I knew that the day would come when Brittany would ask me to share my story. Honestly, I was super hesitant and did not want to because I had no clue where to even begin with “my story,” but I am a big people pleaser and advocate for getting out of your comfort zone, so here it is. I prefer not to be in the spotlight. I tend to be a perfectionist and over analyze everything. I try really hard to come across as a chill and go with the flow kind of girl (and I am in many aspects of my life) but when it comes to being vulnerable sharing something about myself, I would rather just run the other way. I struggle with what people think of me more than I would like to admit and don’t want people to think I’m crazy. I logically know these are self-defeating thoughts. After all, I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and have heard many stories before and if anything, I feel more connected to a person when they are at their most vulnerable times in their life. In fact, I honor it. I admire it. So why is it so difficult for me to do the same with others? I’m human and have acknowledged that I struggle with fear and anxiety.
Becoming a mother almost 12 years ago, really threw a curve ball at me. When my oldest two were toddlers, I remember feeling like this would never end and my life was doomed to just cleaning up messes every. single. day. I always knew that I really wanted to stay home with my kids to raise them and not have to work outside the home. However, there were many days I wanted to just escape and run away. I felt like I couldn’t breathe at times. I do work from home teaching online courses which I thought was way harder for me since what would take me two hours working outside the home literally took me all day long. I was so overwhelmed. I knew some action had to be taken. I finally decided to send them to daycare for a few hours a couple of times a week and I felt so guilty at first that I couldn’t just take on the world and had to ask for help. Asking for help is definitely not my strong suit. I knew that I needed this and my kids needed it too. I became so stressed that I would be on edge all the time and yell at them way too much. I even tried to work outside the home full-time a few years ago. I really enjoyed some parts of it, but it was too much at the time. I respect working moms so much. Over the years, I have learned that self-compassion is so essential to life and especially in my role as a mother. We are so quick to lay on the mom guilt that can become an overwhelming shame that lies deep within us. I have been so grateful for women that have come into my life where I have been able to open up with and connect. It has been a saving grace for me. I am a strong, independent woman and often feel like I should be able to get through things on my own. I quickly am reminded that it takes strength to ask for help and realize that you need other people in your life. When I struggled through two miscarriages, great women beside me helped me through those difficult losses. When I was losing my hair to an autoimmune disease, alopecia areata, so many friends were there for me. I was fortunate to find out that I had celiac which keeps my alopecia at bay for now and I have my hair. While I don’t like to be in the spotlight and center of attention, we all want to be seen. I’m so grateful for good people that see me. Bottom line, women need women. We are better together. I know I would feel guilty at first when I would get together with my girlfriends and that it was taking away quality time with my husband and kids. I have since learned that it is so essential for my emotional and mental health to give myself this gift to connect with other women. This is where I can recharge and come back a stronger and better person, wife, and mother.
I first heard about GOTG from a Facebook post that an old college friend Laura shared about the cowgirl retreat. My curiosity peaked and I thought this sounds fun and at such an affordable price. I went back and forth on it and finally told my husband and he told me to go ahead and just do it. I then found myself signing up for it still not quite so sure about this. I legitimately thought that it was possibly a scam. I knew nothing about this company or group. I am super shy and reserved, but I am so glad that I went out of my comfort zone and went. I really thought most girls there would really be like riding horses their whole life and I would feel so out of place. While there were a few amazing riders, everyone there was so nice and never felt like I did not belong. I love my time there being able to stretch myself in ways I haven’t before. The snowmobile retreat was a similar experience and don’t regret going on either one. These experiences have enriched my life. Thank you Brittany for all the good work you do and the amazing women I have met.
When the opportunity arose to attend a Yoga/Hiking retreat with Get Out There Girl, my first thought was that I was too scared to go. I don’t love traveling (an understatement), and I feel an even more intense separation anxiety when I travel without my family. However, someone I love had attended a retreat previously and I saw the way it changed her life. My heart ached to experience a similar change in my own. The idea of reentering the world of yoga was intriguing, but I wasn’t excited about hiking. A few years ago, I had heat stroke and I suffer from PTSD whenever I am in the heat. This led to me feeling fearful about the whole trip. Going with people I don’t know, experiencing things that are hard and my fears screamed loudly that I couldn’t do it. One thing pushed me forward.
My greatest desire is to live anxiety free. Thus far in my 53 years, anxiety has been my continual companion and every effort made to conquer it has fallen short or failed completely. This time in the world with the pandemic has been especially difficult so I took advantage of a brief moment of bravery and signed up. Honestly, I almost canceled many times. But I chose to go and I will be forever grateful! There are a couple of significant things, among many great experiences, that made it worth all the worry and anxiety.
The first is that we had two workshops with one of the most amazing, talented and wise women I have ever met. Her name is Niki Olsen and she walked us through a method called Mind Body Bridging. The process was overwhelmingly impactful for me. Personally, I felt a change in my heart about anxiety. I now believe that, little by little, following this process will help me understand why I respond the way I do and allow me to move through it. Niki is a person I want to be like and I wish with all my heart she lived next door to me! When difficult things happen, I usually fall apart. However, the night after I got home from the retreat my son broke his collar bone in a severe manner and had to have surgery. There was definitely anxiety, but I put in to practice the things Niki had taught and I was far better than I would have been before the workshops and retreat.
The second was on a hike. These women didn’t know anything about my past or difficulties, as I didn’t know theirs, and I didn’t want to appear weak. As we started the hike I began to panic and my heart raced as I worried that the heat would overtake me. I had to stop a few times to breathe and put every effort into believing in myself. It wasn’t a difficult or demanding hike, but my anxiety started to overpower. My self-talk was negative and, with every part of my heart and mind, I had to push myself to keep going. I tried to tell myself I could do it and, step by step, I did it! The chatting among the women, who quickly began to feel like friends, and following them pushed me forward. There were many times that my belief in myself wavered, but I made it. At the top we rested at a beautiful waterfall and took pictures and had lunch. The others didn’t know what a triumph it was for me, but it’s a personal victory that I will always remember. And better yet….I want to go hiking again!
Our time practicing yoga was also amazing. We were outside in the most beautiful scenery and breathing in the fresh air among the trees. The view of the mountains and green grass was healing and invigorating at the same time. The entire weekend was important for me and I believe a turning point in my journey through this life. Bravery and adventure are not my strongest traits, but I am a few steps closer.
I am so excited to begin the “Share My Story” series. Ever since GOTG was created I have heard hundreds of women’s stories. My heart has grown as I have listened to women’s struggles and triumphs. I have discovered that women want to share. For so long we (women) have put our best foot forward and only showed the parts of ourselves that we think people want to see. This is exhausting. I’ve learned that one of our deepest desires as human beings is to be seen. We want someone to see all of us and love us regardless. We want someone to see how far we’ve come and how hard we have fought to be who we are. We want someone to see ALL of us, our strengths and our weaknesses and love us. We don’t want to hide parts of us.
As I have heard countless stories I felt like others needed to hear them as well. We need to connect with each other through our humanity. I haven’t met a woman I didn’t love after hearing her story. I want you to hear each other’s stories and connect. Every Monday I plan to share another woman’s story. I hope you read the stories and see the connection you have with other women. See your shared humanity. See your similarities. See the courage. See the strength. See yourself in each story.
Growing up I was shy and didn’t have confidence in myself. I had some friends, but they were superficial. Some of my so called friends were really mean to me and I was never quite sure how to navigate my feelings and emotions during those situations. I experienced some trauma in my teenage years that shaped my behaviors into early adulthood. I always longed for deep meaningful connections with people, but my lack of self confidence always seemed to bring out my fear to connect. The many experiences of rejection in my life are a huge part of my story. I deeply feared rejection and a lot of my trauma as a kid, teen and young adult stems from some form of rejection.
When I was about 30, married for 7 1/2 years with 3 kids my life changed. I didn’t want my life circumstances to run my life. I didn’t want depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts to be such a struggle. I knew there was hope and I could somehow attain it even though I wasn’t exactly sure where to look. I thank God for his divine timing in directing me to the help I needed.
Over the last 5 years I have gained the tools and resources to help me heal and grow into who I am today. I now have more self confidence and self compassion then I ever have. I am more available for healthy relationships and willing to try things that take me out of my comfort zone. I love connecting with women in fact I thrive on it, but if I am being honest it sometimes scares me because of my past.
Over the last year I have had the opportunity to go on many adventures. A lot of these adventures have been with Get Out There Girl. Each adventure comes with its excitements and fears. I love trying new things that I normally don’t get the opportunity to do and each Get Out There Girl adventure has given me that kind of experience. However, every time I show up to an activity or experience where I have the opportunity to connect with other women, whether I know these women or not, I have to work really hard through my fear of rejection. You would think that with several years of experience I would have conquered this fear of not being wanted or not being enough. I have not arrived there yet, but the more I put myself out there and show up in an honest, vulnerable and authentic way I see growth and change in myself. I am grateful for the many examples of women I now have in my life that provide me opportunities to conquer my fear and grow my strengths.