Life was supposed to be different. This was not my plan.
If you asked me at 21 what direction my life was going, I was absolutely certain I had all the answers. After all, I was used to finding the answers on my own since I left home at 17 and damn near raised myself since I was 12.
Sure my parents were there, in their own way. Not in the way I needed that is for sure. My father, well he did not believe in anything I did, and fought me every step of the way when I shared openly my dreams and who I was. My mom, well she meant well, but in many senses of the word parent - that was me. She was not the strong mother figure that gave me guidance, but what I saw as a victim, a pushover and weak.
Later to understand her voice was masked by fear.
Not fully understanding the relationship of my parents, or how they killed one another's spirits, I only saw two people, to the common eye who hated one another. They were not loving, affectionate or joyful, but lifeless and barely present.
My father, physically and mentally abusive, struggled with my mothers mental illness which was brought on by a horrific car accident when I was 5 years old Sure, we "walked away" from the accident alive, but alive meant nothing more than blood pumping through our veins. While I was too young to remember it in explicit detail, what I do know, is my mother's spirit died the day of that accident.
I do not know if my father was always this angry before that accident, being only 5, this is all I know.
He stayed with my mother for about 20 years, some may say that was admirable. Dealing with mental illness on your own, being the outcast of the family, was not an easy task. Neither my mother or father chose that life, and I know I certainly did not - but it was the cards I was dealt. in a world that is scared to acknowledge this illness even exists.
I have memories of my father throwing my mother down the stairs, my mother hallucinating and barricading me in the house so noone could take me away..... I remember her laying on the floor for no reason, as if she had just given up at times, catatonic with no words. Well this is thanks to the lovely Mental Health System, which does not take you in until you are a vegetable. So every year my father and I needed to let it run its course, until her disillusions and actions were so unmanageable, that the hospital would finally accept her as a patient, if escorted in by police.
I grew up very quick with all this on my shoulders as a child. and was years ahead of my time.
My final year in high school, after being legally emancipated, was the best memory of those already difficult teenage years. I spent it living with a dear childhood friend, and for the first time in my life, I clearly understood the balance of living with a family. Sure, I got yelled at, I got in trouble, and fuggettaboutit if I left a dish in the sink. This year, is when I started to develop into who I was mean to be!
I went straight from high school into working 2 jobs and living on my own.
I had all the answers. I was going to be a fashion stylist, and have this elite life working with high end clients as their personal shopper. Eventually I would attend F.I.T. in NYC, and I would be simply ............
Well, I was not a well known fashion stylist, and as a matter of fact - the retail store UNITS that I swore was my life, soon went out of business. Apparently NY'ers do not appreciate having someone do all of the shopping for them and need their independence in the stores.
The next twenty years of my life were dedicated to what was safe, reliable and what you are supposed to do. Who has not been told by someone in your life, that you need a good solid job with a pension?
Well I had the stable job, but certainly no pension. And this job, while taught me many life lessons was going to be the very things that sucked the last ounce of life out of me.
I decided this as I laid in the hospital bed.
Reflecting back on the lost years in a career I despised, I gained the gift of knowledge, responsibility and insight. Having more responsibility than one person should ever have on their plate, I did the best I could, as I always have since I was 12 years old.
After all I was used to having a-lot on my shoulders.
I did not understand life any other way!
I knew, I could not returned back to this job, that had me in tears hiding in the bathroom or in my car, just to get away from the madness. Being bullied and put into a corner, feeling as though I had no options, and pushing me to my limits. It was time.
I thank God every day, for pushing me to my max, testing me, so that I had the courage to step out on my own and build my dream.
My gift in life is reflecting back, and seeing the gift. I do not hold onto anger. I see a lesson in the deepest, darkest and hardest times. I am grateful to the hard times, because it has taught me to be a survivor, a fighter and ultimately resourceful in my times of uncertainty. My friends and peers have often sought me out, in difficult times, so that I could provide useful insight or tips in situations they were struggling with. Do I know everything, Of course not! But - I will figure it out, or know where to find the answers.
Life is meant to be lived, and the answers are rarely inside the box.
So here I am today, running two successful businesses as a Personal and Business Coach, with a full service support staff to assist my clients internationally. Although coaching for 5 years, I did not fully see the potential until I left behind the career I thought was supporting me, when it was actually just breaking me - and holding me underwater.
The sky is the limit. Once I began to apply myself fully doing what I LOVE, it was no longer work. There are days I only sleep 4 hours, not because I have to, but because I want to. Each day, I wake up to the view of the ocean from my bed and can truly say, I am living my dream. It is ok if your dream changes through the years. It is meant to shift with who you are and who you have become. I am not the same person I was at 21, although I can still rock the wardrobe!
My story, my past is no longer a secret.
I own it. And when I accepted that my past contributed to who I am today and is why I am living the dream, that is when I healed myself from my past and forgave those who have hurt me, knowing that I have grown as a person because of each of them.
What is your deepest pain, or the story you have been telling yourself. It may sound something like this...
"I can't ____________ because _________________"
Go ahead, sit with this. Because as much as you believe in your heart of hearts, that this is true, I challenge you to find the lesson you gained because of it. When you do, you will feel your heart and soul grow into the next chapter of your life, opening the door to greater possibilities.
Amanda Scocozzo, CPC -Certified Professional Coach