Someone once told me that I have a PHD in real life and oh boy, is that true. I did not experience the “white picket fence” upbringing, I was raised by a single mom and we lived with my grandparents and great grandmother when I was young. The thing about this time is I was born out of wedlock and that was just incomprehensible back in those days. Unbeknownst to my mother, she was my father’s mistress and he was already married with five other children. When this came to light my mother moved back home and was instructed to tell others, including me, that she was widowed. I did not even find out that my father wasn’t dead until my 50’s.
When my mom moved back home, she and I not only lived with her parents (my grandparents), but her grandmother, as well. These were individuals who had already raised their families and now they were helping to raise me all over again. Needless to say, I did not get the typical relationship you would expect with your grandparents. My great grandmother was deeply committed to her faith and didn’t allow a lot of room for error. I was expected to be quiet and well-behaved at all times, because in their household children were expected to be seen and not heard.
Due to my strict upbringing, I became rebellious and eventually a teen mom. Now I am a step-mom and we have his, mine and ours, as well as foster children we have raised. And guess what, they are all alive to tell the tale. I was never a perfect mom, I made lots of mistakes but I tried to learn from them.
I was an Army wife, which transitioned to a Veteran’s wife, so I’ve experienced what it feels like to have to step up and be both parents, when needed, and then relinquish that control when my husband returned home. I have lived in several different states, including Kentucky, Texas, Alaska, Virginia, Southern Utah (which could be its own state) and now Northern Utah. I was an only child until age 40 when my mom married a man with 12 (yes, I said 12) children.
My philosophy is: life is too short to hold grudges or wear shoes that hurt your feet. I like the saying that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, but there is nothing wrong with having some fun while doing it!
My signature hair style is short and spiky and I enjoy constantly changing the color. I belong to the General Federation of Women’s Club (GFWC), which is the oldest organized women’s club in the nation, where I do as much volunteer work in my community as I can.
I have always had a passion for listening to others and helping them if I could. In 2012, I made the decision to become a life coach after some of the hardest things in my life happened.
Our youngest daughter (one of two children from our marriage) fell into the horrible trap of drug abuse and all the heartbreaking things that go along with that lifestyle. Leaving not only herself, but our entire family scarred physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Drugs can affect any family, anytime, anywhere. They do not discriminate.
At 21 years old we persuaded her to check into rehab one last time in an attempt to help her pull herself out of the bottomless pit she had fallen in. My husband, her biological father, had researched this particular facility and felt it aligned with our morals and values and hoped it would help bring us back together as a family.
She was not progressing through the program as expected and the group counselors refused to believe that her childhood was great and that, under the influence of her peers (in a small town), she made the choice to use drugs. She grew tired of her lack of progression and in the desire of gaining her perceived freedom back, thought she would tell them something, anything so she could progress, finish up and secure her release.
After months of being in the program, during one of her group meetings, she fabricated a story about her father sexually abusing her. Without verifying facts, interviewing my husband, myself or our five other children, the facility ceased all communication with us. Then we discovered they had been allowing my husband’s daughter (my stepdaughter) to communicate with her in secret. To our heartbreak, she believed the fabricated story and proceeded to convince all but one of our other children that it was true and they began distancing themselves from us.
Our son who could not believe the story stood by our sides and attempted to reason with his half siblings. He knew the type of man his father was—his unwavering love, commitment and respect for all of his children, his virtue and committed faith to God.
This period of time was very painful for us as a family. I had doubt in my heart and I was ready to give it all up. I was ready to leave a 24-year marriage, even though there was no proof—after 21 years of raising our daughter—that my husband ever committed such an act. He was adamant of his innocence.
I could only see one way out. I planned my suicide.
Thankfully, I came to my senses and called my family doctor who arranged my seven-day stay in a mental health facility. I cried non-stop for the first 48 hours, but then I began to listen to the other patients, and learn from my group and private sessions with the doctors. I absorbed as much information as I could while I was there—otherwise what would have been the point? I had decided that I truly was not ready to give up and that I was going to come out of this stronger than ever.
The most important things I learned were about myself. I realized that I was stronger, braver and more courageous than I thought. Most importantly, I came to the realization that no matter what my future held and no matter what my children thought, “I WAS ENOUGH,” which led to my forever mantra, “I AM ENOUGH!” I even got it tattooed on my forearm to remind me every day of my worth.
Afterwards, I still had many challenges to face. Those included bankruptcy, losing our home and even worse, our children’s continued mistrust well after our daughter recanted her statement and said it was only to get out of rehab. Apparently, she never thought it would go “that far.”
Then there was the loss of our church family and religious support. We sought help from our religious leaders who we felt not only wanted to sweep it all under the rug but we believe discussed our situation with other church members, which led to being ostracized by our church community. We got a lot more help and guidance from those outside the church than those who we felt were our brothers and sisters.
Today, the daughter who accused my husband lives with us. It took, and is still taking, a long time for my husband to forgive her and heal. It is nice to see him drop his guard from time to time and watch him be a father to our daughter, but I can understand why he would want to protect himself, he almost lost everything—we almost lost everything.
I am so thankful that I had enough faith to stay by his side, I knew in my heart who I had married. I also learned where my true faith lied and unfortunately, it was not with the community we had become accustomed to.
Since going through what I call “the dark night of my soul,” I have transformed my life. I feel I now possess a much more authentic spirituality, a truly giving soul and an abundance of love and forgiveness for those around me, regardless of affiliation.
Because of my journey, I know that I am able to help others going through their own experiences. I feel like I have truly been to hell and back. Even if what you’re going through isn’t as intense as my experience, trust me, I have a plethora of knowledge, exercises and techniques to help you get through what you’re going through. It doesn’t matter if you’re experiencing a faith crisis, family struggles, conflicts in your marriage, career stagnation, depression or whatever it is you’re needing help getting through—I can be there for you. I will help you through it and believe me, it’s better to have a friend like me than to go through it alone.