Dr. Sonja Stribling is a soldier in every sense of the word. She spent 21 years fighting for her country and 18 holding together a doomed marriage.
However, with that said, it took her a long time before she was able to fight for the health, happiness, and success of the person closest to her: herself.
A Military Marriage
Sonja’s dream as a child was to become a professional basketball player. But with the WNBA only in its infancy at the time, she later decided that dream was too far-fetched. Instead, she decided she wanted to serve.
For Sonja, the military offered an alternative path to success: it would allow her to continue playing the sport she loved and give her the ability to provide for her son, born when she was just 15.
There, in the military, was where Sonja met her first husband. They were both placed in the same advanced training program. After a whirlwind 45-day courtship, they tied the knot. “I was just 22 years old, still a kid,” she recalls. “I had no idea what marriage would be like – let alone how to be a wife.”
While things were great in the beginning, soon, Sonja began to discover another side to her marriage. She learned that her husband had an abusive father and slowly she watched the dysfunction he grew up with bleed into their own marriage.
She began to face profound emotional abuse in her relationship coupled with the pain of a man she thought she loved being repeatedly unfaithful.
Yet, Sonja stayed. “I didn’t really have an idea of what marriage was,” she says. “Other than what I hoped it would be…. but I didn’t believe in divorce.”
Fear of how a divorce might affect her children, and financially destroy her family, and a belief that divorce was morally wrong held Sonja stuck in a bad situation for a long time.
Whilst trying to make the marriage work she would take on new military deployments to keep it going without being in it. But eventually, it became clear the relationship wasn’t viable, and the separation process began.
Though her husband convinced her to try to rekindle the lost relationship with a romantic Hawaiian vacation, it soon came out that he was having an affair with her best friend.
“At that point, there was no fixing it,” Sonja says. “Eventually, he said he wanted a divorce, and I filed. It took three years for our divorce to be finalized.”
Taking Time to Heal
“[The divorce] was a heartbreaking and stressful process,” Sonja says.
It sent her into a deep depression. It started with spending a lot of time low and alone.
While she continued to pray, she felt like she had no one to turn to. Her once supportive church family, against divorce, just didn’t understand but she strongly came to believe that God did not want her to stay in an abusive relationship or to feel less than she was worth.
“[In order] to be valuable to my kids, I would have to value myself.”
That was one of many lessons Sonja learned in her healing journey with the help of a therapist.
While she laughs about it now, it was her kids’ therapist who first told her that for her kids to be okay, she needed help, too.
Though it took time for her to heal and gather herself physically, emotionally, and spiritually, it was through therapy, she vowed to become the best version of herself and keep pushing forward.
Following her divorce, Sonja had been forced to declare bankruptcy. To say Sonja’s life was not easy is an understatement. Although she faced ruined credit and financial struggles, she determined she would take control of it and turn it around somehow.
She started with a financial coach who helped her start making good decisions. She went to school for her Ph.D. and spent time seeking her “intentional purpose”: To use her testimony to help other women through their own struggles.
Out of this desire, Sonja became Dr. Stribling and built her seven-figure success. She took her struggles – having a child at 15, a horrific sexual assault at 17, diving into a doomed marriage at 22 – and used it to her advantage and for the good of others.
“I began coaching because other women began asking me to help them with their lives and how to build their businesses,” she said. “The advice that I would give women who want to turn their pain into [success] is to think about how [their experiences] can impact others. There is always someone out there looking for guidance…. If you start at a place where you want to serve others, you will never be broken.”
Dr. Stribling also acknowledges that this process doesn’t happen immediately. Before women can begin to empower each other, they have to heal.
For those women, Dr. Stribling starts with a few simple questions. “Start uncovering [yourselves]. Look into your history – what do you need to heal from? How can you be a better person and work through your past? How can you do it with honor and grace?”
Learning What Love Is
One of many of Dr Stribling’s fears in getting a divorce was that she would never remarry. “I didn’t know if the marriage would be worth it anymore,” she says.
But after years of healing and self-reflection, things began to change.
“[We met] on a dating app – and this time, I was not in a 45-day blitz,” she recalls about her new husband. “It was three years of courtship. He became my best friend…. As I was getting to know him, I was getting to know myself in a new way.”
It was out of this new experience that Dr Stribling realized that there was more to a marriage than just love. Instead of a foundation based on the idea of marriage and fleeting feelings, she worked to build a partnership, full of friendship, trust, honor, and communication.
“He provided me with the space that I needed that I didn’t have when I grew up…. That was different from my previous marriage. That changed the game for me,” she says.
The juxtaposition between her first marriage and now has taught Dr Stribling a lot about what healthy relationships look like. “I would recommend for women to not begin dating before they’re ready,” she says. “Don’t get married too soon…. You must really learn about yourself and your partner before you make such a commitment.”
Building Yourself Up with Dr Sonja Stribling
Dr Stribling hopes that her story can help others like her. To help women on their journeys, she offers free gifts at www.DrSonja.com to help readers start manifesting greatness and abundance.
With her free training guides and a little time, she believes that every woman has an opportunity to use wealth to gain freedom – and heal from their own pasts.