When we reach midlife, many of us realize we need to make some changes. We want to lose the weight we find accumulating on our bodies, have more challenging careers, or maybe even fan the flames of love. But often we keep doing what we have always done because we’re not sure whether it’s worth doing something new that might not work out.
On my internet radio show, Push the Reset Button , I recently interviewed a dynamic woman who was forced to make a change; and once she made it, she went on to transform her entire life for the better.
The woman I’m speaking of is Michelle DeBerge. Her story is inspiring and educational. Together, Michelle and I were able to identify five powerful lessons from her experience for people who are in transition. I’d like to share a little bit of her story with you right here and those five points.
Before I tell you how she remade her life, I must let you know that the beginning of her story will make you shake your head. It may even make you cringe. It may seem too horrible to be real. But it is real, and I hope her experiences will give you courage. Michelle was able to transform her life, and you can too.
In her late thirties, professionally Michelle was flying high. Her picture was in the newspapers, she and her colleagues were stars. She was doing fulfilling work that really helped people.
But Michelle had a secret. Away from work, she lived in loneliness, fear, and pain. And she hid this from everyone outside her home.
Her secret was that she was married to a man who was angry, alcoholic, abusing drugs, and abusing her. He had made her believe that she was worthless. He had convinced her that she would be all alone in the world without him. And he was beating her.
Her husband’s teenage son from another relationship lived with them, too. His own mother had abandoned him. Angry and neglected in this situation, he also was drinking and doing drugs.
Michelle had retreated to the garage of her home to live. Every time her husband’s truck pulled into the driveway, it scared her. Furthermore, she had turned to food for solace. Over time, she gained 300 pounds.
Michelle felt isolated and powerless. She didn’t tell her mother because they had become estranged. She didn’t tell her friends because she was afraid that they would abandon her if they knew. She thought that if she left her husband, she would be bereft, vulnerable, and lonely.
One evening she woke up on the floor of her garage with fractured ribs and a fractured skull. Her husband had attacked her and repeatedly slammed her head into the concrete. He had beaten her unconscious because she had been away for his birthday and cooked him a dinner to celebrate when she returned. Bleeding and in pain, one thing became clear to Michelle: she needed to make a change.
First, she ended her marriage. Then she acquired custody of her husband’s son and helped him change his life. She also lost 200 pounds. Furthermore, she outgrew her job and established a successful business. She also created new, supportive relationships with her mother and friends.
Four years after that night when she was beaten nearly to death, she lives in happiness and love. She shares her story with the whole world as a way to help others.
You can hear much more of Michelle’s remarkable story in her own words on my radio show Push the Reset Button .
Michelle saved not only herself, but also her husband’s son, too. She didn’t want him to grow up to be like his father. She wanted to break the cycle.
I asked her how she managed to do all this. Together we identified the five lessons I mentioned before. Here they are:
1. Acknowledge problems for what they are. In Michelle’s words, if you are making something right in your head that is in no way right in reality, you need to rethink the situation. She made excuses for her husband’s behavior for years when she could have faced the truth much sooner. Also, if your public and private lives are out of sync, that’s another red flag that there may be a problem you need to face.
2. If you think there is a problem in your life that you want to fix, ask yourself if there are any negative, repeating cycles you need to break. Repeating cycles are those recurring behaviors or situations that we can observe if we take a step back and look at the big picture. We all have them. And if we can identify them, we can get down to the more fundamental causes of our immediate problems.
3. Be purposeful. Determine exactly what it is you want and carefully plan out how to get it. Then motivate yourself to make the change and stick it out. Michelle says no matter how hard or scary it may be to make a transition, it’s worth it. She wanted a life of love and happiness, and now she’s got it.
4. Ask for help. It’s out there, and people are happy to lend a hand. For example, Michelle finally asked each of her friends to call her one night a week to tell her how their day had gone. She needed the company. Her friends were more than happy to do this and even more.
5. Recognize when you lack expertise and need to learn something. Often, we tell ourselves that we can figure things out on our own. But this isn’t always true, and with major life changes, we should plan to learn something new. In Michelle’s case she didn’t have experience working with troubled teens. So she hired a parenting coach who taught her how to practice tough love. This was key to Michelle’s ability to help her husband’s son. Now, he has turned his report card from all F’s to passing grades. He is also clean and sober, has a job, and has started college. They have an open, loving relationship.
I hope you found Michelle’s story inspiring; and I hope these five lessons will help you when you decide to make a change.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Michelle if you want a hand. Her full time job now is helping people through life transitions. You can find her at MichelleDeBerge.com or StartingOverWithoutHim.com.
Until next time, I wish you success in love and life transitions.