I stand before you today as a smart, vibrant, beautiful woman.
I’m able to say that with confidence today, but, for most of my lifetime,
I did not believe that was true.
Fifteen years ago I attempted suicide. I was 23 years old, and I had lived my entire life, ever since I could remember, in depression, anger and anxiety; switching from powerlessness to fighting, on a crazy pendulum. At twenty-three, I finally gave up fighting, and surrendered to the idea that mother was right: I was a “bad seed”, nothing would ever come of me, I “did not have a heart”, and I was too ugly to wear a skirt.
However, something in me kept me alive. That something had a different plan for me.
I grew up in Romania, under Communism, in a modest family that was struggling to make ends meet. We had to line up at 4am in front of the corner store for milk; otherwise it was all gone by 7am. Bread was rationed. I remember losing the bread card for the entire month once, which got me in deep trouble. My mom had “connections”, and that’s how she got salami. My aunt did not, so every month, my mom would pack up FIVE rolls of salami and mail it to her. She would mail food, to feed her sister.
It comes as no surprise that feeding children’s creativity or sensitivity did not make the priority list, when most time was spent putting food on the table.
But a little girl, who wanted nothing more than to dance, create, and make mom and dad happy, did not know that. The world looked overwhelming and impossible. Love could not be earned, grades were never high enough. Mom was never happy, dad was never pleased. Because she never did anything right. Because she was a “bad seed”. That was my picture.
I had always dreamed of… traveling to a place far, far away from home. Somewhere where… I would magically be: beautiful and smart. Where I DID have a heart, where I was a good seed, one which would… magically sprout… into a beautiful flower. Where I was enough.
So when the opportunity presented itself to move across the ocean, I left without looking back. I was starving for a new start. I thought: “This is my chance.” I’m going to prove everyone wrong. I’m going to discover why I TRULLY am.
And, most of all, I was IN LOVE!! Love is what brought me to Davenport, Iowa. One cold winter day, in the year 2000. I had fallen in love with a man, in three weeks. We decided to get married, and I came to “America”, excited to experience the land where all dreams come true.
The excitement didn’t last long. When I saw that I could NOT make lasting friendships, in a culture I did not understand, while my marriage was going down, the dream turned into terror. The acknowledgment of my worst nightmare: that no matter where I go, I will not be accepted, and I will not be loved. Because I’m a “bad seed”, and because I “don’t have a heart”.
What had kept me going all my life had been a Warrior in me that said: “I will NOT settle for this! This is NOT who I am! The Warrior fought, always fought. Fought for freedom. For the right to be Me. For the opportunity to be enough just the way I was born.
But then the Warrior left. Did not want to fight any more. Surrendered the arms. And I… hit the lowest point in my life ever. From this point of temporary insanity, the only way to get love and attention was to scare the person who was my only source of love, my husband. I was not afraid of dying, because I was already dead inside…
So I DID it.
The doctor said it was a miracle that was alive. And my husband… wanted a divorce. I was to pack my bags and go back to Romania immediately, otherwise the Immigration Service would come get me. Or so he said.
I had travelled across the world to find my true Self, the longest distance I had ever travelled. Yet there I was, an empty shell, sitting on the couch, listening to the man who was supposed to love me, my only source of love – yell at me. How dare I try to kill myself “in his BEST FRIEND’S HOUSE”? I didn’t know… I didn’t know anything any more. I didn’t know why I was still alive.
And then the Warrior came back. I knew that I had to keep fighting, but not fighting others, fighting my own demons. I knew, in a flash of insight, that that was the only way to freedom. The only way to be alive. Otherwise, I might as well be dead.
The Immigration Service did not come get me. In fact, they decided that I was a victim of mental and emotional abuse. Yet… I didn’t feel like a victim. I didn’t think it was his fault. I just wanted to understand. I wanted to understand why some people were HAPPY, and others were miserable, when given the SAME conditions. How some people loved when it seemed impossible to love? Why some seemed to have everything, and others struggled to get by. What’s the point in all of this? Why would we keep on going, knowing that we would die some day? These were questions that had troubled me ever since I was child. I used to read any psychology magazine I could get my hands on, before I even knew that psychology was a subject in school.
Shortly after, I graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelors in Psychology, planning on becoming a psychotherapist. I still have no idea how I finished with honors while having panic attacks, getting divorced, and being threatened with having to leave the country, and go back to a childhood nightmare.
What followed was fifteen years of climbing up the mountain of self-discovery, in search for that true ME that I knew was at the top.
Another bachelors, and one masters degree later, many lost relationships, and thousands and thousands of hours of reading, contemplating, watching videos, and reflecting, saturday nights spent in my room, when everyone would be out partying and having fun. I knew all psychological theories and tools that possibly existed, yet… I could not find a place of balance, nor satisfying relationships. Because something was missing… Some people call it “God”, others “Source”, “The Universe, “The Great One”.
I had never had any desire to embrace religion, or any spiritual tradition for that matter, but when a new path opened up before me, I had no choice other than to follow it. That opened up Pandora’s box, and shadows started flying all over the place. I had experiences of extreme pain, followed by extreme bliss, which now I know are called “dark nights of the soul”. I had already shed many skins in the past, but going that deep, practicing complete presence, vulnerability and appreciation for all of life at a level I didn’t know before, shed off the thickest and heaviest of them all. I felt a lightness, a clarity and freedom I did not know was possible. I felt.. my own Spirit.
The practice continues. In dancing they say you’re never in balance, you’re always balancing… But life has never been the same. It became clear that I had been given these life experiences only to learn what it’s like for a human to discover their Spirit, the deepest part of themselves.
The high school student who wanted to become a psychotherapist is now a holistic health coach. My passion is to empower and inspire humans to believe in that part of us that is infinitely wise, infinitely loving, and infinitely strong.
I had travelled across the WORLD to find my power, my True Self, the longest distance I had ever travelled. And I have found that it had always been with me.
The longest distance you will ever have to travel to find the most important thing to you is in fact the shortest. The distance between you and your Self.