“Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions.” – Mark Twain
I have learned a great deal from my past experiences; the good, the bad, and the heartbreaking. Every experience has helped create the woman that I am today and the woman I will become. Experience shapes us all, and the world around us.
The good experiences…are the ones I live for, the ones we all live for. The ones that fuel your passion, make you excited, make you feel loved, desired, and happy. They motivate you and encourage you to be better, do better, want better.
The bad experiences…are the lessons I have grown from, the ones that knocked me down and tested my strength. The ones that tried to destroy me, but shaped my soul. The necessary evil that challenges us, pushes us, defines us and helps us grow.
The heartbreaking experiences…are the loss we must all go through; death, sickness, breakups, fear, stress, depression, negative thinking. Heartbreak also brings with it strength, understanding, love, clarity and gratitude.
Lately I’ve thought a lot about my life, reflecting on who I am. But who am I?
My past was filled with a lot of bad experiences. I struggled to get through them, and at the time I didn’t understand why. Like many, I battled with depression at a young age. It was a fight. I didn’t want to feel depressed, or defeated by what was happening to me and around me, but it seemingly always got the best of me. I was defenseless and felt alone. When you’re young emotions are scary, overwhelming, and hard. Not knowing how to handle my emotions I unknowingly turned to food, to sugar, to escape my feelings, to numb my pain, and it worked. In my family, I was always the strong one, the one people turned to, the problem solver, motivator, comic relief, I was the rock. I would sacrifice myself and my own needs to be there for others. More than anything I believed that I was strong, that I had a good head on my shoulders, that I could get through anything, that nothing bad phased or even bothered me. I was wrong. I lived in denial for many years, not realizing what I was doing.
In 2011 my whole life changed. I remember it well. It was summer, my family was about to go to our annual family reunion in New York. My oldest brother, who lives in London, called me, he needed to talk. When he called he told me he was nervous about the reunion and finally admitted that he was an alcoholic and decided to give it up once and for all and begin his path to recovery. He explained his addiction to me in grave detail, his emotional battles, his sacrifices, his scars, how it all began, everything.
My heart broke for him. My extended family are all big drinkers, an intimidating situation for someone with a problem. I understood. He knew I didn’t really drink, so he knew I could help support him, and be there for him every step of the way, and I was with every ounce of my heart and soul. I don’t drink now.
I knew my brother had problems with alcohol for a while, I knew it was getting bad. The previous Christmas was scary. Living so far away from him was difficult for me, I didn’t know what to do or how to help. I feared the worst. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t help someone that I loved. All I could do was pray and tell him how much I loved him. I had to learn to trust and believe that he would one day help himself find peace and be OK. It was one of the hardest experiences I ever had to go through. When you want to help someone so desperately, but you can’t. I wanted to fix it, I wanted to heal him, I wanted to protect him.
When he told me he was sober, I believed him. Talking to my brother that summer was different. He had been sober for a few months at that point but kept it to himself. He attended AA meetings regularly and worked the program. The biggest battle for him was facing the emotions he had avoided for years. AA couldn’t help him with that, he had to work through them on his own, and it was difficult, but he was finally ready to face reality of the choices he made, the experiences he went through, and accept them for what they were.
It was during that phone call, in that moment, as he talked that I realized something, we were the same person. We both didn’t deal with our emotions, we both pretended like everything was fine, we both masked pain under humor. But I couldn’t be an addict because I didn’t drink…right?? I could relate to everything he was saying, it was strange. Then something clicked. I realized I was using food to numb my pain the same way he was using alcohol to numb his. I joked about it to him. Telling him I was the same way but food was my outlet. I remember him reading part of his 12 step book to me. I cried because it was exactly how I felt.
I wondered, could I be addicted to food?? Is that even a thing?? After we hung up I started to think about everything. About my experiences, the emotions I wasn’t allowing myself to feel because I didn’t want to feel them. I thought a lot about food. I thought a lot about the fact that I think a lot about food.
At this time in my life I working full time for a news station but I also had my own cake pop business on the side that I started late 2009. When I started this business it was before all the cake pop hype, it was new and different and so my business was thriving. I struggled to keep up with orders, and everything was word of my mouth, I never advertised or marketed my pops. It was a very exciting time in my life. I also baked cakes and cupcakes for friends and family events. I loved baking, I found it to be fun and creative, but it was also therapeutic for me. Baking was my release of my emotions, my frustrations, my fears. I baked a lot, and ate a lot of cake in my day. I had to. I was testing recipes, they had to be right, I’m a perfectionist. The more orders I had to fulfill, the more cake I seemingly had to eat. It was becoming a vicious cycle.
Baking quickly became my anxiety, my burden. In August 2011 after I got back from my family reunion, I broke down. It was then I knew I really did have a problem with food, and not just any food, a sugar addiction. Here I was making money off the very thing that I was addicted too. What was I doing? I had absolutely no idea. I panicked. I tried to maintain my business, my passion, I didn’t want to give that up. But I also didn’t want to give up sugar. How could I? How the heck would I be able to do my business without eating my own products? It was a double-edged sword. That was a very stressful time in my life. There was a lot going on besides my business. My emotions were all over the map and I didn’t know how to deal with them without food.
I remember telling my parents I was addicted to sugar and couldn’t control myself. My addiction was bad. I binged on sugar and I didn’t even realize what I was doing, and yet I did it every single day. My mother’s advice to me was just to “stop eating sugar.” She didn’t understand, she didn’t take me seriously. I can’t say that I blame her for her lack of support at the time. I didn’t understand it either. My brother was the only one who understood my addiction, but he lived on the other side of the world. I was grateful to have his support, but at the same time he was dealing with his own addiction problem, and I felt like I was going through mine alone.
That September one of my friends asked me to create blue bear themed cake pops for a baby shower in October. Despite what I was going through I said yes. I always said yes. I could never say no, it was a problem. I should have said no. I tried to just “stop eating sugar” and I couldn’t. It was like I was a mad man, severely depressed, completely overwhelmed by my emotions, it was a total disaster. I felt like I had to have sugar to survive, I couldn’t live without it, and that scared the hell out of me.
I ended up having a nervous breakdown at the end of September. Physically and mentally broke down. I didn’t have the support that I needed, I didn’t have the tools I needed to get through it. I couldn’t even imagine what life would look like without sugar, and I didn’t want to give it up. I knew that if I did, I would have to also give up my dream, my business. The week of the baby shower I canceled the order, took two weeks off from work and checked myself into an eating disorder rehab facility. I told my friend that I was sorry, but I was sick and I couldn’t do it. She was obviously very upset and for good reason. I offered to buy her something else in place of the pops, to make it right, but she declined. I was devastated, it was the last thing I wanted to do, but felt like I had to do it to save myself from myself. No one knew what I was going through. I was embarrassed.
The rehab facility was an outpatient program. I had to go there every day from 8am to 6pm, and it was a very detailed scheduled. We kept journals, and attended therapy sessions, workshops, and lots of 1-on-1s regularly. We had to eat breakfast and lunch and a snack in front of them. Something I didn’t like to do. Even though I was a confessed sugar addict they wanted me to face my fears and made me eat dessert after every lunch. I ate brownies every day. I didn’t want to do it, but I understand why they wanted me to. I had often skipped meals and only ate once a day, which usually resulted in a binge, so eating every meal was actually difficult for me. I cried. It ended up being too much food and I didn’t want to eat it. I was clearly broken. They also weighed us every morning to monitor our weight throughout the process. Most of the women there were anorexic or bulimic, so I understood why they were doing it, but I hated it. When I first saw the number on the scale I started to cry. I was in shock. I hadn’t weighed myself in years.
I didn’t realize how big I had allowed myself to get. I didn’t realize how much control I had given up to my addiction. A lot of people would ask me “how did you not notice you were big?” My response was always the same, make a joke, change the subject. What I wanted to say was that its actually very easy to lose sight of who you are when you don’t see yourself. I was very good at avoiding myself. I avoided scales and mirrors, I lived in jeans and sweaters that masked my body. I didn’t talk about it, ever. When you live in denial it’s easy to NOT see it.
After completing my outpatient treatment, I felt a little better, but I was long ways away from healing. This would only mark the beginning of my journey to ’emotional sobriety.’ They gave me the tools to be able to deal with stressful situations in healthy constructive ways, but what didn’t help me was eating brownies every day. For me, eating sugar every day when I was trying to become free of my sugar addiction, made me not be able to get past it mentally. Well if they think I should eat sugar, then I should right? That’s what I kept telling myself to rationalize the sugar that I would eat every day after that. My two weeks were over, and I was back in the real world, having to face my real problems again. I was very unhappy in my life at that time. I didn’t know how to proceed. I didn’t know that I wanted to. I felt like giving up. I had demons, and I couldn’t conquer them and still do what I wanted to do. It broke my heart.
After a few more months of being depressed and feeling awful, and eating sugar. I snapped. I couldn’t do it anymore, any of it. The only person that could help me, was me. I was in control of my own destiny. If I was going to get better I would have to make the decision to do so, and commit to it, on my own. That’s exactly what I decided to do. I decided I had to quit eating refined sugar. It was poison to me. Unfortunately that also meant I had to give up my dream of being a baker. I couldn’t bake anymore. I had to stop, I knew it was bad for me. And I was devastated.
On December 31, 2011 I ate all the sugar. I was about to give it up completely. I wanted to start fresh, to start off a new year with a new found hope. I committed myself to my ‘sobriety’ from sugar. I would make the decision to not only give up refined sugar, but also start a blog about my experience in hopes that one day I could help inspire someone else who was just like me.
January 1, 2012 Began my journey.
That same month I decided to start seeing a therapist who specialized in eating disorders. On my very first session the therapist asked me if I ever read the book, The Secret. I said no. She suggested that I read it ASAP. I’m like yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ll get right on that lol She started talking about this book being life changing, how it’s helped so many of her patients. I kept thinking…it’s a book. Who cares lol The next week I had another session with her, frankly she was starting to annoy me. I wanted to focus on my problems and how to deal with them and she brought up The Secret in the first 30 seconds again lol “Did you read The Secret yet?” I said no. She asked me why. I said I didn’t have time. She said it was quick and easy read. I was like well I don’t want to read it lol She was like “Just read it!” She was adamant, and slightly aggressive lol I was annoyed and wasn’t going to come back.
That afternoon I left and drove around to think. I really wanted a coffee from Starbucks so I drove to the one that was closest, which also happened to be part of a Barnes & Noble book store. I love books, and that is one of my favorite stores, its like my mothership lol Anyhow, I walked into B&N and the first thing I see was a legit giant display of The Secret. I’m a strong believer in signs. I think everything happens for a reason. I believed I was meant to read that book. I remember saying to myself “ok ok I’ll read the damn book!” haha So I went I bought it and then I got a coffee went upstairs sat on a comfy chair and started to read it by the window.
I’ll never forget the day I bought The Secret, because me entire life literally changed…from a book, just like my therapist said it would. I never went back to her, I never saw her again but it was as if her only purpose in my path was to get me to read that book. I read the whole book in one day. I couldn’t put it down. I wasn’t sure what the heck just happened lol This book is about the law of attraction. The power of positive thinking. Becoming aware of negative thoughts and emotions. How negative attracts negative and positive attracts positive. I was doing it all wrong! I was negative. I had negative views about sugar, my job, where I lived, friends, family. There was a lot of negative energy around me, and it was making me negative. I was also very negative about myself. I was hard on myself.
I decided to test out The Secret; Ask. Believe. Receive.
Ask…the universe for what you want
Believe…that it’s coming to you (even if you don’t know how)
Receive…what you asked for (feel as if you already have it)
It’s like placing an order on Amazon. Find what you want. Order it. Know that it’s going to be delivered to you. You don’t doubt you’ll receive an item you purchased right? It’s the same for the universe. You can’t doubt it, you have to believe completely.
I asked the universe for a new job, a new apartment, and a lot more money. Since you have to act like you’re receiving what you asked for I packed up my stuff in boxes because I believed I was moving. I told people I got the job that I just applied for, even though I had no idea. I also told them it came with a nice raise, again I had no idea. I also started looking for apartments. Not just any apartment, it had to be the price I wanted, on the first floor, one bedroom apartment, close to work, with a nice kitchen, good closet space, and handicap accessible for my grandparents, I was their caregiver.
The first apartment I saw, checked all my boxes. I put in an offer and was approved.
My parents thought I was crazy, I didn’t even get the job yet.
I didn’t care. I just believed.
Two weeks AFTER moving into my apartment, I got the job, I also got the raise.
I told my parents, I told you so 🙂
They were disbelief.
I’ve used The Secret many times in my life. I carry it with me in my purse. Sounds crazy, I’m aware, but it became my saving grace. When I’m feeling negative I’ll read a chapter or two. Or I’ll watch the movie version, which is currently on Netflix haha It helps me reset my energy from negative to positive. It helps me stay in a state of gratitude for the blessings that I’ve been given. It helps me believe in myself, my future, and especially my dreams. The Secret brings new experiences and lessons into my life every single day.
This past July my sister-in-law yelled at me. Hard. It definitely threw me for a curve lol She was frustrated with me because I hadn’t dated anyone in three years and she wanted me to get over my fears, put myself back out there and go one some dates, she also said that I was too picky about guys. I said I have standards and I’m not willing to settle for anything less than I deserve.
Sidenote – In 2012 my Babci was very sick. I was her caregiver for 6 years. She was dying, and I knew it. On December 2, 2012, she passed away. I was destroyed emotionally. I have never felt more lost in my life than the day she died. I still think about her every day. My Babci was my best friend, one of the most beautiful and kind souls I have ever known. She knew me better than I knew myself. Her death sent me back into a depression. I didn’t know who I was without her. It felt like I had lost a child almost, I was the one taking care of her, I felt like I let her down. I had a lot of guilt about her death. At the same time I was unhappy in my new job, and I didn’t want to stay in Massachusetts. I wanted to leave. I needed to escape. I couldn’t be a caregiver anymore, it was too hard. Everything reminded me of my Babci, and it broke my heart. I felt dead inside.
Enter my ex. It was like he knew when my life wasn’t good because he would always come back in at the those times and then make it so much worse. But he was my distraction from my own life, and it was toxic. Of course it didn’t end well. Does it ever? The last time was my final straw. I had known him for 16 years, we dated on and off the whole time, and it was never good. I always knew he wasn’t worth my time or energy, he was always just a distraction. But I was finally done. I cut him out of my life completely. I felt free. I needed time to heal, to grieve, to find myself again, and find my faith in love again. Because of him I had a lot of fears about starting a new relationship, I had a lot of trust issues. I was scared. I am scared.
In the past three years I’ve completely changed my life. I moved from Massachusetts to New Jersey, working in New York City (utilizing The Secret of course!). I started over. I changed careers, leaving behind the world of television, and entering the world of experiential marketing. I got a new apartment, and a new beginning. I even started baking again. It was always my passion, and I couldn’t lose it. I was lost without it. I just needed to refine it, so I did. The difference now is that I don’t bake with refined sugar, instead I just fruit. I’ve had no problems at all with it and I couldn’t be happier about it, and about where it’s going! I’ve finally found myself again. It took me walking away from everything that was comfortable, and it was hard, to find myself again, and I’m grateful.
When my sister-in-law yelled at me, it wasn’t as if I didn’t want to date again, but I just wasn’t focused on anything but my health, career and my own goals of one day starting my own business again. But since she was really adamant about it, I told her I would try.
My dating history is a disaster. I know what I want in a man, but I was never able to find someone who exceeded my expectations. I wasn’t willing to settle for anything less than I deserved, because I didn’t want to go back three years and relive that pain all over again.
My non-negotiable standards. A man who is kind, sweet, thoughtful, well mannered, respectful of me and others, with an old fashioned soul, and a nice smile. A man who will not judge me for who I am, what I look like, what I like, or for my past, or the past of my family. I also want a man who has a good sense of humor and can make me laugh.
Enter Bumble. The day after she yelled at me I joined a dating app called Bumble lol I had no expectations. But I didn’t want to enter the dating world with a negative mindset believing that the man I wanted didn’t exist. So I believed that he did and I believed that I would find what I was looking for. I stayed positive.
Literally that night I saw a man who I thought was very attractive, and his profile description was funny “I’m looking for a girl who will let me eat all the cookies.” Since I gave up sugar I thought, I was the girl that would let him eat all the cookies lol He had a picture of himself wearing a knit winter hat that looked like a lion with ears. It looked so cute. I also own my own similar hat, only mine is a monkey lol I thought it was a sign. Taking a chance I swiped him right, which means add him to my likes! We were an instant match. On Bumble the women have to talk to a man they match with first otherwise they can’t respond to you. I told him I had a similar hat lol Yup people, that was my opening line. I had no idea what to say. But much to my surprise, he responded.
We ended up talking for a few days on Bumble, and then he gave me his number. I panicked. I liked him, I wanted to text him, but what would I say? lol I’m a classic overthinker. He was at a music festival that night and so I didn’t want to bother him so I waited until the next day to text him, and I believe my opening line on text was “I hear you like festivals,” I probably would have deleted me right then and there lol
I was about to leave for vacation in three days. I had to drop that bomb on him. I liked him but I was scared that he wouldn’t want to meet me after telling him that. We ended up meeting for coffee the day before I left, he came downtown to me, he’s sweet.
When I first saw him I was nervous, he was really attractive, and tall (score! haha). He gave me a hug and kissed the side of my head. It was cute. We had a really nice time, I can’t explain the feeling but I felt drawn to him. We had an instant connection.
After I got home from vacation he asked when he could see me again, I thought that was really cute. I was excited that he still wanted to see me even though I had been gone for 10 days. In the dating world…that can be detrimental lol
We ended up meeting up that Friday after work. It was a truly incredible date. We had so much in common, more than I have had with anyone else in my entire life, it was weird. He would say something and I would just look at him and think omg me too, and vice versa. It felt as if the universe had aligned to make our paths cross. It was surreal. We were like the same person. It was the best feeling in the world. He even walked me to the bus station, even though his train station was across town. He’s an old fashioned soul. We had such an amazing time that he couldn’t wait to see me again and asked if he could see me the next day, I didn’t even hesitate, my answer was yes.
I wanted to get to know this man, I wanted to see what else we had in common, I wanted to know if this was too good to be true. The next day I met him in the city, he took me to his favorite pizza place that we had talked about the night before, and he ordered my favorite pizza, Margherita. I thought he was so sweet for doing that. He’s a total gentleman, honestly the sweetest guy I have ever met. After pizza we walked around the city, stopped at Starbucks were he ordered an unsweetened iced passion tea..which had literally been my drink for years haha I was like add it to the list of things we have in common lol It was amazing.
We then went to Central Park, sat on a giant rock, and talked all night. I felt my walls just crumble around him, but I wasn’t scared. At this point I had told him so many things about myself that I was never able to tell other guys before.
Everyone has secrets. I have this blog for instance that none of my friends or family have seen or read before. It’s personal, and private and I don’t want to offend anyone or have someone take something I said the wrong way so I have never shared it with anyone, because I’m afraid. I never even told most people in my life about it. I told him. I haven’t shared the link with him yet, but I will.
I even told him that I make music on the side with my brother, another passion of mine. He never judged me for any of it, and I was blown away by his reactions. He was a genuinely good guy, with a good heart. I was in awe. I never even shared my music with my best friend. I was scared of being judged. That night I played one of my songs for him. I couldn’t even believe that I did that, but that’s how comfortable I was with him. I barely knew him and yet I felt like I could trust him with all my secrets. I felt like I could tell him anything and he would never judge me. It made me really happy. He called me his unicorn that night. He was my unicorn. It was the craziest connection I have ever felt in my life. I was grateful to have met him. That night was really magical. Our connection was unbelievable, and unexplainable. I was smitten. He walked me to the door of Port Authority. We kissed. It was perfect. When I was on my way home I sent him the link to my music, he loved it. That made me happy.
Our situation is complicated, and I don’t know what the future holds, or what any of this means, why he was brought into my life, or what will happen between us. I know that our connection is amazing and incredibly terrifying all at the same time. I’m scared he’s too good to be true, I’m scared of getting hurt. I’m scared I’ll lose him.
What I do know is that I will forever be grateful for the day that I met him because it renewed my faith and hope for the future. He is kind, sweet, thoughtful, well mannered man who is respectful of me and others, with an old fashioned soul, and a nice smile. He hasn’t judged me for who I am, what I look like, what I like, or for my past, or the past of my family. He has a good sense of humor and makes me laugh. He is a beautiful person inside and out. Just knowing guys like him exist out there means the world to me.
So who am I?
I’m a believer.