Single On Valentine’s Day: One Woman’s Story of Tragedy, Triumph and Resilience

February 14th, 2013

By Guest Blogger Helen Georgaklis

My name is Helen Georgaklis. I have been an entrepreneur for over 20 years. I have started up companies in the computer industry, to insurance, to retirement planning, to where I am today- an educator who works with children full-time teaching them how to become authors of their own stories. I have dedicated my entire career as a financial specialist to women, both young and old, in building their own financial wealth. I made a living managing their money, but my work was far more as a counselor than anything financial. This is my story.

I was born an Expo baby, 1967, to Greek parents; my father a Greek immigrant, my mother a first generation Greek born in Canada. I learned early on in life what survival meant, and have been doing just that since the tender age of 5. It’s from that point that I remember the very first beating I got from my father. I was physically abused as a child, to the age of 22, and had spent my adolescent life lying about the welts and bruises I had on a weekly basis right up until I got engaged to be married, but still living at home.

child abuse

My parents divorced when I was 19, mainly from the violence my mother could not endure any longer. She was a victim as well. When she left my father, I felt compelled and guilty to stay behind and live with him afraid that he would end his life. Pretty ironic given how many times he made me want to end mine.

After I got married at 23, I became pregnant on my honeymoon, came back from the trip, gave birth to my daughter, and my husband left when my baby was 8 months old. It was a disastrous union and produced a file at the local police station whereby every time I called, I didn’t even have to give my complete address. They already knew who I was.  I never pressed charges against my ex for two reasons. One, for the sake of my daughter, hoping that he would maybe become a better father than he had been a spouse, and secondly, because I had neither a job, no savings, and nor place to live, so I needed some financial help from him.

Survival once again, became even that more crucial. My husband completely fell off the face of the earth. My daughter and I survived on our own for many years, getting into the computer business where I first understood what it meant to be an entrepreneur. It meant my daughter being at the store 7 days a week with me as I struggled to build my business. Years went by, and I met a man who asked me to move to Florida. My daughter was 9 years old, and I had thought I finally met the man of my dreams.

Moving to Florida, living with a Marine, was one of the best and worst happenings in my life. It all ended very quickly because he was as controlling and abusive as my ex-husband and father had been. My daughter and I left quickly, came back home again, with no job, no money and no place to live. My mother took us in, and we lived with her for over 3 years while I struggled again to find any job that would help me pay off my $30K US debt I had incurred during my time in the USA.

debt

It wasn’t until my daughter was heading into high school that I realized I needed to establish a career that would allow me the freedom to come and go as I pleased, given how necessary it was for me to be there for my adolescent daughter. There was nothing simple, and no easy answer, but I knew I had to do something, and quick.

When I first started my career as a Financial Specialist, I spent 12 hour days making one cold call after the other trying to build my business.  I built a book valued at over $25 million, working part time in less than 5 years. In my many financial dealings with women, I realized that many of us don’t know enough about money. Yes, we can pay bills, but that’s not nearly enough. Our relationship with money is a mirror image of how we relate to everything else around us. But ladies, we need to educate ourselves when it comes to finances. It’s a must.

My struggle to survive through physical abuse, mental abuse, being molested, raped at 16, gone through years of alcohol abuse, and a very bad eating disorder (which I still struggle with today), it all became clear to me. It became clear as day why I had been through what I had; to turn it around and reach out to all the other women in this world who have a similar story.

Throughout my struggle with bulimia that started at the age of 19, I ballooned to over 250 pounds. The abuse that I endured during that time from cruel cashiers at grocery stores, to sales clerks who gave me dirty looks, made my fight that much stronger. We judge people when they are overweight. I was guilty of it; we’ve all been guilty of it! Never again have I judged anyone who may not appear to what we may think is “the norm”.

don't judge people

But back to the story. Once again, 11 years ago, I thought I had met the man of my dreams. Having been a professional football star, in the USA and going into retirement, he kept saying how he wanted to settle down and raise a family together. I don’t have to tell you, that coming from a Greek background and dating an African American NFL player did NOT go over too well. My relationships with my entire family fell apart! Except for our matriarch, my 95 year old grandmother who met my very handsome man and just giggled at his height! (He measures 6’8” tall and weighs 350lbs!). But we decided to start our family.

I got pregnant and went on to give birth on November 30th 2006 to a healthy 8.5 pound baby boy. His father watched, held him and then 2 days after he was born, left, never to look back, not even for a moment. He left without offering a penny for his newborn son, nor an “I’m sorry” or an explanation to me. This was a man that I had financially supported through my pregnancy as he began to adjust to the concept of having to figure out what to do with his life after retirement from football. He had turned and walked away to begin building a life with a stranger he had met at a club.

Overnight I was in yet again, for the fight of my life. To survive life with a newborn, and a teenage daughter, with no help, financially, physically, or mentally. He left me in a position that brought me to the brink of bankruptcy. I resorted to lying and stealing formula and diapers. I couldn’t even breastfeed because the stress caused my milk to stop. I was up every 3 hours to feed my son and all I would think of is how to end my life. I had not at all planned on being left like this. This was not supposed to happen, again! This one hit me hard.

So once again, survival at this point was crucial. It was a life or death situation. I fought back, I fought hard, and I’m here today, to tell every single woman out there who has been left hurt, broken-hearted, with empty pockets that you can do WHATEVER you want to do. YES YOU CAN! But you have to believe and you must never quit. I don’t have that word in my vocabulary. I am here for the sole purpose of wanting to erase poverty amongst women, whether they are single or not, because in the end, we are all emotional beings that sometimes just get tangled up in the web. We MUST take care of ourselves, PERIOD.

So fast forward to today.  I am the proud mother of a 21 year old daughter, and 6 year old son. Before I became a parent, I was on a path of self destruction, and didn’t care if I saw tomorrow. I have lived with enough pain to last me several lifetimes. But today, I care. My children are my oxygen and my reason for living. Without them, I don’t know if I’d be here writing this blog post. I thank God everyday for what I have, and am eternally grateful for my 2 gifts. And because they are here, I want them to be proud of who they are, where they came from, and to always help others no matter what they are going through.

proud mom

Determination, focus and a lot of prayer has allowed me to tell my story, and reach out to all those who feel they just can’t go on. Dreams can come true, you can survive, and tomorrow can be a better day.

To the ladies in my life, they have played a bigger role in my survival than they will ever know. Institutions may call my ladies “clients,” but they were the reason I kept going. Every time I was able to shine a brighter light on a woman’s financial future, it made everything that I had gone through worth it. It was therapeutic for me. As much as I helped women build a proper retirement, they helped me heal.

To all who said I can’t and to all of those people in your life who say you can’t, I’m here to say you can. Sometimes life is like a game of poker, and you aren’t always dealt the best hand at the table. You have to bet that you can get through being dealt the worst hand, and make it the best hand it can be.

life is like a game of poker

You don’t have to be a hero. You just have to take it one step at a time, keep at it and don’t ever give up. And to all the single women and moms who are without a Valentine today, this one’s for you. You can be your own hero and cheerleader. I am living proof.

Thank you,

Helen

About Helen Georgaklis

Helen Georgaklis is the founder of my 99 Book Series (www.99-series.com). Today, Helen spends her days working with children from all over teaching them to write children’s books, building a new category of books with the youngest authors. The Kids Write Club is a literacy program that was created thanks to the research and knowledge she earned building the 99 Series, LLC.  She is the proud mother of a 21 year old daughter graduating University, and her 6 year old son.

I hope Helen’s story has touched you, inspired you, and made you appreciate all you have. I hope her message of hope, determination and resilience will stay with you in your hearts on Valentine’s Day, and beyond. If you have any comments or questions for Helen, I encourage you to post them right here. Happy Valentine’s Day to ALL – single and otherwise Wishing you love and laughter today and always.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9 Responses to “Single On Valentine’s Day: One Woman’s Story of Tragedy, Triumph and Resilience”

  1. pilotxeriesNo Gravatar says:

    ur story waz pathetatic,but amid all dis i can see dat GOD help u 2 succed.it’s hope 4 pple 2 avoid mistakes in life.i wish u great days ahead in JESUS CHRIST NAME AMEN

  2. Erica DiamondNo Gravatar says:

    Helen, I am honored and proud to know you, and I THANK YOU for sharing your story in hopes of helping others. Once we know it is possible for someone else, anything is possible for us. Stay blessed.

  3. Oh Helen – tears are flowing. And even though I know your story, hearing you re-count it again just blows my mind at how strong and amazing you are. I’m sure you’ve inspired and encouraged many people with your story today. Thank you for sharing so generously.

    (And hope to see you soon..!)
    Big hug,
    Wanda

  4. This is a powerful story. Nothing was mentioned about what her turning point was. I wondered what emotional and psychological help Helen has had along the way. Fighting and surviving is one thing; understanding, forgiving and healing is another.

    • HelenNo Gravatar says:

      Dear Isadora,

      It took years of therapy and medication until I turned 40. That is when I hit rock bottom even though I had hit it ( or thought I did a few times before). When I had my son, I looked at children differently because I was older and paid attention in a different way. I realized how smart these little angels are and how intuitive they are. After launching the 99 Series, I became a board member at my son’s daycare and started hearing so many stories of children being diagnosed with autism and other speech challenges. It literally hit me one day like a frying pan to the head- we adults write self-help books for adults and we also write children’s books. Why? Why aren’t children writing for children? And that is when everything came full circle. As my son turned 5, I literally was propelled back to my life back then. And that is when it all came together. I am able to forgive because of my belief in a high power and it is my duty as a human to forgive. I understand because I went through all of my challenges to arrive and create what I have today and I continue to heal every single day by working with children. As long as I can share their voices, I am healing the little girl’s voice in me that was never heard.

  5. This is magnificent. What a triumphant woman. Due to my memoir GUTS, I’ve met so many women who have similar stories…it amazes me how intertwined childhood abuse and eating disorders, addiction & self-harm are.

    Congratulations on sharing such a profound, personal and inspirational story…what a wonderful mother you must be.

    Best,
    Kristen Johnston
    aka @kjothesmartass

    • HelenNo Gravatar says:

      Dear Kristen,

      I read your memoir a long time ago. There was a sense of peace and relief after reading it given how we look at women in the public eye and see them living a public dream as most would crave. What is never evident to the eye ( except when it’s fatal) is the nightmare they have lived through and most likely continue to. They say that most of the world’s greatest creations have come from people with really messed up ( trying to be a lady here..lol) pasts and that it takes overcoming such challenges to bring out the best performance/creation ever. I know your story very well and I appreciate your kind words as I know what you have lived through as well. We should all share our stories because it helps other women and that is the bottom line. One day, when I am ready I will share my story which I wrote 3 years ago…and then Kelly Clarkson comes out with my title- What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
      Thank YOU for sharing your story. Great, great book!

  6. C. ClarkeNo Gravatar says:

    This post left me with tears in my eyes. Such an inspiring story and Helen is living proof you really can survive against the odds. I couldn’t agree more with you Helen; you CAN be your own hero and cheerleader :)

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.