She Crawled Into My Bathroom Stall…

She Crawled Into My Bathroom Stall | Sedruola Maruska

We were living in Miami at the time. Which means I was around eight years old.

I raised my hand.

“May I go to the bathroom?”

“Yes, Sedie, go ahead.”

It was a typical day. We were learning. Things were going fine, until I went to the bathroom.

I heard someone come in.

Then, she crawled under the partition, into my stall.

Her name was Sara. She was in my class. We were friends. It’s foggy, I was eight. We only lived in Miami for six months. I didn’t know her well, but she was my friend.

And here was my friend, Sara, standing in front of me, in my bathroom stall, pulling down her pants and showing me her vagina.

“What are you doing?!”

“Show me yours.”

“NO!”

“Come on?!”

“NO!”

I quickly got up, pulled my clothes together and tried to leave the stall.

She tried to kiss me.

“Stop!”

My eight year old self was confused. What happened? Why did she come into my stall? Why was she showing me her vagina? Why did she want to see mine?

Why did I feel scared? Why did I feel ashamed?

Get a Fresh Start!

I’ve never told that story before. As a matter of fact, I haven’t thought about that incident in a long time

It came to mind because the other day I was talking to my mom about my son. We were sharing about how open he still seems to be at thirteen.

Then I thought about Sara. About how I never told anyone what happened in that bathroom. How, I felt so ashamed and nervous afterwards.

Looking back, I wonder if Sara ever said anything to anyone either. She and I never talked about it. I didn’t tell on her. I didn’t tell anyone, ever. We moved.

As a mom I’d like to think I can protect my kids from hurt. I want to think that they’ll tell me what’s going on with them, by making sure I give them space to be fully open and honest.

But they’re not going to tell us everything. They’re not always going to say when they feel confused or frustrated. Especially if they feel ashamed or nervous.

They’re going to move on and pretend everything’s fine, or they’ll forget.

What happened with Sara? Did she keep crawling under partitions into stalls? Did she grow into herself and acknowledge that she was gay, or at least curious? Or, did she bury herself and her curiosity deep inside because of confusion?

I’ll never know.

Something I do know, our children will never tell us everything. Because when I think about it, I realize that I didn’t.

We didn’t, we don’t tell everything ourselves.

She Crawled Into My Bathroom Stall | Sedruola Maruska

I could have gone home and told my mom about this little girl that came into my bathroom stall. I didn’t. Which is why I’m not naïve enough to think my kids will tell me.

No matter how safe they feel in talking to me, and we work hard to make our home a safe space, they won’t. What I hope is they’ll learn to process and cope.

Until we’re able to process the reasons we keep ourselves buried, we’re destined to live in darkness. We can’t be upset at our children for not sharing everything with us, when we don’t share everything with ourselves.

Homeschooling my daughter the other day, we worked on a reading comprehension activity. I looked at her work and noticed a couple of wrong answers so I sent her back to review. She reviewed then brought it back. I glanced and started to tell her that what she did was wrong as she started to get emotional.

When I looked closer, I was wrong. I didn’t take the time to look closely, thinking I already knew what I was doing, and I was correcting what she’d done, when it was already correct.

I looked at her teary eyes and said “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”

But I didn’t stop there. I want to empower her to speak up so I said “it’s okay to tell me if I’m wrong. I will be wrong sometimes. Okay? No matter who it is, they can be wrong. If you know you’re right, speak up.”

She nodded, smiled and we moved on. What I’m hoping she’ll learn is, even if she’s not willing to tell me everything, she will speak up for herself and process outwardly if necessary.

Click Here if you’re ready to be your best?

As we mature the extent we allow ourselves to learn and grow is the extent we’ll be able to allow others around us to learn and grow.

We’re not called to live anyone else’s life, even our children’s. What we’re called to do is be and project the best versions of ourselves. That’s how we empower ourselves, our children and our loved ones to be the very best of themselves.

Then, when someone does crawl into their bathroom stall, they’re equipped to handle, process and move beyond that situation.

Transformation – Part 3: Brilliance

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

This is the final installment of the transformation journey. It’s about the brilliance we find when we embrace ourselves fully. If you’ve missed the first two posts, you can find the here:


It’s 2016, I’m 47. I’m twenty years removed from my angel’s passing. My son’s ten and my daughter’s five. But there’s a stirring in my gut that won’t leave me alone. I feel a shift I can’t explain. Nothing feels right but I can’t pin it down.

I’m prepping to go to my son’s soccer game and right before rushing out the door I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. “Who is that? It can’t be me, I don’t dress or look like THAT!”

I quickly change my clothes to something more “me” appropriate and keep it moving.

What’s Your Self Story

The Diagnosis

We’re sitting in the surgeon’s office, it’s December 13, 2017, and my husband and I are waiting to hear the results from the two biopsies I had the week before.

The first and only words I hear are “You have Invasive Lobular Carcinoma, breast cancer.” As I sit there absorbing this information, my overwhelming thoughts are:

  1. What about my kids?
  2. What am I doing with my life?

So, for the first 8 months of 2018, beginning on January 2nd, I go through active treatments to fight cancer. In that time I realize there are things I want to be, do and have yet nothing’s leading me to them.

Now’s the time.

Becoming

The Universe responds by laying me off from my job. It’s October 2018 and I’m at a crossroads. Recovering from cancer treatments, looking for a job and feeling completely transformed in a way I’m unable to explain to myself, let alone anyone else.

At the same time, my daughter’s in the second grade and bored, I’m frustrated because she’s full of brilliance and loves learning, but she feels she’s not learning anything. So, I say “if Mommy can find a way to stay home, we’ll do home school.”

Around that time, I decide to drive for Uber until I can “figure things out”. I enjoy driving so much I decide to stop my job search, drive full time and home school my daughter and build my dream career of coaching, speaking and making a real difference in other’s lives.

Serene Lifestyle Coaching

Transformation - Part 3:  Brilliance  - I believe women are brilliant! The luminous kind. Here's the final part of my story and why I spend time cultivating brilliance in every femme I encounter.

No life is linear.

We don’t always know what events in our lives mean until we look back at how they’ve unfolded. Cancer re-ignited the brilliance of my soul in a way that’s hard to explain.

When I lost my first baby that brilliance was dulled to almost imperceptible. Cancer allowed me to see that I’ve been living in default for over twenty years. Instead of being the leader I was in high school, I shrunk myself to fit in and not make waves. Instead of taking huge chances and making big bets, I stayed at the slot machines and hoped. There’s no honor in being dull.

Now I’m aware. There’s no turning back because I get to choose how my story ends. Mine isn’t a story of defeat, it’s a story of triumph. It’s a story of realization and growth. It’s a story of knowing myself, honoring myself and allowing myself to continue becoming.

I’m no longer worried about being worthy, I know I am. I no longer care to carry shame, I care more that my gifts be shared. That my brilliance serve as a beacon for others, lighting their path and their motivation.

So, maybe by listening to my soul’s cry to do more for others, my cancer can be what helps others find their own brilliance.

I’m living forward, pushing through whatever comes so the next time I look back, I’m overwhelmed and humbled by what I see.

From this moment on I’m no longer in default. I’m intentional.


Transformation – Part 2: A New Life

Sedruola Maruska | Personal Development Coach

In Transformation Part 1 I shared my trauma, here, in part 2 I share more of the journey. The new life that emerged after I went home to heal

After three months of healing at home with my family, I slowly begin feeling the urge to take my life back. I’ve not only spent time mourning my baby but also a relationship, doomed from the beginning, but still a painful chapter in my life.

Feeling stronger and more ready, I begin working, connecting more with friends and moving beyond my loss. A new life comes into play as I make new friends and connect with old ones. Within a year I quit my job as a corporate trainer in Massachusetts and move to NYC, my hometown, and begin living my dream life.

As I look back I can see one problem, I’m living ‘safe‘. The fire I had within to forge new paths and live new adventures isn’t there.

New York City

In 2000 I start working at an investment bank in their presentation center. It’s a group of young artists making their way in NYC and sharing big dreams, while doing what it takes to pay the bills. Being in that environment fed me emotionally and creatively. Something I didn’t realize until much later.

Being Smart is Sexy – Resist & Persist

That’s where I meet the most amazing man. Of course, at the time I didn’t know how amazing he was since I kept dodging his advances. I’m sure it was self-sabotage. A way to keep myself occupied with emotionally unavailable men, so I don’t have to get hurt. But it gets old. I’m older than most of the friends I’ve made in NYC and it feels like everyone’s leaving me behind.

So again I make a few promises to myself:

  • I will go out with any man, whatever his race/ethnicity, that asks (within reason)
  • I will find and buy a home of my own
  • It’s time to be more adventurous, a new life is bubbling forth

No sooner had I made those promises, my friend and co-worker, that amazing man I told you about earlier, asks me out, again. This time, instead of saying an insincere yes, I mean it. He’s a white guy from middle America, he’s clearly only curious, not serious, but he’s a friend, he’s nice and I promised myself to give the bold a chance.

In every decision we make there’s a glimmer of hope. There’s the possibility that it will light the fire within and change our lives.

Transformation - Part 2: A New Life

Los Angeles

We go on our first date, have an amazing time and continue to see each other through the spring and summer of 2001. We get engaged in the spring of 2002 and married in January of 2003. Life is good, things are going well, but there’s a nagging inside that there’s more to be done. More that I can do. More I need to do! But the easiest options, the safest options are my default.

It’s now been ten years since my loss. I’m 37 I’m an Executive Assistant, loving my job and enjoying being married. We’re living in California, a place I never thought I’d get to, but here we are and life is good.

Our internal lights flicker at various times along our journey. If they stay lit, is up to us.

I get wind that the Executive Assistants are getting industry raises, but I haven’t gotten one yet. So, mustering my courage, I go into my boss’ office and request a raise. There’s a flicker. I get the raise, a huge raise and a boost to our lifestyle and my confidence.

Then I get pregnant. I know what can happen. Do old fears creep up? I’m not sure. We’re excited but cautious because it’s taken us two years to get to this point. So, when I go into pre-term labor at 20 weeks, and my doctor puts me on bed rest I’m again committed to lay for as long as it takes.

It’s Free Money, Grab It

Flashes of ten years earlier come to the forefront. This time I’m doing it “right.” Safe and safety mode kick in and after 3.5 months our baby’s born. He’s healthy and I’m again going with safe choices. We leave L.A. and move home with my parents because my husband’s finished school and the L.A. air quality isn’t good for his health. I retreat to doing it “right”.

Default Mode

As I look back I realize that I’d set myself to default mode.

Default mode is when you’re going along with what’s easy, the basic programming or factory installed basics of a situation.

When I was a real estate agent I’d see lots of houses. The ones that couldn’t be priced very high were the ones that were in ‘default mode’, meaning they had builder’s choice decor. They weren’t updated or improved on in any way.

If we look at our lives we can see how we move along in default. We, especially as women, don’t want to rock the boat. We fall back on old beliefs, practices or ways that allow us to fit into our environment. That’s what I was doing.

Instead of boldly forging my way forward, I operated in the easiest mode available, fell back on outdated software and shrunk so I wouldn’t be too big for the life and space I was living.

How are you living in default? What are some things you’re putting off, ignoring or missing because they’re too “hard?”