I’m reading this gorgeous book at the moment, ‘The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse,’ by Charlie Mackesy. Its full of gorgeous illustrations and wonderful, pithy little sentences that speak directly to my soul.
I started reading it just like an ordinary book, left to right, front to back but now I’m opening it at random pages and glorying in the words contained on the page.
One that really jumped out at me this morning was on page, well there are no page numbers but it was in the middle. And it said ‘What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever said?’ asked the boy. ‘Help,’ said the horse.
There’s a wealth of wisdom in those two sentences, and reading them left me feeling deeply moved. Because I’m a helper but there are so many people who are unable to ask for help. And I know how difficult it can be to ask because I used to be one of them.
Asking for helping is admitting vulnerability.
‘I can’t do this by myself.’
‘I messed up and don’t know how to fix it.’
‘I’m scared and alone and want someone to be with me.’
Try saying something like that when your self esteem is a crumbling illusion of sand rather than the solid foundational stones of love, confidence and belonging.
Growing up traumatised in a family where physical, mental and emotional abuse was the norm, I didn’t feel like I fitted in. Constantly told I was ‘too much;’ too sensitive, too talkative, too curious, too trusting, always ‘showing off.’
I felt an outsider, I didn’t belong as me, so I tried to be what they wanted me to be, so I could gain entry, be on the inside, so I fitted in, so I belonged.
What happened was I got stuck playing roles for other people: daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend. And I never was me. I was too scared to just be me. I feared being found out as an imposter, and once again being cast out, spurned, on the outside looking in.
I would never ask for help, that would mean admitting I didn’t know and I thought I had to have all the answers. Even in new situations, even when I didn’t know what the questions were, I pretended to know everything.
Asking for help was showing weakness and I was determined to be strong; determined never to feel that powerlessness that was the overriding sensation of my childhood. Powerless to stop the bullying, powerless to stop the beatings, powerless to stop the mockery. I never want to feel powerless ever again.
So I became a fortress, holding myself back, building a wall around me, but the very thing I thought was strength was in fact weakness and it cut me off from the thing I wanted most; to belong.
To truly belong as myself, not as one of the roles I played, not with the masks I wore. As myself, unadorned and true.
I couldn’t just be myself when I was so busy trying to be everything I thought other people wanted me to be.
I was more cut off than ever before, an outsider in every aspect of my life. And I was lonely, sick and tired of it.
Its exhausting constantly being on guard, being false, pretending you’re something you’re not. And yet the role playing can become so ingrained we don’t even know we’re not being ourselves.
And the sandcastle collapsed. Of course it did, how could it not? And with it, the life I had carefully constructed.
Now, it was time to rebuild. Luckily after years of being unhappy with my life, I knew what I wanted, what I craved. Those foundational stones.
And I could only attain those states by being honest with myself first, by living truthfully as myself and nothing else. Not showing up as a version of me I thought might be better liked, might fit in. I needed to show up as myself, always.
In that way, even if I never belonged anywhere else, I belonged to myself. I wouldn’t reject myself. I would learn to love myself. Especially the parts I’d been told as a child were ‘too much.’
Now, my curiosity takes me to places I’ve never been before, starting conversations with people who were strangers moments before.
My sensitivity acts as a beacon drawing to me those who need my help, it enables me to understand, empathise and comfort those who are in pain, to advise and work with those who need me and choose to do so, and to be valued for what I do.
My talkative nature is a natural friendliness that puts people at ease, and as I share my stories and experiences, they see that they are not alone, that we all get mixed up about how to live a good, happy, fulfilling life. I’m able to share how I turned things around, how I released the chains of the past that had kept me bound for far too long.
I didn’t fit in with my family because we were all damaged, all too scared of being hurt to be vulnerable and all playing roles other people expected of us.
Today, I play at everything except one thing, being myself, that’s always real. I play with life. I welcome everything that happens with a big ‘YES. This is great,’ no matter what it is.
And I am only ever myself. If I take an hour at the shop to buy milk because I’m talking to everyone in the place, great. If I’m tired and feeling upset, you’ll see that too.
I am open, authentic and vulnerable all the time. I don’t have all the answers and I don’t pretend I do. I think a shared laugh over how clueless we all are in getting through this thing called life is more valuable than faked expertise and experience.
What I do know is we all have to unlearn all the sh!t we were taught as children. We need to attend a School of Unlearning. Because yes, we are good enough, yes you can write, paint, sing do whatever it was you always wanted to do a child. (Pro Tip – Start Today!)
We need to unlearn and leave that stinking pile of excrement behind.
And that leaves space for the new and fresh to come in.
Yes, we are love, we are loved, we are loveable, we are loving.
Yes, we are worthy, we are worthy of love, we deserve all the good things in the Universe.
Yes, we are perfect just as we are. We are not perfect and that makes us perfect. 😉
Our human frailties are precious, unique and just as valuable as our strengths and successes.
Yes, life is tough, it’s hard work, it can be an uphill struggle and be like that for years. And it’s still all good because when we get to be ourselves, truly expressing who we are as we go through it, it becomes far easier than when we are struggling with who we think we should be on top of everything else.
There are many ways for us to improve our lives but the foundational stone of a good, well lived life is for us to be who we truly are and love ourselves for it.
Nothing else comes close to feeling this good.
Do you want to work with me, one to one and unlearn the sh!t you took on as a child?
Want to stop letting the past rule your present and define your future?
My unique ‘Change for Life’ HypnoTherapyCoaching Programme is designed to clear, delete, remove all the old stuff that isn’t even yours and leave you free to build a solid foundation of self love, self compassion, self belief.
This is how you build a well lived, loved life.
First Published December 2019