“She Did What?!” was basically everyone’s reaction two years ago when I did something that changed my life forever. What did I do?
I told the truth.
It sounds pretty simple, but I assure you, after keeping my darkest, most shameful secrets fiercely guarded for two decades, exposing them to the World, was anything but simple. For years I had been known as a recognized expert in body image and self-esteem, guiding kids and their parents through the unrealistic and unrelenting expectations thrown at us by our image-obsessed society. However, while I encouraged self-worth in others, I was desperately struggling with my own. I had a past that I wasn’t proud of and a horrible fear that it would come to light and destroy the image I had created for myself. What was even more terrifying, was the thought of my kids finding out the truth about their mom and it negatively impacting their lives and our relationship. This fear made it impossible for me to truly connect with most people and eventually depleted my self-esteem, forcing me to step away from public speaking.
A couple of years ago, I was nearing my 50th birthday and realized there were more years behind me than ahead of me and I was done hiding. I refused to spend another minute punishing myself for the mistakes I made while trying to survive the multitude of traumas life had thrown at me. It was time to forgive myself, release the shame that was holding me prisoner and start showing myself the compassion I had previously convinced myself I didn’t deserve.
I had lived a double life filled with lies, hiding behind a secret identity and as I reached the half-century mark, found myself obsessed with telling the truth.
I tend to live in extremes. “Go big or go home” is definitely a cliché I can relate to. Once I made the decision to share my story, I did it in writing.
“The Good Stripper: A Soccer Mom’s Memoir of Lies, Loss and Lap Dances” was published in 2020. In it, I share raw, intimate details of experiences I could never have predicted nor prepared for.
Here’s the best part: once I released the book and all of the shame, I was free to find my absolute BLISS. For the first time in years, I could be ME, unapologetically, unabashedly, and it’s been phenomenal. I was aware that by speaking out I was risking damaging my reputation and alienating my friends and family, but did it anyway. Not only did I not lose anyone, but I found myself in the process.
In reclaiming my life and rebuilding my own self-esteem, I have been able to continue with my body image advocacy and create relationships that had seemed impossible. Some people would probably say that I’m too open, too honest and just “too much”, but after spending most of my life feeling like I wasn’t enough, I take it as a compliment.
My newfound freedom has led to my nickname “The Dancing Lady”. Music has always been my favourite form of expression or escape. It’s the physical manifestation of whatever I’m feeling and it’s something I share often. Whether it’s on social media, in the grocery store or down the street, I’m always dancing!
I get regular song requests from people through social media who are too shy to dance themselves or are dealing with physical limitations but feel joy in watching someone move without fear of judgment.
In being honest about my life, I’ve made it possible to make these new connections, set new goals and prepare for the next chapter. This part of my story won’t be as long as the last one, but instead of hiding it in the shadows, it is quite literally an open book, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.