2022 was the year that Ramsey Bergeron as I knew him, had to die. And die he did.
Professionally, this was the most successful year of my life. My speaking and leadership development business has taken off and I feel honored and blessed that my message has resonated with thousands of people across the country.
But personally? This year has been the hardest of my life. It has burned every fiber of my being to the ground.
My divorce was followed by two of the most toxic relationships of my life. One pretended to be everything I ever wanted only to betray me, and the next showed me exactly who they were, but I chose to ignore it. I almost became a father in a challenging emotionally abusive relationship and both the pregnancy and the relationship ended in devastatingly painful ways. I officially quit my successful personal training business and went from interacting with 12 people a day face-to-face to interacting only online. I held my dog, Charlie, as he crossed the rainbow bridge on his 14th birthday.
It was all too much to bear. Which is precisely what needed to happen.
I have to remember…. I asked for this. I asked for growth. I asked to heal and to be able to help as many people as I can by sharing my story and my triumph over adversity. Sure, I had already overcome a lot in my life, but I still wore a mask. I would get up on stage and act like I had my life figured out. I would share how we all have the power to change our perspective at any moment and live a more fulfilled and empowered life. But as much work as I had done to clean out my emotional closet, there was still plenty I had swept under the rug in an attempt to appear whole. I had started the work, but just enough to function. Enough to keep moving forward. I was pretending to be a beacon of light, even as I stood in the darkness cast by my own shadow.
The price I paid for this incongruency was suffering. This year I broke. I questioned my purpose. I had many days where I could not get out of bed. Days where all I could do is lay on the floor and cry. Days where I would turn to the woman I loved for support who was incapable of supporting me. Who admitted I deserved better, who I would confide in only to have it thrown back in my face.
A pattern that was all too familiar.
It was the same relationship I had with my father as a child. One where I equated abuse with love. Where emotional unavailability was comfortable. I had to experience this again as an adult to recognize it for what it was. It was a wound that I had to heal. One of the most damaged parts of my inner child that had never seen the light of day or learned to love himself. Sitting there under the rug, covered in the filth of shame and inadequacy. And I lay there, crying on the floor, I heard his sobs, pulled back the rug, and held him.
I had allowed myself to be a victim. I had ceded my power to others. And that version of me, the one that was a "victim" needed to die to make room for who I am supposed to be. Not just a survivor, but someone who was forged into the best version of himself through the crucible of suffering. Someone capable of loving himself, setting boundaries, and surrounding himself with people who believe in kindness and empathy. Someone who can understand the pain of others, but not allow it to consume him. Someone who was in charge of his own destiny and was focused on his vision.
When the person you think you are has to die, you grieve the old way of life. Those coping mechanisms were the comfortable prison of my creation. I relied on others to dictate how I felt because it was how I survived my childhood. This awareness created equal parts growth and shame. Shame for not having learned these lessons sooner. Shame for feeling so stupid for having the universe need to teach me time and time and time again. But I’m releasing this shame with the grace of knowing that’s the whole point of this human experience. To grow. To experience life, through all its pain and pleasure. To release control of everything. Because so little of it is in my control anyway.
In reality, I only control one thing: My perspective. What is the lesson here? What is the story I am telling myself? What type of behaviors do I allow in my life? How do I learn to show myself love and compassion? How do I coach and speak authentically?
I am learning to love myself. Learning to find self-validation and inner peace. I am rededicating my life to my purpose. To share all of my story. I am committed to helping others, but not at the expense of sacrificing myself. Mediation, journaling, therapy, connection, kindness, empathy, and self-compassion. Boundaries. Ahhh yes…. Boundaries.
So I step into 2023 with a mix of healthy fear and excitement. Who is the man I am becoming? Or is it a matter of unbecoming? What energies am I able to attract into my life as I finally lift the rug and sweep out all the trauma I pretend wasn't there?
In order to rise from the ashes, you must first burn yourself to the ground. It's time for me to rise.