The Women In My Life #12, Annie Foley

Annie Foley was Trent’s partner on his first adventure on Naked and Afraid in Belize.  Of course I didn’t know who his partner would be when he left but I told Trent to take good care of his partner.  If she was cold, he needed to snuggle with her to keep her warm and whatever other needs she had, it would be up to him to watch for those needs and help assist her on the adventure as well.  Of course he knew this but I wanted him to know that I gave him my blessing.  I told him to not worry about what the TV would show, I told him to trust me to manage myself in what Hollywood chose to portray, I told him that I trusted him to take care of his partner.  I know from watching the challenge that your partner is one of your best survival tools and I wanted Trent to have the best opportunity to succeed in this challenge.  Trent has often said that it was important to have this blessing from me so that he didn’t have to second guess how he would take care of his survival partner.  

Annie Foley has had a huge impact on my life because of the amazing woman she authentically is. My experience with Annie is very different from the survival experience that Trent was able to have with her but I consider her my partner to not survive but to heal and thrive from a deep emotional wound.  I would never have guessed that a total stranger would have such a profound effect on my life but Annie certainly did and I’m forever grateful for what she has contributed to my life. This year I’m paying tribute to 50 women or groups of women who have made an impact on my life and Annie is certainly on this list.

People often ask me how I could let my spouse go out to the unknown with a naked lady?  There are many things that factor into this question for me.  First of all I’m a Psych major and I am well versed on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  I know that in a Naked and Afraid challenge the contestants are on the survival level of those needs and on that level there is not a sexual desire.  The second thing is that I also know how stinky, dirty and nasty you get when you go out camping which also lowers all sexual attraction, so I just wasn’t worried about it.  I thought I was solid with my confidence to allow Trent to explore his passion of survival to push himself and see if he could truly triumph in this sort of a challenge.  What I did not count on was the deep connection that he and Annie would have when he returned…… (enter ominous music shifting the mood.)

When I first heard that his partner had tapped out I was mad.  I felt like a mama bear that had just found out one of her cubs had been abandoned by a guardian who was supposed to have his back.  Of course now I completely accept and respect her decision and honor her for her choice, but in the beginning, I have to be honest, I was mad.  

After they both returned, the two of them would talk and recount the time they had spent on that Mayan mountain top together and I underestimated my ability to not feel threatened.  I became exceedingly jealous of their connection.  I knew this was MY insecurity but I was not able to handle my emotions.  I had a talk with both of them and asked if they would back off from each other for just a little bit so that I could pull myself together.  At first Annie told me she was a little offended because she had done nothing wrong (which I completely agree with now that I’m able to look back on the situation with stable emotions).  She also told me that because I had approached her in a vulnerable and respectful manner, she would respect my wishes and back off.  She had mentioned vulnerability because I completely opened up to her and told her I had felt like I’d lost a lot of connection with Trent and I could feel the insecurity in myself beginning to push me into a dark place.   Annie was so gracious to take a step back, I know that she respected my relationship with Trent and she held a beautiful sacred space for me as I explored this wounded part of me.  The wound within me was not because of Trent and Annie, it came from a relationship decades before that I had not been able to heal and reconcile.  As Trent and Annie both gave me the blessing of their respect, I took full responsibility to find the root of this insecurity and wound to heal myself.  

Many months later when Annie’s husband reached out to Trent and I to surprise Annie for her birthday, my journey to heal this part of me was complete.  I had found deep forgiveness for the betrayal I felt from this previous relationship and I was now able to build a deeper connection with Trent.  I also felt my confidence in myself begin to grow as I let go of the feelings that I was not worthy of love, that I was not enough.  I had believed these were the reasons my previous relationship had ended.  Because it ended in a huge betrayal I did not feel I was loveable.  I could now see, almost two decades later, how this relationship had shadowed so many of the relationships I’d had over the past twenty years and I was able to find the gift in the long ago betrayal.  The gift was the life I had now, the gift was the awareness and healing I was able to gift myself, the gift was the confidence I now felt in knowing I was absolutely worthy of love and more than enough.  I found a deeper love for myself and I don’t know that I could have found all of this without the beautiful, generous and gracious gift of Annie’s respect for me.  

Dearest Annie, thank you so much for the priceless gift you gave to me.  I know you were Trent’s partner on Naked and Afraid but you were also my partner in healing such a deep wound of darkness in my soul.  Your respect gave me the opportunity to find wholeness in a place within me that had become a deep, dark hole for most of my life.  

Trent and I flew out to surprise Annie for her birthday that year.  Her sweet husband Ed arranged everything and planned a fabulous weekend in Chicago.  I absolutely adore them both and though we don’t speak often, I see her posts on social media and it feels like we speak often because our souls know each other well.  Because Annie Foley was in my life, I have been changed for good.  I see your soul dear friend and I adore you.  Deep bows.

***Bonus Material***

When I reached out to ask Annie for her permission to share this story I received a beautiful reply from her that I would like to also share below.  This illustrates the beautiful soul of this amazing woman!

“That conversation we had was a true honest raw talk. It was just the beginning to my awakening of the impact we can have on one another in this world.    For you to be able to ask for what you needed and for me to give that showed two womens real truths about themselves.  Mine was knowing that even though my actions did no harm to anyone doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to account for. I indirectly was part of another’s pain. There was nothing I could say to give comfort.

(Which is always what I want to do) however I could help by giving nothing but love, understanding and support to a total stranger.  I learned by not taking the circumstances personally I could see things through your eyes,  I could feel your pain and struggles. I could love a total stranger.  I also learned that I needed to learn to do what you did.  Speak up, ask for what I needed in my life. To evaluate the way I felt about situations in my life and how deep wounds I thought were healed were suppressed and affecting my emotional connection with others and myself. 

I thank you for being you.  

PS we don’t talk often but I follow every post. You are wonderfully the most perfect you!!” – Annie

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