When I returned home to Rockford from L.A., I felt so lost. There was a short period of sadness and confusion after being let go from the show so quickly… I had little emotion toward the stranger that didn’t choose to give me rose, and was more upset to be back so soon. I felt I had so much to give to the world, and somehow, this show was the best opportunity I had come across to connect with a large audience. I unpacked my vacuum-sealed, 100 lb. luggage, which hadn’t even been opened yet, hung up cocktail dresses that still had tags on them, did a few radio interviews, and slowly allowed myself to it all let go.
Although I hadn’t planned on it, I instantly stopped watching the show. I couldn’t ignore the bitter feeling of jealousy as I saw the other girls boarding planes, and lounging by the pool at the mansion. So, I stopped.
“My life quickly turned into a blur once again.”
I went back to doing what I knew best, and that was bar-tending. I was great at making conversation with anyone, and with a few years under my belt, I had become pretty decent at slinging drinks. I was also great at drinking them. My life quickly turned into a blur once again. In no way would I consider myself an alcoholic, but I was drinking on the job, just as most bartenders do, and I was on the job more often than not. So, you can gather from that, that I was drinking more often than not. Again, came the maintenance of this unhealthy lifestyle. It’s so easy to fall into the routine of going out to bars and drinking when you’re basically living in that environment already as your job. The money and booze continued to flow. I remember opening my purse some mornings and having no clue how much money I had made. I would reach in to grab handfuls of cash, and count it, hungover in bed.
Coffee and diet pills were my best friends. I quickly became even more obsessed with my appearance, and possibly drove everyone in my social network nuts with a record breaking amount of selfies. From the outside, I’m sure it seemed as though I was full of myself, yet I couldn’t have been more desperate for self-love and true confidence. I knew I was pretty, and I knew I could get attention, and I knew that no one really knew what was going on in my head. It was almost addictive to continue down this path, and to see how far I could go. I obsessed over my application of makeup as though it was necessary for my survival, and I began to feel naked without it. I continued to starve myself most days, then I would binge eat junk food on others. I remember eating a spoonful of almond butter for lunch and telling myself that was enough. I now know that my body and brain were starving for nutrients. I was emotionally miserable, yet I wasn’t sure what I could do differently, or where to even start.
“From the outside, I’m sure it seemed as though I was full of myself, yet I couldn’t have been more desperate for self-love and true confidence.”
On my days off, I would go shopping for new clothes, new makeup, new decor for the apartment. The initial hits of dopamine that shopping would provide was enough to get me through the day and it kept me coming back for more. Shopping was never a necessity. It was just what I did to fill time and to make myself feel good. I extended that good feeling even further and bought myself a beautiful vehicle. A 2008 white land rover, with 2 sunroofs, tan leather interior, an absolute beauty. I couldn’t help but look at my reflection in anything shiny when I was driving it. I was proud to hold this key that was labeled “LAND ROVER”, thinking that this made me more important somehow. Hah. I can’t help but laugh at that thought now. I now know that my self-worth has nothing to do with what kind of vehicle I own or any material possession for that matter.
“I was proud to hold this key that was labeled “LAND ROVER”, thinking that this made me more important somehow.”
I had moved into my own place, bought the car of my dreams, learned to perfect my physical appearance, and had a closet overflowing with clothes, (including $700 shoes I thought I needed). I was thinner than ever, and externally, I seemed to have it all. I was receiving more attention than I ever had before, and in a way, it felt great…
I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point after a summer of partying hard, and aimlessly walking in circles, I realized I couldn’t go forward like this any longer. Something was off. Something major.
This entire time, I had been hiding from something. I was ignoring my deep feelings, and I was instead, tending to the very surface and the surface alone. I was constantly seeking more and searching for happiness everywhere other than within myself. The money I was making became valueless, the makeup felt like a mask, the shopping, a waste, the attention untrue, and the smile unauthentic. I felt sick, empty, and in chronic physical and emotional pain. I was angry that I had let myself get this far. There was no way I could hear this tiny little voice of truth within, when I was trying so hard to cover it up. Junk food, drugs, money, clothes, attention; none of it was going to cut it anymore. The very presence of it all was making it impossible for me to be authentic. So, I decided to get rid of it all. Within a few days of this realization, I quit my job as a bartender, sold my car, I threw away and discontinued use of any and all prescription drugs, and made the conscious decision to stop shopping and to give away half of the clothes in my closet. I was broken, and for the first time in my life, I was 100% dedicated to fixing myself.
Here I am, 15 months later, finally feeling healed enough to share all of this with you.
I am no longer a bartender. In fact, I have been “jobless” for 15 months and have been successfully finding my way as a full-time artist and entrepreneur.
I no longer take diet pills to be skinny, nor do I take the antidepressants I had been reliant on for years, and am free of panic attacks.
Most days I wear no makeup at all, certainly no fake lashes, and no more extensions.
I no longer obsess over my weight, and I have given up killing myself on a stair master or treadmill.
After a year of yoga practice and eating real foods, I am healthier, stronger, and more fit than I have ever been before.
I am almost completely free of the chronic hip, leg and back pain I had suffered with for years, and when it does hurt, I turn to healing foods, yoga, and walking as opposed to the pain killers I used to take.
I have real, true energy, coming from a place of passion and excitement for life as opposed to a temporary drug-induced hype.
I can’t remember the last time I bought a piece of clothing, and instead have acquired an entirely new appreciation for the things that I already own or have received as gifts.
Life isn’t perfect, but when I feel uncomfortable, I look to meditation, deep breathing, yoga, mindfulness, empathy, compassion, and self-love, instead of substances or quick fixes such as shopping, food, drugs or alcohol.