That’s me in Hamburg, searching for a new path!
Contrary to popular opinion, I did not start out with this much confidence at birth, far from it! In fact, I fought very hard to win my courage, confidence and charisma over the years.
Growing up, I was a shy, quiet, bookish kid, tall and smart with braces and all kinds of awkward. Plus, I was a major perfectionist. I know, right? It was kind of isolating! In high school and then in college, I purposefully pushed my boundaries and comfort zones – mainly with theater-related activities – to break out of my introverted shell. Things went fairly well, but I really didn’t have a plan or any kind of direction.
Truth is, I also had less than a stellar record in the romance department, repeatedly setting my Self up for failure with guys who either weren’t right for me or weren’t ready for me. So when I met a clean-cut, well-dressed, seemingly successful young European guy at a wedding and we connected immediately, I was thrilled at my turn of fortune. Half a year later, I moved to Germany to be closer to him, leaving family, friends and everything else I knew. At the time, I saw it as my chance to finally have that European adventure I’d been yearning for. But when I got there, it was not nearly as much fun as I’d expected.
Living in another country when you don’t speak the language is a real drag! During those first few years, my confidence underwent daily trauma. Every day, I felt less than adequate without the most basic language skills to find a bathroom, count money, or tell someone off when they took my parking space! More and more, while I toiled at learning the language I simply relied on my boyfriend to speak for me.
I married the boyfriend a few years later, fought hard to learn his language and eventually became fluent. Even so, after 15 years of regular practice, that abdication of my voice became the very thing that drove my confidence to an incredible low point and the very thing that allowed my (ex-) husband to control me, box me in and isolate me over time.
After my daughter was born, our relationship was so unbalanced that we rarely had a conversation without screaming at each other. It took me years to get up the courage to leave. I was alone in Germany with no plan, no job, no savings, no assets. One day, I had lunch with a friend and told her how he had shouted at me (again) because he found out I had told my friends that we rented our apartment instead of buying it. He claimed that that kind of “gossip” had caused him to lose a big business deal. I told my friend at lunch that I felt like I should be in a witness protection program.
That’s when the EXIT sign finally lit up in my head. Three months later, I got up the courage to tell him I didn’t love him anymore and couldn’t continue living with him.
In the end, it was clear that over the years, I had learned a lot and realized lots of positive things about my Self. I had made it through a very big storm and emerged to find… me! It was just a tiny glimmer of me, but it was a start. I had spent close to 20 years in a marriage that I allowed to stifle my true Self. Once I finally got up the courage to leave my life in Europe and return to my incredibly generous family on Cape Cod, I began an amazing healing process filled with tons of strength-building, confidence-inspiring experiences.
Once I gained a little distance, I saw that I had also allowed my relationship to stifle my power, authenticity, creativity and ultimately, my success in life. Slowly, I repaired my confidence and became my Self again, only better!
Soon I realized I had lots of experience and information to offer people going through the same kinds of situations. I also realized that the processes of gaining courage, building confidence and tapping into our innate charisma can be very challenging! The charisma piece can be especially daunting because we often shut down our sexuality in times of stress. Sometimes, we don’t even realize that we’ve shut out our girly girl until we are walking around with spiky short hair, what my daughter calls “man shoes” and a hard shell around our hearts that translates into a very tough attitude. My goal is to coax as many women as possible away from those “man shoes” and into a pair of flirty, sexy high heels and help them SIZZLE!
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