Most of my life, I’ve heard, Things were never THAT bad . . .

You were never ACTUALLY sexually abused; he just touched you

inappropriately. It wasn’t rape. He didn’t penetrate you, and you got away. Stop

feeling sorry for yourself . . . You didn’t really have an eating disorder; it’s not like

you got below ninety pounds or needed to be hospitalized. Don’t all girls and women

have body image issues? . . . You didn’t have postpartum depression; it’s not like you

ever wanted to kill your babies . . . You’re definitely not an alcoholic. If you are, then

I am. It’s not like you drank everyday. Those meetings are for old men who smoke

cigarettes and end up in jail . . . You seem fine to me . . .

I needed someone to hold me and to tell me I would get better. I

needed somebody listening, paying attention, and checking on me to ask

how I was doing. People are so afraid to ask. They dislike upsetting someone

or merely want to avoid discomfiting inquiry. True compassion can be

accompanied by silence—by just being there, listening, with knowing eyes

showing concern for someone else. We never have to be problem solvers;

there is never always a solution to every problem, anyway.

Because I believed at an early age that I had no concerned, judicious

person to consult and to share my dark secrets with, I had started a journal

when I was twelve years old. Mom had always encouraged us kids to record

our thoughts and feelings, anyway, and modeled the positive behavior by

journaling every morning before we woke up. She sat on the light green

suede couch in the living room, pen and journal in hand, listening to music

on her bright yellow Walkman while sipping hot coffee, cherishing a busy

mother’s quiet time.

My journals came in handy later on, because the desire to write a

book had always been a long-term goal of mine. I was unsure of the process

and had not yet chosen a topic. One ordinary Saturday morning, I decided

to rummage through some old boxes in the basement. I riffled through

trips down Memory Lane, all the while dancing and singing to Florence

and the Machine’s Shake it Out on repeat, sloshing a large mug of piping

hot Joe, occasionally managing between moves to guzzle the black liquid,

simultaneously keeping beat with the music by tossing staccato laundry

items into the washing machine. And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your

back, so shake it out. I like to keep my issues strong, but it’s always darkest before

the dawn. Laundry loaded, I tossed some sweater-filled boxes around and

suddenly espied nearly twenty journals, my journals since early adolescence,

forgotten in adulthood, reflecting feelings, thoughts, anxieties, experiences,

and lifestyle themes. Stumbling upon this cache was another example of

serendipity and was the birth of the ideation of MY Self and of my business,


I present to you . . . ME . . . myself . . . withholding nothing, hiding

nothing, ashamed of nothing. I stand naked before you fully sober in body,

mind, and spirit. I am eager to share my gratitude for my well-being in

hope of inspiring others to become the best version of themselves. The testimonials

and stories of others helped me heal; my storytelling continues to

help me heal by sharing my experiences, newfound strength, and hope for

the future. I’m a visual and auditory learner; I must see and hear in order to

trust and therefore could never have succeeded alone. My hope is for you,

too, to find and to be your authentic self. Own your story, because I have

too, to find and to be your authentic self. Own your story, because I have

learned we all have a magnificent one to tell. I’m not suggesting you should

tell the world your story for others, as I am doing, but do it for yourself. Baring

yourself is incredibly inhibiting, yet also liberating, providing a triumphant

rush of adrenaline, the free, natural, high that I call joy. Write your story in

its entirety. Leave nothing out. Choose one person you fully trust to share it

with. Present your gift to yourself.

I continue to be a work in progress. The past four and three quarter years, I have 

been predictable, accessible, consistent, true to my word, soul searching, and eager

to help others. I believe in the power of a balanced life rather than a neurotic

one, and my goal is striving to make life happier for my daily contacts

while inculcating my life with the fullest capacity for joy. My Catholic

education and the overriding example of selflessness, Mother Teresa, mentored

me into a deep, abiding sense of social justice spurring me onward to

serve others benevolently.

I write this book for you. My volume of words documents my earnest

desire for you to heal, to learn self-love and self-appreciation, and to dump

your load of shame. Drug and alcohol addiction, sexual trauma, eating disorders,

and postpartum depression are shame-inducing, insidiously secretive

illnesses, and my job is a sense of responsibility to heal their survivors. In

these pages, I hope you find strength and shame no more. The mountain

CAN be moved! Obviously, there are occasional days in the valley of doubt

and insecurity, but I am too strong to surrender, because I finally learned to

love myself. Please learn to love yourself, too. It’s a rough hike, but take one

step at a time, one day at a time, and when you reach the mountaintop and

touch other victorious stars, you, too, will soar with heavenly joy.

MY strength