In March of 2017 while visiting my friend and doctor Susan deGruchy we began discussing the possibility of opening a place where people could go and teach, learn, connect and laugh together... doing what they love in every way possible. The center, located right across her parking lot, at that time a vacant dance studio was sitting empty right before our eyes. As we sat discussing a dream the lease sign went up on the window. It was at that point that God moved my life in a new direction and I soon after left a job of 20 years to become my own boss and new business owner. Between my willingness to jump and not fear failure, the owners willingness to take a huge leap of faith on me and the support of my beautiful family and friends, the Hope Thru Empowerment Event Center was born. A place for people to come and educate, be educated, teach, learn and just have fun holding their social events, meetings, fundraisers, showers, receptions and everything else life has to offer. A place or love, laughter and supporting one another in this journey we call life. I have met so many beautiful people during this venture and continue to be grateful for the support of our community in helping me to live my dream. This is not an ordinary event center, it is a place where dreams come true, connections are made, passions are birthed and families are connected.
One of the things I knew, but never had accepted was that food for me was an addiction. As a child it wasn’t a problem, but when I reached my 20’s and began to experience the pulls of life such as having a family, a full time job, owning a home, car and everything else that goes with that, I began to feel overwhelmed as most people do. By the age of 27 I was the mother of four boys. The three youngest might as well have been triplets because they were in diapers and car seats at the same time. I am not complaining, but it was by far one of the most challenging time of my life on top of working an 8-5 job Monday through Friday. I went back to work six weeks after having all my kids with the exception of my first one. I went back five weeks after having him and since I worked up until a few days before I had him, I hadn’t given myself much time to be home. As many moms know, we just have to do what we have to do.
I began turning to food for comfort after my second child. I had postpartum and the only thing that seemed to help at the time was food. This addiction continued until I was 38, sick and seeing images of my family living life without me. Many people cannot comprehend what I mean when I say that, but when I talk about listening to your body, my body had been trying to warn me for so long that I actually began to feel like I would not be here to see my 40th birthday. I was so deep in denial and in an unbelievable mental fog that I was walking around in a numb state 24-7. Although I knew this was not ok, and something had to be done, it was like no matter what I wanted, I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it. I can only explain it like this, you know those movies where you see someone in the ocean and they are swimming for their life, but these enormous waves keep smashing down over them and putting them under the water, they come back up only to gasp for air before another one comes up and smashes them down again, well that is what I felt like my life was like and my only life line was food. So when my doctor told me many times that I needed to let go of certain foods because my body was in a place where I was losing control and would soon have permanent, irreversible damage, I just couldn’t seem to do anything about it even if deep down inside I knew I had to. It was a stronghold that I just couldn’t see myself coming out of and instead gave into the fact that this would be my life. I only knew that I was a strong person, but not strong enough this time, for this particular task. I had let myself get to far away from where I should be, too heavy, too tired, too weak, too stressed… There was no light at the end of the tunnel for me and this stronghold was going to be the death of me.
The day I woke up after being sick for a few months and realized that what I had been afraid of had actually begun to happen, I had a fear come over me that was paralyzing. I knew why this was happening and I knew that I had brought it on myself, but I still wasn’t prepared for it. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought, it wouldn’t happen to me. That I would just live my life, heavy, unhealthy and unhappy and get by enough to do what I needed to do. Take care of my kids, bring home a paycheck every month and be enough of a wife to my husband so he was content. Was that enough, because it seemed to me like it was, until the day when I was sitting on my bathroom floor so sick I couldn’t move, with no explanation why and my family was worried and couldn’t do a thing to help me. No one could determine what was wrong with me, but I knew that my body was shutting down and fast. I ignored the signs too long and now I was going to face the consequences. I had no inner strength and literally decided to give up. I would visualize my funeral and sob picturing my sons living their life without me. The morning I was on my bathroom hugging the toilet realizing for myself that this was my reality, my 12-year-old son at that time walked in before leaving for school and looked down at me asking if he could do anything to help me. When I looked up at him to and could not reassure him that everything would be fine something in me shifted in my soul. It felt like time froze and as I looked him in his precious, concerned, loving eyes with such a fear and desperation, it clicked! I am their mother, I am supposed to make them feel safe, loved and secure. I am causing them pain, worry, fear and I am laying on the floor doing nothing about it. Wallowing in my own pain, giving up on my life. My decisions affect everyone that loves me and will forever scar their life. Not to mention I am teaching them how to deal with difficult challenges of their own. Who am I? What am I doing? Get up!! Get up NOW! Figure this out! Choose different, you’re NOT WEAK, you’re not a quitter! You’re not done with this life and were put here to do great things! This is not the life I am supposed to be living! From that second on, my life has never been the same!
My journey begun and I soon would realize that food was one of the many strongholds in my life. It was one of the major ways I had been masking the deep emotional pain that I had hung onto for so many years. As I began my journey to health, I uncovered the truth that allowed me to heal and have the strength to overcome my food addiction. I discovered who I was and that I had been living my whole life in a fog. For the first time, I would see what life, love and relationships really were supposed to be like.
I have committed to sharing what I’ve learned on my journey with whoever will listen. I have realized that millions of people suffer from this addiction and because it is common and accepted by many, we don’t talk about it and live in shame and suffering alone. I want to bring this addiction into the light and out of the darkness so we can overcome its stronghold and live the life we were meant to live! I don’t have a fancy degree, but I have life experience that taught me how to overcome this addiction and thrive. I want to show others that this hard working, busy mom of 4 is living proof that it is possible to live a healthy life under the pressures and responsibilities we have.
How the center came to be...
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