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Return to Self: “How one conversation completely changed my life”

In the coming weeks Myrte will take you through her extraordinary story, about which she is also writing a book, Return to Self. How one phone call can turn your life completely upside down and put everything in a new perspective. In a series of columns she writes honestly about loss, grief, growth, self-development, discovery and ultimately about returning to who she really is. Her story has common ground with the story of all of us: creating a life the way you want it.

What came before: on November 21, 2017, Myrte wakes up to discover that she has missed several phone calls from her parents. She immediately realizes this is wrong. Her sister has had a brain stem infarction and is in the hospital. She dies and Myrte falls into a black hole in the years that follow. Who is she really?

Wise lessons from an adolescent

The next turning point comes in March 2019, when I hear myself saying unexpectedly: “No, we’re not going to do this to her, she’ll come to live with me. The social workers look at me, and ask, “Is that really an option?”

“Well, I think it’s the only good option,” I reply, to which everyone nods in agreement. Less than a week later, I have a beautiful teenage girl in my home. But also a highly confused and traumatized girl of almost 16 for whom there is literally no other – and better – place than in my house. This girl, who for years occasionally came to me when she was going through a tough time, is now full-time in my house. In my life, in my heart. Not even fifteen months after the passing of my sister.

Looking back on that time I can say: she taught me a lot and gave me insights. They are life lessons she has taught me. Thanks to her (she was 15 at the time and already had so much baggage on her shoulders) I realized that I was really young when my sister was born. I was only 11 and part of my own childhood I didn’t get to develop my own identity.

Also, at the same age as her, I was in a very insecure relationship. In all areas. I suddenly understood why I lost myself in that so much, because I was lonely. I was young, completely lost and there was no one to see me. Only him. The relationship lasted six years, until I was twenty. Even those years, I still hadn’t engaged in my own identity and development. Everything revolved around him and his criminal activities….

When I was twenty-one I had an accident. I drove head-on into the back of another car during a traffic jam on the highway. I had a complete blackout and to this day I have no memory of this. It soon became clear that I had a burnout. I finally dared to end the relationship. At that time I worked at an employment agency where I ran two temporary work agencies on my own. I walked around with my legs out from under my body and knew exactly what was going on. My employer, the temporary workers and the clients all walked away with me, but I was completely exhausted.

“I had to rehabilitate for 1.5 years. Everything that had happened in my life up to that point, I had never processed. I had had no help, no guidance and I myself had always just assumed that ‘this was part of it’.”

Six months together under one roof

With this adolescent in the house, my image of myself changed. The recognition, love and guidance I was able to give her in her process made me realize that I had never had that myself. A burden fell from my shoulders. My first thought was: “Oooooh, so it is not my fault. I haven’t done anything ‘wrong’.” By the way, another theme in my life, that I always feel guilty and think that I did not do it right.

In one blow it became clear to me: I was simply too young to deal with everything that happened in my life at that time and finally I could forgive myself. What a peace that gave! Looking back, I have enormous respect and admiration for how this adolescent in my home handled everything that was handed to her. I may have given her the possibilities and the professional help, but she herself realized the change in her life! A wise lesson for all of us: you ultimately determine how much damage is done by the things that happen to you. It is either your anchor or your accelerator. You choose.

She has been with me full time for six months and how wonderful it has been! Of course we needed time to get used to each other and the situation in the beginning, but once that ran, it was wonderful. Where in the beginning I took her to bed every night and let her talk for hours in the dark, that changed over the months. We organized dance and song nights in the room and got to experience tremendous love and joy. Something we could both really use at that time.

By now, this girl is a beautiful young woman of almost 19 years. She has started a social education in the past year and is now living on her own. In her words, “thanks to you Myrte I now know who I am and I also want to give that to others who are in the same situation as I was at the time”. This girl is special and I feel honored to have been able to do this for her.

“This is what I believe in and what is also becoming more and more clear that my mission is: ‘I see you. I hear you. You are OK.”

Another hard lesson

I believe the Universe gives you multiple signals with lessons that are meant specifically for you. They come your way until you learn them. Unfortunately, I also turned out to be a fairly hard learner, because I still didn’t know the concept of ‘personal development’. At least, not consciously recognized for myself because in my work this was what I constantly did for others: the personal and business development of people and organizations.

You know that plumber with the leaky faucet at home? Right. That was me. Although I had already started to listen to myself a bit during this time, it was still outstripped by a teenage girl at home and a full-time business on the side. Unnoticed, I was still crossing a line for myself again.

Until December 2019 when I could no longer tolerate light and sound from the television, I could no longer sleep and it began to buzz in my head. I took action because I recognized the familiar symptoms of burnout all too well. I really had to find the peace and quiet within myself.

And so I left for Curacao. The place where I once had an internship at the age of 21 and where I still regularly returned. Here I developed my first own Coaching method (what today is the Purpose EmPowerment Program) and slowly found out that my mission in this life was greater than I had thought possible. I discovered, and felt for the first time, a great richness and wisdom within myself that I had not experienced so much until then.

After my time in Curaçao I thought I was ready for my ‘big move’ Not only professionally because I also thought I had found love again. Or at least, maybe I really wanted to. Everything seemed to be right, both professionally and privately. 

Next week: the appointment that turned my life upside down again.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see anything. It hasn’t grown through,” the midwife says as she goes over my belly with the ultrasound machine.”

Myrte’s next column is scheduled for next Wednesday, February 16. Will you be following her in the coming weeks?

More on Return to Self

Myrte: “Way before the year 2020, I was lost. But the thing is, I didn’t know I was lost. I didn’t know that I put on a mask my whole life and I just settled for what life gave me. Never realizing that those were just crumbs. Never realizing that I could also choose not to settle for that. I was not myself and lost in the labyrinth of my own soul and my own daily life.”

“Until my sister passed away suddenly at the age of 21 in 2017. She was a multiply disabled girl who could not walk, talk or take care of herself. My parents always took care of her with all the love and attention she needed and deserved. She was certainly the light in our family, but I was also confronted with an unexpected new vision of her presence. This was the start of an intense journey of discovery back to myself.”

In early March this year, my book, Return to Self, will be released. I’m launching this one – online first – as I take to the big stage for the first time, in Paris, to speak about female leadership and how to build a successful business without sacrificing your real self,. “About creating a life the way I really want it. Running a business in the way that maximally supports my mission and philosophy. Living in places where I can blossom to the fullest. And above all: a journey to being happy with, and proud of myself.” Exciting! Will you follow me?

About this ‘Wereldwijf’: Myrte Scheffer

Hi, I’m Myrte. Founder of The Purpose EmPowerment Program for people, businesses and organizations who want to make a positive change and impact to improve the lives of others. Entrepreneurship runs in my family, but social entrepreneurship is a different profession. Since the age of 22, I travel and work a lot with, and in, other cultures. To make an impact, you start with yourself, something I have had to shape myself. How? You can read that in part in my blogs for the Wereldwijven and soon on my new website,

Hello, I am Myrte!

On this blog page you can read more about my personal and professional journey as an Impact Player: I'm on a mission to help as many like minded people further in building their social impact business. I travel the world as an inspirational speaker and I run my own "Purpose EmPowerment Program" for people on a mission to improve the lives of others.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

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