Sharing more about myself and the experiences I’ve had, you may find some similarities in your life. I believe our similaries help us empathize, connect, and bond to have a better understanding of the triumphs and tragedies we go through. Inevitably, our paths cross at the right time, in the right moment and with the right circumstances. This ever-evolving journey that we are gives us hope or frustration, light or darkness, joy or sadness. We still need the contrast to recognize the difference between the wonderful times and the challenging times so we can be grateful for every day that we have.
This is my story . . .and how I created a new life for myself in Mérida Mexico.
I always felt a little out of place growing up in West Texas. No matter how hard I tried, I could never quite please my mom. I tried my hardest to be perfect – the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect friend, the perfect granddaughter. All of these labels were confusing however I made it my motto to be “as perfect as perfect could be”. But at the beginning of 8th grade, my life took a turn . . .I started having incredibly painful migraine-like headaches.
On top of that, the change from a private, Catholic school to a public high school was horrific. My high school years were not happy. I was bullied every day for being “too perfect” which would impact me for decades. Fortunately, I found an escape in books. Books contained stories to transport me to another place . . . where I found peace.
Throughout my high school years, the bullying grew increasingly worse. I didn’t have many friends and I was constantly looking over my shoulder. I didn’t feel safe at school. I was trying to be perfect at home. Notably, this created an exceptional amount of stress: stress that a 15 year old shouldn’t have. But, reading books continued to rescue me. Then, I found another escape: dancing and Soul Train. Dancing along to Soul Train every Saturday morning was a way to lose myself in the music, the cool vibes and the smooth voice of Don Cornelius.
The summer between high school and college was magical! I opened a design and dress boutique in the pink. One of my favorite things was giving tours to elementary school students. I would speak to them about following their dreams and letting go of fear.
I explained one of the biggest fears I had to overcome was cutting into fabric that was $280 per yard. If I made one wrong cut, the fabric would be ruined. I had to have faith in myself and my skills. I had to trust that I would be able to complete this design with flair and expertise. My message was “don’t be afraid otherwise you will never know what you are capable of”.
During college, I blossomed and forgot about all the bullying and nonsense of high school. It was one of the best times of my life!
After college graduation, I had the opportunity to live in London. I worked at Harrod’s which would forever change my path and outlook in life. Living abroad opens your eyes to living in an entirely new way. You have a new perspective, a new appreciation for life and it encourages connecting with people in a true, authentic way. Everyone wants to connect; it’s human nature. Investing time and connecting with people is important. Time is our most precious commodity and people are our most precious asset.
Admittedly, upon my return to the states, I experienced a bit of reverse-culture shock. The way I had been living for almost a year had made such an impact on my life that to return to life as I formerly knew it caused a bit of disorientation. Looking back over the past 27 years, I would say I have kept the perspective and appreciation I found abroad close to my heart.
I decided to move to Austin, Texas to help with my reverse-culture shock. I felt the environment would help ease me back into the American mentality. What I didn’t know is that this would be the beginning of the abusive partners and relationships I would have for the next 20 years.
While in Austin, I disclosed to my friends that I was in a mentally abusive relationship. Not surprisingly, they drove straight to Austin, shoved all my shit into the car, and moved me to Dallas. This would be the first of many times that I would hit rock bottom. I portrayed this perfect life but it was beginning to crumble around me. I felt like a fraud, a disappointment, and an embarrassment to my friends and family.
I was supposed to be successful – the perfect, golden child. I only felt numb and disoriented. Feelings that would be my close friends for many years to come. I began to lose my sense of self, forgetting who I was for many, many years.
Now, I’m in Dallas. My first year there was incredibly difficult. I had a misdiagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis and more abusive relationships. All of my friends were getting married and having kids and I felt left out. Maybe getting married and having kids would help me find myself and happiness again.
Finally, I found “the man of my dreams”. But, his personality changed quickly after we got married. Yes, another abusive relationship with a narcissistic man. My husband and the father of my 2 sons would be the source of the last rock bottom I would experience. The joy of the birth of these 2 wonderful humans was clouded with post-partum depression. There were days that I hid in the back of my closet crying millions of tears. It would be many years before I realized these 2 beautiful boys saved my life.
But, I switch into survival mode. I become completely numb by taking several anti-depressants and painkillers. I participate just enough so that people will still think I have a perfect life. This was the role I chose to play as a coping mechanism.
I continued to play the role of the perfect wife and perfect mother. I was a successful realtor and had the appearance of the perfect life. Perfect husband, perfect career, perfect children, perfect family . . . perfect, perfect, perfect.
I hardly remember anything from this time period due to PTSD. I slowly sank into the lowest, deepest, darkest pit of despair where I would remain for the duration of my marriage.
Fast forward to 2006 – 2007 when I had the opportunity to work in the Riviera Maya. What a change from my chaotic, toxic life. I quit taking anti-depressants. I started enjoying life. I found a new outlook. I started writing. In 2010, I finally found the strength to divorce my husband. However I paid a terrible price for my freedom. I had to agree to give up primary custody of my sons. I knew I would have to live with this decision for the rest of my life. And, in this decision, I was choosing life over death.
Most importantly at this time, I had a dream . . . I had fallen in love with Mexico and knew I wanted to live there when the time was right. This dream kept me sane on bad days. It was my light at the end of the tunnel. I knew one day I would return. I would just have to wait until the right time.
Finally, in 2019, the right time appeared. Moving to Mérida was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being able to reinvent myself in a new place, a new environment, new businesses and new relationships including the most loving, supportive husband I could ever wish for. There’s something about completely starting over that is both scary and refreshing.
Now, that I’m here, I can look back on all the experiences I’ve had and be grateful for every single one. Because every single experience brought me one step closer to living this amazing life in the magial city of Mérida!
If you’d like to learn more about me, you can purchase my book, “Better for Being Broken”. It’s available at Between the Lines in Mérida. Please support local businesses!