When We Get Gob-Smacked:

Up until 2010, I have always seen myself as a relatively successful person.

I had ups and downs sure, like when I was kicked out of high school, but as an adult, I really felt like I had come somewhere.

I had started from relatively humble beginnings. I would not hesitate to share with anyone who would listen, that they too, could pursue their dreams. 

My other family members (including 6 siblings) neither pursued nor appreciated post-secondary education. Most of them thought it was an expensive waste of time. My parents thought it was for people with money, such people not being us. 

My Dad worked in a sawmill. My parents were not literate. 

Yet, from the time I was small I dreamed of going to university. 

Ultimately I earned 3 degrees and became a lawyer. 

Although being a lawyer is prestigious (people think you are smart as soon as you tell them you are a lawyer . . . a huge myth, but that is another story). It has great perks. 

I don’t care what anyone says, being middle class is way better than being working class. I have experienced both places and choose a more comfortable lifestyle, interesting work, and better money anytime. 

Because I have moved from one socioeconomic background to another, I never used to hesitate to encourage others to break out of their background’s limitations and to grow, move forward, and create a better life than expected. 

I would encourage those I came across to pursue their dreams and to pursue higher education. 

I would tell people that I did it. I would tell them that being middle class is WAY BETTER than what my previous jobs and experience allowed. 

I felt confidant. I felt that I knew what it was to be successful. I felt my role in this world was to inspire others to success. 

Oh, sure I had many struggles like everyone else (big mortgage payments, bill payments, business struggles etc.). At the same time, I knew I had blown the expectations as to where I should have gone in this life out of the water. 

Because I had moved forward, I wanted to share with others that they could move forward too. I felt good about myself. I felt that my confidence could inspire others. 

Basically, I knew I was awesome and that I was meant to inspire.

I was to inspire others to believe in themselves and follow their dreams and ambitions.

then the universe delivers some pretty tough blows:

Then the universe delivered some pretty tough blows. 

I was gob-smacked. Just when my ego was soaring, my ego got taken out at the knees.

Starting in 2010 and onwards, my business suffered. My marriage suffered and fell apart. I became very unhealthy. I got fat. I was struggling with addiction. I was deeply betrayed by a close friend whom I loved. It all came to a brutal head in late 2012. 

I was crushed. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. 

It felt that all I had strived for I had lost. All that mattered was gone. 

I stayed clinging to what was left of my life and living a life only because of my daughter and her need for a mother. At the time, I believed there was no other reason really. 

So, this was my lesson. I had learned a brutal dose of humility. Who am I to think I can inspire others? Look at me. I am a wreck. 

As I was down, the kicks kept coming, over and over again. Crushing loneliness, in addition to regular doses of humiliation, added to my heartbreak. Next old abuse trauma became triggered. The feelings were both emotional and actually physical in sensation. I couldn’t get away from those terrible, terrible feelings. 

It was all I could do to get up in the morning and make it through the day. 

Even as my life started to mend, I totally stopped encouraging others. I was humiliated beyond belief and knew that I had no credibility. I no longer felt my voice was to inspire.

I no longer had anything to say. It was not for me to encourage others because I was a mess. My very “success” had brought me down. 

So I shut up for the first time in my life and I kept quiet. 

2013 was my hardest, most suckiest year ever. 

It was also the year that I have grown the most.

I began taking some anti-depressants (now done), oodles of therapy, daily meditation and a forgiveness practice.  Giving up my addictions was somewhat tough, but nothing compared to living each day with the crushing sadness in my heart and constant heavy weight in my chest that continuously reminded me of being deeply betrayed. Oh, and there was the trigger of the abuse memories from my past.

Anything else universe?!

I learned that the only way through the pain was with love and compassion for others, even those others that hurt me, and compassion even for me.

This is still a work in progress of course. I am still dealing with the financial disaster I created, repairing my relationships, forgiving myself, forgiving others, and trying not to be too exhausted about it all.

Now back to the thought of inspiring others. Who was I to encourage others or say anything? Who was I to be a model of any sort of success?

Then it dawned on me. This push down, getting gob-smacked, let’s just say MASSIVE SETBACK, was all meant to be. It is part of my story. It is part of my success.

I was meant to be delivered those hard blows.

I was meant to get back up again and survive and learn.

And, most importantly, I was meant to share that with others too.

I am not yet 48 years old. I am pretty sure I have a long way to go yet and way more to contribute to this earth.

That contribution includes the message that even when we get the big smack down, that it isn’t meant to end things, but that it is meant to be part of our journey.

Our western culture supports us wallowing and feeling sorry for ourselves because of all the unfair or hard things that have happened to us.

It does not encourage us to see pain and setbacks as a purposeful part of our journey that we are meant to be having in order to grow.

While my message to others may have changed, I still have one.

So, here is to the gob smack.

And then to getting back up again and sharing what we learn.

This article was written by Val Hemminger, the nonconforming professional 

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