I’m super excited to introduce Jaylene Welch to The Rising Woman Project as her story has inspired me since first seeing her back in 2012. Although I think we’ve only met once or twice in person, I feel like we have traveled parallel paths in many ways. Thank you for sharing your story here, Jaylene!
Who are you? How do you define yourself as a woman?
I am who I am. For starters, I am human; I am far from perfect, but I am expanding, and my heart is pure. I’ve made many mistakes in my life, but I love with everything I have and if you know me you know this is true. I am happy to be me.
I fall, I rise, I make mistakes, I live, and I learn, I’ve been hurt, but I overcome, and I am alive. I am human; I am not perfect, but I am thankful. I’ve made good decisions and bad decisions, I’ve made good choices and some that were wrong, but I am honest, loving and happy. Somedays I have confidence; somedays I don’t. I have faith, and I am me, a strong resilient woman. I never try to be anything that I am not, and I am not here to impress anyone. Who am I? I am me, discovering me, on my journey.
What do you do for a living?
I am a Practice Manager and Patient Care Coordinator for a busy plastic surgeon’s office in Riverside, California. My relationship with Precision Plastic Surgery and Dr. Ku began in 2011 after losing 100 pounds. I chose Dr. Ku for my own skin removal surgeries that I needed after my weight loss. I joined his practice in 2013 after he recruited me due to my caring personality, friendly demeanor and attention to detail. I have the all-important task of making everything run seamlessly from a patient’s first call all the way through their recovery and post-operative appointments. Think of me as a cosmetic “concierge.”
Tell me about your family.
My journey into motherhood started very early. I gave birth to my oldest daughter at 14 years old and had three children by the time I was 21 years old. I was married to their dad for 28 years and have been divorced for 6 years now. I am also a grandma, my oldest daughter has two girls age 13 and 11.
What is your story? What have you overcome to get where you are today?
You can definitely say I have led a tumultuous life. My trauma therapist likes to say I was raised by a pack of wolves and is utterly amazed that I’ve turned out half as “okay” as I did. I look back and wonder myself sometimes. My father sexually abused me from the time when I was 6 until about 14. My mother was very overweight and obviously unhappy. She was a screamer, if you did something wrong, she would go off screaming hysterically at you. Between the two of them, I was methodically groomed to be who I was for many years. A scared little girl hiding under the covers afraid to upset anyone and destined to be a doormat. Even in my marriage I was mentally and verbally abused. He was very controlling and would tell me how “lucky” I was to have him. That no one else would want me. I believed that for a long time.
In 2008, I had what I call my spin cycle. We’ve all had one in our life, a time when you are put to the test. When things just seem to keep going wrong and you find yourself spinning out of control. That period of time lasted almost two years. My oldest daughter was married with kids already and my two younger children were cutting the apron strings, and I found myself feeling very lost. At the time I was a 39-year-old woman who had no idea what my purpose was in life. I had never dealt with any of my abuse issues. I was more depressed than I would even admit. I was the self-proclaimed “Queen of Denial,” going about my life smiling, pretending like everything was fine, that I was happy and carefree, but on the inside I was crying, I needed some help badly.
I am sure you’ve heard the saying, “Ask and you shall receive,” right? Well that is exactly what happened. I finally broke down and wanted help. I was carrying a huge weight both on the inside and the outside being over a 100lbs overweight. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
I had thankfully found a therapist that I felt safe with and trusted and was finally in counseling for my sexual abuse and starting the process of healing. About that same time, I met an amazing woman, who was a friend of my sister, her name was De’Anna Nunez she is a Hypnotherapist and Fitness enthusiast. I never imagined that she would be the spark that lit me up to lose my weight. She opened up my eyes and along with my therapist guided me down a path of peeling back the layers of shame and guilt and fear. Losing weight is more than just “diet and exercise.” You have to dig deeper than that to get to your “Why.” Why do I over eat? Why do I not exercise? I worked very hard, to shed that 100lbs, and with every pound I lost I found a little bit more of who I was along the way.
What has been your greatest struggle in life?
My greatest struggle in life is not sticking up for myself. Not using my voice. It’s hard to overcome programing. I have to really push myself to speak up sometimes. To put my foot down when I am being mistreated and demand better. I am getting there, I know it’s something I have to always work on.
Did you ever feel like giving up? When you felt like giving up, what did you do?
No, giving up never seems like an option to me. Sometimes I may slow down and take a break but only so I can regroup. I like to think of myself as a bit of a Phoenix, no matter what I am put through I will be reborn into something better..
What are some of the tools and resources you have used to work through and overcome those struggles? (books, counselors, workshops, programs, coaches, etc.)
I also had an amazing therapist. Her name was Avis Attaway. Avis did more than just talk therapy, she taught me to use TAPPING when I was really upset and as part of my trauma therapy, we did something called EMDR. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences. EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma as much as the body recovers from physical trauma. When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound. If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain. Once the block is removed, healing resumes. EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes. The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health. If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering. Once the block is removed, healing resumes.
What are your gifts and how did you discover them?
I really struggled for a long time with a little bit of a “poor me – why me” attitude. However, I know now that my gift is resilience and because of my resilience I have been able to share my story with others and have actually helped them on their journeys to heal as well. I discovered them with just a lot of self-reflection.
Who in life do you rely on when you’re struggling? Who keeps you uplifted and on your path?
I have God, when I am struggling and when I am not, he is always there for me. I was so mad at him for many years, not understanding why he “let” the horrible things happen to me that I have been through. Last year something in me pulled me back into church and back to God. It was time for more healing. I had done all that work but was still mad at the man upstairs. I spent a good month of Sundays crying my eyes out, and letting go of my anger. It felt amazing. I was healing again.
Tell us about your tribe and the importance of having one.
My tribe is the best. I missed out on having close friends for many years. So these days I appreciate the amazing and wonderful people I have in my life. My sister Genelle, who I know always has my back, she’ll let me do my thing and not say a word but be right there when I’ve fallen and need help getting picked up and dusted off. De’Anna for giving me the gift of confidence. I admire her beyond words for showing me that I can do anything I set my mind to. My kids, who are without a doubt my greatest accomplishment ever. And last but not least my boyfriend Ty, for showing me that men can be sweet and kind and loving and protective.
What do you want other women to know who are feeling lost, and/or experiencing their own tragedy and/or struggles?
To just keep your chin up… keep fighting for yourself. Life doesn’t get better unless you work on it, and you have to continually work on it.
What is some advice you would give to women who are healing?
It’s hard and it hurts to heal, but it is worth it. YOU are worth it. Push past the pain and I promise you that you’ll feel amazing on the other side.
Jaylene, thank you for sharing your story here. Thank you for reminding women that while it isn’t easy to do the deep inner work, it is always worth it. You’re a warrior and you continue to amaze me.
Ladies who are reading this, Jaylene’s story reminds me why I continue to work on this project.
While her struggle was overcoming weight issues and mine was dealing with alcohol, the paths to healing often look very similar. I think it’s important to know that while our stories and challenges can be very different, the paths to healing can mirror each other in many ways. This is why we need each other.
I hope Jaylene’s story or any of the Rising Woman stories for that matter, inspires you to embark on your own journey of healing, whatever that may be.
We’re in this together.