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  • Writer's pictureDelaruelle Brumskine

My Story: How I Rediscovered My Values, Passions and Self After Divorce and Loss

A women walking along shopping strip in blue dress
Delarue in Turks and Caicos

I’m a strong woman, but life sure has tested me. I’ve been knocked on my butt time and time again, starting when I was a bright young thing.

I came to America from Liberia, West Africa when I was just about 13 years old. My country of origin, Liberia burst into a civil war. I was on a boarding school in England at the time, and we were getting ready for summer vacation. Please bear in mind, that up until that point in my life, the only references I had for war were the Battle of Hastings and the Battle of Waterloo which I had studied in my history classes. In my young mind, war meant death.

As school closed down and all the students left, one-by-one, my Principal would summons me to his office daily so we could all my mother. When we could not get ahold of her, we would call the Liberian Ambassador in London to see if she had contacted him. We had no idea where my father was, and his phones were not working either.

Later my mother would tell me, that she’d gotten stuck in Liberia because the airports had shut down. All the phone lines were destroyed and eventually she along with many others took the arduous journey to our neighboring country, Sierra Leone on foot. From Sierra Leone, she was able to fly to London and come on over to Somerset.

We flew to the US and much to my surprise, my mom told me she was leaving me with her sister and that she was going back to Liberia to see about her relatives who were not able to get out. To say I was distraught was to put it very mildly.

After a sweet reunion, learning that my mother was leaving me in a country and culture that I did not understand, and in the care of people whom I knew, but had never lived with was too much to bear. I was very anxious and afraid. Turned out I had all right to be. The six years that followed were the beginning of great hardship and emotional duress for me. Let’s just say that I went from being a princess to an unwanted person. I was a good kid and to survive I develop a maladaptive behavior of people pleasing.

My mom was doing what she thought was best. I tried to behave and not cause any problems. I was an honors student, a good kid, but something about my molecular make-up seem to irritate the adults around me and they let me know.

Luckily, I had an amazing school counselor, Dr. Cooper. I don’t know how or if she knew my situation at home, but she saved me. She got me enrolled in the yearbook and debate clubs, helped me get my first job and even helped prepare for college. She showed me what counselors could do for others, and she’s the reason I became a therapist.

After high school, I went into the world feeling victimized, which only attracted people who would further victimize me, including workplace bullies and relationships.

By the time I was in grad school getting my master’s degree in clinical social work, I had been married for about two years. I remember my Family Therapy professor saying, “Thirty percent of you will get divorced by the end of this program or in the subsequent five years. Because when you know better, you do better.” We were all annoyed by her statement, but …

Oh, how true that was.

Our relationship was unhealthy from the beginning. Here we were, two people with deep wounds that were never tended to before marriage. We had built a house/family on quicksand.

Thank God, my first pregnancy resulted in a healthy baby girl - who turned out to be my a core element of my joy. The second pregnancy was complicated from the start. We ended up doing that baby boy named Alvin, at birth.

The road the resulted in Alvin's death was long and painful but in the end, I decided to put the pain behind me and hold the the purpose that blossomed with in me.

The terrible sequence of events was life altering and faith affirming , and it ushered me into the most beautiful phase of my life yet. My beautiful baby died, but in doing so, he gave me a gift. The grief that overcame me was so think that I found myself literally fighting to live. I 'd lost hope, and could not tolerate not one more pound of pain. Consequently I was forced to look long and hard at all the things that were hurting me. The most glaring of course was my decade + marriage that felt like a joy vacuum cleaner.

It took about four years, 2 divorces (Yup, I remarried and re-divorced him), a lot of work and commitment to myself to clean house, but I DID IT.

I decided who I wanted to be and everyday I showered up as that women. Some days were better than others, but everyday I showed up for myself in one way or another. Eventually this caterpillar turn into the most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen.

It was so uncomfortable pedaling back the layers of programming and social construction that I called me, but it was all so worth it. I began the process by designing my own values assessment based on traditional psychological research and created a mind map of what was important to me.

I made a self-care schedule, lost twenty plus pounds and experimented with new activities that catered to my love of novelty and adventure. Most of all, I made myself a priority after putting myself last for so many years.

And soon enough, the real Coach Delarue emerged.

Coach Delarue: From Corporate to Coaching

With that personal alignment came professional alignment, too.

For over ten years, I was a woman in the corporate world, working as a government consultant doing strategic business planning for the World Bank, IMF and the United Nations.

And I really did enjoy it at the time. I traveled a lot, which I loved. But I also had an affinity for one-on-one and group experiences with women. I had done some counseling in the Philadelphia area, running a welfare work program and leading group therapy for women. Now that fulfilled me. That felt good in my soul.

I loved seeing the lightbulb go off in their heads — you could see it in their faces — when they realized the solution to what they were struggling with was inside of them. That they just had to shift their thinking to access it.

But I wasn’t getting that in my consulting work, and by the time I hit my early thirties, I realized that my job wasn’t feeding my soul like I wanted it to. Like I needed it to.

I didn’t want to just work for money. I wanted fulfillment.

Around 2016, after I lost my son, I also lost my tolerance for things that didn’t feed me. Things that didn’t make me feel good or add value to who I was as a person. I took a hard look at my work and why I was doing what I was doing.

I realized the main reason I was at my current job was to earn a living. But was that the only way to do it? By working day in and day out in a career that never filled me up?

I knew there had to be a sweet spot: A way to generate income and live a life that aligned with my values and purpose. I realized my purpose was to work with women and help them build dynamic, balanced lives they loved.

It Started With

“If there's a book you want to read, write it.”

- Toni Morrison Chocolate Chics was a blog born from a desire to heal myself after losing my son. I was depressed, and I knew doing something creative would give me the release I needed. I was actively practicing self-help and knew sharing my story would help other women in my position.

And so, I started writing for women like myself, professionals and side hustlers who were working through similar mental health issues and challenges. I also wanted the blog to be a tribute to real brown-skinned women. A lot of the Black women I saw online looked like Halle Berry, and she’s gorgeous, but she’s just not me. I wanted to see a better reflection of myself online, so I started including make-up and beauty tutorials for professional women.

I was writing my blog simply because I liked it. Then, one day, I got an email saying I’d received a Top 10 Blogger Award for African Entrepreneurs. I had no idea that my blog was being read and appreciated on such a large scale, but I took it as a sign that I was on the right path.

In 2019, I took all my pain and lessons and focused on making my life and career a joy-filled journey. I switched gears and made my coaching career my primary focus, and rebuilt my entire life until it felt authentic to me.

And I gotta say, it worked out really well.

Today, I’m over 40, fit, fine and feeling fabulous! And every day — even the hard ones — I feel at peace and in line with my purpose.

What more could you ask for?

I Reclaimed My Life and Joy — And So Can You

If life has landed you in a similar space, I can help you find balance, set your sights in a new direction and learn the skills you need to not just survive, but thrive. Think I may be a good fit for you? Jump on a complimentary, 30-minute call with me and let's get you started.

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