Yes!! I believed I could undo a lot of what happened to me. You can, too! It takes time and searching for the mentors you want to listen to. It takes patience, persistence and courage. You will see progress and you will feel great!
I have overcome abusive parents. Many people ask how I was able to overcome trauma so severe that I jumped when someone walks in the room.
One of my parents was was bipolar and had a personality disorder. This presented as a violent, dangerous and nonsensical jealousy of my strength. The other parent was sadistic, violent and so critical that I was afraid to go out of the house. I had little confidence because I had been called so many horrible names. I felt liked I looked like Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame and the television character Rosanne. I believed it.
At first I detached from myself. Many kids do this to survive. I remember having a therapist say to me, “Romola, come back into your body”.
“WTF? What in the world are you talking about? ” I would say to her.
As I got older, I started to understand. Learning to change the way I spoke to myself in my own head was the way I was going to have a happy productive life. This wasn’t easy and took a long time to overcome. In the meantime, I self medicated. I started to drink.
I drank to get away from the horrible words in my head. I have learned that we develop our sense of self-worth from how our parents talk to us. We are taught to think about ourselves by the way they perceive us, treat us, and the words they say to us. Mine were, “You are a fat piece of shit and will never amount to anything.” Or, “You are taking my children from me and stealing my husband!” Needless to say, I have had bouts of self hatred and I didn’t have a clue how to be kind to myself. I knew this was not going to make for a happy life. I felt terrible and alone.
Fed up, I decided to go on a mission. I knew I was going to be Romola Hodas one time and I better learn how to be happy, damn it!
Thank God I grew up in a time that learning to be introspective was thought to be important. And thank God I was sent to reform school. That’s funny to me, as I write this! Happy I was sent to reform school? First I was scared shitless, but the group therapy five nights a week was one of the things that started me on my journey to health. I was 16 and learning that being kind to myself, forgiving myself and others, and finding my voice was so important. My mantras became “Courage!” and “I will never ever give up on myself!”
Before I went to reform school, my first therapist when I was 13 taught me the importance of having a guide to learn how to do the work to unravel the damage to my soul and then to create the person I wanted to be.
I set out to find mentors. I started reading books as there was no internet back then. I remember the first books I read, The Road Less Traveled, Creative visualization, Feeding the Hungry Heart and How to Win Friends and Influence People.
I met a man that taught me about the body and mind connection when I was about 25 or 26. He changed my life. I started to see that my parents did the best they could and I needed to see them as regular people, not the mommy and daddy that did me wrong. I started to notice when I spoke harshly to myself. I noticed it and learned to be less judgmental about myself and to gently say, “Romola, this self talk is not kind. Let’s find another way to say this to yourself.”
With all the violence and pain in my house, I just pushed through it all. I learned to move through life even when I was feeling fear, anger and pain. Although, there were many times I couldn’t move forward because I was immobilized with the fear, anger and pain. My self talk would be
“Hang in there, this will pass, you will work out enough to move forward, you always do.”
I would start to feel a bit better and just forge through what needed to be done. This helped me develop my courage, but I certainly did not go through the process of feeling my feelings and drinking helped this, until I learned to moderate! As I healed, I learned to deal with many of my feelings and as uncomfortable as that can be, feeling my feelings is one of the things that saves me.
I get a lot of questions from people who have read my book.They want to know how I survived, and became a happy, productive person. I say, “After I started to be aware of how I was treating myself, I figured out what makes me happy. Funny enough, that can be the toughest part for some of you. Then you need to figure out how to get there, hence mentors, support, reading books or articles on the internet, therapy, guided meditations or putting on great music and dancing!!.
I wanted to learn how to moderate my drinking. I wanted to learn to be kind to myself, treat myself like I wished my mom and dad would have treated me. I wanted to build my business in the Natural Food industry. I wanted a great relationship with a man, to eat healthy, meditate, and find time to exercise. And when those times came, when I couldn’t find my healthy attitude, and I couldn’t do all that, I learned to be easy on myself, patient with myself and know that I would start again.
Now my goals have changed. I am an author and learning to be a public speaker and consultant. I choose to realize that this will take time. One day at a time. I have people around me to help me. When I am down, I go to the internet and listen to the mentors I have collected; Esther Hicks, Linda Hall, Ecarte Tolle and other people I find to help me learn how to relax, Listen to a guided meditation on building self esteem if I need that, or being in gratitude if I need that. I speak kindly to myself. I calm down and remember there is big love inside of me and I connect with it.
I still suffer from feeling alone. Much of my small family is not close and after getting divorced and losing my husband and his family, loneliness often overwhelms me. So, going to a group meditation really works for me. A guided meditation helps. Even though I am alone, when I connect with that big love inside of me, it makes all the difference in the world!