As a woman who was raised by an eccentric single mother entrepreneur—my career aspirations were high after college. There was no interest in children or marriage, only dreams of making a difference and I hoped to do that as a journalist.
I landed my first TV news job at a small NBC affiliate in Eastern Washington one year after I graduated. I was so excited I would hyperventilate when I told my friends and family. I’d squeal in delight; I’d gotten my dream job!
Then I got there. When I first drove into the city where the TV station was, I thought I had entered the desert. Sage brush tumbled over roads. Buildings had been bleached out by the sun. My first thought was, “this town has no soul.”
I was ready to turn back, but my mother encouraged me to stay and give it a try. “Just do it for a year and then see what happens next,” she said.
And so, I took her advice and gave it a chance. What followed was an entire year of abuse, threats and daily emotional breakdowns. Every single day was a test of my will. I was told I would be fired daily for the entire length of that year by my News Director. She would demand I get better clothes despite me earning a meager $18,000 a year and barely had enough for food. She would ridicule my appearance and tell me I needed to wear more makeup. My peers competed with me and spoke cruelly behind my back...all the while attempting to appear as friendly cohorts. Town officials threatened me and so did companies that were covered unfavorably in my reporting. One night someone even tried to break into my apartment.
I had no idea how ugly people could be until this moment and when I hit one year I got my lawyer involved. I quit, but ended up getting severance and unemployment thanks to him.
Women are not treated well, especially smart women. Broken women also unconsciously break other women in the same fashion they were broken if they have not healed. This experience had my optimistic, idealistic self questioning everything I had ever known.
After I left, I collapsed in exhaustion and heart break. I felt destroyed by the experience I just had. I could not work. I did not want to see people. I mostly slept, ate and watched TV…for months. After awhile I decided I needed to heal, so I began my first series of soul reclamation sessions with a healer in my hometown. I saw her every day for 6 months.
This is what I learned…
Your first gut instinct is usually the right one. When I first came to that awful town it looked dead to me and it was. The town and the people were some of the most soulless I’ve encountered.
Always follow what is true for you, not what others think is true for you. My mother had dreams of being a reporter. When she saw me get the opportunity, it was her chance to live that dream through me, whether it was right for me or not.
None of us should endure abuse in any form, ever. I stayed too long. I endured too much. This experience only worsened other abuses I was subjected to as a young girl, making my trauma much larger than it needed to be had I learned to follow my intuition sooner.
Finally, I learned that there are many paths we can follow. Some harder. Some softer. We have a choice about the matter. For me, I always seek the path where the flowers are the brightest and the people are the most kind. That alone has brought me the most sustainable peace within myself—a peace that cannot be disrupted as long as I stay committed to it.