There are moments in life when we believe that everything is falling apart.
Life can be painful. Devastatingly so.
I was 22 and just went through a traumatic experience.
I told only my sister and few other involved knew about it.
I even didn’t consider going to the police – not only I didn’t trust it, I was also afraid of it.
I was judging myself hard enough and I didn’t expect anything else from surroundings so I chose to keep it for myself.
Latvia (my home country) just recently regained freedom from the soviet occupation.
The whole new world opened and the euphoria soon was overtaken by practical changes.
Things got chaotic and unpredictable.
Industries collapsed and jobs disappeared.
Money lost its value.
My grandma’s belief that hard work and hustle equals security in form of money got crushed when she saw her hard-earned life savings had turned into pennies.
So the challenges were both a country scale and personal.
Life seemed unbearable and meaningless.
And since I had no idea how to deal with the country wise problem I did the best to solve my personal.
This is my last message to you: in sorrow, seek happiness.”
/Fyodor Dostoyevsky, "The Brothers Karamazov"
I got on the most practised survival therapy form in the country: vodka.
So this is how got by for a couple of months.
And even though my inner guard never allowed to get completely lost in vodka the hangovers were nasty.
Shame and unworthiness were eating me up.
“And the more I drink the more I feel it. That’s why I drink too. I try to find sympathy and feeling in drink…. I drink so that I may suffer twice as much!”/Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
Sometimes I thought it would be easier to put end to it all.
But since I already had tried to kill myself at my 16s (unsuccessfully thanks to the unexpected intervention of my nephew) I believed that I was meant to live.
And my ego wouldn’t give up and insisted on trying to feel better, so one morning all dressed up, (including that big blond hair and makeup as usual), I joined the local german culture club.
I even took my two sisters with, the youngest was only 10 – because I was too insecure to go on my own.
While I still kept in touch with my friends and vodka, I felt so much better being around the fine establishment.
I met new friends (with some of them I’m still keeping in touch) improving my german skills and performing in small sketches and some celebrations.
It gave some meaning to life since I still was jobless.
There is no education like adversity.Benjamin Disraeli
And then in the little local newspaper, I read about the first beauty contest in the town.
I knew I have to participate because:
– I was desperate for recognition and approval from others.
– I wanted to prove and show “them” that I was something.
– I wanted to feel better about myself, to feel more worthy.
But I was also scared and worrying because of a bunch of obstacles:
-I didn’t believe I was beautiful enough.
-I wasn’t thin enough.
-I didn’t believe I was good enough.
-I had this shameful secret.
-I was missing a tooth and you could see it (I still blame the dentists of soviet union – those who grew there will understand).
-I didn’t have money (for shoes, a dress, stockings and swimsuit and solarium).
Thankfully some part of me (my ego? my higher self? never figured it out, LOL) knew that I can fix my looks and make myself look pretty and would somehow solve the other issues.
So I borrowed from a friend a fitted, beige jacket that matched a skirt I had and headed to apply to the contest.
I was nervous as it was an examen.
Honestly, it felt like.
There were many many girls. I sat next to a pretty girl from my village.
We talked and I compared myself with her and doubted if I had a chance.
(I wonder if she did same?)
We got measured and for the first time in my life, I was grateful for my height.
I was accepted – I was good enough.
The pretty girl from my village was too short for the contest.
I felt lucky that I had not to be in the skin of those girls who got rejected.
Maybe also some of them saw this as a chance to come out of hopelessness.
I succeeded to impress the jury too, told the manager of the event and advised me to walk tall.
Honestly, I remember only one question: which place I would like to travel to.
I didn’t have any idea, but I remember one of my friends was excited about New Zealand.
So I said New Zealand.
The “cultural” (some locally known artist) guy in the jury became my fan – I guess because all the other girls were talking about Italy, and France and Greece.
So there I was upcoming potential beauty queen.
We had 2 weeks to be ready for the show and there was nothing glamorous.
I desperately tried to lose weight so I was starving half of the time.
Then I would give up the fight with hunger and go all in for my mother’s baked potatoes in pork fat and bacon.
Afterwards running 10km in the rain and snow, hating and beating myself up for being such a looser.
And as more I focussed of being fat it became impossible to become thinner.
Back then I didn’t know that where attention goes energy flows or what you focus on grows.
I managed to fix the missing tooth thing (it shows there were some good dentists too).
I sold my land certificates (some compensation paper for the communist occupation all Latvians got) for approx $ 80.
(Later I learned some smart people became millionaires by buying these certificates, my grandma was having hard time seeing that some people got wealthy without hard work and self-sacrifice).
The “certificate” money wasn’t enough, so I got my sister with me to sell our blood.
We got approx $10 and I bought a pair of shoes.
The night before the show I saw my red dress.
I walked the 10 km to the city and together with other 20 girls got ready for the show.
I so wanted to win but I didn’t believe I would.
And I was afraid to win -then there was a huge risk that my shameful secret would be disclosed.
Both to my disappointment and relief I didn’t get the crown.
But I enjoyed the one night of fame.
Although it didn’t remove the shame and unworthiness I felt inside, it taught me a great deal.
Among other that the importance of inner confidence, how you carry yourself and trusting that there is always a solution.
However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
So, when life knocks you down – don’t give up and I invite you 3 following steps.
Be mindful of your thoughts/ beliefs, ask for help, get a mentor, get a healing for your trauma(s).
Take care of your grooming, dress up – it will uplift your spirit. When you honour yourself others will too.
Take an action: join some interest clubs, courses and go to events. You will meet people, make new friends, good opportunities will appear.
If you would like my support to feel more confident, beautiful or courageous – please let me know.