Tag Archives: always you

I am NOT my story (and neither are you)

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It was whilst having lunch with new friends this week that I remembered I am not my story.

I really enjoy listening to other peoples’ stories; their history of triumphs and failures, joy and loss and the moments they choose to share and believe define who they are. It is a privilege to hear such tales and be trusted not to judge but to listen with an open mind and enjoy a moment immersed in someone else’s world. Though perhaps it is not that I am trusted to not judge but more that they don’t judge themselves for their history, their story, and so it doesn’t matter what I think. I always admire people that have the courage and honesty to just be themselves warts and all.

My journey with my past is an ongoing one and I struggle to admit the recent years of my life when people ask me how I came to be where I am today. I gloss over it as quickly as possible with a series of short sentences that define four painful and embarrassing years of my life because a part of me still feels ashamed. There is a piece of me that is still working on coming to terms with the fact that in the space of four years I was left at the almost-altar by my fiancé just weeks before our wedding, my mother, my best friend, died of cancer and ultimately I lost my career, my home and a whole lot more. Heck, my life was a nightmare at that time and I fought tooth and nail to create something positive from that wreckage whilst also being hideously embarrassed by my circumstances. I have worked on my self-esteem, built a new career overseas and made life choices that have led me to where I am today which is a place of happiness and a lot less drama. I have taken responsibility for my part in each of those moments in my life, I have forgiven others and yet I still feel ashamed to admit it all. I can’t bring myself to say it out loud without turning that series of events into a joke or a flippant tale as I mutter and stare at my glass of wine and shrink into my chair. I am all for listening to other peoples’ vulnerability and stories but less of a fan of sharing mine.

So today I am taking a step away from my shame and a step towards remembering I AM NOT MY STORY by writing that series of events out here. Yes it hurt like hell, it still does on some level, but it does not define me and it changed me in ways I am utterly thankful for. I have more compassion, empathy and understanding than I ever did beforehand and I am adamant that I will use my story to inspire others once I have finished writing it all out in my up and coming book. In the spirit of doing so here is my first admission, with bells on:

I was left at the altar not once but twice.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

I have TWO runaway grooms to my name.

 

I would like to say I feel less ashamed by saying that but I mostly feel like an idiot. On the other hand though, if one person reads this and feels less alone, less embarrassed by their history, then it was worth it. Ultimately all I want to do is help those in similar pain know they are not alone and speak up without shame. If I could survive all of that, which I did, then they can and will too. Keep walking forwards all and don’t let your story, whatever it is, define who you are.

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Inspire Me
Luca’s Cloud What would you do if you were not afraid?
Princess of the Light Seize Every Opportunity
Brene Brown Listening to Shame
Brene Brown The Power of Vulnerability

Always You

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It is Mum’s birthday today, something which won’t mean a lot to you but it means the world to my family and I. Our mum is the glue that draws us all together, especially at this time of year, as we remember her unique gifts, her tranquillity and love of life.

An old colleague of mine once told me that when you lose a parent you are changed forever and that, if you are not careful, you family fractures apart. He was right and I can’t deny that losing a parent is utterly heartbreaking. It is a path we must all walk and it is something we all dread, a painful scar that each of us has to carry on our hearts. A scar that can break open and leave you raw and bereft when you least expect it. It brings you to your knees. But what the expectation of such a loss and the grief fail to capture is that which lies beyond losing your loved one. That for every tear cried, for every moment where you fall to your knees knowing you won’t see your dear friend and confidante again in this life, there is a reason to keep on living. There is a strength that comes from walking through your grief with your friends and family by your side to dry your tears. There is a compassion towards others that grows within your heart from knowing how it feels to lose a part of you. There is an understanding of how short and precious life is. What I am trying to say is that there is always a reason to lift your face to the sunshine and be thankful that you have life. You have a chance to wake up tomorrow, to tell someone that you love them and become the very best of who you are. To live on, inspire and lift someone else that needs their tears wiping away. I have been reminded of that today by the love my family and friends have shared as we pulled together once more and celebrated Mum’s life.

In the time since we lost the light of our family, we all changed a lot. My beautiful sister and her family made their dreams of a country home and rural lifestyle come true through their hard work and determination. My wonderful big brother and his family had the courage to move overseas and start a new life on the other side of the world, the sun shining down on them. And my ever strong Dad is rebuilding his life as we speak and in so many ways that I can’t put it all down on paper. I am so proud of them all. And me, well I had a bit of a rocky time with losing my fiancé and career, letting go of my dogs. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and I am building my future, following a lifelong dream of moving overseas to work with sharks.

My colleague was right in that losing a parent did fracture our family but not in a negative way. Instead of lying down and giving up on life we all stepped back, took time to grieve and then put our best feet forwards again to life. We pulled together, held one another up and despite the geographical distance remained very much a family. It isn’t easy and there are days when I crumple and miss the open arms that comforted me when life seemed hard. The wonderful, magical laugh of Mum’s that made me smile from ear to ear. She had a wicked sense of humour and a sparkle in her eyes that lit up our world.

But you know what? It has been worth getting up each day when the world seemed full of darkness, just so I could remember those moments. So I could grow a little more. It has been worth it for the opportunity to practice becoming a better person by trying to be more like Mum. She was a truly beautiful soul and, with that in mind, I will leave you with my favourite memory. To me this says it all about how each of us could be a little more thankful for what we have and see the beauty in the simple things that make our lives so precious.

I remember one New Year’s Eve before Mum was ill, when the family were all together to celebrate the start of the coming year. We had spent an evening eating good food, laughing and sharing stories, playing games. It was noisy, fun and colourful and then this one question left us all silent. The room went quiet as we pondered the most appropriate answer. What would we choose to be? We took it in turns to answer as we drank our wine and came up with choices such as ‘I’d come back as an eagle’ or ‘an oak so I could live a long time’. Basically each of us went for the grand, the long living, powerful choices. My Mum, she simply said she’d come back as a chaffinch. A regular garden chaffinch, because they were pretty and had a nice life living in her garden, eating bird food from the table and being in the sunshine.

May each of you take a moment today to appreciate the view from your bird table and smile.