About seven years ago, I was at a party where the hostess was telling what she thought was a funny story about me, in front of a bunch of people. Her story was the day she witnessed me in my car, screaming and carrying on while stuck in a line of traffic. Time stood still for me as she repeated the story numerous times, giving more details each time as she laughed louder and louder. As I stood there ashamed and embarrassed, there were many thoughts that went through my head: should I defend myself and explain to her how difficult my life was? Should I tell her that because of my excellent work ethic, I didn’t want to be late for my client and be unprofessional? Should I just laugh along with her and take it in stride? Maybe, I should deny that it was even me! I did none of the above, but instead, stood there feeling self-conscious and vulnerable. should I defend myself and explain to her how difficult my life was? Should I tell her that because of my work ethic I didn’t want to be late for my client and be unprofessional? Should I just laugh along with her and take it in stride? Maybe I should deny that it was even me! I did none of the above but instead stood there feeling self-conscious and vulnerable.
What she did not know, was that I was a sleep-deprived and depressed single mother trying to make ends meat. I had been divorced for a few years, but my ex-husband had recently become a jobless, non-functioning alcoholic, that was nowhere to be found. The life that I was living was not the one I had planned: the one where the smell of the chocolate chip cookies I had just baked filled the air as the children arrived home from school, the one where we entertained business associates in our home with fancy dinner parties, and the one where we were greeted with champagne and strawberries at the beautiful five-star hotels we frequented around the world.
Instead, my reality was waking up every morning at 4:30, in order to get to my job as a personal trainer by 6 am. Each morning, as I left the house, I would pray on my way to work that the children would be fine as they lay sleeping in their beds. Sometimes, I would even cry on my way in at the thought of someone breaking in and kidnapping them. What if there was a fire and I wasn’t there to save them? My oldest son, Alex, became the father figure and made sure his younger brother and sister woke up on time, ate breakfast, and got their backpacks together. After an hour and a half of training clients, I would leave work to go and pick them up so I could drive them to school. After that, I rushed back to the gym for my 9:00 am appointment. The schedule was grueling, and that was only the morning shift! But it was during one of those stressful drives back to work, that she observed my awful behavior.
I was in survival mode, but I was not about to explain that to her, or anyone else in the room. People used to say to me, “Kim, I don’t know how you do it” and “I would never be able to do what you do”. I would tell them when you are in survival mode, you don’t think, you just do. I was “mama bear” doing whatever it took to provide for and protect her young. Anyone who loves their children as much as I do, would do the same.
It’s not often that we are caught behaving badly because, we usually save that kind of stuff for the comfort of our own homes, in front of the people we love the most. Maybe I didn’t realize my car had windows! Who needed that party anyway? I certainly did not because I had parties every day; they were called “pity-parties” and I was the master of ceremonies.
While it was a shameful and embarrassing experience to have her tell that story over and over again as I stood there frozen, it was just the kick in the pants I needed in order to make myself better. I didn’t want to be that angry, stressed-out personal anymore. I wanted to take charge of my life but I knew I could not do it alone. That was the period of time when I turned to my Heavenly Father for help. I started studying His word. I started to study and emulate the behaviors of successful minded people. I was on a mission to make myself better through education, personal development, and goal-setting. I learned that in order to change, there had to be a shift in my mindset from bitter to bette.
I held onto that past experience for a long time. I let other people and my past define who I was. But that was then and this is now.