How the truth can set you free

So I was clearly struggling last week. I had my sad pants on big time and I was in a serious rut. I was feeling so low and wishing things in the past were different and wishing I could go back in time. Feeling so sorry for myself and hating my life.

I had some mixed emotions coming up that were confusing me. I was blaming myself for things that had gone wrong. I had serious self-doubt over a gut feeling I had for the last few years and was thinking maybe I got it all wrong. And I was kicking myself for opening up and being honest and vulnerable.

Today changed it all. Today made me realise that the sick feeling in my stomach about what was really going on, was actually the truth. And the fact I’d been made to feel stupid for questioning these feelings makes it even worse. Today she finally admitted it all.

Deep down in my gut I knew for the last few years what was really going on. But I didn’t trust that feeling enough, nor did I want to believe it. I was getting to the point over the last week where I was actually starting to question my sanity. Thinking that I had imagined it all. That I had somehow been disillusioned this whole time and because of this I had messed up big time.

Then the truth came out. The admission that what I had suspected the whole time, was completely and utterly true. Hearing the revelation blew me away and shocked me to my core. It hurt so much that someone could be so heartless and selfish and fucking cruel!

Reality then started setting in. I was right. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t delusional. My gut feeling was right all along. I felt an enormous weight start to lift from my shoulders. It’s hard to explain but I finally felt free. I felt liberated from the confession and the realization that I could now let go and move on.

I didn’t realise that that was what had been holding me back. I guess the stubborn side of me wanted to know that I was right. The self conscious side of me needed to know that I wasn’t going crazy. And the heartbroken side of me needed to see the complete truth to allow me to let go and move forward.

I guess I hadn’t pushed too hard to hear the truth as I was terrified of actually hearing those words. But in actual fact, it was the one thing I’ve needed and it has changed my outlook on my entire journey.

Never before have I been taught such a valuable lesson – follow your gut! No matter what. The uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. The hesitation. The feeling of needing to run. The tingling in my hands. The tightness in my throat. These are all things I feel when I’m in a situation where something is wrong and my body is throwing physical signs at me to stop and listen. To stand up and take notice.

It’s frustrating because I know I have always taken notice of these signs at work. Being in law enforcement you get these gut feelings when something isn’t right. And when I feel them in that situation, I’m like a dog with a bone. I don’t let up until I figure out what is going on. What the person is hiding or lying about.

But in my personal life I’ve been pretty sub par at listening to these signs. Utterly useless at it actually. I guess because when it’s happening in a personal situation, you don’t want to believe it. You don’t want to know that your trust is being broken. Or that someone you care about doesn’t have your best interest at heart.

So you ignore the signs and hope for the best.

Well not anymore. Seeing myself get to a point where I was actually questioning my sanity over a gut feeling that I had ignored for years, is pretty fucking extreme. But that’s the point I was pushed to after being told for years that I was crazy for having these thoughts. Being assured time and time again that what I was thinking, was wrong.

I can see so clearly now that if I had of had the confidence and strength to voice my opinion more forcibly when the signs first starting appearing; then it would have saved a world of heartbreak and pain. I definitely spoke up about it and raised my concerns. But was either assured I was being silly, or told dismissably that I was crazy and wrong. So I kept my mouth shut and tried in vain to believe the lies. The half truths. The avoidance. The changing of subjects quickly.

I know I am stronger now. And more confident. And I’m taking this as the most in your face lesson I could ever be taught. I’m tuning in to these feelings from now on and won’t ever make that mistake again.

It’s hard to not feel bitter about it. Knowing how different my life would be right now if I had of listened all those years ago. But I’m focusing purely on the fact that now I know what these signs mean and I will always remember the feeling of self-doubt that used to surround them. I’m viewing this as a positive thing to happen. That I finally heard the truth and can now move forward with the confidence in knowing I was right and the strength to continue this journey with more focus and determination.

I’m focussed on the fact that now I’m finally free from the lies. The truth well and truly, has set me free.

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.

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.

 

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! 

 

 

Taking my power back

*Warning – sensitive trigger subject*

This will be the hardest blog I release. Opening up about the moment I had my power stolen from me.

But I feel like it’s going to be my most important one too. This week I took my power back and it’s the most amazing, and, well the most powerful feeling in the world.

It’s hard to even type the words as I’ve carried this burden for so long. The shame and the guilt. The feeling of powerlessness. I know I just need to spit it out… at 10 years old I was sexually abused.

I’m not going to go into details obviously. No one needs to read that.

25 years ago someone took my power from me. He took my innocence. He took my confidence. He took my ability to feel comfortable saying no. He took my trust. He took my feeling of safety. He took the feeling that humans are inherently good and kind.

He took everything good from me and replaced it with everything shit. Guilt. Shame. Self blame. Confusion. Mistrust. Fear. Defiance. Anger. Pain. Over bearing emotions that I could never find a way to cope with.

I truely feel that the person I was originally born to become, died that day. From that moment I was never going to be the same. He fundamentally changed my personality, my heart and my soul.

This is so difficult because I don’t want to talk about the fact that he’s had a lasting impact on me for 25 years. I don’t want to open up about the fact that even now when people I love touch me, it sometimes makes my skin crawl. I don’t want to admit that I still have nightmares. I don’t want to tell anyone that up until a few months ago I couldn’t accept compliments because my first thought was always “what do you want from me?” I don’t want to fess up that even hearing his name makes me feel sick. I don’t want to share the details of how I sometimes get a bad gut feeling around certain men that makes my heart race, my hands shake, I start to sweat and feel the walls closing in like I can’t escape.

I don’t want to share any of this. But this is the reality of my life. And the reality for so many others that have been through the same trauma. This is the lasting impact that this has on our lives.

But as of a few days ago when writing this, all of it changed. And I feel like a million pounds of weight have been lifted off my shoulders.

I was talking to my therapist about how I feel so powerless right now because my ex has total control over my life. How it sends me absolutely crazy every time she takes even more power from me. How I get so emotional about it and feel like I can’t find my way out. How I’ve always been triggered when people take my power away from me.

She asked if there was a time when I was a child where I feel I lost my power. Obviously the abuse came straight into my mind. I did try to stumble my way through a few other minor things because I was scared to step up and face my demons.

I stopped myself and there was silence for what felt like an eternity. I knew I had to face it. I knew this was my moment to deal with it. I knew I couldn’t carry it any longer.

I took a deep breath and said the words. The flood gates opened.

She suggested a few options we could try and I felt that the imagery work we’d used before sat best with me. A quick description of what happened was that I visualise up to the point where I started to know something was wrong. I then visualise “Adult Jess” stepping in and taking “little Jess” out of the situation and comforting her until she’s feeling ok and safe. Then “adult Jess” and my therapist walk back in and get everything off my chest that I’ve wanted and needed to say to him my whole life.

The entire experience was so difficult, yet so healing. Especially the point in which my therapist says to him that it’s his fault not mine and that it’s his guilt to carry for hurting me and for choosing to hurt others.

The feeling that’s burdened me the most is the guilt that I feel because I didn’t stop him and because I shut down to try and cope and didn’t tell anyone, he hurt others. And I have blamed myself for that my whole life.

Hearing those words that it’s not my burden to carry anymore, broke down so many walls I’ve had up. It shattered the weight I’ve always carried. It transferred all of the shit he gave me, and returned it back to him.

In that moment I felt that I took back all the good he stole from me. I took back my innocence. I took back my confidence. I took back feeling comfortable to say no. I took back my ability to trust. I took back my feeling of being safe. But most importantly, I took back my power.

I walked out of that office feeling like a new person. I barely recognise myself. I feel entirely different. It’s like I actually see the world differently. I can’t find the words to explain it properly. But it feels good. It feels amazing actually.

And by no means do I feel that I just walk away and forget it happened. Like I’m magically better and won’t ever think about it again. I will always carry the scars from this trauma. I will always remember. I’ll probably always get the random flash backs and the nightmares. But I’m hoping that these things will lessen over time now that I’ve faced it and feel myself healing.

For the first time in my life, I don’t feel like a victim anymore. I feel like a survivor. And that is incredibly important to me. I faced one of the most horrendous things a child can face, and today I stood my ground and took my power back!

I’ve been going back and forth in deciding whether to write a blog on this. I don’t mind sharing these details with the hundreds of people that read this that I don’t know and never will. But it’s especially hard to share such a traumatic event with people I know. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. Or to look at me with pity. Or to feel uncomfortable around me because they don’t know what to say. No one can say or do anything to take away the pain so please don’t feel that you need to “fix” anything. I’m sharing this because I know the worst thing about being abused is that you feel like you’re the only one.

So I want to stand up and say, you’re not alone! If we’ve never met, or if we’re best mates, or if we work together or if we fell out years ago and have never spoken since, I don’t care… you’re not alone in this. If you need to reach out then I’m here. You’re not alone.

The other emotion you carry is the guilt and self blame.

So I want to stand up and say, it wasn’t your fault!

The only person to blame in this situation, is the perpetrator. No one else. It wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t my parents fault. It wasn’t society’s fault. It wasn’t his parents fault. He alone made that choice to hurt me. Him. No one else.

I also wanted to share this as I made a promise to myself when I started this blog, that I was always going to be open, raw and honest. And this is the most significant trauma in my life and has impacted me so much. So standing up and facing it, will have an enormous impact on my journey.

And hiding what happened is a way of him still holding power over me. So I’m standing up now and saying no more.

“You, you piece of shit, no longer hold any of my power.” It’s mine!!!