All of my life, I was known as the loyal one, the good girl, the perfect sibling, the one others could count upon, the hard worker, the smart one, the one who unselfishly assisted others, and my personal favorite – “Superwoman.”
I survived teenage parents, their divorce, and a dysfunction family dynamic, but I never once thought it impacted me at all. After all, I as an “A” student, self-financed my education with the help of scholarships and honors from the University of Virginia and The George Washington School of Law, worked in diverse and prestigious positions, and waited until I was 29 years of age to marry the “right” guy. I couldn’t have been more perfect. Now I know that being “perfect” was in itself the problem.
My self-view didn’t change until March 2005 when I finally hit a wall. I had been struggling with weight and health issues for years, worked long hours, and was in a marriage for 5 years that, looking back, probably should have remained a friendship. Although I had many friends, I did not always have healthy relationships with those closest to me. My mother and I shared a close relationship but it lacked clear mother/daughter boundaries and often felt like friendship or sisters. I also was estranged from my father and his family, which frequently happens when you have teen parents and only one is the custodial parent.
From the time I was a child, I compensated for these feelings by seeking ways to help others unselfishly. I now understand that I worked tirelessly to create an illusion of strength to make others love and appreciate me because I didn’t love and appreciate myself. Then one day in March 2005, I looked in the mirror and realized that the reflection staring back at me was someone I didn’t know or like.
Like other women I have talked with on this subject, there wasn’t one single event that led me to make a significant change in my life. It was more like a process that gradually came upon me until I felt I had to make a change to survive. I remember an overwhelming feeling of determination consuming me shortly after a week-long ski trip in Colorado with two college girlfriends. I was 50 pounds overweight at 205 pounds and suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Rosacea.