Family: something we all have, whether DNA is involved or not. No family is perfect and from each we can learn more and more about who we are meant to be as people. Family, whether blood or not, can influence us to be the women we have always meant to be. For Alison Lumbatis, her family taught her that she was capable of more than she might have imagined – without even realizing it.
By Alison Lumbatis
Recently I sent an e-mail to my two older sisters letting them know how much they’ve inspired me and how proud I am of them. They are both incredibly successful, strong, independent women who are beautiful inside and out. They’re extremely driven and their lives reflect their ambition. That alone is great cause for the deep respect I have for them, but there’s a much bigger reason.
Both of my sisters were also teen moms at one time, living on welfare and trapped in abusive marriages. My oldest sister was pregnant and married at age 17, my middle sister just a couple of years later. It was heartbreaking to see them this way. They had so much going for them. But they also had so much working against them.
Our family foundation at home for self-approval, self-esteem, confidence and self-worth was non-existent.
Actually worse, it was downright destructive. Our parents were damaged people operating out of extremely dysfunctional upbringings. I don’t blame them, they only did what they knew how to do at the time. And quite frankly, their childhoods made ours look like a fairy tale. Still, the cracks ran deep and shattered three little girls with incredible potential.
My sisters and I have spent a lot of years recovering from this damage done by our family. We had to re-parent ourselves as adults, learn to love and accept ourselves and know that we have worth just by being alive. It hasn’t been easy, sometimes it’s still a struggle, but it has been worth it.
My parents have done a lot of changing too. I’ve forgiven them and can now see them for the funny, thoughtful, caring, yet flawed, human beings they are. The beauty of it is that we’ve all come to a point in our lives where we can laugh about the past. My middle sister’s response to my recent e-mail was “when we were growing up, Daddy always told us girls ‘you will never amount to nothing’. That has been our motivation. I guess we had to prove him wrong!” She’s right. We have been spending most of our adult lives proving him and the rest of our family wrong.
You can allow your family past to define you and destroy you or to motivate you and make you better.
We, thankfully, chose the latter.
I’ve used my father’s words as motivation through the years. Motivation to be the first person in my family to graduate from college, to make a good life for my son when I was a single mom at age 22, to not settle for less than marrying the perfect man for me and now constantly striving to be a better wife, parent and person every day of my life. Those words have made me resourceful, determined, independent and ambitious. They’ve also made me dedicated to fixing what’s broken inside me, to loving myself first, accepting myself, approving of myself and always knowing my worth.
“You will never amount to nothing” has been a mantra of sorts for my life. And today it’s driving my labor of self-love for anyone else who has heard this message in one form or another.
What my dad didn’t realize was that in his double negative of “never amount to nothing,” there was a powerful message…
I have NEVER amounted to NOTHING.
Know this, you will never amount to nothing too. You will always amount to anything you choose to. Even the negative messages can inspire you. You are always in control of how you use the messages in your life. Use them to motivate you and make you better.
Now get out there and start shamelessly living your life and always strive to “never amount to nothing” too.
In keeping with the theme, Alison answers the Identity 5:
1. What have you accepted in your life that took time, physically or mentally?
One of the hardest things to learn and accept is that fact that the only person you can change is you. You may desperately want better for the people in your life but unless they want it for themselves, there’s nothing you can do. You have to let go, surrender and accept this in order to love others fully.
2. What do you appreciate about yourself and within your life?
I appreciate having the opportunity to change patterns with myself and my children for the next generation. It’s been said that it’s easier to build up a child than to repair an adult and I firmly believe this. I’ve dedicated myself to healthy parenting so that my kids will have the best foundation and example for leading their lives.
3. What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What goals do you still have?
My proudest accomplishment is being the first person in my family to graduate from college. That achievement launched me into believing that anything is possible. There’s still a lot of work left in me though. I plan to write a book and start a non-profit program for girls that helps to build healthy self-esteem and belief that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to.
4. What is your not-so-perfect way? What imperfections and quirks create your Identity?
I’m a firm believer that a meltdown is ok sometimes! It’s hard to keep it all together all the time. Getting it out there clears your emotions and helps you move forward. They don’t happen very often but when they do, I always feel better. Release is good.
5. How would you complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Family, my husband and kids are the most incredible blessing. My family life is the most precious thing in the world to me.
Alison Lumbatis is a certified professional coach and the founder of The Expressionista Project – a movement teaching women to shamelessly live their lives by loving themselves. www.alisonlumbatis.com