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.

 

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!!!

The Masks We Wear

I have a million different masks that I slide on and off. I’ve been doing it my whole life and have done it so much, each transition is absolutely seamless. I wear these masks for many reasons, none of which are probably healthy, but they get me through each day so they can’t be entirely bad. Right???

 

I wear a mask to try fit in in social situations. I wear them at work as I’m in a law enforcement role so that doesn’t really suit my personality. I wear them to protect myself from people judging the real me. To be honest I wear them sometimes just because it’s easier to put on a front and pretend I’m someone different. To pretend I’m confident. To pretend I’m coping.

 

It’s actually quite scary that if you ask 5 random people in my life to describe me, their descriptions would be startlingly different.

 

Ask a work colleague that has seen me in action when someone is being disrespectful. They would say I’m strong, confident and brilliant in conflict situations. That I don’t take any amount of shit from anyone.

 

Ask one of my oldest and closest friends and they would tell you I’m the life of the party. Extroverted. Would fight the biggest person to protect them.

 

Ask one of my ex’s and they’d tell you I’m stubborn and fiery. Another ex would tell you I’m overbearing and love too much. Another would tell you I’m deeply loyal and always put others first. One would say I’m too emotional. One would say I’m not emotional enough.

 

Ask someone who has seen me with my daughter. They will tell you I’m sweet and soft like a teddy as I sit and sing to her to calm her down when she’s upset.

 

Ask someone that has just met me and if I’m in a new environment, they would tell you I look rude and unapproachable. The whole resting bitch face thing again. I’m not rude I’m just shy and overwhelmed from being in a place I don’t know with people I don’t know. 

 

I’ve realised recently I wear so many masks to cope with so many scenarios in my life, that I don’t even know the real me anymore. I’ve hidden the true me for so long that if you ask me to describe myself, I couldn’t even give you an honest answer. I’d have to reply, well what situation do you want me to describe myself in???

 

I can’t recall when I started putting these masks on. Started changing my personality to suit the people I’m with or the situations I’m in. But I know for sure I was definitely doing it before I hit my teens and was realising there was something ‘different’ about me.

 

My friends started talking about their interest in boys. I didn’t understand what they were on about. There was a feeling of unease inside of me and I know for sure I started wearing a mask then so no one realised I wasn’t ‘normal.’

 

This was 23ish years ago and I’ve realised recently that I’ve still been wearing a mask when it comes to my sexuality. I’ve spent my whole life worrying about being judged, when the only person that has been judging me, is myself.

 

I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve never had to endure more than a few minor homophobic comments. But I’ve heard horrific stories of others suffering and I’ve always been terrified of it happening. So I’ve been living my whole life as that 12 year old girl, scared to be ‘different.’ Wearing a mask to try and protect myself from harm that never comes. 

I’ve spent my whole life desperately trying to appear ‘normal’ and not be seen as an outsider. Now that I’m going through this journey of learning to accept who I am, I couldn’t think of anything worse than being ‘normal.’

 

I want and need to release this mask and embrace myself for who I truely am.

 

Another mask I wear constantly is one to cope with social situations. I don’t like having attention on me and I’m more than happy to sit back and have quiet, meaningful conversations with one person at a time. However it seems at every social gathering there’s that one dick that has to be the life of the party and feels it’s his/her duty to force everyone to have a ‘great time’ like they are.

 

They completely lack the ability to understand that people have different personalities and that not everyone has to be up shouting and dancing and being overly enthusiastic about the tiniest of things. They completely lack the ability to understand that the 2 quiet people in the corner that were having a meaningful conversation, were actually having a ‘great time’ in their own way.

 

Because of their lack of understanding they then butt in and try and get you to stand up and join in with them in their overt enthusiasm. When you decline they try and shove a drink in your face saying oh you need to get drunk so you can have a good time. Um no you asshat we were having a wonderful time until you came along so please get out of my face so I can go back to enjoying myself.

 

Those kind of situations are so awkward and uncomfortable that I learnt to put on a mask and attempt to be overly enthusiastic with that person. It would work most times and they’d get their fix and move onto the next person. But I’d always feel like a fool afterwards. Hating that I couldn’t naturally just be like that person so I could fit in easier. Hating that I don’t feel comfortable to just be my true self in every situation I’m in. 

 

Again this is a mask that I want and need to release.

 

I don’t want to wear these masks anymore. I want to feel comfortable being me. I want to feel confident enough to not change myself to suit other people. I want to feel like I’m not being judged for being ‘different.’ 

 

I feel as a society we’ve grown to expect certain ‘norms,’ certain behaviours from people. Society seems to look up to those that are out there making a noise and demanding attention. Society also seems to look down on those that are quieter and don’t like attention drawn to them. 

 

I’m realising such a common theme in everything I write lately. And that is that as humans we all seem to judge each other for our differences instead of embracing our uniqueness. Instead of celebrating and learning from our dissimilarities, we criticise and belittle them. This is probably the founding factor in why so many of us wear masks to hide our true selves. 

 

It’s from this pressure to perform and be someone I’m not, that I judge myself so harshly. How I constantly put myself down and tell myself I’d be so much better if I was like her. How I’d fit in so much easier if I was like him.

 

It’s been so eye opening since I started publishing my journey. I’ve had so many people contact me and say that they have had similar experiences as mine when it comes to feeling like they don’t fit in just because they are introverted. Or they have an inner critic too that harshly attacks them for being ‘different.’ That they have felt lost and alone even in a room full of people because they feel that no one understands them. 

 

It makes me so frustrated and truly sad that humans are having this effect on other humans that they are meant to care about. You’d think after millions of years of so called ‘progress’ that we would have figured out by now that not one of us is the same as another. You’d think we would have all accepted and embraced each other’s uniqueness. 

 

If anything can come from this blog I hope so fiercely that even just one person can turn around and change someone’s life by not judging them. By accepting them fully for who they are. By giving a random compliment to someone. By smiling at a stranger. By saying something kind to someone that serves us at a restaurant. 

 

Let’s make a pact here and now to do one thing out of the ordinary per day to make someone smile. In a world full of cruelty, let’s choose to start spreading kindness.