I heard that Oprah was coming to Edmonton January 21st and thought little of it, actually. I remember her show on everyday in our kitchen at 5 o'clock growing up. What could she say that I haven't already heard? My mother in law called and asked if I wanted to go. Well sure, why not? It's Oprah, I might as well! I was shocked at how touched I was by her words. One quote in particular resonated with me - "Whatever follows "I am" will always come looking for you." I've been defining my life by labels that have led to me where I am today.
I've had some pretty crappy things happen in my short 28 years. I've said countless times "All bad things in life happen to me." I've sort of defined myself as a survivor. Sounds good right? A survivor. There's nothing better than surviving. There's a song that has carried me through rough times with the loss of Maya called "I will carry you" a line in that song says "People say that I am brave but I'm not, the truth is I'm barely hanging on" that is exactly how I've felt since I can remember, that is surviving. It's staying afloat when you're being pulled under. That is what has defined me since I was fourteen years old.
Six months into starting High School I was sexually assaulted by 3 boys. It destroyed me. It took 6 months of self hatred and an amazing teacher who recognized that I was drowning to convince me tell my parents what happened. Another year of fighting them in court, being the focus of news stories and countless meetings at school. Finally, all three were found guilty and sentenced. By then, I was half way through grade 11. Friends were few and far between. They were just kids themselves and being friends with the girl who was on the news wasn't in their best interest while trying to win the popularity contest that is High School. What I lacked in those years was support. My family did the best they could. Spending a year talking to lawyers and watching their daughter defend herself on the witness stand wasn't in my parents grand plan. It destroyed them, too. Now a mother myself, I understand how hard it must have been for them to not be able to protect me. Luckily for me I was born a twin. She didn't have a choice but to stick with me. She may have resented it at time but her pushing me through is probably the only thing that kept me afloat. I survived. Barely.
After that I decided to lean on a boyfriend that I thought would offer me the support I so desperately craved. He ended up cheating on me. So much for that. High School didn't end up being the "best years of my life" as I was led to believe, but I survived.
For the next 5 years I just tried to keep my head above water. Starting university, quitting university, starting college courses, dropping college courses. I don't think I had the confidence at that point to finish anything I started. I was lost. Apart from meeting my amazing husband and creating a little life for ourselves, I was floundering.
Then my amazing daughter was born. Wow. This moment changed my life forever. Who knew you could love someone so much. I decided I would live my life for her and I realized again how much support I needed and how hard it was to find. I became a doula to help provide this support to new moms. I loved every client that I could help transition into motherhood and felt blessed to be trusted with such an amazing opportunity.
Pregnant with our second baby we were struck with our next tragedy. 6 months into the pregnancy we lost our angel Maya. I thought I was done with the tragic. I thought I had already survived. I was supposed to be living now, and yet, here I was again, in this place just barely able to keep my head above water, gasping for air. What I got this time though was what I craved. I was surrounded by love. I was surrounded by people who wanted to help (whether they knew how or not). I was surrounded by support.
Just a year after losing Maya my husband was laid off from work. This is a new one. 6 months pregnant and thinking I was about to start maternity leave and now we're hit with this. Frustrated doesn't even begin to describe what it felt like to get up everyday and go to work at six, then seven and finally nine months pregnant with my husband unemployed. Jobs were not easy to find. He applied for at least 10 everyday. It took 6 months to find a job. We struggled financially and still have not fully recovered. But we survived.
Back on our feet we were now pregnant with our fourth and final baby. This pregnancy was plagued with anxiety and depression that I hadn't experienced with the others. Then came the birth. I know 25% of women have c sections. I know there are good reasons to have one. But as a doula, this was the one thing I knew how to do. This was the one thing I was an expert at. I still have nightmares and recurring anxiety about Liam's birth. It wasn't easy and I still haven't come to terms with it but I survived.
What Oprah taught me about my life experiences so far was that they aren't about survival at all. Anybody can survive, survival is just about getting through it alive. My Aha! moment was the common thread that ties all these obstacles together - support. Oprah said to "listen to what your life is teaching you" I haven't just survived. I'm here now because of the support I've received along the way. I only defined myself as a survivor because I didn't realized what my life was teaching me, I didn't know my purpose.
"Find your purpose. If you can make a living at it, even better." Here I am, doing that very thing with momstown and as a doula. I own a company who's ultimate goal is to connect and support mothers. How is that for living your purpose? I realize now that I need to be grateful for the life experiences that have challenged me enough to realize my purpose. What an incredible gift.