One of my earliest memories is of finding my mother sitting on her bed crying. I would have barely been 3 years old and my father had just left. I asked her what was wrong and she told me. I then asked if she wanted a tissue – I got her a cute little hankie from my room, handed it to her and watched while she dried her eyes. I have always had a caring instinct.
Flip forward a few years through childhood with a mostly absent father, a depressed mother and a younger sister crying out for unconditional love and approval. Through my teen years I switched off. I tuned out of my feelings as a way to cope. I became depressed, I kept people at arms length, I used drugs and alcohol and I self-harmed.
At 15 I fell in love. That head over heels, hurts to be apart type love. I remember getting butterflies in my tummy (solar plexus chakra = the centre for willpower and control) when I saw him… my willpower was starting to waver. I couldn’t hold my love in anymore. This relationship helped me to open my heart again, of course, in the end it was destined to fail because, although there was a lot of love (at least on my part) there were also many, many things about this person that were incompatible with my personal journey and so at 23, my heart was broken. (More on that in my previous blog post here).
Throughout this relationship I had been working at various government organisations in various administration roles. Having come from a working class family, there was never any talk of further education after high school. I was told to get a job and when I landed my first role in local government at 19 I was given nothing but congratulations, “You’re set now”, “You’ll always be taken care of working in a cushy government job”, and so my working life began. Work, work, work all week and party hard all weekend. I hated going to work and I was sick all the time. I would get the flu twice each year (usually August and December) and have other colds and other illnesses in between. Through all of this I was always a hard worker and a valued employee.
In the lead up to my relationship breakdown I was experiencing severe anxiety and dose after dose of tonsilitis (throat chakra = speaking your truth / being heard) and when it all finally came to a head the anxiety peaked. I had what I now consider a breakdown. I could not face work for a good 2 or 3 weeks and when I did I found I had lost all drive. I used to consider stress at work to be a sign that I was working hard and doing well. If I wasn’t super busy all the time I would complain about being bored. I think I had turned myself into some kind of robot, just distracting myself so that I didn’t start thinking about why I was wasting my life in a job I felt nothing for. Using my brain, but not my heart. Suddenly, when my mind couldn’t cope, I realised that my heart wasn’t in it.
What came next were years of transformation – of remembering my inner self and striving to live an authentic life. I quit my job and travelled, then worked and quit my job and travelled again. I experienced freedom and learnt to be independent. Travelling alone was the best thing I ever did with regard to building my self worth and resilience. I experienced so many new things and I came to rely on myself completely. By far the most profound experience I had was in Bali. I had many epiphanies and visions while staying at a guest house in Ubud. This is where I began to heal my heart – surrounded by the luscious greenery of the jungle and the rice fields, I found peace. Little did I know it, but three years later I would be back in Ubud for my wedding.
So I had gone away with the intention of discovering my purpose in life and I came back knowing that my next step was going to involve working with children in need. I felt I had the skill and empathy required to do this work. My heart was opening, I had the support of a loving partner and my pathway was becoming clear.
After volunteering with a school and two children’s charities for the better part of a year, a job came up at one of the charities – I knew straight away that it was for me. I had never felt that way about applying for a job before – anxious, but excited. A ball of nervous energy – and I was a success. Now I know that this job is merely a stepping stone (as I have also been studying part time), but I know I’m now on the right path. I get a feeling of accomplishment from my job and I get to experience joy in knowing that I am making a difference in the lives of some.
Next step… using my counselling Diploma.