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Who am I?
I was afraid of being myself and as a natural introvert, I had always worn a mask. I was extremely shy and I was bullied which led me to believe that I wasn’t good enough.
In my childhood, I had learnt that a man's needs were more important than my own. The belief that I wasn't good enough was reinforced.
My first miscarriage, divorce and then a financial fraud took its toll on me. I was drowning in my own pain. My confidence and my life finally hit rock bottom with the death of my fiancé.
Deep in depression and low self-worth, I attracted men who weren't accepted for who they were and my pattern of self-hate became apparent as I suffered through emotional, physical and mental abuse.
It came to a point when I could take it no more and decided to become ‘real’. As a consequence, I was able to connect and bond with others. This made them feel safe enough to share their stories with me.
I treated people with kindness, gentleness, and lovingness but I did not receive this back, which frustrated me and annoyed me. I felt that I was treated unfairly. On the other hand, my blind spot was filled with the following qualities: critical, judgemental, anxious, blunt, dramatic, bossy, insecure, jealous, resentful and suspicious.
Little did I know that I was only hurting myself, I punished myself, judged and blamed others, in order not to feel any of my deepest, darkest pain.
I felt stuck. I felt powerless. Through body therapy I became aware of the anger that I had buried deep within me and began to voice and feel the energy of anger in my body. I felt scared to face anger because I was always told that it was 'bad'. I realised that I did not have to project it onto others.
As I felt the anger, it unearthed all of the buried sadness and grief. I ended up crying buckets of tears and in the end, I felt free.
It was at this point that I discovered my true self and found my power.
I have always loved dogs as a young child. They greeted me, with unconditional love, which was like a drug to me.
I was taught to not respect my feelings by being told to 'Get on with it’. As a consequence, I felt like I wasn't being accepted as I was, nor did I feel heard. I felt deeply rejected. So I learnt to develop a thick skin, which made me come across as critical, blunt and bossy. This gave me the space to protect my feelings and prevent me from feeling abandoned and lonely.
This 'Copinism' that I had used to survive, only served to distract me from how I felt, which came from a place of fear.
On my path to self-love, I invested in learning through books and training courses and also joined various spiritual communities online.
Through reading The 5 Love Languages, I discovered that I felt loved primarily through Quality Time and Physical Touch. As I began my daily gratitude journal I started to notice the following: synchronicities, love and peace, which created a sense of wellbeing. This allowed me over time to love all of my feelings equally even when they felt uncomfortable and helped me to express my needs.
With everything I do, I always lead with love.
After 4 years of training and healing, I decided to join the online dating scene with curiosity. It was a distraction to how lonely I felt. My goals were to meet a kind, funny and supportive man, who was into fitness, who shared similar values to myself, ran his own business and who had adult children.
Instead, I discovered a world of lies and false pretence, a world in total contrast to what I valued. The wishy-washy behaviour of the men left me feeling confused, frustrated and rejected. I felt emotionally exhausted. I wasn't looking for a one night stand yet the dating scene seemed to be focused on that. I was annoyed with the repeated shallow behaviour I received but it allowed me to honour my wish of establishing a meaningful relationship.
Alongside online dating, I was meeting men on nights out with my friends, even this did not lead to genuine communication.
I found out that it felt safer for me to be with men who needed rescuing so that I could step into my counsellor role, therefore, avoiding feeling vulnerable.
As I put into practice allowing other people to be themselves it helped me to have no expectations and therefore I had nothing to lose by expressing myself freely. When I started to accept myself I didn't feel abandoned by others.
Having gone through hell I was able to accept the depths of pain with me and emerge courageous and invigorated.
In my childhood, some people around me were volatile and in order to be accepted, I wouldn't express my feelings in case it would spark them. I couldn't risk being rejected, so I kept quiet.
On top of that, I was told to keep quiet and to not express my feelings. If I spoke up about how I felt, I was punished by being told I was a bad girl and reminded that good girls do as they are told.
On the outside, I was seen as really patient at school, at work and in my daily life. My problem solving for others came easily to me as did my patience. Which allowed my inner child to express her own creativity.
Towards myself, however, I had very little patience. I bottled up my feelings, then found myself exploding in anger and feeling out of control. I was trying to control everything.
I have learnt to listen to my inner child because when I haven't, I have found that other people vocalise my feelings back to me.
I become impatient when I feel judged, however when I am patient I feel relaxed and very aware of how my body feels whether comfortable or not.
In the past, I was dishonest about my feelings, especially expressing anger and sadness. I learnt in my childhood that secrecy was important to hide the shame for fear of being ostracised. I only felt that one side of me was accepted so I presented myself as a 'good girl'.
I found myself in dishonest relationships where my partners constantly cheated on me. I felt rejected and abandoned in my relationships and found it difficult to understand why I was often sad or lonely in my life. I felt something was wrong and that I deserved better but felt powerless to change.
Through body therapy, I realised how much pain I had been holding on to. As I became aware of my feelings it allowed me to create the change that would give me the freedom to be me.
Lying to myself and being lied to no longer felt good to me. So only three weeks after body therapy, I had the courage to end the relationship knowing this would improve my life.
Having been bullied, made fun of and not feeling included both at school and at work, I retreated deeper into my cave to feel safer. I learnt to deal with feeling hurt by responding with coldness and aloofness. I became open about my experiences, hiding who I was didn’t work for me anymore.
I learnt to respond rather than to react, which gave me the space to feel what I was feeling from a place of non-judgment. Instead of blaming others when I was triggered, I shifted my focus towards my body and allowed the feeling to be felt. I needed to be heard and accepted just as I was and also that I didn’t need to be fixed, just to be listened to, this included listening to myself. Doing this allowed me to be in my power. I became aware of what I needed.
I forgave myself, the years I’d spent beating myself up emotionally had to end. I became authentic.
As a young child, I remember numerous occasions where my parents would explode with anger towards each other or towards me. I would go to my room because the emotions would overwhelm me.
I found that as well as being quiet and demure I could also be boisterous and opinionated. I learnt to bottle up my feelings, then I would suddenly explode in frustration closely followed by tears of sadness.
I learnt that crying was only to be done behind closed doors because it was seen as a weakness. So I would often feel shamed into hiding my sadness and built a wall around me to be seen as strong.
I learnt to become highly independent to the point that I felt I didn't need anyone else. I didn't want to be seen as vulnerable because when I did express my needs, I didn't feel as if anyone responded to me. So I chose to maintain my facade with the smile that I wore every day.
Inside of me, it was a different story, I thought I was going crazy with repeated feelings of sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, fear, anxiety and worry.
Through joining spiritual groups and finding friends who could listen to me as well as share their own journey, I began to understand my feelings better. I learnt that expressing my feelings was a sign of strength, not weakness. I learnt to form healthy relationships by sharing my story.
Failure was never an option for me despite being knocked down I was inspired to succeed. Due to an administration error at school, I had to stay on an extra year to complete my Baccalaureate Degree. Even in my driving exam, 3 attempts did not faze me. I was not about to give up. I was elated the day that I passed. My experience repeated at University, where a failure of one of my exams meant that I would never achieve a honours degree, yet my persistence paid off and I got my Bachelor of Science. When in my Postgraduate Year of Education I wasn't fazed by the obstacle of being told by a headteacher that I couldn't manage the children's behaviour. I completed my degree and successfully taught for 20 years before burning out and deciding to become self-employed.
I used this strength to hide behind and because of this I isolated myself and just got on with it. Oftentimes feeling annoyed that nobody else was there for me.
This attitude of resilience sometimes backfired on me, especially in my relationships. I would carry on giving because I didn't want to fail. I ignored my gut instinct and repeated warning signs so as I would not feel lonely and abandoned. This stubbornness eventually wore me down to such a point that I was a shadow of my former self and I had no fight left. There was no option but to surrender to the break-up.
I knew that one day that I would be in a healthy loving relationship and that is what kept me going. Through the process of becoming genuine, understanding, loving, fearless, patient, honest, forgiving, vulnerable and resilient I am able to be myself in a loving relationship with the man that I was looking for. And to have my own business loving the work that I do.