My vulnerability is no longer my weakness.

Brene Brown is my new hero!! Her talks and books on vulnerability are brilliant. She is hilarious, blunt and at times it feels like she is reading my mind. Everything she said resonated with me so deeply.

There is a passage in one of her books where she talks about when she was on stage and asked the crowd, “How many people struggle with vulnerability because they see it as a weakness?” Of course most of the crowd raised their hands.

Then she asks “When you see people on stage how many people thought they were being courageous?” Again the crowd raises their hands.

I don’t know about you but standing in front of a crowd would have to be one of the most vulnerable positions you could put yourself in. I’m pretty sure 99% of society would all say the same. And we all see that as being so courageous, yet still see vulnerability as a weakness.

It blows my mind!!

How is it that we can admire these people for their bravery in leaving themselves completely vulnerable, yet when someone opens up about mental health struggles, or opens up about having feelings for someone or wears their heart on their sleeves and shows emotions; people look at them as if they are weak.

In all of these examples, people leave themselves completely vulnerable. Open to rejection and criticism. Yet one side is admired and the other side is judged so harshly.

I’ve felt both sides during my journey and after hearing that example from Brene, it’s made me realise that all this vulnerability I’m showing is not a weakness at all. I see it now as pure bravery and strength.

On one side I’ve received so many messages of support and admiration, not only by friends and family, but total strangers. I have been told how brave and courageous and strong I am to be able to open up and be so raw and honest with my struggles and trauma.

And I’ve also seen the other side where I’ve showed emotion and cried in front of people, and they’ve seen it as a sign of weakness. Criticised me for not being strong enough to hold on and cry when no one is around.

This makes no sense to me. How is it that I’m brave for writing about crying, yet when people see me cry, I’m viewed as weak??

Another quote from her book “Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

This resonates big time with me. The last 6 months of my journey has completely revolved around exploring my darkness. I’ve dug deep and gone to places I didn’t want to. The deepest darkest places I could find.

And while discovering this darkness, it really has illuminated the power of the light within me. As I’ve healed my darkness and allowed the light to shine through, it’s opened my eyes to a whole new world out there. A whole new me that I didn’t know was inside of me.

See I’ve always put myself into a category that made me feel weak and powerless. I’m one of “those” ones. The reserved, the emotional, the thinkers. One of those ones that always gets called depressed. That always gets called rude. That’s looked down upon because we get nervous in social situations.

As I empowered the light within me, I started realising that all of these traits I have, are not weaknesses. They are my strengths.

It’s a strength to be reserved. It allows me to sit back and analyse situations before jumping in head first. It allows me to watch people and their behaviours so I can determine who I feel comfortable socialising with.

It’s a strength to be in touch with my emotions. Now that I have learnt to handle the stronger emotions I feel, it gives me a sense of strength to ride these feelings and embrace them. Yes I still cry. Yes I still get upset. However I no longer allow them to completely take hold of me. And I love that I feel emotions so strongly. I’d rather love incredibly deeply than not at all.

It’s a strength to be a thinker. Now that I have found ways to stop myself over-thinking situations, I actually really enjoy my deep thoughts that I have. Especially when I’m running. I explore deep within my consciousness and discover things I never knew about myself. I analyse things I’ve heard or read and discover how I feel about them. It’s fun and exciting now rather than tiring and draining when I was over-thinking situations and conversations I’d been in.

I’m not actually depressed and I’m not actually rude. (Ok yes I can be incredibly rude sometimes when people deserve it) however I’m social situations I’m not being rude by not talking much. I get incredibly nervous in crowds and especially around people I haven’t met before. But this doesn’t make me rude. And yes I have previously suffered from depression however in the words of my Psychologist;

“You’re not currently depressed. You’ve suffered many losses in a short amount of time and you’re grieving. But you’re seeking help and making changes. You’re motivated with running and setting new goals each week. When you’re in a stage of depression you don’t take these steps.”

Just because I’m in introvert, doesn’t mean I’m depressed. Just because I don’t feel comfortable in social situations, doesn’t mean I’m depressed.

Looking back on my life I realise I’ve always been so ashamed for being “different.” I’ve spent countless years wishing I could be extroverted because I thought that was normal. Hoping that I can wake up and suddenly feel powerful in crowds, to get a rush from meeting new people and to feel on a high after being in social situations. I’ve always believed these people are stronger than me. Braver than me. Better than me.

But now that I’ve released this light inside of me, I realise that they aren’t stronger or braver or better than me. They are just different to me and that’s ok.

I now love the qualities that I have. In my previous blogs I’ve discussed this and stated I now accept who I am. Which was a huge step. Now I feel like I’m starting to embrace my qualities. Starting to love them and be excited by them.

I’m seeing my own vulnerabilities as strengths rather than weaknesses and it’s a powerful feeling.

Having the ability to be vulnerable is risky, scary and fucking hard. But it really is the only way to achieve anything and to move forward in life. It’s such a courageous thing to do and the feeling of empowerment you receive during the process is like having the brightest light shining from within you.

It’s a beautiful and brave thing to experience and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

The sadness behind her smile

To be blunt and to the point, I’m having a shitty night.

I’ve been thinking about all the changes I’ve made over the last year. The endless effort and courage that has gone into making these changes.

The tears and the heartache it took to recognise and accept where I’ve been lacking in my life. Confronting myself with the things I’ve done wrong and the people I’ve hurt and taking ownership of my mistakes.

Walking into therapy each week and smashing through more walls and looking deep inside at the darkest parts of me. The countless hours spent reevaluating my life and where I stand. Facing my biggest fears and having the courage to take another step forward.

I’ve done all this and so much more. And I’m so proud of what I have achieved. I’m so proud of the person that I see in the mirror now. I’m the person I always knew I could be. The person I always dreamed of being.

But as I sit here tonight, all I can think is “What was the point of doing all of this?”

I’m still alone. I’m moving to Brisbane by myself. I picked up my keys to my new apartment today and the smile it gave me faded so quickly as I walked out and realised I had no one to share this joy with. I had no one to text. No one to call. No partner that was eagerly awaiting to hear from me.

And I can sit here and think rationally and know that all the work I’ve done is so worth it. And I can state that I am proud. And I know I’ll probably wake up tomorrow and be good again and be excited about the move and excited about the progress I’ve made. And I do know what the point of it all was.

But there’s that little voice nagging at me that just keeps repeating “What was the point of all of this when you still end up alone?” And it just won’t shut up tonight.

It’s making me so sad and frustrated and hurt. It’s making me question everything. It’s making me wish so badly to have my old life back. My life wasn’t meant to be like this. I don’t want my life to be like this.

I’m sad that today should have been exciting. But I’ve been wearing a fake smile all day. Pretending everything is ok. Putting on a brave face to hide the tears in my heart. Wearing that mask to hide the sadness that’s in my eyes.

Hiding from the sadness that’s behind my smile….

Letting go.

It’s at this point in my journey where I’ve realised I’m holding myself back from moving forward. And that’s because I’m holding on to people and things that are no longer good for me. But I just can’t seem to let go.

 

Is it fear? Worry? Self-doubt?

 

Probably a combination of all three and so much more.

 

Why is it, even when you know deep down that someone or something is no longer good for you, or doesn’t hold that place in your future anymore, you just can’t seem to take that final step and cut the strings? You hold on for dear life even though it causes you so much heartache and draws out the process of moving on.

I’ve recognised recently that I’m doing this with a few things/people in my life. It’s such a confronting thing to accept. And even harder to be honest with myself with the reasons why I’m still holding on.

The reality hit me because I’m moving next week. And I’m so excited about this change and my “new” life I’m beginning. But it also slapped me in the face, that I’m leaving my old life behind me.

I know that in taking this kind of step in my journey, I can’t take my old baggage with me. I’ve spent the last 6 months unpacking it all. Unloading the grief and the trauma. Spent countless sleepless nights stressing over it. Shed millions of tears and spent hours crying until there were no tears left. I’ve hit the darkest moments of my life where I genuinely thought I couldn’t cope any longer.

But in this time I’ve also worked tirelessly to heal from these losses. I’ve sought help from my therapist and spent hours upon hours with her to learn new ways to cope and new ways to heal myself. I’ve taken the time to take care of myself mentally and physically and found a routine of self love that has made me stronger and happier. I’ve found the strength to face my fears and confront these dark shadows in me that I’ve always allowed to rule my life. I’ve completely surrendered to this process.

The biggest thing I’m realising, and the biggest fear I’m facing right now. Is the fact that I have to let go of my old self. I’m no longer the person I was when I moved into this apartment. And I can’t take any of those bad habits with me. I have to force myself to start fresh. I have to believe in myself and be confident in the fact that I’m strong enough to do this without falling back into self hatred and self doubt. That I now have the ability to put my own needs on par with others rather than self sacrificing and putting them first.

I love the quote “If you don’t heal what hurt you, you’ll bleed on people who didn’t cut you.” This is the process I’ve been following for my new self. I can’t bring the old me along on this journey anymore. She’s bleeding onto the new me. Trying to work her way back in and hindering my process. And I can’t allow that to happen anymore.

I have to be brave and let go of the old me completely.

There’s also the issue of my ex. It’s been 7 months since she left me and during this time I’ve been filled completely with anger, hurt and hate. I’ve focused completely on trying to continue the relationship with our daughter and fighting to see her. That I’ve never stopped and taken the time to actually allow myself to accept that it’s over. I’ve grieved the loss of our family, but I’ve never grieved the loss of our relationship. I’ve never analysed how I actually feel about her. And it pains me, and I’m embarrassed to say, I still have feelings for her. I’ve been so distracted by the hurt, that I failed to see that love was still there.

We spent 6 years together. We have a beautiful daughter and were trying to have another. I truly thought we’d be together forever. As much as I’d like them to, those feelings don’t disappear quickly. The only thing that will allow me to heal and let go of those feelings, is time.

So moving forward into my new life, I can’t just turn off these feelings, but I can choose to let go of the hope I’ve been holding onto that things could be different. I’ve been holding on because I know how much it will hurt to let go. But this process of holding on is also hurting me much more than I’ve realised.

I have to be brave and let go of her.

There is another major factor that I’ve been holding onto that is hurting me, but I can’t even find the words to talk about it now. But I know in my heart that I have to be brave and let it go as well. I have to let go of the hope I’ve been holding onto that certain things could have turned out a different way.

This stage in my journey of letting go, is the most confronting and also the scariest. In a way it feels like it’s the final stage in the process. Not that I believe my journey will ever be over. I wholeheartedly believe now, that our lives are one big journey that should be cherished and looked at as a journey, not just a way of life.

But this feels like it’s the final step in this cycle of my journey. Like I’m coming out the other side of the most difficult and heartbreaking moments of my life.

It’s scary because I don’t know what’s on the other side. Fear of the unknown is making me want to hold back. But the exciting thing is, that the old me would have put off taking this step. Would have allowed fear and self doubt to take over. But the new me, yes she still has those fears, but she’s embracing them and facing them head on.

I’m excited for the unknown. I’m looking forward to seeing what is around the corner for me. And I can sit here with confidence and know that whatever challenges are thrown at me, I can conquer them all.

All of this makes me realise that letting go doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be rewarding and refreshing and also open up so many amazing opportunities that you would never have had if you’re still looking backwards and holding onto the past.

So from now on my focus will be aimed solely at my daughters favourite movie quote “Let it go.”

The hero’s that inspire me

This week’s blog is going to be a little different.

 

The back story behind it is that I got a phone call from someone at the Gold Coast Marathon committee. They said that they are working with a photographer this year to do feature pieces on runners with inspirational reasons as to why they are doing the marathon; they asked if they could do one on me.

 

I calmly and professionally said yes that would be ok. Pretending like this wasn’t a huge deal and I get phone calls like this all the time.

 

Meanwhile I’m jumping for joy inside. So excited and so proud to be asked to do something like this.

 

I had my photo shoot on the weekend and part of it included doing a video recording of why I entered the marathon. And also what inspires me to keep going.

 

It was such an amazing and humbling experience and allowed me to really look deep inside myself as to what and who inspires me.

 

So today’s blog is all about those people who give me the strength and motivation to hit this goal.

 

Firstly, my beautiful daughter. Since before you were born I knew I wanted to be the best person I could be for you. I wanted to be the kind of Mum you could look up to and be proud of. A few weeks ago you saw some running shoes at the shops and said “Mumma J I want these so I can run fast like you.” It melted my heart and made me burst with pride. To know I’m influencing you in such a positive way brings me so much joy. And knowing that you will be there at the finish line with Ninny and Pop Pop, will help me push through the pain to see your face and make you proud.

 

To my family. You have seen me at my worst and at my best. We’ve been through some really difficult times and I’ve pushed you all away at times, but no matter what, I know that if I needed you, you’d all be there in a flash. I know you’ll all be so proud seeing me cross the line on race day and this gives me the strength to keep fighting another day. 

 

To my friend who is battling cancer again. You’re bravery, strength and never give up attitude inspires me to no end. Whenever I’m thinking of slowing down I think of you and what you’ve pushed through and it makes me go further than I thought I could.

 

To a past work colleague that opened up to me after my blog Perfectly Imperfect. Stating that you talk down to yourself the same way I used to. I always looked up to you and was actually intimidated by you as you always seemed so confident. I’m humbled you opened up to me and I hope you have managed to quiet that voice that puts you down. Thank you for making me feel like I wasn’t alone. Your bravery in opening up gives me strength to keep going. 

 

To an old friend that reconnected with me after reading my blogs to say you were inspired and lost weight and have started taking better care of yourself after struggling through the death of a family member; I’m touched that I could help and I keep pushing when I know you’re fighting through your journey too.

 

To the beautiful soul that suggested I look into Schema Therapy. I know it would have been difficult to do this as I was in such a bad place and could have reacted negatively. I’m so grateful you stepped up and made the suggestion. It has changed my life. I’m really sad that you’re no longer in my life, but please know that every day for the rest of my life I will be grateful to you for accepting me for who I am. For not judging me. For showing me such a beautiful light when all I could feel was darkness. When I look back on this journey you’re always a big part of it and I use that gratitude I feel towards you, as a force to push me through. 

 

To a work colleague that told me I’m a talented writer and should turn this blog into a book; then destroyed me by saying “who would have thought you would be talented at anything” no matter what is happening you always find a way to make me laugh. And I promise when I’m a famous author, you’re first in line to be my personal assistant.

 

To the random stranger that I saw running last Saturday. I hope this doesn’t come across as rude, but you are probably 3 times my weight so running must be incredibly difficult and painful for you right now; but the smile you wore as you were running overflowed me with inspiration. I could see the buzz you get from running and it reminded me why I do what I do. Thank you for grounding me. Your smile will keep me pounding the pavement through the pain.

 

To the countless online strangers that have messaged me on Social Media or email and have shared your stories with me of how something I wrote gave you the inspiration to start your journey or to start taking care of yourself; I can’t thank you enough for your amazing feedback. It truly means the world to me and I have saved every comment. You inspire me to keep going.

 

There are many others that have inspired me and I think of you during my runs and throughout this journey as well; I can never thank you all enough for the inspiration and motivation you have all given me. Please keep being brave and opening up and sharing your stories with me. I love sharing this journey with so many amazing people.

You’re my hero’s.

 

Becoming me: My deepest apologies

To my family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances and random strangers who have met me on a bad day;

 

From the bottom of my heart, I’m sorry.

 

I’ve been more sensitive and irritable and less patient than normal and for that I’m truly sorry.

 

I’ve been blunt, aggro and frustrated at times and for that I’m truly sorry.

 

I’ve overreacted and been overwhelmed by the smallest things and for that I’m truly sorry.

 

I’ve said things in the heat of the moment that I know have caused pain and for that I’m truly sorry.

 

I’ve only replied with one worded responses when you’ve checked in on me because I was in a bad place, and for that I’m truly sorry.

 

I’ve pushed people away when they are trying to help me and for that I’m truly sorry. 

I’ve been needy and unforgiving and for that I’m truly sorry.

 

I’m not going to try and make excuses for any of it. I know I haven’t been the most pleasant person to be around some of the time, ok let’s face it, most of the time; during this journey.

 

I know it’s been difficult. I understand why some people in my life are walking away. I get it. I’ve spent the last 6 months in a seriously bad funk. I’ve had times where I’m happy and relaxed but it’s been pretty rare. It’s been the biggest roller coaster of my life. 

 

It’s probably pretty tiring and exhausting when you ask me how I’m going and 90% if the time I say I’m struggling with this, that and the other. I get it.

 

I’m hoping I can help you understand by explaining the behind the scenes work I’ve been doing. I’ve touched on it but never got down to the nitty gritty.

 

Again, these are not excuses. These are my reasons.

 

I’m calling it my journey because I honestly don’t know what else to call it. I feel like after hitting rock bottom last year, that I began walking down a path to self-discovery. To find my true self. To figure out who I really am. I didn’t realise it would be the bumpiest path I’ve ever walked, filled with massive pot holes, sharp edges, mountains to climb and also cliffs that I would have to take a leap of faith and jump off.

 

But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I wouldn’t turn back if I could.

 

To start with it was really confronting to not know who I was and to not even know what I wanted in life. I’ve spent 35 years being a people pleaser. Always having the opinion that people can only ever truly love me if I attend to their needs first and go out of my way to ensure their happiness, even at the detriment of my own. So when I actually got asked what I like, I couldn’t even answer. Pretty embarrassing right? It’s so easy for people to stand back and say “oh you’re single now so can do whatever you want so just enjoy it.” But when you’re not used to considering your own needs at all, it’s actually really difficult. Every time I would do a tiny thing for myself, I was wrecked with guilt and feelings of selfishness. It feels so awkward and it was incredibly hard to get used to. 

 

Even just by changing this bad habit, it created a massive ‘shift’ in me. Again that’s the only word I can think of to explain what happens. It’s kind of like pieces of this massive wall I’ve had up, crumbles down, and I’m able to change really bad habits that I’ve created. It’s a fantastic feeling when I finally push through the other side of it, but leading up to it and while it’s actually happening is such a horrible feeling. I go up and down really quickly. Feeling amazing and strong one minute and confused and awkward the next. The only way to describe it is that I get a ‘scratchy’ feeling in my stomach and I feel really nervous.

 

I’ve also spent a few months literally feeling like I didn’t have one person in the world that had my back and that I could rely on. Looking back now I realise that I have so many people that do care, and were showing that to me but I was so full of self-hatred that I couldn’t understand why anyone would bother staying in my life. I couldn’t accept any help so I pushed everyone away. So in doing this I created an even worse situation for myself because in the worst moments of my life, I felt utterly alone. It was such a horrible feeling. 

 

I’ve finally started to accept that I am worthy of having these people in my life and have started opening up and accepting help. Again it’s a process that I find difficult but I’m slowly working through it. 

 

 

The real changes started to appear once I started Schema Therapy. I went to try and find a way to cope with losing my partner and also deal with the grief of the miscarriages. But what actually occurred was us opening up an enormous can of shit that I didn’t realise was bubbling along under the surface.

 

With my Psychologist we started going back to the root of my “complications” and healing them from the beginning. It’s exhausting, confronting, scary and downright fucking hard work!

 

The few days before an appointment I feel on edge because I know what’s coming. And the days after I feel utterly shattered and exposed. Overly sensitive and short fused. It’s such a huge rollercoaster and I can never predict how I’m going to feel and what’s going to come up in therapy that I have to deal with and face. Each week something new pops up and I sit there thinking that I just want a week off, but I also know how rewarding it is after I face each one. 

 

What popped up for me this week, was that I’m finally starting to see all the changes I’ve made and I’m actually finding it difficult to figure out where I fit in. Deep down I feel like I’m a completely new person. And I have been trying to get used to it and have been hiding from the world. Now that I’m starting to actually socialise more again, it’s really highlighted to me how different I am and it’s really quite uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I love the changes, but it just feels weird because I’m not used to it yet. It’s difficult because I actually don’t know where I fit into my own life anymore. I feel like an outsider.

 

It was actually a really scattered session and I was struggling to form sentences to explain to my Therapist what was coming up for me. She was excited and said she’s seen this in me before just before I had a big breakthrough. I was failing to feel anything other than confused and lost. It’s hard to not get down knowing that this scratchy feeling might last awhile as the ‘shift’ happens, because it really does feel so shitty. But the thing that keeps me focused and holding on, is that I feel stronger this time around and I also know how great it feels afterwards. 

 

The unfortunate thing for those in my life right now, is that all those things that I apologised for at the start of this, will probably happen again. I’m obviously hoping that now that I’m more aware of what is happening, that I will be able to handle it better this time. 

 

I’m hoping that this new me can get through it without being so irritable and sensitive and without pushing anyone away. 

 

I’m also hoping that everyone I care about can understand a little more why I’ve been the way I’ve been over the last 6 months and continue to be patient with me a little longer. I obviously find it really difficult to talk about things, even with people I’m incredibly close to. That’s why I started to write. It helps so much and I’m able to release so much of my thoughts and feelings that normally weigh me down. 

 

I don’t know if anyone even sees anything different in me. But I feel like an entirely different person. I feel like I even see the world differently. It’s a really scary, but amazing experience. I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at life and I just wanna grab it with both hands and run with it. Thank you so much to everyone in my life that has stood by me during this journey. I know that no one can understand what I’m going through, but the fact that I still have your support means the world to me. 

And I hope that I don’t lose anyone else along the way. 

 

 

Out of the darkness and into the light

Since opening up about the difficulties I’ve faced, I’ve had so many people ask me how I do it. How do I get through the grief of losing 3 babies? How do I get through the heartbreak of having my partner walk out on me through that stage of our lives? How do I get through each day fighting to see my daughter? How do I find the motivation to keep training and focused on my goals? How do I keep moving forward when finally facing the trauma’s I went through as a child? And how am I doing this all at once?

 

I’ve been pretty flippant about it all and I guess haven’t really thought about it much. Doing my usual “oh it’s not that hard, anyone could do it.” Trying to downplay the struggles that I’ve faced and fought through, instead of being proud of getting through another day without giving up. I recently said this to a friend and she replied very despondently “I can’t even seem to get through minor things, I wish I had your strength.” 

 

It hit me that by downplaying how I’ve dealt with things, was making someone I care about, doubt herself. And that made me feel like shit. I started this blog and decided to share my journey, to help and inspire others, not to make them feel crappy. 

 

So I want to say here and now, it has been incredibly tough. Every step of this journey has been a struggle and I’m definitely not anywhere near the end of my journey. It’s been the longest 8 months of my life and I have come through so much, but there are still parts of my life that are a total mess. I still have days where I cry numerous times and feel like giving up. I just don’t have them as frequently anymore. But they still definitely happen. 

And most days I put on a brave face and hide the struggles because I feel like such a burden on people in my life. I accept I’m difficult to be around right now. That’s just part of my journey. Opening up old wounds and facing my fears makes me even more irritable and frustrated than normal. I’m changing and it’s hard for people to get used to. But I don’t like the old me so I focus on pushing forward.

 

It’s really hard to explain how I have tackled each step but I really want to share the things that have helped me, and also the many things I’ve tried that have pushed me back a step. 

 

I think the main thing I needed to do was accept each step of the way for what it was, a step that I tried to take. Sometimes the step took me forward, sometimes it took me backwards. And to start it was really difficult to accept that I had gone backwards, but I found it really helpful to focus on the fact that I had tried to go forward. Because making an effort, is always a better result than not trying at all. 

Again, I didn’t succeed at accepting this every time. Sometimes a step back would send me into feeling like a failure and I’d end up taking even more steps back. But most of the time I could accept what had happened and allow myself to feel sad for a few minutes and then move forward and try again. And it is getting easier with time. 

 

It really has been about forming new habits. I always have beaten myself up whenever I perceive myself as failing. And I needed to form a new habit of not doing this anymore. Which, like in attempting to form any new habit, it’s difficult and seems impossible to start, but gets easier with time and the more you practise it. 

Another thing that has helped me form these habits, is relating my coping techniques to my physical training. I know in depth how my body works and what I need to do to make it stronger and faster and fitter. I applied these practises, and this belief, to coping with grief and anxiety and it made me see it in a whole new light. To get fitter, faster and stronger. You practise. You train. You fuel your body to perform at its best. You set goals.

 

In applying this to my mental health, I practised acceptance. I trained in not beating myself up over every step back. I fuelled my mind by starting self-care every day. My brain became stronger, my coping techniques became faster. I set goals each time I faced another difficult situation, to handle it a little better than last time. 

 

Even in doing these new practices, I faced setbacks and I tried things that didn’t work. I started off doing meditation each day and to start with I loved it. I couldn’t get enough of the feeling I got from it. I felt grounded and full of energy and also more peaceful. Over time though these feelings lessened and I realised I wasn’t finding it as useful. I just wasn’t feeling the same benefits anymore. 

 

When I realised this, instead of getting disappointed like I normally would. I accepted that it helped me through some really difficult times and that I could find another method of reducing my anxiety. I related it again to my physical training, if a certain type of workout isn’t giving you the results you were after, you try something new. 

 

What I tried next and what is currently working for me is listening to a guided sleep mediation with positive affirmations. Not only is it helping me sleep better but I’ve noticed I wake up feeling fresher and more positive. 

Other things I tried that didn’t work for me at that particular time, was repeating positive mantras, looking in the mirror and saying affirmations and countless other ways that I looked up on Google. These techniques didn’t work for me, however I’m happy to try again when the time is right.

My secret, if you could call it that, is beginning to take the time for self care. I’ve always shied away from this thinking I don’t have time for bubble baths or relaxing massages etc. But what I realised is that it doesn’t have to be a huge task or a special event. Self care can and should be done every day and looked at as necessary, not as a treat.

Self care for me, is taking even just 5 minutes to sit and look at the ocean, or to have a cup of tea and focus on taking deep breaths. It’s about being “selfish” and giving yourself a few minutes a day that are all yours and you focus on nothing but yourself and grounding your energy.

Again this was a difficult task to start with as I felt like I was wasting time and had to keep rushing to get things done. But the more I practised it and started to stop and relax, I really started to enjoy it and look forward to my time. Some days I might only be able to spare 5 minutes, but I make every minute count and make sure I focus 100% on myself.

I also love audiobooks at the moment. I set myself a goal to read a book per week this year and was struggling with hitting my goal due to time constraints. So I started listening to them while I run and when driving. Even when I’m just cooking or washing up. My favourites so far are Normal Gets you Nowhere – Kelly Cutrone. The Operator – Robert O’Neil. Girl, wash your face – Rachel Hollis. And Get your Shit together – Sarah Knight.

Very different books but with the same no-excuses approach to putting on your big girl pants and stepping up to face your fears and stopping self doubt. I loved them and definitely recommend getting them.

All of these things put together have helped me take tiny steps forward in reaching my goals. Some days I’ve barely moved an inch, others I’ve gone backwards and some I haven’t moved. But the main thing is that when I look back and average it out, I’ve taken more steps forward. And the most important thing, is that I keep trying. I refuse to give in.

 

Making changes is so hard but I just keep leaning into the difficult times and tell myself that it’s short term discomfort for long term gain. Every time I‘ve moved forward in my journey, the joy I get out of it far outweighs the sadness and frustration over the set backs.

I feel like I still have so far to go. But I’m starting to also recognise how far I’ve already come. And I’m starting to get so much joy out of this journey rather than it feeling like a weight on my shoulders.

Finally, after living in so much darkness and self hate, I’m starting to see a tunnel of light. Finally feeling hope for my future. Finally starting to see my strength. Finally accepting that I am becoming the person I always wanted to be.

I hope some of these ideas resonate with you and can help on your journeys. Please don’t get despondent if one doesn’t work for you. Just keep trying. Remember that your journey isn’t a solid object, it will move and change with you as needed. Keep taking those tiny steps. You’re stronger and braver than you think you are.

 

Wishing my life away.

During my last long run I was listening to an audio book and the author was talking about how we compare ourselves so harshly to others. Especially females. Yet as we are sitting there wishing we were like someone else, they are sitting there wishing they were like us. 

 

That friend of yours that you wish you had their life because they are happily married with kids, is secretly wishing they had your life because you’re successful in your career. That colleague of yours that you get jealous of because they are skinnier than you, is secretly wishing she didn’t have to go to the gym so much and had more free time on her hands like you. That family friend that you wish you could be more extroverted like her, is secretly wishing she could be more introverted like you. 

 

It made me realise that lately I have been thinking about my age and where I thought I’d be in my life by now. I thought I would have found ‘the one’ by now. I thought I’d be in a career I love and that I’m advancing in. I thought I’d be living in a home that I have purchased. I thought I’d have more money in the bank. I thought I would have travelled more. I thought I would feel successful. I thought I would feel in control of my life. Basically I’ve always held certain expectations of how my life should look, and it’s definitely not meeting those expectations. 

 

I kept focusing on what I feel I haven’t achieved and I stopped and thought, hang on a minute, what have I managed to achieve already? My first thought, lots actually. I joined the Military at 18 and served nearly 6 years. In that time I did overseas deployments and received 2 medals and a Commendation. I’m raising a beautiful little girl who is compassionate and funny and kind. I’ve completed a half marathon after battling depression and severe anxiety that was causing panic attacks and I’m training to complete a second one. I bought my first home by myself at 25 years old. I’ve endured significant traumas including being first responder to a young man that had been hit by a train and killed, had the shit beaten out of me while protecting an elderly man, had 3 miscarriages; and through all that I’ve managed to find a way to keep moving forward. I’ve started this blog and my readers are increasing each week. I’ve travelled to 8 different countries. I raised $2500 and shaved my head for cancer research. I cooked for and met George Bush and how wife. There is obviously so much more and it made me realise I really have done a lot in 35 years.

 

So many achievements yet I regularly focus on what I don’t have yet and where I thought I’d be by now. I focus on what others have achieved and wish I had done that too. I feel like as humans we always get distracted by what we want instead of being grateful for what we have and being proud of what we have achieved. 

 

I also realised that I’ve had so many comments since starting this journey from people saying they wish they had my strength. They wish they had my motivation to train like I do. They wish they were brave enough to share their stories like I do. They wish they could stand up and ask for help when they are struggling, like I have. So much amazing feedback and so many people reaching out with compliments, yet I feel discouraged that I haven’t achieved what I perceived my life should look like. 

 

I was in a pretty shitty headspace after thinking all of this as I felt disappointed in myself and also because my knees and hip were aching and I was hating on my body for not being like it was 6 years ago when I was training for my last half marathon. I was whining to myself thinking why can’t my joints work better, why can’t this be easier, why me??? To be blunt I was being a sook! Totally feeling sorry for myself….then I looked up and saw a man in a wheelchair. 

 

This was one of those life changing moments where you feel that life actually slows down around you. The synchronicity of this event literally felt like a slap in the face. I felt so incredibly selfish and guilty. And to say I got a dose of reality is an understatement. Here I am complaining about pain in my legs, when this man has no feeling at all in his. He would probably give anything to feel the pain I’m going through so that he had the ability to run again. To even walk again.

 

It really was a massive reality check and made me realise just how much I take the simple things for granted because I’m chasing this expectation of a certain type of life that I created in my head. I put so much pressure on myself to be this certain type of person when at the end of the day, I have achieved a huge amount in my life already and have been fighting the biggest battle the last 6 months just to get through each day, yet am still managing to take tiny steps forward. 

 

It made me think even deeper to the fact that I really am wishing my life away in hope of being like others. Wishing I was settled down with ‘the one’ like so many of my friends. Wishing I had progressed further in my career. Wishing I was more in control of my life and felt more settled. I’ve even been thinking lately about what I can do after running the half marathon. Because somewhere in my mind it’s apparently not enough to train solidly for a year and achieve something that many others wish they could do….in my mind I still need to achieve more. 

 

It blows my mind that I still expect so much of myself and can’t seem to celebrate what I have achieved.

If someone had of said to me a year ago that I’d be single, fighting to see my daughter, moving to Brisbane, seeing a Therapist, that I wouldn’t have another baby, I’d be writing this blog and inspiring so many people or that I’d be training my ass off every day….I would have literally slapped them and told them to wake up to themselves. 

 

My life wasn’t meant to be like this. I was meant to be with my partner who I loved for 6 years and had fought so hard to get back to the Gold Coast to spend more time with. I was meant to be with my little family and seeing my daughter every day and being like that for the rest of my life. I was meant to have given her a sibling by now and back to diapers and sleepless nights. I was meant to spending the rest of my life in that little bubble that I always wanted. 

 

The thing is even when I was in that bubble where I had my little family I always wanted, I didn’t feel settled. I always felt like I wasn’t enough. Like I was a bad partner and bad mother because my shift work stopped me from attending so many family events, even though it provided us with a beautiful lifestyle. I felt like it wasn’t enough because we didn’t have our own home yet, even though I was busting my ass working 16 hour days to get us ahead. And for the last 18 months I felt like I’d failed my partner and my daughter because I couldn’t carry our babies to full term. I kept ruining the life that we dreamed of. I kept adding extra stress by continuing IVF and fighting for one more go. 

 

Even back then when I had everything I wanted, I was still wishing my life away. Pushing myself for more. Expecting more of myself. 

 

After that slap in the face of seeing someone in a wheelchair,while sooking about having sore legs and realising how much I take for granted and spend so much time wishing my life was different; I’m taking the approach that if my life was really meant to be how I’d expected it to be, it would have happened that way. As harsh as that reality is, it’s true. It obviously wasn’t meant to be the way I had envisioned it. My life as it is right now, is how it’s meant to be. And after the roller coaster of this journey the last 6 months, if you told me that in a years’ time I will have found someone that loves me just as I am, and have 3 dogs and I’m working as a Social Worker….. I’d sit here and go OK, if that’s how my life is meant to be, then that’s what I accept. 

 

I’m no longer going to expect my life to head in any direction. I’m no longer going to waste time wishing it was different or wishing I had achieved more. My only focus is to be proud of what I have achieved and to relish in the joy of my accomplishments. I’m obviously still going to set goals around things I want to achieve, but I’m going to enjoy each step of those goals and celebrate properly when I achieve them, not go racing onto the next one. 

 

Time to stop and smell the roses and enjoy my life rather than battling to make it different because of a preconceived idea I created in my mind!