Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Shared by: Anonymous
Growing up in a first generation college household, there was always pressure to "make it". My parents constantly drove home the importance of higher education as the key to avoiding poverty and achieving financial and social success. I was fortunate enough to grow up in the Northern Virginia area, where diversity and socioeconomic success was something that surrounded me. Striving for anything less than an upper middle class lifestyle would be perceived as failure.
I appreciated the comfort of the middle class lifestyle. This ensured I never worried about bills being paid, food in the refrigerator, not having access to extracurricular activities or the feeling of financial inferiority to classmates due to the lack of finances. But at home, I saw the stress on my parents trying to maintain this lifestyle. My dad traveled for work, often being away from home for days or weeks at a time. When he was home, he was physically exhausted and often had a short temper. My mom owned a successful in-home daycare business; however the pressure of running a full-time business while also raising teenagers without the in-home support of her husband created a constant tension. When my dad was home, my parents were often at odds and it caused a lot of stress, ultimately leading to the demise of their marriage.
Amongst all the dysfunction at home, I just wanted to feel and be loved by any means necessary. I looked for validation in all the wrong places. I played basketball in high school, but I was not a superstar or as popular as my younger twin brothers. I was overweight, so I struggled to find positive male affection from my peers and used my body as a weapon to get what I wanted. As I got more depressed, I turned to food and gained more weight. Upon graduation from high school, I wanted to reinvent myself in a way that allowed me to shine and finally get the love and affirmation I sought my whole life.
Going to college was never a matter of choice, I was going whether I wanted to or not. I wanted to go to cosmetology school, but my parents immediately rejected that notion. I ended up going to my father's alma mater where I was expected to follow his footsteps. My personal hopes and dreams were eclipsed by the expectations of my parents, and I began to live a life that was centered on the appeasement and affirmation of others. At each turn, I found myself making choices to fill the voids of loneliness and disappointment. I turned to substance abuse to self-medicate from the constant pain and rejection I felt on a regular basis. It was so bad, I almost failed my first semester in college. Then, at the end of my freshman year, I was a victim of sexual assault that would become the catalyst of a downhill spiral that would only end with the birth of my twin sons in April 2010.
Becoming a mother changed my entire life. Before I was a mother, my life was on a trajectory for self-destruction. My days were spent trying to fill the voids of the rejection of my past. But when I found out I was pregnant, I had a choice: Would I allow the pain of my past to ruin these innocent lives, OR would I make the necessary changes to make sure these children would have the best opportunity for success? For the first time, I had to choose someone else's livelihood over my own. At 19 weeks pregnant, I was placed on hospital bed rest to avoid miscarrying my sons. For 10 weeks, I stayed in my hospital bed to ensure my sons had a chance at life. When they were finally born, I did not know what to do. I knew I had kids, but I did not feel connected.
I was scared. I was angry. I was numb.
Again, I had a choice: Do I abandon my responsibilities as a parent, OR do I suck it up and fight like hell?
SPOILER ALERT I fought like hell. Without health insurance or maternal benefits, I had not choice, but to go back to work after five weeks. I lived with a family friend's mom, while I rebuilt my life from scratch without the help of my children's father. But fighting was the only option I had. I decided to follow my parents path for success and strive to make it in corporate America. I wanted what I saw growing up in Northern Virginia: overworked parents in an expensive house with flashing materialist things. But the harder I worked towards those things, the less happy I was. And soon, I found myself back at square one: self-medicating and self-harming to fill the voids of loneliness.
My children's father and I later decided we would try to reconcile and be a traditional family, choosing to get married after the children were born. But we were two broken people who were looking for escape and solace in each other without ever having done the work necessary to heal. We fought hard to make it work. We relocated several times for each other, sought spiritual reconciliation, and tried everything we could. But the lives we attempted to create together were not authentic to who we were created to be. After we separated, I decided it was time to HEAL. I finally addressed my issues with substance abuse, I went through intensive therapy - both inpatient and outpatient - to deal with my low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness. The most important transformation was finding GOD and developing a personal, authentic relationship with Him. And through the ultimate act of submission, trusting him with my trajectory, he led me to a life I never would have fathomed.
In 2015, I took a lead of faith and became a licensed Zumba instructor. I always loved fitness and I loved dance even more. Zumba gave me the freedom to be myself and use my experiences to help people find their own healing. Three years later, I became a Certified Personal Trainer. And in 2019, I quit my sector job to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. I launched a baking business, 8:28 Bake and also began the development of my virtual wellness and empowerment program, Free Bird Sole. He also gave me the vision to launch an affirmation-based dance fitness experience called Dance Into Deliverance. But the greatest gift was meeting the man, God created for me.
I met Peter in a period where I was so discouraged by love and I did not want to even entertain the idea of getting hurt again, in addition he lived in Nigeria. As we continued to communicate, God showed me several signs and wonders that this was the man He created for me. And the best part, was that Peter was a God-fearing man, who took his biblical responsibilities seriously. He also fully supported my entrepreneurship. At the beginning of our relationship, I was met with so much negativity as there were so many people that tried to discourage me from entertaining this potential love. The doubt, the pessimism, the skepticism, was so discouraging. But I had to encourage myself through what God constantly reminded me: that if I seek his kingdom he will provide me the desires of my heart, all things work together for the good of those who love Him. I had to stand true on his promises. I had to remind myself of how crazy He expects our faith to be. He expects us to have
"walking on water" FAITH
"moving mountains" FAITH
"water to wine" FAITH
The validation of my walk is determined by the strength of my FAITH!
Through all of these experiences, God showed me it IS possible to "have it all". But not through my strength, through HIS. In order to have the desires of my hear, I had to trust Him with the contents of my heart. I had to be willing to stand on His promises, no matter how wild they sounded to people in the world. I had to be willing to take risks and trust Him with the assignments He gave me. Living my life authentically as the woman God created me to be has brought me some of the saltiest tears, but the sweetest victories. As I continue to walk this path, I'm reminded that though my plans are great, it is His that always prevail. And if He is for me, nothing that comes against me will succeed.