Sunday, April 1, 2012

The woman behind the picture - Part 6: Teddi Lee

This post will not be so much about a struggle with Body Image. My story is about a struggle with Internal Beauty. Outward beauty really doesn’t mean anything if you don’t feel beautiful inside. I’m thankful to Kim for allowing me this opportunity to be vulnerable and honest and I hope others can gain insight for themselves.

Growing up through my adolescent and teenage years, I was blessed to have no major trials. My parents were divorced when I was very young, but all things considered I had it pretty good. My Mom raised me in the LDS Church as a single parent and made sure I kept in touch with and fostered a relationship with my Dad. My mom raised me to have as much confidence in myself as possible. She put me into every lesson imaginable to develop my talents: dance, singing, sports, art, you name it, I did it! Since she was a high school teacher, she always instilled the importance of education, and I excelled in school and went on to graduate with a Degree in Nursing straight out of highschool. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I had an unshakeable confidence.

Fast forward a few years….marriage, real life, responsibility! Once high school sweethearts, we were now happy newlyweds.  Daniel and I ventured out of Calgary, away from our families, excited to start our own little life together. Life was great! I worked full time as a Registered Nurse at the local hospital while Daniel took a few classes in school. We started getting into Real Estate. We loved the idea that we could create passive income through obtaining Revenue properties and worked together on obtaining deal after deal (moving about every six months). Somewhere in the mix of all the moves, we added two puppies and decided to start a family. I got pregnant right away and we were ecstatic! Then life got tough.

I had a position and worked on the Psychiatric Unit in the Hospital when I become pregnant. Daniel was already apprehensive about me working in such an unpredictable environment, but became even more so once the news of my pregnancy came. I assured him that no pregnant lady (or anyone for that fact) had ever been assaulted on this Unit and I had even spoken to my managers who also laid that fear to rest. Two weeks later, Daniel’s fear became a reality.

I was the Nurse in Charge on that shift.   Not even an hour into my shift while I was admitting a new patient onto the unit, one of my patients began acting out, yelling at her family members that were visiting, destroying her room and was making her way out to the common area, which would be putting the other patients at risk. One of my male coworkers was already trying to deal with the situation. In hindsight, I should have let him and stayed out of it. Thinking that since I was the one who had established a rapport with this volatile patient, I cautiously intervened, keeping my distance. I simply asked her to go back to her room and we could talk about things. It was kind of a blur after that. I remember her turning toward me without hesitation and punching me square in the nose, reeling me back into a chalkboard ledge of some sort. My back hit it hard.  I was bleeding, fumbling to get up off the floor, trying to call Security, and I could hear my coworker (who had now put the patient in an arm hold) yell to some of my other coworkers to take me to Emergency because my nose was broken. I was in complete shock. I was 8 weeks pregnant.

How could this happen to me, especially in those fragile early weeks of pregnancy ? Why me? I was convinced that my baby had been harmed. My Doctor didn’t see any need to monitor or schedule an ultrasound. Not knowing the state of my baby was too much to bear. I developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I had constant nightmares, and was nervous to go out in public. I wouldn’t step foot in that Psych Unit! My confidence took a nose dive.

After switching Doctors I was finally able to get that long awaited ultrasound that put my greatest fear to rest. I had one short scare of preterm labour, I had a long 40 hour labour followed by a PAINFUL C-Section because the epidural had slipped. OUCH is an understatement. Not even a broken nose with no pain meds could touch this! Nonetheless, I gave birth to my perfectly healthy daughter, though I quietly mourned that my body had rejected the normal progression of a natural labour. I felt broken.

I got a job offer that was a perfect fit for me working as a Nursing Education Assistant for a privatized Homecare company. I loved the atmosphere and the job. My confidence was beginning to return until my husband got a job offer he couldn’t refuse and within weeks and after much hesitation on my part, we were headed back toward Calgary.

In and around this last move, I had been dealing with countless other trials: Financial transitions. A personal illness that resulted in Surgery (and the joyous recovery).  The heartache of unsuccessful attempts of getting pregnant again. The stresses of moving-packing, unpacking, knowing no one and trying to make friends over again. To top it off, we were having some major family struggles.  I usually pride myself on being strong in the face of adversity, but dealing with all of this at the same time was too much to handle.  Any confidence I had left from my early years was gone, along with any belief in myself. I felt that I had no friends I could turn to because we moved so constantly. When we moved, people moved on, it’s just what happened. I felt so alone. How could trials just keeping coming like this? I just needed a break for some normalcy! Was that too much to ask?

Throughout all of this, I’m sure I seemed “beautiful” and “put together”.   I was still my happy, friendly, outgoing self, but inside, I was not beautiful anymore. I was negative, felt sorry for myself and wondered why things wouldn’t just get better so I could catch a break. I felt that I was lacking as a mother, a daughter, a wife and a friend. Most of my family and loved ones didn’t even realize all I was facing or how I was feeling inside. How could they? I didn’t want to bother anyone with my problems…everyone has their own to deal with!

I realized things had to change. Outward beauty means nothing when you didn’t feel beautiful on the inside. There was no point in waiting for the trials to stop, because they don’t! That’s life! So, I made a choice. I was going to change my belief in ME and gain my confidence back. I was going to focus on controlling the only thing I could-myself! Figuratively drew a line in the sand and told myself “I used to feel sorry for myself, depressed and alone, but now I’m getting better at realizing that trials allow me the privilege to grow into the person I want to become”.

I immersed myself in positivity. I began writing a gratitude Journal again, and dove into Personal Development books and audios. Through my current work, I began working with Bob Proctor who constantly teaches that positive thinking creates positive results. I quickly realized that my attitude toward life determines life’s attitude toward me! I prayed like I never prayed before. I read tons of books. I strengthened my testimony of the Enabling Power of the Atonement of Christ. For the first time, I realized that my Saviour had already suffered for not only for my sins, but also for my pains, trials and struggles. I did not need to feel that hurt and heartache! I only needed to humble myself enough to allow Him to release those burdens from me so that I could move forward.

With God, all things are possible. I will continue to act as if I am the person I want to become. The difference is that now, I believe it! Inside of me is a greater ME! I’ve retrained my mind, my thoughts and my beliefs and try not to look back. All I needed was for one person to believe in me…and that person HAD to be ME.  I live in the present, not in the past, or anxious for the future. I’m grateful for my trials; they force me to grow and develop into that person I am becoming. Chris Powell once said “A transformation [of your thoughts, beliefs, your life or your body image] means that you will fall and get back up. It’s who you become in the process”.

 Despite what this life may bring, I am grateful, I am blessed. I am beautiful! 


  1. Wow thanks so much for sharing Teddi-lee. I can relate to many aspects of your story. Thanks for being the wonderful person you are. I'm grateful that you moved to this area and into our lives!

  2. I love so much how you have taken ownership for the person you are and the person you want to become. So many people let life's experiences become an excuse and you've chosen not to do this. Thanks Teddi for sharing this honest story!!

  3. Oh my wonderful niece! You are beautiful both inside and out. The strength you have shows in your words. I'm so very proud of you. I love you more than words can say. Julie

  4. Teddi, I had no idea you had gone through so much. I'm so glad you were able to find help and happiness again. Your story is inspiring. I still deal with so many fears, and struggle with things. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Very inspirational, Im impressed and moved.

  6. It's so neat to learn about the trials and struggles of others, and how others overcome them. This is absolutely inspiring. Thank you for opening up!