You know the saying “When life give you lemons….” There are various endings to this quote such as “make lemonade” or “drink tequila.” What do you do after your done drinking and the sugar rush or hangover is gone? The lemons are still there and now they look like sad cut up yellow fruits with just the outer shell remaining. They look like you still feel. You look the same, but your insides are anything but, that’s the focus of this blog. It is to help you deal with your life after the lemons are gone.
People who don’t know me will look at my current life and wonder how would I know what it’s like to deal with lemons in life. After all, I’m 47, I have a successful career as a financial controller for a growing company, I’m living happily in North Carolina, I have a social life, and I have fantastic friends. However, it has not always been this way. I moved to North Carolina the end of 2014 to start over and rediscover myself. It has only been over the past two years that I have been able to say I’m happy for the first time in my life. Don’t get me wrong, lemons still appear in my life, but I have learned how to deal with the aftermath of the sourness they leave.
I have lived through some sour lemons. I know some people who have lived through worse and others who can’t comprehend what I’ve been through. This is just some of what I have experienced:
- Molested between ages of 6 and 7 by a family member.
- Tried running away at age 6.
- Have been through physical, emotional, and mental abuse.
- Survived Cancer (10 years remission this past June for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma).
- Divorced after 20 years of marriage, 24 total years together, I initiated the divorce.
- Several attempts at suicide from teenager up to right before my divorce.
- Diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by two therapists.
- Bad online dating experiences (scammers/stalkers).
- Overweight all my life and shamed over it.
- Speech Impediment growing up.
- Lost two of my biggest supporters in the family 4 weeks apart from each other in 2014.
- Quit a good job in Western Pennsylvania to move to North Carolina in 2014 without a job.
I was also told many negative things in life that I believed for a very long time until one day I decided I am not going to listen and believe them. Here are just some of the things I was told by people who were supposed to be my supporters (friends, family members, and exes):
- “You’re not good enough”
- “You will fail”
- “You will be alone the rest of your life”
- “You’re a cold-hearted bitch”
- “You’re stupid”
- “You’re fat (and ugly)”
- “You should drop out of college, you’re not smart enough, you won’t graduate”
- “You’ll never be an executive, you’re not smart enough”
Not many people knew what all I was going through growing up, during my suicide attempts, during my marriage, during the divorce, and during some of my jobs. I was good at hiding my feelings because that was something I was taught early in my development and then it became a way to protect myself later in life. Through the years of therapy and a fantastic core group of friends, I have learned to open up about my feelings and enjoy life. I have learned to let go of the past, but to also remember the past as not to repeat it.
While I will be discussing things that happened to me as we go on this journey together, please note, I have made peace with what happened to me. What I have found is by opening up about my past has helped others know it’s ok, you don’t have to feel alone, ashamed, afraid, or silenced. Your voice, your feelings, your hopes, your dreams, your life, it all matters. You matter. You are beautiful inside and out. You are smart and will go far in life. You may not see it today, but you are important to others and yourself. You have to believe in yourself and learn to love yourself, because once you do that you will be unstoppable.
It is a daily education to believe in yourself. I still doubt myself sometimes, especially when there are triggers that cause my PTSD. I cry and feel alone sometimes, but the difference now is I let those feeling play out and then pick myself up and go back to life. Crying is a release that you need sometimes to move on from whatever triggered the reaction. The key though is learning how to move on, especially when you feel the lemons coming at you, sometimes full force, like grenades. Don’t ever think that your life does not matter and that everyone would be happy if you were not here. Even if someone actually says that to you, it is not true and you have to ignore it. It won’t be easy, but you are strong enough to tell yourself, “I matter.” I don’t know you yet, but I can tell you that I’m happy you are here and alive. You matter to me. As long as I’m here you won’t be alone.
When I talk about my past to friends or in some group environments, the question I am asked the most often is: “If you could go back and change the past so these things didn’t happen, would you?” This was a hard question to answer for a while. Early on, I said “Yes.” Come on, who would want to go through hell again if you had a choice. However, after further reflection, my answer is “No.” You may think I’m lying or even nuts. I am 100% honest on the answer, let me explain. Go back to the second paragraph where I say “I’m happy.” Think about it this way, if any part of my life would have been different, who’s to say I would be happy right now? Who’s to say I would be where I am? We don’t know how our lives would have turned out if we did something differently. I could be in jail or dead at this point had I done something different or if my lemons would have been oranges. Don’t get me wrong, when I was going through the various lemons in my life at the time I was praying that I was not experiencing what was happening or asking “why is this happening to me.” Then I made peace with the lemons and reflected on how it made me the person I am today. I know if I would have changed any path in my past, I would not have the friends and support system I have today. There is no way I am giving them up.
I am here today because I am supposed to be here. I was given this life and path as a way to help others move on and grow. Please note I am not a doctor, just someone who has experience and wants to share my experience with others to possibly help them. We all have a purpose in life. We may not know what the purpose is yet, but every life on this earth is here for a reason (good or bad). Every road you take you’ve chosen for a reason. I like to take the road less traveled because it allows me to make my own path in life. As you will find out along this journey, I used to listen to others because it was the “safe” way for many reasons. Over the last few years, I have found my own voice and I listen to that voice, while I may ask others their thoughts along the way, all decisions in my life are mine. If I succeed, fantastic. If I fail, I’ll get back up and try again. I’m too stubborn to stay down. In this blog, I will talk about how I moved on from lemons to enjoy everything life has to offer, it was not easy and sometimes I was ready to give up. Your situation will be different in some aspect. Again, I am not a doctor. But this will show you that if I can do it so can you. You can have the life you imagined.
Earlier this year I had a health scare which was my fault for not finding a doctor in my new city and letting my thyroid medicines run out for about six to eight weeks. It was scary what I went through because the effects of going without thyroid medicine affects every function in your body. My body started shutting down on me and even 7 months after being back on medicine my body has not completely recovered. I started seeing a Naturopathic Doctor to get myself in better health and that journey began the end of September. In October, when I got blood results they were not good. So I am going through a lifestyle change in order to live healthy, happy and long. It’s a complete change from what I’m used to, but I don’t want to die and I am going to do everything possible to prevent that from happening. I will update on the health journey along the way.
Welcome to my journey – our journey together. Strap in, get some lemonade or tequila and enjoy the ride.