“The pain you feel today is the strength you gain tomorrow”
I was four years old when my younger sister passed away suddenly. God called His little angel back home. At the young age of four, I am not sure I was fully capable of understanding all that had just happened in my life. All I remember was going to bed on the night we lost her and seeing her empty crib in our room. “Where is Sofie, Mami?” I asked. My mom answered, “She is with Papa Dios, cuqui.”
I remember seeing my parents crying each day and feeling the sadness in the house lingering like a dark cloud that seemed to never go away. Even a four-year-old little girl could tell something was wrong, but I don’t think I ever truly understood until the years continued to pass by and she never returned back to her crib.
Years of pushed back emotions and lots of baggage, I finally realized that little four-year-old girl who longed for her sister’s presence still remained in a thirteen-year old’s body now. Filled with overwhelming amounts of insecurity and unhappiness, I continued pushing through my tremendous self-doubt, fighting desperately to find my way.
Will I ever love my body? Will I ever fully love myself?
Growing up as a dancer both restored me and destroyed me. Dance was often my escape. When I was having a rough night, I would go to dance class and immediately feel better the minute the music turned on… except even then, there would be whispers of doubt in my mind. You see… I was never a very thin girl. Instead, I highly represented my Latina roots with my wider hips and thicker thighs. But… dancers aren’t supposed to look this way. We are supposed to be thin and lean.
I remember being weighed in a room all alone and having my coach tell me I needed to lose ten to fifteen pounds in a week or I would be kicked out of class. If my leotard fit too tight or my thighs looked larger, I would be ridiculed in front of the other thin girls in my class.
How was I supposed to learn to love myself under those conditions?
My mom forced me out of competitive studio dance and encouraged me to join the dance team at my high school instead. It was during these years that I felt like I was visible again. My coach didn’t see my weight; instead, she saw my passion. It restored such a sense of hope in me that “maybe I could be happy with myself and my body one day.”
Like many teens, however, I still struggled. I had anxiety and depression and I still felt lost for unknown reasons. My coach was supporting me, I had great friends and a wonderful family, and I was doing well in school, so what was the problem?
That is when I met Betsy. Fast forward to my early college years with continuous spirals of good days and bad days, I finally decided to prioritize myself. I told my mom I wanted to go to therapy. I made the choice to put ME first.
Betsy showed me that the only way to overcome pain is by going through it. During our conversations, I realized I had so much built up sadness and defeat that I had never addressed within myself. It was only when I chose to leave behind my past and live for myself in the present that I was able to discover my true happiness.
Today, I stand proud of the person I am- a strong, courageous, and powerful individual who chose to create the life she wanted to live. It was not easy, but it was so worth it.
So, the choice is ours… will we choose to defeat our obstacles or be defeated by them? My journey to joy began with a single step… and yours can too!
Completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and pursuing a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy, I hope to help others discover their own strength and create the life they are proud to live each day.
I can’t wait to work with you! See you soon!