Some of you know my story. Some of you don’t but 8 years ago this week my life looked drastically different than it does now.
My best friend had just passed away unexpectedly at 8 months pregnant.
My husband and I were having the same exact argument every 90 days with no change. We were beyond broke. Like so broke I couldn’t afford gas to drive the 4 hour trip to go home for the weekend, couldn’t buy new clothes, credit cards were all maxed out and I came home to no electricity more than a couple times. I filed for divorce, moved out on my own for the first time and had developed the belief that living by myself with a 2 year old was not safe. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t but not because of people, because it was so janky the floor may have fallen through at any moment and I’m pretty sure there was tetanus in every inch of the staircase outside that lead to the only laundry unit. I was a full-time college student, trying to get another degree because I couldn’t be a single mom on a teacher’s salary. (another limiting belief) I was working 3 part time jobs to make ends meet and vividly remember opening the door to the refrigerator one night only to discover a small jar of pickles and one slice of cheese. We had put everything in my name and when I got divorced, my ex-husband decided he didn’t need to help pay child support, or his half of the $40,000 in debt we’d accumulated over the 5 years we were married. I weighed 260 lbs and ate all my feelings. All. The. Feelings. The picture above is a before (top) and after (bottom). I’m about 90% sure that’s the only picture from around that time because of the pure embarrassment I had with looking at myself in the mirror.
You can imagine at this point I was pretty low. Depressed and had debilitating anxiety. I watched reruns of One Tree Hill night after night because the anxiety was too bad to sleep. Hot Mess Express doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I had to get it together, for myself and for my son. I started with what I knew. I knew my basic needs had to be met which meant food and sleep. I swallowed my pride and the limiting beliefs that I was a piece of crap if I got on food stamps. That’s what it’s there for. People who need temporary help, that was me. I had my cousin send me a bottle of lavender essential oil and a blend she made up for anxiety. I used these religiously and my anxiety got a little better, enough to at least sleep through the night. I finished school and with bribing Mason at 2 and a half to be SUPER quiet for 15 minutes while we sat in a Walgreen’s parking lot, I interviewed for a job in Dallas and got it. We moved 6 days later with a lot of help! I knew one person but I also knew deep down this job would propel me forward. It did. It helped me get back on my feet and introduced me to some of the greatest friends and mentors I still have today.
I got off food stamps when I moved and I called a lady I knew from when I was married that’s a financial planner. She did my financial needs analysis for free, as she does all families and I followed it to the letter. I never had extra money to do a lot of trips or anything more than hitting the zoo once every few months but I paid that $40,000 debt off in 4 years. I still got no help with child support so I did that all on my own too. I didn’t have cable or anything that wasn’t necessary. I got real good at finding free entertainment for Mason and I to enjoy and still use that little trick to this day!
Time management, grit, determination and a lot of swallowing my pride and asking for help made a huge difference in my success. I made a plan and I stuck to it. When I felt like I had kind of gotten a hold of my life, I borrowed the P90X program from a friend and I lost 30 lbs. with it. Shortly after, I met Moe which is a whole different story for another day.
But if I could give you any advice at all, I’d say- Have Persistence. Was it all easy? No. It was hard as hell! But I believed in myself and I believed that the steps I was taking, no matter how small, were still steps forward and would eventually pay off.
8 years later, I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ll be completely debt free except for my student loans by 2021. I’m having another baby (something I never thought would be in my cards again), happily married and truly thriving. A lot of that growth came from taking a hard look in the mirror, getting rid of the limiting beliefs and reading…so much reading. I read on everything I needed help with, success stories I could learn from, parenting hacks, anything that could possibly get me where I wanted to go. It took working hard and smart. It took doing what wasn’t always popular and not always what I wanted but what I needed. Lastly, it took having a circle of people I wanted to be like, people who were smarter than me, more financially independent than me, people I could learn from to help me grow instead of people who only held me back.
If you or someone you know is in this same situation, just know that like those food stamps, it’s temporary if you want it to be. It’s 100% possible to claw your way out of any hole you’re in. Just keep moving in the right direction.