggled with my WORTH. This still is a powerful thing to ponder and I hope you will take a moment to think about that, too.
My husband Brad is a remarkable man. His were the words I chose to let into my head and my heart. But he wasn’t the only one who had tried to get me to understand this about myself. Looking back there were countless others along the way personally and professionally who were trying to get me to realize what I was worth. I just wasn’t open to it. My purpose for sharing this story today is to simply encourage you to BE OPEN to the words of encouragement that are given to you from significant others, friends, co-workers, counselors, even strangers. SOMEONE in your life will deliver those words that YOU CHOOSE to accept and hear, but you have to be open to hearing them. Let me be the first to say now, YOU ARE WORTHY – of happiness, of success, of balance, of being the best you that you were created to be. The moment you BELIEVE this is the moment you will be able to commit to yourself – to running further, losing unwanted weight, achieving those goals that have escaped you up to this point. Let those positive thoughts and words in. YOU ARE WORTH IT.