I was a multi-millionaire, retired by age 33. By the age of 37, I had built three homes in prestigious neighborhoods (Venice Beach and Malibu in California, Paradise Valley in Arizona) that were all featured in magazines. We were the “model family” at our private school (Viewpoint). But that all changed overnight. Suddenly, I needed to rebuild.
Every single person knows a single mom who lost everything. I am her. Every time I tell someone my story, they have a friend, a daughter, a cousin… Whenever I mention how I blog about getting more money into the hands of more women, every woman tells me a story about another woman who needs a better way to live.
Nine years ago, I went from wealthy to broke. From married to divorced. From retired to working. This was the best thing that ever happened to me, and here’s why.
I spent seven years ruminating about how I lost my money, losing sleep about how we’ll pay for college, and waking up in the middle of the night realizing that I didn’t live in my house anymore. But then I realized that I couldn’t change the past. Again, I experienced a sudden shift, but this time it led to a different way to approach life that brought happiness and peace instead of stress and sleepless nights. I have been forever changed by being forced to rebuild myself while my three growing daughters were watching me.
I have made so many mistakes that it is embarrassing; I have made a fool of myself more times than I care to remember. I am certain that I’ve messed up my kids in lots of ways. As a recovering co-dependent, it took all of those seven years to reach my breakthrough. I am hoping that I can inspire other women to make giant changes so that they can get to their turning point too, hopefully even sooner.
Before I understood that my history proved otherwise, I thought that money meant stability. My self-esteem was tied to how much I had in the bank — I was so arrogant! Then, when I suddenly had no more money, I was depressed and felt like a loser. I realized that my relationship with money had become as co-dependent as my relationships with people. I had to make a change.
I need relationships just as much as I need money to live. But, by letting go of my old beliefs and by ceasing to force my will upon every part of my life, I have found a priceless inner peace. Here are three things that happened when I found peace:
- I let go of bad relationships, whether with friends, family, or men. I used to end relationships in a Marie Antoinette fashion but I found that only left me feeling like I was the one running around with a chopped-off head. Now, I can detach with love. To me, this means self-love and forgiveness without blaming others for not being who I think that they should be. Now, I have closer friendships and better relationships with the people in my family who matter to me. I only date men who are kind and nice to me. When they are not, I am able to let go without drama or crisis. Now, I can choose to walk away from certain people instead of feeling like I need to change them.
- I found peace in knowing that I cannot make my kids happy. As a single mom, I still struggle a lot with this, and I confess that this is the area where I slip up the most. But, I try to allow my daughters to find their own way and allow myself to listen to them without trying to fix their lives. They are teenagers now — one being a young adult — and I need to get out of the way to let them be who there are, pain and all. The most difficult part is trying to detach from their suffering when they struggle. I still can get upset when they are unhappy, but I understand that I am not powerful enough to make them happy. They have their own paths.
- I found my professional motivation. Opportunities started flowing to me from all sorts of unexpected directions. Now, I teach about how to create multiple income streams while I build my own portfolio of work. Everything I do is based on getting more money into the hands of more women: That’s my personal business mission. By being focused on my greater WHY of personal freedom, and by sharing what I do, I have been able to attract people who want to work with me. To me, personal freedom means knowing my own worth without the need for validation from others. It means being able to accept work that ties into my mission without sacrificing my values. It means not fighting to get to the big retirement/nest egg moment, but to craft my business life in a way that makes me feel inspired. I have left behind the goal of “getting out” — the motive of my previous start-up business exits, and now I am able to enjoy success as I look forward to career growth and the new opportunities that come my way.
It’s a journey, with a goal of progress, not perfection. I still create situations for which I later need to make amends. I don’t live in a fancy house on the ocean any more, but I am happy in my small “bachelorette pad” on a lake. I realized that I don’t need to be the person who other people want me to be, because the truth is that I am the only one who has expectations for myself.
Have you experienced similar breakthroughs, and what did you do to recover afterward? What things have you lost that have led to your own personal growth?
Please comment, and please share this with the woman you know who thinks that she has lost everything.