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I’m usually pretty fast on the uptake. Even Mum Brain didn’t pinch that from me, but I’ve recently had a bit of an epiphany.
Stick with me on this, because what I am about to say sounds ridiculous in my head, let alone as I’m about to type it out loud.
Two years after starting this blog, I’ve just worked out my ‘why’.
To run a successful…well, anything, it’s kind of crucial to know what your ‘why’ is. Because pretty much everything else flows from the why.
I thought I knew my why – to inspire women in midlife to live mindfully. But I never truly connected with that. As a coach said to me in September 2018, “I think you’re confused”. I knew she was right, so I took a break and toyed with quitting blogging all together.
But, the thing is, I’ve got a story to tell that will enable me to be of service to other women.
In short: not blogging didn’t work for me either.
So, what is my why
First a quick bit of background.
10 years ago (August 2009), my life changed for ever when we lost our first pregnancy to Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. It’s a rare complication of conception which resulted in a tumour growing where there should have been a baby. On top of losing the dream of a baby, we had to grapple with a cancer diagnosis and chemotherapy. (This is a very basic outline of what happened and I’ve written about that time here if you would like to read more.)
And I changed.
I lost myself. Not only was my physical health in tatters, but it had taken it’s toll on my mental health too. To the extent that for the first, and only, time in my life I ran away. I just couldn’t cope with life going on around me and with nobody understanding the unbearable pain that I was going through.
So, I quit my job, my husband took a sabbatical and we hit Asia. There, I thought, we could avoid the constant barrage of pregnancy announcements and births and just recover.
Then one night, sitting in a cafe on the Thai Island of Koh Lanta, my husband read out an e-mail from a friend telling us that he was getting married…and having a baby. I spiralled incredibly quickly, shot blame out all over the place and almost hit the point of no return.
That night, as my husband slept I started to wonder how easy it would be to disappear. To walk away from a life that felt so unfair and to start all over again with a fresh slate. A slate where pregnancy and birth announcements couldn’t touch me. So, I packed a small back pack and headed to the beach. I’m not sure if I really did intend to keep walking but I definitely did need to touch what that freedom might feel like.
I sat on the beach and imagined walking beyond the furthest point on the horizon that I could see – the shadows of palm trees – and keeping walking. Imagining freedom from all the hurt and pain.
A Thai man came and sat next to me and talked to me. I didn’t feel comfortable, but there was something about that connection, as uncomfortable as it felt, that snapped me back. We talked briefly and then I walked back to my room where, by that time, my husband had woken and was beside himself with worry and just about to set out to try to find me.
I’ve thought of that night many times and felt grateful that that Thai man was nothing other than kind and that feeling the freedom of walking away was enough, that I went back.
That was the beginning of my journey back to myself.
Pregnancy loss and Gestational Trophoblastic disease gave me the gift of seeing life in a whole new light. It set me on the path that would ultimately lead to developing a bit of a self-development obsession. A journey which would take me to a place of being fiercely vocal about the need for us to take care of ourselves – the whole of ourselves – no matter how hard it can seem to find time to fit it in.
But you still haven’t explained your why
I know, I know because there’s still a little bit more of the story to share.
Cancer changed my outlook and my approach to life. It taught me once and for all that the minutiae doesn’t matter. I first uttered the words ‘there’s more to life than…’ sat in my Charing Cross hospital room in September 2009 and nearly 10 years later, with a little refinement, that’s still my approach to life.
In a very crude form, I was beginning to understand mindfulness (tho I had never heard of it then) and to learn how to find peace for myself.
A month or so after that night in Koh Lanta, we found ourselves in Bali, where we created a DIY yoga retreat and that was where I finally made peace with Gestational Trophoblastic Disease. It was also where I started to re-connect with myself and my own happiness.
Going deep inside of myself and sitting with the pain and then working my own way back by learning how to love me again was my salvation.
Fastforward to 2019
In the 10 years that has followed, I have learned to listen to my body, take its cues and to love myself fiercely because it’s when I forget that that I’m not capable of being there, at my best, for my family.
These days, there are still challenges of a different kind and it’s those challenges that remind me how important it is to take care of me. In the last few years, that connection with and understanding of myself has been a huge part of what has enabled me to face life’s most recent challenges.
That’s the root of my why.
I have two boys now. They are 5 and 7 (Feb ’19) and their dad, my husband, has been struggling with depression for the last 2-3 years. For anyone that lives with it themselves or cares for someone who does, you’ll know that life is a rollercoaster. It’s a condition which affects the entire family, where control can be hard to come by and the mood of one leaches into the mood of the whole tribe. You never know who you’re going to wake up with.
In walking that path with my husband, I’ve learned that it’s crucial for us as a family, that I look after my own wellbeing. Because I need to be there for everyone in ways that I never imagined. I can’t do that if I’m not there for myself. It’s not easy but it is so very important.
If you’re struggling to find time for yourself amidst the noise of your daily life, if caring takes it all out of you, I’m here to tell you not only that you can find the time, but that you should. It’s both crucial for you, and will reap benefits for those that you care for too.
So, my why is this:
I’ve searched for a support in the UK for the family of those with depression and have found very little other than information on how to help your loved one. Of course, that’s very important but there’s more to the story than the person with the illness. Depression affects the entire family. Indeed, it’s acknowledged that depression in one spouse can go on to cause depressed mood in the ‘non-depressed’ spouse.
What if sharing our experiences and developing our own coping mechanisms could skew the odds in our favour? What if we could lift ourselves up out of the negativity for long enough each day to reconnect with our ourselves and remind ourselves that we matter even amidst the business of daily life.
What if we could make a real difference to each other?
I want to help you to find your own inner peace even when those that you care for are struggling with theirs.
I want to remind you that you are enough and just how much you matter.
I know it’s possible to find your own inner peace even when those around you are struggling to keep hold of their own. I know it’s possible because, most of the time, I manage it and it’s what enables me to keep on keeping on. I know it’s possible and I want to share it with you.
My why is to empower and inspire you to look after you too.
Because you matter