You can appear to be in control of your life yet be quietly suffering inside. Spreading yourself out to thin, trying to be everything to everyone, playing peacemaker among everyone in your circle, attempting to control every moment of your life, allowing what others say or don't say define the way you feel…do any of these behaviors sound familiar? They sure do to me and after meeting her, I know I’m not alone.
She’s that girl. She’s that girl, the one who will ask, once, for help but if she doesn’t get it, she will do it ALL on her own. She’s that girl that fills every moment of her day being busy and getting things done. She’s that girl that puts on her game face and straps the ‘S’ on her chest every morning before she looks in the mirror because she hides, even from her reflection. She’s that girl that has created this tough exterior to fight through anything that stands in her way, everyday. She is who I call, Busy B...meet Brook.
Brook became a wife and mother at the young age of 19. She shares, “Although I now know that the marriage was doomed from the beginning, at that point it was the most important aspect of my life, and it was for many years. I knew that I was going to fight until my knuckles bled to keep it together.” Brook stayed committed to this marriage for 16 years. She states, “It was not easy for many, many reasons. My ex-husband; although my best friend now, was very emotionally abusive. It really wasn’t his fault as its all he knew.” Early on in her marriage Brook learned that the only way to make things work was to put on her game face and do everything in her power to make her family happy. She believed her entire existence revolved around everyone else especially the needs and wants of her two boys. Brook shares, “I didn’t see myself as weak. I was strong because I was the ‘man power’ in our home. If a tree needed to be removed or planted, I was your guy. If landscape rocks needed to be thrown down, hey...I will do that too. The house needs to be repainted, inside or out...no problem. If we needed extra income, I would be the one to get the second job. Doctors appointments, car repairs, lawn mowing...I did it all. I was basically a single woman maintaining a house and family while my husband lived his life in leisure.” Life back then was not easy for Brook and she states, it made her a ‘hard woman.’
Taking on more than you can manage is a form of running away from what really needs your attention the most and most times, the one you are running away from and the one who needs the most attention is...you. Brook now realizes that being busy was the way she escaped from everything she was really feeling, and at that time, keeping busy was filling the void in her life. The void was the lack of love, appreciation and respect. We can blame our circumstances or point fingers on why we make the choices we make but ultimately we are the ones that have the power to choose how we will live our life. To gain love, appreciation and respect from others, we must first give it to ourselves. Brook’s behaviors were destructive and eventually did catch up. They zapped her energy and eroded her overall wellness; physically and emotionally. She finally reached her breaking point.
Brook got divorced and although it was the right action to take, she plunged further into a downward spiral. Since Brook was a pleaser, getting divorced was a painful reminder that she somehow failed. No matter the circumstances, it was a loss, and one that broke her heart and her spirit. On the heels of her divorce, Brook was laid off from her job. She was devastated. She felt like the little bit of light that she had within her went completely dark leaving her only with her demons. Her entire life she had programmed herself to find a way to runaway from the pain and heartbreak and this would be no different. Unfortunately for Brook, this time she turned to alcohol. She went from doing everything to doing nothing...except to have a drink to numb the pain. Slowly it consumed her and before she knew it, another destructive habit was born. She piled on the weight, was depressed, and lost all ambition. There were days she had fleeting spikes in motivation but they fizzled quickly. Brook shares, “Mentally, I portrayed myself as a fiercely independent and strong willed women who really didn’t need anyone to help me. I always thought I could do it all on my own and its a huge part of who I really am. I have come to learn now that I do need help and it is OK to ask for it.” Ironically the wisdom came from her 23 year old son. She states, “My oldest son said to me one day after he saw me break down, ‘Mom, even you need help sometimes, we all do.’” Then her youngest son was the final wake up call. Brook shares, “My 15 year old son told to me to get it together or he was moving in with his Dad.” Brook’s light was forced on. She knew she had developed unhealthy habits and behavior that she was not proud of. She states, “I knew I had to take control and only I could make this better. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to realize it and I did.”
Brook reached out to me for help with taking her power back. I taught Brook that the first step in becoming healthy and happy again was to un-busy herself. She had to be ready to become vulnerable which for her was the most uncomfortable feeling ever. I shared with Brook that there are times when you need to shut off the noise, let the walls come down and sit in silence with your thoughts. That time of honesty with yourself will be enough to regain a healthy perspective that will light your path. Understanding Brook’s personality, I had no doubt that she had the will power to follow a rigorous training program but to be physically fit and maintain it, she also had to be emotionally fit. Brook had to do the hard work and my HEARTwork. I did design a nutrition and training plan for Brook to help her reach her physical goals but on a weekly basis we also discussed and established goals, for her behavior, her actions and set boundaries that would help her improve her overall wellness, physical and emotional, that would eventually positively change her life.
In a span of six months of following her plan, Brook has taken her power back and has become the best version of herself...beautiful from the inside out. Yes, she has lost 30 pounds. Yes, she went from a size 12 to a size 6. Most importantly she now treats herself with the love, respect and appreciation that she deserves. She has created a lifestyle that she is proud of and feels like a positive role model in the life of her children. She has taken her life back. She shares, “Before making the decision to take my life back the depression and bad habits set in and I got FAT and sloppy. People and men no longer looked at me the way they once did. I was no longer proud of who I was physically which obviously bled over to mental and emotional abuse of myself. I didn’t want to look in the mirror. I had no desire to be around other people. I thought I was OK alone. Now, I walk tall again. I feel emotionally strong. I haven’t wanted to be in a relationship for years, and now I am reveling in the idea of being with someone again.” At first, like most women, Brook was only motivated by wanting to lose weight and to look better but Brook embraced and adopted my philosophy that when you treat your mind and body well from the inside, the physical results will happen. She states, “I now feel strong, sexy, confident, energized, educated, powerful, disciplined and determined. I do not feel selfish with my new lifestyle as it is the healthiest behavior for me and everyone around me, especially my sons. I feel fantastic and on top of the world.”
What we must all learn from Brook’s story is that being resilient is part of the journey of the human spirit. No matter our circumstances, we do have a choice in how we will live our life. Most times people thing that living in ‘survival mode’ is the same as being resilient...and it is not. It should not be acceptable to only survive and ‘get through’ our days. We must be resilient in order to rebuild our lives and recreate our dreams so that we can fulfill and create the destiny of our being. It begins and ends with us. Dare to be superior to circumstance...because you are.
By Liza Hughes RN
Lifestyle Coach to Women