As I launch the new website this week I figure it is fitting to explain WHY. I want to go back to where this all started and really reflect on what this site and these blogs are all about. This week we are going to take a slightly different direction. In a few of my posts and if you have read my book, I make reference to my past. I reference the fact that my childhood wasn’t the easiest. I don’t tend to tell the whole story, and I can’t possibly do that in under 2000 words. This week I am embracing my story in order to help you truly understand that you can embrace your story, and have a life of happiness and success, like I have been so lucky to have.
I didn’t previously own my story. I spent the first 33 or more years of my life trying not to be my story. This was a big piece of where I was before. I compartmentalized my life. I was able to “turn it on” at any time and no one ever questioned my life. I worked hard, I fought for what I needed and I had a goal to prove that my past did not have a negative impact on my future. My goal… “I would not be a victim of my circumstances”. I often told people that I was working for the day when I could see my father on the street and show him how successful I had become without him.
This changed a few years ago. I was in a session with a psychologist and she used a technique called meridian tapping. During this process she was working through a series of statements and in one of the statements she used the word victim. This was her word, not mine. It was the craziest thing, I actually couldn’t say the word victim. I had created such a persona of my life that I was anything but a victim, that when someone identified me as one it literally paralyzed me. She did not let it go, and we sat on that word and worked through it until I said “I was a victim”. I was a victim of having an alcoholic father. I was a victim of physical abuse. I was a victim of emotional abuse. I was a victim of being witness to a lot of other more serious abuse of others in my home. That day was probably one of the most defining moments of my life. I literally became a new person. By refusing to own that label I limited my ability to truly embrace who I am.
I have always had a “why” of wanting to help people. From the time I was young, that is what I wanted to do. That why has evolved over the years, but since that day, it has taken shape in a whole new way.
As I explained my father had some challenges, when I was growing up. These challenges led to a lot of unfortunate events. However, even prior to that the greatest impact on my life was that my mother died when I was eight years old. Growing up without a mom is not something I would ever wish on anyone. Losing your mom and then needing to move in with your abusive, alcoholic father does not make for a great set of circumstances. The events that unfolded in our home were devastating. The abuse that each of us dealt with was consistent. However sometimes the happy drunk was present while other times he was not… never knowing which personality would be there created a level of fear that I don’t wish on anyone. I also took on the role of adult in the house when both my step mom and sister left. I talked to the landlord when the rent wasn’t paid. I made sure we had groceries. I kept the house clean. I cared for my baby brothers when my dad didn’t come home at night, and it was his weekend with them. I ended up moving out at 14. Initially I lived with family (my aunt and uncle and my sister and her partner), however these places were never truly home. It felt like I was visiting. My high school years consisted of working a lot, while still getting straight A’s and making sure that I kept up a persona of “normal” because I didn’t want people to think something was wrong with me. I didn’t want people to judge me and treat me like a victim because of what happened. I always had this fear that I would be judged on my situation. I did everything to ensure that didn’t happen.
I put myself through college and won the top honour for my graduating class. I started my career and life could begin. This career buildup was how I had decided at some point that my success would be judged. A great career meant that I had survived and not been a victim. I am not sure where my 14 year old brain created this definition but it did. Successful people weren’t victims. I worked and progressed and worked and progressed and I did and have done quite well for myself. Then the awakening happened, that moment with THAT word… Victim. The day I was told I had PTSD.
It has been since that awakening that I am really truly uncovering why my story is so important, and why sharing it needs to happen. I have three characteristics that are gifts for me. I am a genuinely happy person. I can see the best in every situation and have the ability to see a positive outcome in almost every situation. I am outspoken and not afraid to use my voice. My voice helped me through some of the worst times with my dad. That voice now allows me to stand confidently in my story and share it. By using these aspects of me, I want to be able to help others see that in the face of their own despair, adversity, frustration, or nonfulfillment that they too can come out on the other side and be happy.
I want to help inspire others to also take ownership of their own personal story and message. I want others to realize that owning that message is actually the gateway to moving past it. That is why “Happy Leadership”. Simply, I want each of you to be happy. I want each of you to take your own happiness and allow others to be happy as well. I try and offer this through my writing. I try and offer this through my stories. I try and offer this through my talks. Each article will not resonate with each of you, however if each week I can help just one person take a step forward in their journey toward happiness and success, that is a good week!
There is a power in taking control of your life. When I share ideas and strategies on how you can best own your happiness, I hope it takes you a step closer to that power. When I write about focusing on your strengths, I do this because I want you to own those strengths and figure out how you can best maximize them. When I write about personal organization strategies, it is because in a world of stress and chaos, simply being able to feel in control of your to do list gives you more power. With ownership of your life comes the power to have and to be whatever you want. With ownership of your story comes the freedom to be truly happy. With your own happiness comes the power to help others find the courage, confidence and ability to do the same.
I want my story to help you connect with your story and inspire you to thrive in your own life.
Thank you for taking the time to be a part of this journey with me.