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June 01, 2023 4 min read 2 Comments

Guest blog by Carrie Jill Mansell
I am enough

Please note, this article does share sensitive topics, including thoughts of suicide. If you are in crisis and need to talk, please call the  national 988 suicide and crisis helpline.


I don't know how to start this story. Talking about hard shit is well, hard. Trauma, drama, hurt, pain, in any form is difficult to revisit and share. 

Flash back to elementary school. I remember one day in 2nd grade, my "best friend" stole money from me. I didn't know she had taken it, I just assumed I had lost it, but my mother found my money in her coat pocket. When she was questioned about it, she told my mom I had given it to her. This not only hurt my feelings, it broke my trust. I tried to distance myself from the friendship to keep my heart and head safe. She started hanging out with other girls at school and recruited them to treat me poorly as well. Name-calling, laughing, pointing, and telling lies about me to others who would listen. 

More hurt. 

I had not told ANYONE about the incident with the money, and did not understand why I was being ostracized. 

My mistrust of other females began. 

Flash forward to junior high. I had a new best friend, Nic. He didn't tell lies about me, didn't care what I wore, and didn't make fun of me. We were besties through junior high and the beginning of high school. The girls were still awful, though. I played volleyball and basketballteam sportsbut there was always this competitiveness. I had hoped being part of a team would create a bond between us, but the girls were just mean. Thankfully, I had Nic. 

Then Nic moved away. 

I soon found my people in the theatre department and became besties with the boys there. Sure, there was a little more drama, but it was mostly kept onstage. 

When I graduated from high school, I went on a two-week road trip with my four best guy friends. (WHAT WERE MY PARENTS THINKING?!?) Of course, soon after that, I ended up dating one of them. He was my first love, and when we broke up, our original friendship dynamic was hard to maintain. Was it time to give girls another chance? 

I was now in college, and the girls I met were SO much nicer than the girls in K-12. I learned to let them in one at a time and, very slowly, learned to trust women again. 

* * *

After I had my second child, I had a crippling, debilitating bout with postpartum depression. I was drowning in the worst pain I had ever experienced, and there was no way out. I had a suicide plan. I was going to get my babies to safety, and drive out Thelma and Louise style, but just by myself.  

My sister took me to my first Oula class about a week before I was to execute this plan. I hated it. I told myself a bunch of lies. Oula is too hard, the choreo is too difficult, too many turns, too much cardio, I was too fat, and on and on and on... YET,  something about it made me go back to the very next class. I hated that one, too. The same lies crept in. YET, I went to a THIRD class! I remember during “Water Me,” I was able to get that back/side/front right for the first time. It was an ah-ha! moment. None of those lies were true, I just needed to give myself grace and time to learn something new!! DUH!!!

Here was this beautiful, growing community of women supporting women, and I was SOLD. HOOKED. Completely in love. I was able to start anti-depressants, seek therapy, and throw the suicide plan out the window. I became VERY close with these women, spending time together during and outside of Oula. We helped each other with kiddos, parties, sleepovers, vacations, and road trips to Missoula. I shared stories and pieces of myself that I had never shared with anyone. THESE WERE MY PEOPLE! 

Then something awful happened. The pandemic struck and with it came so much hurt and confusion.

We had never experienced anything like this before: isolation, masks, curfews, illness, and death. People had to make decisions that were best for them during this unprecedented time. With those decisions came a lot of hurt, and again, mistrust for me. Social media was a tough place to be.

At the onset of the pandemic, Oula Boise had 23 Oula instructors. A year later, we had three.

It was heartbreaking, painful, and so hard for me to experience, personally. I had finally found women I trusted enough to share my deep, dark secrets with, and then felt the rug completely yanked from beneath me. It would have been extremely easy for me to resort back to my ways of distancing myself and leave Oula. But, Oula saved me when I felt like my whole world had ended. I didn’t want to abandon her when she needed me most. 

So, I did the hard thingI grew. I stayed. I criedA LOT. I constantly questioned myself, and my choices. I had to rebuild trust within myself and with Oula Boise. I asked my gym if they would sponsor me to teach in the park, and by some miracle in the Oulaverse, they said YES!! 

I didn't give upon Oula, on myself, or on the belief that women can support women. I’ve worked too damn hard for nearly 40 years to let women into my circle. I will not give up. That was the old Carrie, and she is gone. 

We are still rebuilding! I’m happy to report we have four instructors teaching now and classes are growing. Some participants have returned after some time away, others are still testing the waters. It will take time and that’s okay. Throughout all of this, I’ve realized that I am enoughstrong enough, capable enough, deserving enough—and can be that positive example of support that I needed and deserved in my youth. Oula Boise will continue to grow and I will continue to be there for my community because I. Am. Enough.




2 Responses


June 02, 2023

Carrie. You’ve had my heart since day one. Thank you for sharing yours with us all. You are a treasure to the oulaverse, thank you so much for not giving up on her. But MOST importantly, thank you for not giving up on YOU. Girl, you shared some hard stuff; thank you for your bravery. You’ve survived all of your worst days so far. I’m so damn lucky to know you. You’re a beautiful writer too! Strong and brilliant and beautiful. Oh and your brilliant sense of humor. Full package. Okay, I’ll gush at you more later, but again, thank you for sharing your heart and your love with us. ❤️❤️


June 02, 2023

Hell yes you are Care!!! The past few years have been some of the most difficult of my life; but thank godess I have had you with me! I’d have been lost without you, and without Oula. Thanks for sharing babe! I love you so damn much! XOXO

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