It’s easy for people to look from the outside and assume the people we may admire or simply feel they got served a better or easier hand in life have carefree lives wherein everything goes their way but we have no idea the reality they face day in and day out. Those same people could be feeling the same tinge of jealousy and we would never know. We live in a society where we automatically say good or great when asked how we are. That has been researched to be the biggest and most often spoken lie told by people. We assume nobody wants to hear our problems or that there’s something inherently wrong with us if we aren’t having a perfect day and perfect life.
In this culture saturated by media and reality television, people have become consumed with thinking they must have all of the amenities which are given to reality tv stars who live scripted and produced life on television which the viewers believe is true reality and feel a sense of inadequacy for not living up to these abnormal standards of behavior. That being said, I think that the one true norm is that we all go through very hard times and we all like to keep it a secret because we don’t want people to know we aren’t metaphorically perfect. Keeping up with the Jones became such an epidemic that it wasn’t until the depression during the Obama administration that people finally began to be real with each other and reveal that life isn’t exactly what most have been trying to make it seem.
As a world community we are learning the importance of focusing on what is important and focusing less on the acquisition of material things to substantiate our own value or worth. The underlying truth is that no matter how hard things get, we can never give up. I realized the truth of this statement in many ways throughout my life so I feel I am somewhat of an expert on persevering through hard times and refusing to give up. It may seem from outer appearance that I may have an easy life but that is simply not the case. I’d like to peel back the layers to give you a glimpse into my life and background. I hope that by doing so, it will give you a new perspective and motivation to help get you through whatever hard time you may be facing or may possibly ever face so that you have the ability to tap into your inner power source and come out of the experience better than ever.
I grew up in a small town in Ohio and I was the only sister with four brothers. My father was 50 when I was born and a conservative Greek which means he felt that the best thing I could do was get married and have children. My mother was 21 years younger than him and very subservient to say the least. 3 of my brothers were older and from my parents first 2 marriages. I excelled in academics, ballet & gymnastics & I felt I had a somewhat wonderful life when I was a girl. My parents fought profusely in the evenings when they’d return home from the restaurant together. I would witness their fighting and it definitely stuck in my impressionable young brain. They sent my younger brother and I to Greece when I was 10 so they could try to salvage their marriage.
When I was in Greece I had a very strange bite while I was in the ocean. I ended up facing death at the age of 10. Up until that point I was active and healthy. They’d been trying to arrange my marriage to a young Greek doctor on the island. I was considered to be very pretty and I had a six pack of abs from my gymnastics training.
To say the least, from outer appearance, it seemed like my life was ideal. Nobody knew the backstory of how my parents fought viciously at night and all the sleepless nights I had. I remember being carried up a mountain to the church where they prayed over me. I was on the island of Kalymnos where my father’s family originated from. I had a very high fever and most of the experience faded in and out as my consciousness did. I’m left with the scar on the bottom of my foot from the bite and the strength to know that I faced death and made it through alive. I felt stronger and more determined than ever when my health returned and I came back to Ohio. The sad thing is that the feeling didn’t last long.
I’d always excelled immensely in school and extracurricular activities to that point. I was tested and found to have a genius IQ so I was put into a magnet school for performing arts before I’d left for Greece. I performed in ballet and theater and learned languages and computers. I studied science and my dream was to be an environmental engineer and powerful business woman. I also wanted to act, sing, dance and perform. I didn’t feel like there should be limits to what we can do. My optimism suddenly changed because my older brother Eoun was killed in a car accident soon after I returned. I had gone with him that day in his jeep. He was getting married so he had an engagement party that night. He was following his fiancé home from the party and he hit a bump in the road and flew out of the car. He died and from there my family forever changed.
All of the big family gatherings changed and the happiness of life seemed to subside. I was old enough to understand death so I didn’t wishfully believe one day he would come home. Soon after more tragedy struck. My oldest brother Philip shot and killed himself following Eoun’s accident. He was on the phone with his fiancé and killed himself with a shotgun while in his mother’s driveway. It was horrific. Bad simply went to worse and our golden family seemed to crumble quickly. My parents divorced. My grandmother died. My babysitter died of a rare disease.
Then, all of my beliefs were completely obliterated when I lost my virginity by being raped. I was with my younger brother and friend and we mistakenly got into a car with strangers. I had thought I was invincible as a young girl but I quickly realized I wasn’t. I was even on my period but this did not stop the perpetrator. To make matters worse, since I’d been taught that you wait for sex until after you’re married, I kept trying to make a relationship with the person who took my innocence because I believed I had to marry him. Eventually he did it again because people will be who they are. I was a 12 year old girl and he was a much older boy. I ended up in the hospital and again almost died. When I came to with tubes down my throat, I realized how close to dying I’d come. He’d left me on the side of the road and that was literally how bad I felt about myself because I’d been discarded and I was still completely torn apart from all of the tragedies that had occurred. I tapped into that inner reservoir of strength and I made it through. I’d love to tell you that it was easy sailing from there but it wasn’t.
My inner reservoir of strength is vast and long lasting because I faced more hardships and I made it through. The great thing about life is that when we refuse to give up, we realize just how strong we really are. Knowing you can rely on yourself is a priceless gift because you have the gift of certainty that no matter what happens, as long as you keep going, you will make it through. No matter how tough it seems and how far away the light at the end of the tunnel is, you will make it there as long as you refuse to be defeated.
When you have that indistinguishable light within you, all you do is reach in and ignite it and you will shine brighter than ever before. No matter what transpires, the secret is that you don’t let it beat you. Don’t let it change you. Nothing about what you go through makes you less than anyone else. Going through hard times means that you were destined for greatness and your ability to persevere and overcome is a huge blessing.
Your story is your gift and when you pay it forward, it empowers you in ways you could never fathom until you do so. I did face death again with an accident when I was 18 and glass went into my bone. I also went through a horrible domestic violence situation, which is the most isolating situation that is completely horrendous. I got through those things including ending up homeless because of how bad things got. It was not long but the fact that I hit rock bottom and all I had was my perseverance and refusal to give up was enough. I ignited my enthusiasm for life and I made a vow to myself that I would never let anything defeat me. I pressed on and I realized that there is nothing that can defeat us as long as we refuse to acknowledge defeat as an option.
So many little petty things can get in the way of our life experience. When we realize that things people may say or think don’t define us but are truly just a reflection of where they are in their life story. Let little things remain little and you focus on your bigger picture. Tap into your inner strength and power because you truly can overcome anything. You can truly achieve anything you dream as long as you believe you are capable. Nothing is too big and you deserve everything you can visualize for yourself and your family. I hope that my sharing may help motivate you and inspire you so you push past the tough times and keep going to make it to the light at the end of the tunnel. When you look back and see how far you’ve come, it’s the greatest gift you can give yourself. You know you can go anywhere in the world and you can do anything you can put your mind to. No matter where you start, there is no limit to where you can finish so keep persevering and never give up!