Coach Val here with a little story for you ladies! Back in 2009 I was two years into running my very first business, the first ever dedicated pole dancing and aerial arts studio right here in Columbus, Ohio. I was finally in my very own location, booking out tons of classes, being asked to perform for events and every single day of my life doing what I loved all while raising the most incredible little girl in the whole world. You wanna talk empowerment, how about an educated female business owner happily raising her daughter on her own. I was also fit and strong and flexible and just in my late twenties. Below is a picture of me at that time and while I may not have had a figure competitor physique or a size 2 I look at that picture today and feel a mix of pride and sympathy.
Now you may be thinking “girl what the hell are you feeling sympathy for if I tried that I’d be on my way to the hospital?!” Ladies, here’s where what we don’t see is more important than what we do. Yes, that image is strength and grace and sex appeal but what you don’t see is a woman slowly beating herself down, listening to horrible people tell her horrible things. What you don’t see is a woman who looked at that picture when it was first taken and thought she needed to loose weight, her stomach was fat, she wasn’t strong enough, she had too many stretch marks on her stomach and the list goes on. That woman ten years ago beat herself up over everything she saw wrong in that picture and you want to know why? Because when I’d been performing for a band a few women had made comments about my stomach and I couldn’t let it go. Because women in my industry were doing pole tricks I couldn’t yet do and I let myself feel inferior to them. Because a few douchebag men had rejected me as not good enough to date so I believed if I just made my body better then I’d be good enough.
I let so many unnecessary and unworthy voices fill my head and put so much pressure on myself to be something more than I was that I forgot I was already amazing. I may not have been able to do certain gravity defying tricks but I was an amazing teacher and was told repeatedly what captivating performer I was. I let all those voices and thoughts creep into my head until over the years they filled it and I lived in a state of self doubt and a lack of self worth sprinkled with moments superficial confidence and faked self love. I spent everyday of my life trying to teach women to love themselves and their bodies and all the while I would cut myself down and let every mean comment fill me.
After years of this it destroyed my sense of self worth, my weight fluctuated, my business struggled, when I did date I dated unworthy men, I allowed people into my life who I knew weren’t good for me or helping me and ignored or lost contact with the ones who were. I shut them out and slowly shut down until I broke. I was doing ok as a mother but also unintentionally teaching my daughter to doubt herself and not let herself shine but she saw it all. The image I presented to the world and the one that I kept closed off. She saw me succeed and she saw me hide in a bathroom crying because I felt so worthless. My mind had become an enemy that I lived in everyday and even though I had periods where I’d do better, feel better it was just never 100%. It was a horrible thing for my wonderful daughter to watch and a lesson I work hard to correct.
So what happened to start changing this? Well you knowing the whole thing about the darkest night of the soul? Yeah, I lived that! My relationship with my fiancé had collapsed, my business was tanking and I’d had several people in it who were just not good for me at all and hadn’t been but I’d put them in positions I shouldn’t have and it blew up. On top of this, a few injuries I’d had just kept adding up to the point I was living in constant pain and I’d lost any sense of femininity, all my creativity and joy. My body was a wreck, my mind was a wreck and my life was a wreck. I finally hit the worst depression of my life and couldn’t get myself out. After that horrible background I picked myself up, with the support of my daughter and my dad I got myself into therapy, did some life coaching classes and started finding my voice again. This time though my real voice and I started looking back and seeing those old images of myself in a clear light.
Once I began healing I started writing a lot, figuring out where I’d gotten all these horrible stories about myself and working to replace them. I also started working on getting back in touch with myself and my body. I made the decision to be completely and utterly selfish and stop putting pressure on myself to do or love things I no longer did or maybe never did. I started finding things that genuinely made me happy, wearing things that genuinely made me feel good, doing things that I genuinely wanted to. I also started moving my body again but in ways I hadn’t truly in years that was all about loving and celebrating my femininity. That movement slowly started waking things up in me that hadn’t been awake in years or possibly ever if I’m being honest. That movement started teaching me something so important. It taught me to love myself, really love myself. Love my curves, my stretch marks that I was blessed with from giving birth to my beautiful daughter, love my flaws, my assets, all of it for better or worse.
Through all the pain and suffering I found a way for me to heal my relationship with my body that was uniquely mine. I learned to see where I am as worthy and even if I work to improve it I still love it for what it is. I decided though that I didn’t want to just do this for me anymore. I’ve spent 15 years teaching women and seeing their own struggles with their bodies and self image and I knew for me to be happy I needed to be back in a place where I was helping women do the same. I knew I wanted to be part of the change in women feeling beautiful, strong, sexy, confidence, vibrant and unapologetic. I wanted to see women shining and living in a state of self love so strong that every time they looked in the mirror they saw more gorgeous then bad and appreciated who they are. So I started writing and reaching out to women who wanted to do the same and I started delevoping what I did for me into a class I could give to women. I wanted a way to not just teach a dance but also a meditative practice that helps each women really get in tune with her body.
Once I had it all written out I knew it was time to act on it and through that Her Veil was created with my two other amazing coaches and our tribe was formed. Now all that’s left is to give it to each of you so all of you are able to clear those voices out of your heads that tell you your not enough and let yourselves shine bright!