“I have shared the story of my greatest tragedy; the discovery of my husband’s long-term infidelity followed immediately by my mother’s untimely death. But my story didn’t stop there. That was the beginning, the catalyst. It was only after I confronted my past, that I was ready to embark on my future.
A lot of people think that skinny cures everything. I thought so too. I had finished a workout program and was a new person. I was in the best shape of my life and I felt really confident in what I looked like. I had the confidence to go after the attainable things I wanted, like passing my real estate exam, but I had little faith I could be successful on my own. The truth is, my confidence was only skin deep. In the depths of my soul, I was still wounded, scared and lost. That’s the thing about skinny. Everyone thinks you have your sh*t together. And I felt like a fraud.
There are a lot of different types of being ‘alone’ but the type I was feeling was new to me. It was the kind of ‘alone’ where you could be surrounded by people but still feel like you were in a room by yourself. It made sense. I had lost the two closest people in my life at the same time. While things with my ex-husband were civil, it wasn’t like I was going to call him to tell him about my day. And when my mom died, I felt like I lost ‘my person.’ You see, most people have their ‘person.’ The rock they can always depend on to lift you up. To tell you everything is going to be ok. The one who truly knows you and loves you no matter what. My mom was ‘my person.’ And without her, I felt an emptiness I simply could not fill.
Growing up, I lived with a lot of tragedy. My father died of a heart attack when I was two years old. His death was followed by my aunt, my uncle, another aunt, a grandfather, you get the idea. Death wasn’t a far fetched idea that I could pretend never happened. It was real and I had seen it. Regularly. There were times when I asked my mom if she went to therapy or if I should go to therapy. Her reply was more of a scoff. In my family, therapy was considered a sign of weakness. Those who attended were not strong enough to handle their heartbreaks on their own.
So when it came to restarting my life, I did what my family taught me to do, I shoved all of my sorrow and heartbreak deep down inside and tried to not let it bubble over. But you can’t keep adding water to a full cup and expect it to not overflow. And my cup was in a constant state of fullness. When you live your life like this, every little thing sets you off. My kids wouldn’t obey every order in the mornings so I got angry. My real estate team would make demands of me that made me uncomfortable and I was in tears. Life seemed completely overwhelming and I just couldn’t handle it. So I did the thing that I was most scared to do. I asked for help.
I knew I needed to find someone to talk to because my grief was taking over my life. So I did what every normal person would do. I googled it. I set an appointment and I went into the local grief counseling center. I sat in a room with a woman and I told her about my mom’s death and my husband’s betrayal through my hiccuping sobs. It didn’t take much for me to go from totally ‘happy’ to hiccuping sobs these days. She silently listened to my personal ‘made for tv movie,’ and when I was done, she said something I didn’t expect.
‘I am so sorry to hear about your loss and we really want to help you…’
Thank God. Someone can help me.
‘But we mainly deal with the grief caused by death, and it seems like you have a lot more going on than just that. I don’t think we will be able to provide you with the kind of help you need,’ she continued.
Great. I am so messed up that I am too big of a project for a grief counseling center.
I scurried to my car so no one could see my tear-stained face. I still felt lost and scared. But now I also felt helpless.
I wallowed in those feelings for a few weeks while I tried to stay sane in a world that overwhelmed me at first blink. But you can only tread water for so long. I knew I was drowning, so I looked for help again. I called another center. This one was farther away but it offered individual counseling sessions on a sliding pay scale. The truth was, I was barely scraping by financially and I couldn’t really afford to go to therapy. But I also couldn’t continue living like this, so I bit the bullet and scheduled my first session.
The day I met my therapist, I was uneasy. She was young and I questioned whether she would have the wisdom to understand me. I told her the story of my greatest tragedy and she listened as most people did. I was guarded. I questioned her motives. I wondered if this was going to help.
I thought, ‘I will just do this for a few weeks and then I will be good. I’ll be better.’
Boy was I wrong.
I began going to therapy every week. Each day, I would arrive at her office, sit on her tufted grey couch and say, ‘I don’t know what to talk about.’ And then I managed to talk non-stop for an hour. I would start with the update of my week, everything that went on, everything that frustrated me. We spoke about dating, relationships, my family history. I was skeptical of her at first. Telling myself she only cared because I was paying her. Because why would anyone care about me without some sort of an incentive? I accepted this as if it was the truth. But I kept going anyway because it felt so good to have someone to talk to. After a couple of weeks, I started to experience the benefits of therapy. My cup was not always overflowing. I was calmer. More patient with my kids. The tears started coming less often. And in the moments where I would feel overwhelmed, I would tell myself to hold on… it’s almost Wednesday, the day I could talk to someone and empty my cup.
Through this process, I discovered many things about myself I never knew. I started to look at myself from the outside, diagnosing my issues, talking about them and working through them. It was an amazing process because I always thought problems had to be fixed by some sort of action or solution. But what I learned in therapy is problems can be fixed through awareness. I was developing an awareness for myself and others I had never had before. It was allowing me to work on myself. To identify who I really was, the good thing and the not so good things. It allowed me the time and space to figure out what I wanted in my life – what makes me happy. It wasn’t as simple as it seems because I had to stumble and fall along the way. But every time I fell, I had someone there who held out a hand to help me back up. My therapist wasn’t just the woman I paid to listen to me. She was now my friend. My confidant. ‘My Person.’
Soon enough, I began living life again. I started dating. I began making new friends. Life became a bit more joyful. I found distractions that could entertain my mind from my loneliness. I was happier than I was when I started but I was still a work in progress. My first relationship after my marriage was a roller coaster. It was filled with passion and chemistry, but lacked stability. My underlying issues were still present and I subconsciously felt I wasn’t good enough for anything better. I was so happy that someone finally loved me that I overlooked many wrongdoings. I was the ‘fixer.’ If he had a problem, I would rescue him. I would drop everything for him and sacrifice myself for his happiness. I held onto him like a life vest in the middle of the ocean. I would go to therapy and make excuses for him.
‘I know he loves me, but I hate the fact we do nothing but drink.’ I would complain to my therapist.
I had spent 4 months getting in the best shape of my life and now I was sitting at a bar for hours at a time drinking with my boyfriend. My abs began to disappear.
He would tell me, ‘I like a little meat on your bones.’
I would tell myself, ‘I don’t.’
But week after week, I still found myself at the bar.
One day, at yet another bar with him, I got a phone call. The woman on the other end explained she received my number from a mutual friend. She was getting divorced, wanted to sell her house and need a real estate agent. I was ecstatic. It was a multi-million dollar listing in Calabasas and it would be my first one of my career. I continued speaking to my future client for a few minutes as we bonded over the stress of divorce and the challenges of being a single mother.
Before I knew it, I saw my boyfriend. I smiled at him, trying to telepathically communicate that something amazing is happening right now. His face doesn’t change at the sight of me. He stomps towards me, hands me my wallet and keys I had left inside.
‘Your priorities are all out of whack,’ he said as he nearly runs me over while heading towards his car.
I wrapped up my phone call so I could chase after him through the parking lot.
‘Where are you going?’ I asked.
‘I’m leaving. Obviously, I am not a priority in your life!,’ he said as he peeled out of the parking lot, leaving me standing there wondering what the hell just happened.
We fought all night and finally broke up. He tried to win me back and I pretended he had a chance, but he didn’t. I was done. I was done with the drinking, with my expanding waistline, with trying to ‘fix’ him. But the thing that really made me realize I couldn’t be with him was the fact my potential success was threatening to him. I couldn’t be in another relationship where my partner wanted to destroy my happiness.
Once again, I found myself feeling alone. It was reminiscent but not the same as where I started. I had started making friends and so spent more time with them. I became really close to one friend and we started doing everything together. We became so close, so fast. We were in the same life space; both divorced, single and mingling. We liked to workout, drink wine and dream big. Soon enough, we started doing all of those things together. I nursed her through breakups and we promised to be each others ‘person.’ I thought this is what real friendship was. I didn’t date for several months while I let my heart heal from my breakup and she was there to encourage me to see it through. She was an amazing friend and I loved her like a sister.
I was committed to our big dreams we had and excited to make them a reality. I started shooting little fitness segments and putting them on YouTube and loved it. I missed my former tv producer life. I shared the spotlight with my best friend and we had a Lucy and Ethel type of banter. I thought we had the perfect partnership. But like all relationships in my life, things started to change.
I wish I could say this change was gradual. I think I would have reacted differently if it was. There were a few warning signs. She began to hang out with other women and didn’t invite me. I wasn’t worried about it and supported her making new friends. I would ask her about her day and she would tell me about the lavish lunches she was having. I was happy for her and secretly a bit hurt because she wasn’t including me. She wasn’t dreaming big with just me any more. She was dreaming big with other women now also. Women who had bigger social media followings, who were more established, more professional. Women who I viewed as better than me. She kept it hidden from me for a while but her intention started to shine through over time. Being the bull in a china shop that I am, I asked her about it.
Being the non-confrontational people pleaser she was, she dismissed my concerns and pretended like nothing was wrong.
Things escalated because I wanted answers to questions she was incapable of answering. Each time I questioned what was happening, I got a different answer. I told her it was ok if she wanted to move in a different direction in her career. The most important thing to me was our friendship and I didn’t want to lose that. She agreed and I thought we would make it.
So I kept doing the things I would always do. I called her in the morning to see what she had planned for the day. No answer. I texted her to see if she wanted to workout. I wouldn’t hear back from her for hours. Crap. As much as we tried to repair our friendship, it was irreparable at this point. I couldn’t help but demand answers and she couldn’t give me answers she didn’t have. She was moving in a direction of happiness, following her dreams, falling in love, living the life she always imagined. I was happy for her but heartbroken at the same time. I always wanted her to find the happiness she deserved. But I never imagined that she would need to lose me in order to have it.
I thought friends couldn’t hurt me like men could, but I was wrong. I was crushed. It was like a breakup. I found myself alone again. But this time was different. You see, my friend taught me some things during our time together. She supported and encouraged my dreams of being in front of the camera and was a good sport by joining me. She helped me understand the power of positive thinking. Our friendship allowed me to explore all of the things I wanted to do with my life. I was grateful for that and that she held my hand through that phase of my life. I was also grateful I was still in therapy so I had a place to vent my sorrow, but also had someone who could continue supporting my dreams and tell me that they are possible. I just had to believe.
So while I nursed my broken heart, I did things to occupy my time. I was playing the ‘I have no friends’ card after my friendship with my bestie ended, but that simply wasn’t true. I had lots of friends and they were all amazing and wanted to see me. I also started to spend quality time alone. I had used people as a crutch for my emptiness ever since my mom died and I was determined to change that. So I took myself on dates. I went on adventures. I started dreaming big again. But this time, my dreams were solely mine.
The best part of being alone was I had time to put some action behind those big dreams. I took on new challenges that terrified me but I did them anyway. I reconnected with some of the television production friends and told them I wanted to start my own digital channel that focuses on healthy eating, fitness and inspiration. My goal was to build a supportive and motivating community of bad ass women where we push boundaries, find our happiness and live our best lives. My friends gave me suggestions, encouraged me and told me I wasn’t crazy for dreaming so big. And then I started filming. I made a content calendar to keep me accountable. I made a workout calendar to keep me in shape. And I shared and invited everyone to join me. I was alone and happy. Two words I have never paired in a sentence until now.
Being comfortable being alone was a huge step for me and it allowed me to reflect on my journey so far. I am so happy I decided to go to therapy. After all, therapy is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. Asking for help is one of the strongest and bravest things a person can do. I will always go to therapy because I never want to stop striving to become better. I want to continue growing and taking on new challenges and not being stuck in what is comfortably miserable.
I miss my best friend everyday but I also understand why she distanced herself. People in your life cannot heal your broken parts. They can distract you from your brokenness, but healing comes from within. You have to do that on your own. I am grateful she urged me to dream big, showed me I can do it and then allowed me the space to continue on my own.
Every heartbreak or bump in the road has led me to a place of happiness and self acceptance. It has given me the courage to be my authentic self and display her for all to see. It has helped begin the healing process of my emptiness, even though I am not sure I will ever be whole again. It has provided the confidence to pursue my dreams and the wisdom to enjoy the process without worrying about whether success will come. I know it will. After all, the key to success is consistency and I can’t stop doing the things I love. And the one thing I have learned to love more than anything? Myself.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Carrie Pyle Lawrence of Woodland Hills, CA. You can follow her journey on her Instagram here. Submit your story here, and be sure to subscribe to our best stories here.
Read Carrie’s backstory dealing with her husband’s affair:
Provide beauty and strength for others. SHARE this story on Facebook with your friends and family.