Family Problems Affect Confidence

As a lady with a broken family, I really understand feeling fragile and broken and like you’re starting from a broken foundation. Confidence can feel extremely distant when you’re support system is either not present or harming who you are trying to be.

Family problems can result in a confusion of who you really are, what your purpose and place in life are, and the fears of not being strong enough or deserving enough to shine.

When my dad first relapsed I was 12 years old. My mom was addicted to alcohol and suddenly my best friend, my dad, was no longer there either. It was traumatic because I didn’t feel safe telling my friends or teachers, but I also didn’t feel safe in my own home.

I had no one to talk to and if you’re trying to be a superhero and hold it all together like I did, it’ll physically affect your well being. Being confident while you’re also experiencing bodily dysfunctions is nearly impossible for any human to handle.

Personally, I physically could not eat. I had a hole in my stomach and when I put food into my mouth my stomach would reject it and I would spit up before even starting to chew. I was under 80 pounds and people called me anorexic.

I had real anxiety attacks. I once went to the coffee shop and tried handing the cashier money and my body froze. I couldn’t lift my arm and my head felt so light I lost my words. I felt like I was in a spell.

I felt like I didn’t deserve my parents love and that I was a burden to the world and that’s why I was in my situation. I wrote about suicide.

So how did I overcome these anxieties, physical ailments, and serious life doubts? It came from within. It was a process of learning about myself and being reflective of my situation.

The greatest part of our story is that while we can’t control the events in them, we can control the way we shape our narrative around them and that’s where confidence lives. We can take control of our voice.

People that are affected by family problems are in every way deserving of confidence. If you’ve been struggling with confidence like I was I hope that I can help you.

Handling Negativity

The only negativity we have in our lives we create.

I can say that for certain because I have been positive for my whole life. Optimistic, with the ability to take any advice, insult, or negativity and overpower it with a smile and a genuine desire to see past the bad and look for the good.

But for the past year, I’ve seen the other side.

I began shifting towards feeding my insecurities instead of feeding my ambitions.

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It didn’t happen overnight. It isn’t as simple as heartbreak that makes you wake up the next day angry, or a miracle that makes us wake up happy. It’s a slow change in behavior that creeps into your life that without our permission we feed.

Owning our negativity should humble us and open us up to vulnerability. Sometimes we’re just not ready to open up. Maybe deep down we think people are against us but even deeper down we are prepared for a battle that isn’t coming.

In order to handle negativity, we have to see where it comes from.

Asking what we’re lacking in our lives will answer a lot of questions but takes a lot of looking in the mirror. Whats missing from the holes that we’re filling with negativity? Once we see what’s missing, are we ready to fill them again?

Our negativity doesn’t define who we are. Let’s prove our negativity wrong and feed the good wolf.

When you find yourself being negative, check yourself. No one person or thing will change you unless you fully understand you need to change yourself. Your mind will justify the anger so watch out for that. It can result in permanent residence in your head.

What brings you joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth? Can you do a better job of feeding the right wolf?

 

Collateral Beauty | The Void

When visiting my dad at the cemetery, I got lost. I had been there for 20 minutes, trecking through the snow in sneakers, frantically searching for my dad. It felt horrible. A parallel for the past two years.

I asked someone who was going for a run. After giving instructions, I began sobbing out of nowhere. The kind man asked who I was visiting. I explained it was my dads birthday. He pointed to the top of the hill and said, my daughter was only 32, she is buried over there. He said it fleetingly. As he tried to walk away, I took out my dads book.

Eager to share, I showed him how much I loved my dad. He looked at me, “I want to give you the best advice anyone has ever given me. When someone you love leaves this earth,” He began to cry. “It creates a huge hole inside of us. The key is not to fill the void. The key is to find your way around it.” He held his head high and I could see the straining in his neck to stop himself from sobbing.

It seemed to be the first time he had cried in a long time about his daughter. He lost her at such a young age. Before I could react, he wished me luck and continued his run. I wanted to talk more. He was hurting and so was I. I’m grateful for his advice.

Nothing will take the place of a loved one. Isn’t it amazing how different we all are? Our quirks, our voices, our reactions, our expressions. How I’ll always miss the way my dad would snarl in the cutest way when I said something crazy, “ohhh…. Ohhh.. Liiiinky!” How he would get excited and there’d be a chuckle, kind of like Goofy, in his voice. Especially if it was about something positive for my future. How he always made dirty jokes very loudly, and how he repeated himself in a high pitch voice insistently in stores.

Of course, I’ll never fill that void. What I’d like to explain to my friend at the cemetery, is, that hole that is there within us is room for vulnerability. It’s the space that makes collateral beauty. For the moments like we had. Where out of nowhere I  felt the urge to take out my dads letters, even if I was told he didn’t care.

 

 

 

Collateral Beauty | California Friend

 

I called a Lyft to pick me up at my apartment on March 23rd. We started chatting and he told me that he was here from California. As any New Englander would do, we joked about why anyone would move here from California with this kind of weather (even though we all know why… we’re the best.) My Lyft driver said quietly, “My sister has cancer.”

Suddenly my vulnerable heart and his connected in silence.

We talked about his fears for his sister, how the two of them were adopted by Jewish parents, and how tough of a year it’s been.

It felt like fate that of all days and all the Lyft drivers I could’ve gotten I was in the car with someone who needed to be open as intensely as I did.

Finally, I explained, I’m going to celebrate my dads birthday for the first time at a cemetery today.

Again the beautiful silence.

Then he says, “I lost my mom in October too. Cancer. She didn’t want treatment.”

The pain my new friend was going through but the strength he showed, it was admirable. It made me feel like everything was okay, and I think it made him feel the same.

I learned a lot from my friend. His sister is extremely strong and optimistic. He is here in Massachusetts, just the two of them, supporting one another. His mom was amazing. Very strong but also very stubborn.

I showed my friend the book that I am writing for my dad. As tears welled and my throat clenched, he suddenly said, “I feel stupid. I didn’t save or record any of the memories I had with my mom.”

Wiping tears from his eyes, I explained, “the best thing you can do is to keep her spirit alive because that is what’ll always carry on. Opening up to me and allowing me to open up, too, is what makes your mom look down on you and smile with pride.”

It’s hard to open up to strangers, especially about losing a loved one, but when you do, sometimes, beautiful things can happen. Strangers have parallels in their lives that you wouldn’t believe. When two people who are going through struggle connect, they become connected.

My friend made my visit to my dad a lot easier. When I sat down with my dad I had a full heart. Inspired, and happy that we could be vulnerable and open. People who are struggling don’t want sympathy or advice. They want to feel a human connection, hope, and understanding.

Sharing your story will be inspiring. Feel great about sharing memories of someone who is no longer with you. It may be tough, but do it for their soul. Do it for the person who’s listening who might be losing their loved one.

 

We’re All Like Hot Air Balloons

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“Like hot air balloons, all of us are engineered to soar to great heights. Unfortunately, many of us ‘sandbag’ ourselves. We do things, we think things, and we believe things that hold us down. we get insecure, fearful, and jealous. We judge people, think negatively and make excuses for our unhappiness. we become our biggest obstacle. Imagine what it would be like if we got out of our own way.”- Scott Greenberg

Stop Sandbagging Yourself

  • Think of what makes you truly happy- daily, monthly, yearly.
  • Write down your favorite accomplishments.
  • Decide what you can improve.

Soar

  • Put away your phone.
  • Be present in your community.
  • Journal your gratitude.
  • Send letters to the people you love.

 

You CAN Stop Judging

 

You Should Be Here

I believe in struggling.

It taught me loyalty, beauty,

and that the world owes me nothing.

It taught me I can be as lighthearted as I want and that age doesn’t matter.

I believe that God does give his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers

And that I was lucky enough to be chosen.

I’ve been expected to be brave, invincible, and fearless.

And I’ve lived the words

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I’ve also seen things and felt a pain that some will never feel in their entire lives

before I was old enough to drive a car.

I have to be strong for a greater purpose because

I feel like my duty is far beyond me.

It’s beyond saving my family. It’s for the world.

Because somebody needs to hear this.

To those who’ve struggled with addiction and never found your way out.

To my dad who didn’t get to experience every inch of my love

because of a disease that made emotion numb.

You should be here.

I recreated this from Kehlani’s, “You Should Be Here” song intro. It was just so beautiful and it came on the other day while I was showering and it brought me to tears. It’s an anthem to all that I am supposed to be and sometimes just as many of us experience, I know I get distracted. I get pulled away from my purpose. But it’s always been there and it’s not going away.

 

It’s so important for us to surround ourselves with people who support us and our dreams. To allow yourself enough alone time and to stay away from people who make you feel any less magical than you are. Toxic influences can lead to incomplete dreams and the only person you’ll have to blame is yourself.

Two months before my dad died someone looked me in my eyes and said, “You think your life is so hard. You feel bad for yourself.” I knew it wasn’t true because since my teenage years I hadn’t felt that way. As untrue as it is, I have to share my experiences because I hope someone out there will read this memoir of pieces about my dad and me and feel a little better.

Maybe I can help a 13-year-old who just found out her dad has relapsed to not feel alone or selfish or helpless. Maybe I can help a parent who is ashamed of their addiction have hope that they can still give their child the best chance at a future. 

I’m not the first one to face struggles, and my pain is not to be compared to anyone else’s. But it’d be a shame to not be proud and shine through. If you’ve been through a struggle that cut you deep, that made you realize that something you thought you couldn’t live without is now gone, or if you’ve been tested to your limits with pain and defeat, don’t be afraid to let it give you a smile now.

There’s beauty in struggle, and we need to utilize it for good. Yeah, we’re a little messed up, on edge, defensive, and extremely loyal, and a little scattered, but we’re not afraid of anything that comes our way.  We’re the strongest soldiers and ready for the toughest battles.

Everything I do is with love and intention that my dad gave my life. Without my dad, I might’ve not known as much struggle but I would’ve never known how grateful I should be to live another day and how beautiful genuine people are.

So if you believe you’re a soldier and can make this life the greatest it can be, you should be here.

How to Become The Richest Person Alive

I am rich, lucky, loved, connected, grounded, and alive.
All the love and the gifts and the money in the world couldn’t get me to the state I’m in.
I purged my room of anything that didn’t have a meaning to me.
I keep my dad’s letters on my bed along with our photo album.
Those are my riches.
I write in my journal every day.
The ability to write and express myself is my luck.
I write letters to my loved ones weekly.
I feel more connected than ever.
I’m experiencing relationships that challenge my trust and
relationships that make me feel unworthy of their love.
That’s what keeps me grounded.
I have a story to tell the world and that is what makes me feel alive.
It’s not just my story, it’s my families, my dads.
That’s what makes losing my father feel like he is eternal with me.

-Leanna Olbinsky

Becoming rich

If you haven’t watched the movie I made for my dad, it’s a reflection on his life and a dedication to the people who struggle with addiction and their families. My dad passed away while battling addiction in Massachusetts for over 25 years. Regardless of his struggles, he was the greatest father in the world.

It made me the richest person in the world. I could lose all my money, my home, my things and I would still feel full-hearted. If the feeling of losing all the things around you is what makes you feel rich, you’re being condemned by society.

Watch Emily Esfahani Smith explain the four pillars of meaning and find an insightful glimpse into why we struggle with happiness and have ups and downs of disappointment in our life.

You can be as rich as I am.

First, you just have to find out what you’re holding on to. If its possessions I suggest watching the Minimalism Documentary. Clearing the clutter in your physical surroundings makes you focus on your internal clutter – the thoughts and problems that you’ve been voiding with things.

Richest person alive

Once you let go of the things that fill the void, start writing. No structure, not on social media. Just get yourself a $5 journal and a pen and write. You can find things to start with here.

Your hand might get tired and you might run out of time, just don’t forget to come back to it. As Emily Smith explains, writing your trauma helps people recover better because they understand their story.

Next read your story a week or so later. What narrative are you taking on? The hero or the victim? Rework your story until you’ve perfected a narrative that you’d be proud to tell others on your happiest day.

There are lots more ways to continue this journey of becoming the richest person in the world and I’m not an expert at all, but having a network of someone who you can trust is really important and if you need someone to talk to, to help in the rising of hope, I am always here. You can contact me here on my Rising Hope website. 

I hope you become as rich as I am and we can share our riches together.