My Personal Journey
My childhood was far from terrible. There were six in my family. Mom, Dad and four children. We had an average lifestyle and my parents were responsible, intelligent, loving and kind.
We had a normal life until I was about 7 years old. It was around that time that things started to get a bit rocky. A serious illness caused my two-year-old little sister to go into a coma and be hospitalized. My sister recovered, but she was never “normal” again. A few years later, when I was about 10 years old, my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I was catapulted into adulthood in order to help my parents with household responsibilities and care for my younger siblings.
No One Saw This Coming…
Dad had severe back problems that got worse every year. By the time I was in my mid-twenties, Parkinson’s Disease made it impossible for him to continue working. No one knew the depth of my dad’s pain and downheartedness. His depression and hopelessness caused him to see no other way out besides death. My guess is that he did not want to die and leave the burden of caring for his invalid wife and special-needs daughter, to his children or other family members. One night, when he could see no other solution, he shot and killed my mom and my sister while they were sleeping and then turned the gun on himself. I lost half of my family that night. Life would never be the same for me again.
I was 29 years old, and that tragedy rocked me to my core. In a split second, my life was turned upside down. It made me sit up and take notice of my own mortality. I realized life was too precious to waste and that tomorrow is not promised to any of us. Even though I realized that I needed to make changes in my life, I had no idea how to go about doing that. I floundered for many years before I learned the things I share with my coaching clients.
At that time, I already had one failed marriage and was remarried. My second marriage failed within the next two years. By the time I was thirty-five, my third marriage was over. The failure of those three marriages caused me to feel an enormous amount of shame. I had endured physical and verbal abuse during two of those marriages and learned more than I ever wanted to know about living with an alcoholic in all three marriages. I had no reason to believe that a loving, healthy relationship was something I would ever have.
A few years after my parents and sister died, and because my second marriage was in danger of failing, I did go the route of traditional psychological therapy. I made sure my children saw therapists as well. Between work and my relationship issues, I wasn’t as present for my kids as I should have been. I knew my failed marriages were having an impact on them and I wanted them to have a safe place to work through whatever was going on for them.
In therapy, I learned that I had codependent tendencies and extremely low self-esteem. Just two of the reasons I made so many poor choices in romantic relationships. In therapy, I faced my feelings about my parents’ and sister’s deaths. I read every self-help book I could get my hands on and kept a personal journal in an effort to better understand myself. I had a wonderful, supportive therapist who gave me a safe place to talk. My therapist helped me see the hurt part of myself and she helped me to heal those wounds. We went deep into my past and the process was very painful at times.
I do believe that psychotherapy is very beneficial when we suffer from depression, and other psychological challenges or grief. Sometimes, medication is necessary to get through a rough patch in our lives. Similar to putting a cast on a broken arm. If I think a coaching client could benefit from psychotherapy, I will recommend it as a supplement to coaching.
Pychotherapy is Not Always the Answer
Psychotherapy takes us back into our past to discover why we think and behave the way we do. Delving into the past is not the answer for everyone. If we dwell too much on the past, we can develop a victim mindset.
Sometimes, we just need to talk with someone who believes in us, sees our potential, holds us accountable to do the things we say we will do, never lets us give up on ourselves and has only our best interests at heart. That is where Coaching is the perfect fit.
My career path was a winding road. After high school, I made the decision not to go to college. I had no plans, no goals and no clue about what I wanted to do with my life. Whatever job I took, I always did well and got promoted several times, but my career had no real direction. I have worked for many different types of companies, including real estate, retail, food service corporations and high tech national and international companies in administration, human resources, customer support and as department manager.
A few years after my parents passed, I enrolled in college and studied psychology. Over the year that followed, I put my college education on pause, but took classes whenever I could. For about 12 years, I owned my own portrait and wedding photography business.
I still had a deep passion for helping others, so I closed my portrait studio and went back to school. In 2010, I was certified as a Personal Coach. I continue to read books and participate in study programs that keep me up to date on the latest information regarding coaching, and how the human mind works.
I Am Not Perfect
I’m sharing this with you, because I want you to know that I am not perfect. Low self-esteem, anxious thinking and uncertainty played a huge role in my bad decisions when it came to choosing romantic partners. Despite my messed-up start in adulthood, I eventually managed to create a life for myself that is far better than I ever imagined possible for me. At this time, I have been with my husband for for almost 30 years. I couldn’t ask for a more loving, fulfilling relationship.
My past is imperfect. My confidence, wisdom, compassion for others and my belief in the resilience in all of us, came out of the times when I fell flat on my face and got up again. I have unshakable faith in my clients’ ability to see the worth in themselves and to do whatever they set out to do in their lives. I am living proof that our past does not define us, but it can shape us into more than we ever thought we could be.
Choosing the right support person is important: https://lindathurwanger.com/the-right-support-person-is-crucial/