Facing the Fear with Michelle Aguilar
The winner of the sixth season of the hit show The Biggest Loser talks about her faith, her time on the show, and her path to forgiveness.
BY: Evan Derrick
What do you mean when you say in your book to “feel the fear”?
I got the quote from Jillian Michaels and she screams it a lot of the time. She didn’t really say it in a polite way and when she’s screaming at you to “feel the fear and do it anyway” and usually it’s in a moment of breakdown. For me it was probably a moment of crying on a treadmill. There are so many things in life that we are afraid of that will cause us to stand in one spot and not move and I think it goes along with taking little steps everyday and moving forward. In her saying that, she wanted me to recognize that I was in a place of fear but that even though I was in a place of fear I could still keep moving through it and forward. I think for me fear has been an immobilizer. I would create a roadblock and just would not go any further because I was afraid of what was on the other side and I think Jillian - she’s not saying “Don’t be afraid” she is saying “You might be afraid” and it could be kind of painful, that could be fearful but keep moving. So that was definitely a lesson that just really connected with me. There are going to be tough and difficult times and things that will really mess with your head but to keep moving forward.
Can you describe a time from your past or before you went on the Biggest Loser where you were paralyzed by fear and you missed an opportunity because you let the fear get a hold of you?
I think the biggest part of my being kind of stuck in fear would definitely be the relationship with my mom. I was afraid being vulnerable. I was afraid of getting hurt. I was too afraid to trust that God has a bigger plan in mind and so when I cut off communication with my mom, it was absolutely a place of fear and hurt and sadness but I think it was more of the fear of what was on the other side of the relationship that I think stopped me from moving forward for six years and it took six years for me to step into a place of saying “God I trust you, I trust that even if I get hurt or ever if I do get disappointed that You ultimately have a bigger plan and that I can keep moving forward.” And to know that I was capable for six years to not speak to my mother, I think speak volumes about what fear can do to hold us back in life.
What prompted you to cut off contact with your mother and how did you come to making that decision?
Well I was young, I was 18 and then 20 when my mom left my dad and she had taken my sisters with her and I think there was that initial hurt from her but then in my mind, I’m just not understanding my parents relationship and not knowing how to move forward in the Biblical sense of honoring my mother but being so angry with her and so hurt by her. And in my mind, it was the only thing I could do to protect myself from the pain because the pain was at a level that I couldn’t process and so I thought at the time and I know even now when I look back, I realize that I thought I was making the only decision that was still honoring her because if I had to talk to her everyday, I was going to yell at her, I was going to scream at her, I was going to say mean things to her and so a way to kind of protect me from being hurt and protect me from dishonoring her to her face basically because I still was hurt by her and had those opinions but it was I think in the forgiving of her that I learned more about God. I think I could say that I forgave her for the hurt that she had caused but it was in the act of doing that where God looked at me and said “Michelle, I have forgiven you and if you trust that your mom has come to me for forgiveness who are you to withhold love and forgiveness from her when I’ve forgiven her and I’ve forgiven you of so much?”
And my desire [was] to forgive her on a daily basis because the hurt doesn’t go away instantly, I would like to say that it does but it doesn’t and it was about learning to trust God and to start to love her as God loves her and not as my fleshly self wants to because there are still days where I struggle with it. I struggle with the pain or something will happen or I’ll see something on TV and I’ll remember the pain and saying “How could my mom do that to me?” but them I’m reminded that – Michelle, you are committed to love her right where she’s at knowing that God will pickup the slack for you and your heart is not out there all by itself but that God is the one ultimately saying that “I love you and you can trust me, don’t put your trust in your mom because she’s going to let you down but put your trust to me and we’ll work through it.” It’s easier said I’m sure than done and it’s taken a lot of time. Ultimately, to kind of recognize it in myself that I was capable of walking away from her but also recognizing that with God I am capable of walking back in and loving her for the person that she is today and the person that she is limited in some areas and is great in other areas, the mom that I needed at 12 is different than the mom I need now at 30 years old and so our relationship is different and what I need from her is different.
I think like my mom on some levels. We’re truly optimistic and we want to love everybody and just kind of kill them with kindness but every situation is different and people need to set boundaries and ultimately I learned to set boundaries on the ranch with Jillian Michaels because I started to develop other relationships that kind of became toxic and I didn’t know how to set a boundary and say “Okay, you’ve gone too far. I need you to respect this boundary or we can’t be friends or we can’t talk about this topic if you can’t respect my boundaries.” So I think setting boundaries is step one and it was something I wasn’t capable of doing before stopping the talk with my mom.