There was a time, not too long ago, I was afraid of everything. Most of my family and friends would never believe me if I said that, but although sad, it was very true. I felt inferior to everyone around me swallowed up by my own insecurities. I questioned everything about who I was from which outfit to wear and how to fix my hair to the decisions I had to make for my children. I worried all the time and not in the mom-kinda-way but in an obsessive, falling into a depression, completed unnoticed kinda-way. I felt lost and afraid.
Background info here: I had an overwhelming amount of stress come at me in a brief period. Doctors diagnosed my son with ulcerative colitis at 2 1/2 yrs old, suggesting heavy drugs and surgery. Through the amazing help of a clinical nutritionist and a lot of prayer and determination, he recovered and started thriving again. A little over a year later, I had a beautiful baby girl. I was, and am, very grateful for my precious gift, however, she had a severe hole in her heart and diagnosed with Down Syndrome. I went through an experimental and perilous procedure while pregnant so that doctors could stop her organs from filling with fluid. It worked temporarily and happened again. Terrified at that point. The doctors warned that we may ‘lose her’, on a daily basis. My baby girl was an emergency c-section 2 months early, hooked up to machines, gadgets and tubes in the NICU for 6 very long, excruciating. Faith finally came home (I chose that name because it’s what we needed to get through the stress). Our kitchen and living room transformed into a make-shift NICU with tubes, medicines and feeding tubes ’round the clock. It was exhausting, and worrisome, but I put on a smile and brave face for my then 4 yr old who only knew he was a big brother and so happy and proud.
Five months went by and Faith proved all the doctors wrong yet again, pulling through open heart surgery with flying colors. It was as if that was her birth. She was born anew and began thriving quickly. Although her serious heath concerns were now behind us, the challenge of how to raise, support and guide a child with down syndrome was my new focus.
As you can see, I was so worried and stressed for so many years I totally forgot about me. My marriage crumbled, and I became a shell of a person. So with my babies finally healthy I started taking care of myself. I began running, training and eating for optimal nutrition. I was feeling physically the best I had felt in years having lost 70+ lbs.
By then it was too late to save my failed relationship, and he left after 19 years of marriage. So there I was in a ball on the floor begging him not to go. Pitiful. A down right disgrace. After months of crying in secret, trying not to let my kids see, falling apart and begging God to help me, He answered my prayers.
I woke up one morning and realized I HAVE to be a positive presence in the life of my children. I wanted to teach them you can rise above adversity. I wanted to feel good again. I wanted to feel something other than self-pity and regain my confidence and self worth. Everyone always said ‘his loss’ or ‘your better off’ and honestly although well intended those comments never helped. I realized that I had to fix myself, not only for my kids but for ME! A dear old-friend did not console me or bash my ex, but said, “Gina, do the work. Work on YOU.” He was right. And so I did.
I focused on the things in which I excelled, practiced self-love and stress relieving activities and continued to pray. It wasn’t easy, and it did not happen overnight. Slowly and intentionally I held my head up high, stood on my OWN (something I hadn’t done in a very long time). And that propelled me into a life filled with regained confidence, happiness and success. I learned how to handle my finances, home maintenance and running a household, working full time, a single mom, with a child having special needs. With every task and obstacle I thought was impossible to overcome… accomplished. My confidence grew and my self-worth improved. I DO NOT say all this to brag or boast. I shared my most personal stories hoping you may benefit. I share to remind YOU you can rise from the depths of your own personal hell, just as I have.
Until next time… Stay well. And go ahead… Live Your Best Life!