Not a lot of people know this about me. I have always kept my past very separate to my present in the hope that I am seen for who I am now and not for who I was then. Lately though I have been feeling the need to embrace my past, in a celebration of how far I've come, as soppy as that sounds!
The reason I am so passionate about health and wellness comes from a time when I was anything but healthy and well.
As a small child I was extremely shy. I felt permanently afraid of other people and hated being spoken to, wanting to cower away in the corner. School was a constant place of torture. I realise now that my personality type was that of an introvert but then, it wasn't recognised and helped. It probably isn't helped these days but school kids have so much more voice than we ever had in the 70's and 80's. I was frequently sent to the headmaster for daydreaming. I mean, how brutal!
I have very unhappy memories of being a child and then an early teen. It felt like a perpetual struggle to be alive in this world. I lived inside my head and became extremely self conscious and self critical. As a teenager I rebelled against all the things I was expected to do and by this time I had lived through some traumatic events. I kept these horrendous events to myself for many years and as a result became so depressed that I had a nervous breakdown at 19. Hospitalised, I was of course, given lots of medication. The next 5 years were taken up by my addiction to pharmaceutical drugs. I wasn't physically addicted to them but psychologically and I would use them to self harm. I developed eating disorders as a way of coping with my internal world and went through anorexia to bulimia to chaotic eating patterns. The abuse I put upon my body was so extreme and hateful that its quite hard for me to even imagine it now. I was punishing myself for all the things that other people did to me, without realising it. The only time I ever looked after myself was finding out I was pregnant, giving birth and the few months I was breastfeeding ( clearly this happened because in my mind, I was caring for someone else and not myself) Sadly, after that period, my habits returned and I continued to treat myself with hatred and disgust.
After years of intensive psychotherapy, being a Mum and slowly coming off medication, I began to see myself in a better light. It still took another many years for me to fully get on board with more subtle ways I was neglecting or abusing my health but the obvious ones were finally put to rest and I saw a time when my depressive episodes were becoming few and far between.
I saw the importance of " one life, live it"
The more I began to value life, the better I became. The better I became, the more value I put on my existence.
I had worked in dead end jobs that were soulless and my heart longed to be doing things that, not only felt good to me but helped other people see what I had come to see. I went to University, while still not 100% , infact possibly only 50%, so was incredibly proud of myself for leaving with a 2:1 and having got the studying bug I went on to train as a Counsellor. This was a make or break for me. It nearly broke me because in order to train as a counsellor, you have to open the part of yourself that remains hidden. You have to face your shadow, as it were, in order to get through the darkness. It is a requirement that you have some kind of therapy yourself, which I was having already To face all your demons and fight and conquer them is the only way you can deal with and help others. 2013 was a huge year for me. I wasnt broke, I was made! I'd finished my Counselling degree, I'd completed a Reiki training course and the day my degree ended was the day my psychotherapy ended. After 24 year of , probably most of those years, receiving help in untangling my complex upbringing and traumatic teens plus the things that happened since then, which included losing both my parents, losing my partner when our daughter was only 16 and being cripplingly deceived by a brother I thought cared for me, leading to estrangement of 3 of my 4 siblings, I finally ended that phase of my life just as I was entering a completely new one.
We all go through shit. We all have our trauma, our pain, our wounds and we all have a choice to change but change needs to be ready. You have to become aware of the pain then the trauma needs to be understood and processed in the right way, then a change of behaviour or coping strategy needs to be implemented. I am so fortunate to have had the ability to build a better life for myself, having gone through all of this , I came to realise that the most important thing in life is how you treat others because what you do to other people can damage them, sometimes beyond repair. Things were done to me by others, sometimes intentional and other times not. The unintentional things, I'd say, were more complex to untangle because its more to do with how we perceive the information and nobody is particularly accountable for the things they do without knowing it but the intentional things held much more pain and far deeper wounds which I may never fully forgive but for me, I know the people who matter to me now and myself is one of them. Infact I am the most important person to me and practicing this every day imbeds this belief.
Noone will love you as much and as unconditionally as you love yourself and when this truly happens, you are so much more equipped to help others.
"Those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind" - Dr. Seuss.