"We can use our stories to either keep us down or lift us up.”
Rhonda Britten –Emmy Award-winner, Repeat Oprah guest, Master Coach –has changed lives in over 600 episodes of reality television, is the author of four bestsellers including her seminal work, “Fearless Living” and is the Founder of the Fearless Living Institute, home of the Ivy League of Life Coaching Training. Named “America’s Favorite Life Coach,” she brings the neuroscience of fear down to earth giving you a path out of “not being good enough” using the “Wheels” technology she developed that saved her own life.
I was watching an amazing movie one day called Unsinkable. And when writer and narrator Sonia Ricotti spoke with featured guest Rhonda Britten about her life story, I was dumbstruck. Literally, frozen to the spot. Tears were pouring down my face. I could not believe what I was hearing. How could anyone survive such trauma? How was this even possible? I felt sick to my stomach and at a complete loss as to how utterly brutal life can be. I knew that if that was me? There’s no way I could have found the strength to even make it to adulthood.
But somehow, that’s exactly what Rhonda did. Rhonda not only survived unthinkable trauma but has emerged from this private hell to thrive and to bring her life-changing lessons to others, to help them rebuild their lives and find their way to fearless, courageous living.
|I also gleaned that Rhonda had experienced the trauma of infertility.|
Surely this was one kind of trauma too many! How does one rebuild a life after that? How do you come back from all of that?
I knew I had to talk with Rhonda. I needed to find out what it was that she did that turned her life from being a victim of crime to a triumphant champion of fearless living. Of surviving that horrific trauma, and then experience the trauma of infertility, yet find resilience. If Rhonda could turn her life around, in the way that she has, then doesn’t everyone deserve the right to know that there is a way through the darkness into the light? That we can live our best possible life no matter what the circumstances may be? That even though there may be grief and heartache, that we can find a reason to live?
Rhonda’s life is nothing short of inspirational. Her life story shows us that in the darkest of times, there is always a flicker of light, of hope, of comfort that we can all seek out; that we can find our way to a better place. Does this negate trauma? No. Does this mean that suffering doesn’t happen? No. Does this mean we don’t grieve the children never born? No! But what it shows is the resilience of the human spirit, the innate potential to be able to tap into an inner reserve of strength; to transform adversity and trauma into an opportunity for post-traumatic growth.
It gives me great pleasure to share with you an excerpt of my interview with the wonderful Rhonda Britten, champion of living fearlessly, and the embodiment of a true Warrior in our midst. You can read the full interview at blogger – just look for the link at the end of the post.
In Rhonda's Words
The Worst Day of My Life
I think all of us have like a day that we'd like to forget in our lives, and the day that I'd like to forget and I wish it never happened and sadly it did. It took place when I was 14 years old and my parents were going through a divorce. I was getting ready to go out to Sunday brunch with my dad. It was a big deal because it was Father's day. We didn't really go out to brunch or go out to eat. That was too expensive. So it was a big deal that we were going out to Sunday brunch. And my father comes in and he starts going, “Come on, come on.” And my mom and I are in her bedroom. She's getting ready to go and putting on a blue eyeshadow and fluffing up her beehive hairdo. I have two sisters and they were both fighting it out in our one bathroom. So we only had one bathroom, about 850 square foot house. And me and my dad and mom start walking out. My sisters are still fighting in the bathroom and my dad says to me, “Well, let me go get my coat from the car.”
And as he opens his trunk to get his coat, I noticed that he doesn't grab a coat, but he grabs a gun and he starts screaming, “This is your fault, this is your fault!” and he shoots my mother and I start to scream, “What are you doing dad? What are you doing?” And he cocks the gun and he points it at me and I absolutely 100% believed I was next.
He looked at me, I looked at him, he blinked, I blinked. And then my mother, literally with her last breath, saw the gun in my face and screamed, “No! Don't!” And realizing that my mother is still alive, my father takes that bullet intended for me and shoots my mother a second time. And that second bullet goes through my mother's abdomen and right out her back and lands in the car horn. And for the next 20 minutes, all I heard was the sound of that car horn blaring.
And then my father cocks the gun, gets down on his knees, puts it to his head and fires.
So within about two minutes, I was the sole witness of my father murdering my mother and committing suicide in front of me.
And I don't know how other people would respond, but this is how I responded, that it was my fault. I mean, I was the only one physically out there that could have stopped it. I didn't grab the gun. I didn't say stop. You know, I didn't jump in front of my mother. I didn't kick my father shins. I did nothing.
And from that moment on it was like, you don't get to be happy if you don't stop your father from killing your mother. So happiness was out the window. Like, yay, good for me not being ever able to be happy again. That's just not an option for me anymore.
Pretending Everything is Okay
And so I basically split into two - the part of me that was seen by the external world, I was happy. I was fine, I forgave my father and I was good. I was fine, I was fine! I'm fine, I'm fine! And that became my mantra. But internally what was going on was a lot of shame, a lot of guilt, abandonment, betrayal, desperation, you know, all the feelings that go along with anything like that. And I started to believe that there was something seriously wrong with me.
And so I proceeded to become an alcoholic. I had three DUIs (driving under the influence), had three suicide attempts and it was the third suicide attempt that I realized I'm not very good at killing myself, not good at it at all. I wanted it to be over. I wanted it to be over but since it wouldn't be over, I had to make a different choice. I had to make a difference. I guess I just had to be worth living. Like I had to have a reason. I had to prove to myself that I was worth saving.
And you know, I also realized around the same time that nobody is coming. If you try to kill yourself three times and nobody comes to help you, feed you, take care of you, and nobody comes, then nobody will be there. Nobody's even is phased by it. You know, nobody's coming. Nobody! When my parents died, nobody came. When I tried to kill myself three times, nobody came. And I finally said to myself, Rhonda, nobody's coming! Like, you actually have to do this.
I've got to figure out another way because I can't keep living like this. I can't keep pretending I'm okay on the outside and then living in hell on the inside. I can't! I can't keep living like this and if I'm not dying, then I've got to change it. Myself.
After the third suicide attempt, I realized that I'm going to have to figure this out on why own. And so I started making up exercises for myself.
The first exercise I did, like literally, was the day I got home from the hospital, and I remember thinking to myself that I have to start over. I mean, I literally have to start from the beginning. I thought of kindergarten. What did I learn in kindergarten? And I thought, “Well, there's a calendar and gold star.” So I actually went to the store, got a calendar and gold stars. I still have it to this day. It's on my office wall. And I started giving myself gold stars for anything good. Anything, because I needed hope that I was worth saving and that I was worth living for.
For the first 30 days, I just would mark anything good. For example, that I got angry but didn't break anything. You know, or when I only had one drink and not three. Or I ate food today. I'm talking about any single thing that was good. And at the end of 30 days I had a calendar full of gold stars.
And that really was the beginning of my hope. That was the beginning of me thinking maybe I can do this. And so I kept on creating exercises for myself, to turn my life around.
Connection & Healing
In order to really heal myself, I had to transcend all those thinkings. I had to go past the fact that my father was riddled in fear. My father was just trying to save his ego. To save who he thought he should be and what should happen in his life. My father wasn't thinking about me. And when I was trying to kill myself, I wasn't thinking about anybody else. I wasn't thinking about my sisters. I wasn't thinking about my nieces. I wasn't thinking about that. You know, for people that survive suicide, most people weren't even thinking of doing it five minutes before they tried. It became an opening; the opportunity presented itself and they took it. A huge percentage of people that actually do commit suicide weren't even thinking about it five minutes before they did it. Isn't that amazing to think about? I mean, that's why we definitely want to have connection in our lives. We want to stay connected. Our number one human need is connection. We want to feel connected; we want to feel like we belong. Because then we feel "obligated to the tribe." We feel part of something, and we are less likely to hurt ourselves. This is where healing begins.
On Infertility and Finding Peace
|You have to grieve what could have been. You have to grieve what family means. You actually have to recreate what family means.|
I was infertile and I desperately wanted children. And I had made a decision a long time ago that I never wanted children alone. I knew that I didn't want to be a single mother, never wanted that. I found out I was infertile when I was married. By the time we were considering invitro and wondering what we should do, we were already getting divorced.
And at the time I thought I would just get remarried and I would do all that with my next husband.
But I never got remarried. And so I never went forward to try to have a child on my own. But you have to grieve that. You have to grieve what could have been. You have to grieve what family means. You actually have to recreate what family means. You have to recreate it. I have nieces and nephews. I'm very, very, very close to my nieces and nephews. And I purposely did that. I knew that I wasn't having children, even though it wasn't my choice per se, my body was like, “No, we're not doing it.”
So, I made sure that I was close to my nieces and nephews and I actively participated in those relationships. And people say to me all the time, my God, you're so close. I'm like, yes, I actively call them. I actively have relationships with them. I actively go on vacation with them.
I think a lot of people don't actually know and invest in the relationship with children that they could have. And I have invested money and time in relationship and I have with my nieces and nephews. I think about my niece when she was going to prom and she would call me up or I'd call her up and say, “Oh, tell me about your prom dress!” Do I care about her prom dress? No, I do not. I do not care about her prom dress. I do not care if it sparkles or not. I do not care what shoes she has. But I was on that phone for half hour asking every question because she cared. I'd say, “So tell me what color is it? And tell me what the lace is? Tell me what shoes you got and tell me about your earrings.” Because that's where she was and if I was going to get close to her, I had to support her and her dream. I had to support her in asking those questions.
I think people just don't actually take the time. I think people don't take the time to actually care about what other people care about. And I decided long time ago that I was going to care about what they care about.
So for me, I don't have a problem with acceptance. I love the word acceptance. And I actually see the hand of God. You know, like I see it all. Like I get why I didn't have children now. With perspective and 2020 hindsight. I totally get it. Like God knew what he was doing.
|I heard Oprah say something like, “All these people are my children.”|
I heard Oprah say something like, “All these people are my children.” That's how I feel. Every student, every client; because you know, every client, every student is my child. And I pour love into them every day and they tell me all the time they feel loved and I just literally pour love into them every day and that's what I do.
Again, I just see how it really is divine that I don't have children. And even though once in a while I still ache for them and once in a while I still wish I had them.
And I look at other people. Both my sisters have children and I see their relationships and I would love to have that. But you know, I just make sure that I have that in my life with children in my life. And I do the same thing with grandparents and parents. I don't have a mother. So I always look for mother figures. One of my coaches is 75 and I say to her, “You're like a mother to me.” And she says, “I can be your mother anytime.”
So I label people mothers. I label people aunts. I labeled people my fathers because I don't have those things, you know? And I need to find that mother energy. I need to find that child energy. I need to find that father energy. I need to find that so that I can experience it. That's what I do.
Like my best friend obviously is not my mother, but I'll occasionally say something like, “I need a mom right now. I need some advice.” If my friends give me like motherly advice, I'll say, “Thanks mom.” You know, if they tell me what to eat or to take this vitamin. I always tell them, “Thanks mom.” I want a mom. And you know, I don't get one physically in this world, so I want to feel that motherly feeling. And that same excitement about children.
I keep really good tabs on my nieces and nephews. Now, one of my nieces has four children now. So I have great nieces and nephews and I'm doing the same with them. I'm heavily investing in all those relationships because that matters to me; because that's how I would have wanted to be with my children; and I'm going to give them what I would have given my own children.
Find Out More
To read the full Guest Blog Post, visit blogger here:
Take Rhonda’s free course How to Overcome Fear of the Unknown here:
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