I’ve had quite a few people ask me recently about my transformation journey in the last several years. I’m happy to tell it, but it’s not a short, quick story. If I go back to the very beginning, I guess I would have to start 7 years ago when I suffered a severe brain injury. I didn’t know at the time, of course, but it was the beginning of discovering who I really was, and who I want to be.
It all started in 2010, when I was playing “football” with some friends. I took a tackle from a friend, and got hit harder than was intended. I suffered a severe head trauma. I was in college at the time, and I was almost finished with my Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. I was severely disabled, and struggled to finish to get my degree. I was having trouble with memory, retaining new information, speaking clearly, and motor skills. Even walking long distances (like down a hallway) was difficult and painful. So, mentally working was very difficult. I graduated, sure, but I didn’t retain the knowledge very well. I couldn’t tell you what classes I took my last quarter.
Over the next few years, as my brain healed, I realized I didn’t enjoy programming in the slightest. It wasn’t fun for me anymore, I didn’t get a thrill out of it, and it was impossible for me to think the same way. This brain injury literally changed my life. I was fired from several jobs, I couldn’t develop new lasting friendships, my relationship was strained, and I just felt terrible most of the time. My therapists diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Emotionally, I wasn’t the same. It was like I turned into a totally different person. It took me years to figure out that it did change me. I had continued to try to fit into the box I put myself in. But I didn’t fit in there anymore.
After a few years of struggling, I started working at Petsmart. I hated that I couldn’t perform in my industry, but I needed to make money and do something instead of just sitting at home. So, I found this job. I was happy there. I enjoyed working with the animals, and I enjoyed teaching people about how they could better the lives of their pets. I constantly stayed late. I accidentally would keep working after my shift because I was enjoying it so much. One thing led to another, and I was starting to feel happy again… but this job wasn’t paying the bills.
So I eventually had to quit and get back into the software industry. I found a company where I was happy and enjoying the job, the people, and I could perform there. They were family oriented, and I didn’t work late. As far as software companies went, it was great. It was a good company who cared about their employees. Salary was good, benefits were great, and the people made me happy. It was a good fit. But I didn’t love what I was doing. I still wasn’t “whole”.
Somewhere down the road, my ex-husband and I got a dog. He was a great dog, but we had no idea what we were doing. After a few weeks, he started to pull on the leash, started to get very hyper all the time, and just was uncontrollable. So, I asked for help. I found a trainer who specialized in behavioral solutions. I had no idea the world I was about to discover.
As I started to work with my dog, I realized how much fun I was having. I used the knowledge I was learning to help others. I was giving my friends and neighbors behavioral advice from what I was doing, and wanted to learn more. They saw improvements in their dogs, and I barely knew anything! I was hungry for more information! I started searching online for workshops, webinars, books, online classes, and anything I could get my hands on.. Eventually, I attended workshops as well. I was insatiable when it came to learning about dogs. I wanted to know everything! I loved what I was doing, and looked forward every day to going home and working with my dog.
I started to build a client base after a few months, and I realized this could become a very rewarding hobby! So, I spent more and more time researching, reading, experimenting, and spending time with my dog. My dog and I had learned so much and we were turning into quite the team! I was so happy with how things were going. Every spare second I had was being spent working with my dog, as well as on my newfound hobby. Which meant I wasn’t nurturing my marriage.
In 2014, I went to Cesar Millan’s training center to learn more. Great opportunity and I was so excited! My husband called me while I was at the workshop to yell at me because Napoleon (our dog) had puked on the couch, and he didn’t know how to use the carpet cleaner. We fought. On the phone, a thousand miles from each other, but we were fighting. It was bad, and neither of us was happy. We were so young, and I was preoccupied in building this business.
I got back, and our relationship continued to suffer. We attended counseling, but I had already made up my mind that I was finished, and wanted to move on. We decided on a divorce. Not a pretty decision, but something needed to change. We were both great people, but too young and inexperienced for mature love. We split up. It was painful, it was an end to a chapter in my life I never saw coming.
I couldn’t believe it got this far, I was depressed, lonely, and wondering how this happened. My best friends were there for me during this time. My best friend’s husband was comforting me, helping me, and becoming my friend. I was looking for validation, love, compassion. He was looking for the same. We both weren’t happy, but we found happiness in each other. We both did an unspeakable thing. Something I never thought I was capable of doing. We had an affair. It lasted 9 months. We both knew it needed to end, but we couldn’t tear ourselves away from each other. We lied, we snuck around, and we made a mistake.
Once my best friend found out, of course she was livid. I betrayed her. I hurt her. I royally fucked up. However, she didn’t find out the whole story. She was told a tiny speck of what actually was happening. But it didn’t matter; it was just enough to shun me out of her life. She sent hateful messages, spread untrue rumors, and turned our friends against me. I didn’t defend myself and I let her attack me. I let the lies spread, and I didn’t retaliate. I didn’t lie, I didn’t cower, and I took all of it. Even though what she thought happened wasn’t the truth. But I didn’t say anything to defend myself because it didn’t matter at this point. Whatever it was, I deserved it, right?
After months and months of abuse from her and her husband, our “friends”, and the online posse she had built, I decided that enough was enough. She even attacked my business! Our businesses had nothing to do with this. This was a personal matter. Yet she brought this into the professional world and it affected clients, fellow dog trainers, and connections. As time went on, more and more negativity poisoned my life. I eventually felt like I was worth nothing. I was a piece of garbage, so I started acting that way. I started making poor decisions, putting myself in dangerous situations, drinking too much, hanging out with the wrong type of people.
After one night of putting myself in a position where I was in danger of my life, I realized I needed to make a change. This was so dangerous, and this could end up killing me.
I committed fully to learning about myself. Accepting I made mistakes, and started to piece myself together again, bit by bit. I spent a lot of time self-reflecting. I wanted to know what had happened. I had been falling apart for a while, and I wanted to know where it started. Why it happened, and how I sank so far. I learned to meditate. I learned to breathe through my pain, and accept that these things happened. I accepted I made a mistake. I learned to forgive others and myself. Only I can control my emotions, my actions, and my mental state. I wanted to be happy. It seemed like a stretch, but I felt like if I self-reflected and learned to forgive, I could learn to be happy.
I went for a walk in nature every day and listened to the sound of the birds, the water, the bugs, the wind in the trees, and I realized that this pain would pass. I spent so much time with my dogs, and alone that I was actually starting to get to know myself better. I meditated, sat with my suffering, and I really felt all the feelings. It hurt, it was sad. I didn’t find solace in other people. I didn’t go to my friends or family, I went to the mountains. I took pack walks with my dogs and hikes regularly. I spent time meditating, thinking, and writing down my thoughts. I spent so much time getting to know myself. I wanted to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.
I started to train. I started running, lifting weights, and getting stronger. I had started to learn to forgive myself, and I wanted to find peace in my life. So, I started working out, and eating healthier food. I stayed away from sugar, booze, and food that didn’t help my body heal from the onslaught of exercise I was putting it through. Nutrition and fitness became an obsession. I started to learn the “secret” of being happy.
I started to see an energy healer to help me clear out any emotional blocks. I learned so much about chakras, energy flow, the psyche, and how energy can fuel the soul. I started to be able to feel the energy move through my body. I started to become in tune with my own energy and be able to read others’ as well. This helped me with keeping people in my life who had positive energy, and shedding people who had negative energy. I was able to have compassion for people who were suffering. Even those who have hurt me, I could give compassion and send love. This was difficult in the beginning. Learning to love people from a distance, even if they aren’t close to me anymore. My best friend, who I betrayed, comes to mind. I love her deeply, and I send her loving, healing energy often. She may not consider me a friend anymore, but I do. She is still my best friend, and I am happy when I hear that she is at peace, finding success, and above all, finding happiness. I want her to feel peace.
I decided against using social media during this time, as it was not helping me through the pain I was feeling. In fact, Facebook in particular is full of negativity, and it was difficult to see the positive. I did block the people who were sending me hurtful messages, posting hateful comments, and otherwise anything that was evil. Getting back on Facebook, I decided I wanted to reconnect with people who have a passion for spreading positivity, bettering the world, and being the best they can be. Anyone else was un-friended, un-followed, or blocked.
I had studied and applied what I learned in fitness, energy work, nutrition, and meditation. I had started to become more connected spiritually, and learned how to be more mindful. I had started to treat my body the way it deserved to be treated all this time. Mistakes are just that: mistakes. They are there for us to learn and become a better person. Those who have “sinned” have great potential to learn and grow. When one is in a desperate place, we do not think about the repercussions of our actions. That mistake did not make me a bad person. It makes me human. It makes me real. I made a mistake that severely hurt my best friend. I love her deeply even now, even after everything. I have learned from that and become a strong, mindful person. I have learned to be less judgmental of those who make mistakes. I have learned to forgive. The most important lesson I have learned is to be vulnerable with my feelings, and allow myself to love fully.
I have decided I will not hold onto feelings of hate or anger. I do not carry around negative feelings, and I work hard to not pass judgment on others. We all have done things that have hurt others. We have made mistakes, and those mistakes make us who we are today. I wish I could have learned the lesson another way, but this is what the universe had planned for me. So, I do not regret making the choices I did, as I have repented, and I am set free of the past now. I don’t live in the past, I don’t hold those feelings close, and I have learned to live with my feelings, and realize that it’s ok. I will not be self critical of my past; instead I will embrace it. It has turned me into the person I am today.
I see the world as a beautiful place, and we should take care of each other. We need to invest in our health in mind, body, and soul. At the end of the day, this is all we have. So, I focus all my energy into surrounding myself with love. Love for the possessions I keep, the people I surround myself with, and the actions I perform. I want a life where I live free of ties, burdens, and unnecessary commitments. I only carry with me what I love. If you are one who I have chosen to spend my time with, know that I love you. Know that you are special to me, and I don’t just give my time to anyone. You are a beautiful soul and you deserve to be loved. You are cherished.
Love yourself openly. Be vulnerable. Be open to your feelings, and don’t be afraid to dream. Dream big and don’t be overwhelmed with the amount of work or time it takes to get there. Wouldn’t you rather spend the time working towards a big dream rather than wasting it just drifting?
Now, every day, I focus on being better than the person I was yesterday. I try to listen fully, instead of speaking and forming quick opinions. I try to pay attention and be mindful. I am trying not to jump to conclusions, judge, or pass negative energy to anyone or anything. Everyone has a reason for doing the things they do. What I can do is hold myself to a higher standard and try to be the best I can be. I won’t waiver, self destruct, or passively aggressively try to manipulate or control. We all do it from time to time, but the goal is to recognize it and try to understand that person is at a different point in their journey.
Acts of self-destruction, recklessness, inappropriate decisions, or poor judgment typically come from immaturity or lack of experience or knowledge. They haven’t found themselves yet, or know how their actions are affecting their lives and the people around them. The people closest to you in your lives are the ones you’ll see clearly. Those are the people where you have to let them figure it out themselves instead of trying to ‘teach’ them. They will accept the lessons freely when they are ready.
Live healthy, live free, live passionately. Be quick to forgive. Think before you speak. Send as much love out into the universe as you can. The world is lacking in true unconditional love. Take care of yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Make healthy choices, for at the end of the day, you only have your health. Investing in yourself is the best choice you can make to achieve true happiness.