Now in my mid-fifties, I can vividly look back at how growing up, I dreamed of becoming an Olympic gymnast. At seven years old, I fell in love with the sport and was praised for my natural talent. My petite, fearless abilities caught the eye of legendary coaches Bela and Marta Karolyi, who saw shades of Nadia Comaneci in me. My obsession grew. I started training vigorously, eventually competing at the elite level nationally and internationally. My sights were set on winning gold in 1988.
But underneath my accomplishments, I struggled with anxiety, peer pressure, family dysfunction, and an eating disorder. To escape, I would starve myself for days, then binge and purge. This dangerous cycle was my secret dark side.
Though I didn't know it then, my extreme drive to perfection and avoidance of life's difficulties put incredible stress on my mind and body. I pushed myself to unhealthy limits that eventually led to severe injuries, ending my Olympic dreams abruptly.