I was raised in and torn between two conflicting, bipolar worlds. There was the world I longed for and lived in on weekends – my mother’s world, which was the fanatical, puritanical cult of the Moonies – and the world I was forced to live in during the week – my father’s world, which was based in sex, drugs, and the squalor of life in the East Village of New York.
As the child of hippie parents and the product of a “broken marriage,” I was immersed in the “sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll” culture of the 1960s and early 1970s. My parents took me to the Jefferson Airplane free concert in Central Park and Woodstock (the movie, not the festival) by the time I was nine. By the time I was ten, I was a devotee of Rev. Moon – the self-proclaimed Messiah and leader of one of the most infamous cults – spending my weekends standing on a wooden box in New York City’s then-seedy Times Square, shouting through a bullhorn, trying to save the sea of sinners around me.
I had a strange childhood. And while my parents may have done the best they could for my brother and me, it was a toxic environment, and I’ve spent the last few decades learning to not just survive, but to shine.
For those of us raised in toxic environments, and for those of us who “raised ourselves” because we had parents who couldn’t — or wouldn’t — be there for us, our childhoods were pretty much an exercise in learning to not be present.
And in an effort to make sure everything was okay, our experiences also taught us to over-everything. Our overachieving, over-sweetness, over-tolerance, and over-responsibility probably helped save our lives and psyches.
People who meet me now have no idea of my eclectic background. Not only have I survived my childhood, but I thrive. I am blessed with a happy marriage of over twenty years, two amazing children, and a successful leadership consulting and coaching practice.
In so many ways, because of my past I now have my today. I learned through my journey that it’s up to each of us to create the life we want. Some of us may have more to overcome in order to do that, but it still is up to us. We have the chance and the choice. We have the ability. Even when we think we don’t.
I learned to build a very different life for myself than what I knew as a child, and to integrate my childhood experiences into my life – doing my best to find and keep the valuable while letting go of the rest. I faced at least some of my demons and found ways to laugh or love them at least somewhat away. I can now look back on my past with a sense of humor and unexpected appreciation, and rejoice in my present.
I bring all I experienced and learned to my coaching and consulting work, helping others find their way to the life they want and deserve. I bring it to my writing and speaking — here on the blog as well as in my new book, coming this fall, to the moon and back: a childhood under the influence.
My intention in writing has been to find a way to offer hope and potential joy to others who may feel beaten or damaged by their upbringing or circumstances. I’ve pulled together some of my favorite lessons (that I keep having to re-learn) into a free, short, collection that I’d love to share with you. If you’re already on my mailing list, then it’s on its way to you shortly (or maybe you’ve already gotten it!?) If you’re new to my site — welcome! Just pop your name and email in the spot below and it’ll be in your inbox shortly.
Let’s focus on hope and joy together.