The Transformational Journey: A Story
“Erica’s Personal Journey”
There are times in each of our lives when the entire course of our life seems to change. Sometimes, the change is so dramatic it feels like it must have been preordained. I have had several of those turning points in my life, but none more dramatic than the day in 1990 that I met Benita Esposito. My life has not been the same since then, and I am eternally grateful for that.
I was in my early 30’s, and I worked as the office manager for a church in Washington State. The day I met Benita, she had an appointment with the minister. I had seen her around the church, but I had not really ever talked with her. When she arrived for her appointment, the minister was busy in his office, so I came out of my office to greet Benita, and let her know that he was running behind schedule, and he would be with her in a few minutes.
My Personal and Work Challenges
At that time in my life, I was going through very difficult times in my family. My beloved younger brother was dying of AIDs-related lymphoma, my step-father was having severe health issues, my grandmother was dying, and my alcoholic mother was emotionally distraught from trying to take care of all of them. My husband was working 120 miles from home, and in addition to working at the church, I was caring for my two-year old daughter all week by myself. When my husband was home on the weekends, we were fighting, and our marriage had been deteriorating for several years. The night before I met Benita, I had spent two hours on the phone with my mother, as she unloaded all her stress onto me. I felt helpless and worried, but I was not going to let anyone see that. Every day I came to work with a smile plastered on my face, and tried to look cheerful, upbeat and professional. It was what was expected of me. It was all I knew how to do.
I came out of my office with my fake smile shining, and told Benita that the minister was running late. We talked for a few moments, and then she looked at me and said, “How are you, really?” Something happened to me right then that I still cannot explain. I began to cry. I found myself in Benita’s arms, crying, and confessing that I really was not doing very well at all. I think I actually told her some of what was not going well, knowing it was OK to cry with her. After a few minutes, I pulled myself together, and tried to apologize, but Benita said there was no reason to be sorry. She pulled out a business card and handed it to me, and said, “I’m a counselor. If you want to talk more, please give me a call.” I thanked her and muttered, “I might do that.” I returned to my office, and Benita began her meeting with the minister.
Fortunately, that was not the end of the story. Fate had intervened in my life, my guardian angel had sent Benita to answer my prayers, and I was wise enough to sense that. Within a couple days, I called Benita and made an appointment to talk with her. It was the beginning of three years of intense transformation for me, and Benita guided me wisely, lovingly and firmly every step of the way.
The Progress I made in 3 years
At the end of those three years, I divorced my husband, and stopped participating in private counseling and personal development groups with Benita due to the changes in my financial situation. Benita moved back to Georgia, but the wisdom I gained in those three years stayed with me. I learned to feel my emotions. I untangled my complicated relationship with my mother. I gained clarity about my marriage, and made the choice to end it. I found peace within myself. I learned how to be my Authentic Self in the face of others approval or disapproval.
The next seven years saw even more change in my life. I remarried, changed careers, became a software development engineer, and moved to Virginia. As I approached my 40th birthday, I was restless, unhappy, and struggling with my current marriage. One day, the thought of Benita came into my mind. I decided to do some research to see if I could find her. I sifted through old papers and did an internet search. I found a phone number that I believed was Benita’s current number in Atlanta. With my heart in my mouth, I dialed the number. Benita answered the phone. I stumbled through telling her who I was. To my surprise and delight, she remembered me. We resumed our relationship almost right where we had left off. I was ready for the next phase in my growth, and Benita knew just what I needed. I began phone coaching sessions with her, and arranged to attend several “Awakening the Authentic Self” retreats. Each one was a major leap in my evolution. It was a joy having Benita in my life again, and I experienced another phenomenal leap in my personal growth.
The results have endured over 20 years.
That was five years ago. Today, I am happier and more successful in my life than I had ever dreamed possible. Most of my success is personal, but I have also consistently applied the learning to empowering myself at work, and uplifting the consciousness of those around me. I am leading by example, and I use a coaching model so everyone on my team learns how to be responsible, accountable, and tap their own inner potential. I have a deep sense of who I am, and of what matters to me, what my values are, and I live by those values instead of hiding behind a plastic smile. I continue to grow and occasionally struggle intensely with insecurities and fears, and I always draw on what Benita taught me. When I get into a pinch, I know I can always trust Benita’s wise advice and guidance.
Benita helped me deal with my own emotions, understand the interpersonal dynamics that swirl around me, and have the courage to live my truth, no matter what the rest of the world thinks about me, including my boss, my co-workers, my mother, my friends, my children, and my husband.
Now, my life is an adventure rather than the confusing torture it seemed to be on the day I met Benita. Then, empowerment and authenticity were words that I believed in, but had no way of really understanding or living. Now, I live every day embodying those values, learning them more deeply, and teaching them, to the best of my ability. My life still has its ups and downs, but I have the wisdom, the skill, and the belief in myself to see the downs as valuable learning experiences, and enjoy the ups as the fruits of a long labor of love.
Author: Erica W.
(Posted by permission from the author.)
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