Are you here because you’ve recently experienced loss of some sort? Does it feel like something is missing? Chances are, the hole in your heart is connected not just this loss, but to other disappointments in the past.
Below is my story. I humbly share this with you as a way of connecting the dots and in showing how I healed, you can too.
My first memory of loss, age 7.
When I was seven, our family moved to San Francisco from Hong Kong. My parents told me we were going on “vacation”. I never got to say goodbye to friends, family.
Growing up the black sheep in a strict Asian household where it was better if you were seen and not heard was not easy. Emotions were discouraged. Physical punishment and verbal abuse delivered “for our own good”. My father yelled. My mother used prescription drugs to medicate her pain. As the youngest, I became the container of my mother’s unhappiness. Her mantra was “In the end, you will end up alone.”
I got a 4.3 in high school. College was my ticket out until I was diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer. I returned home after one semester of college freedom. I beat the 80% odds but found myself without a roadmap of how to be cancer free and happy. I spent the next few decades living a goal-oriented life. I made six-figures in the corporate world, life looked great on paper, but inside, I felt EMPTY. I was sinking.
Searching to fill the void, I got married. Our marriage looked great on paper too; a house, a dog, a white picket fence. We survived 9/11 but got lost in the grief of a mother’s death. A few months later, my dog Sophie died unexpectedly.
Sophie was the catalyst that made me look at all of my losses.
Sophie was more than a mere companion, she was my confidant, friend, family. She was my first experience with unconditional love. Grieving deeply, I walked away from it all. My parents and friends thought I was CRAZY. Grieving, I created a company called Luxepets, to celebrate the bond between people and pets and later, to heal from the loss of a pet.
Internally, I began on a spiritual quest to find my way back to happiness.
A voice kept saying, “Do your grieving, heal, teach.” I answered the call, receiving training in several highly effective therapies and completed a Masters Degree in Applied Psychology.
In doing all of this work, I felt freedom and possibilities for the first time in my life. I had finally released and let go of decades of loss. I finally had a grasp of how to be happy.
“Technique is what you use until the therapist arrives. Good methods can help a therapist find a way into the client’s dilemma, but good therapy does not begin until the real-life therapist joins with the real life of the client.” ~Parker Palmer
My personal loss experiences helps me connect with my clients on a deep authentic level, beyond what is taught from textbooks. It has given me gifts in many ways. In letting go of my “loss” stories and giving birth to new ways of being, it has freed me to step up and help others.
In 2007, after being told I should have saved my eggs from having had cancer, I overcame infertility to conceive naturally.
The same week I found out I was pregnant, my mother committed suicide. 9 months later, my daughter began having life threatening seizures. A year later, a turbulent marriage came to completion.
I could have judged myself as a failure.
I spoke to my mother only a few days before her death. The autopsy report revealed a handful of pills and alcohol. Why didn’t I see the warning signs?
Instead, I forgave my mother, a broken marriage, and most importantly, myself.
I put aside all of the stories I had made up about being unworthy, broken, a failure. I used the tools I teach to re-build my life.