On my fortieth birthday, I climbed a mountain. It might not seem a big deal but I had released 20 kilos of weight, I felt calm and grounded from the chaos that had surrounded me for years and I had made many profound changes to my life.
The pointless and vindictive chatter in my mind had flipped to become purposeful, optimistic and championing and everything that I had been – overweight, unhappy, directionless – had melted away. I knew that the future looked amazing and that I was in control of my life and knew how to live it with intention, love and balance.
Fast forward nearly 10 years later I am living my best life with lots of fun, adventure, spirit and lightness. I enjoy being my unique self, taking part in challenges so I am growing, and learning new things all the time. I believe that my purpose in this life is to live, to love, to learn and to grow and I take steps every day to live it.
To do this I had to take action on becoming more self aware of what was holding me back and continue my growth, which I will do always.
Going back in time, I remember growing up feeling like I had to please everyone, so I did things for everyone else but myself. I never felt good enough to do what I wanted to do. I worked in jobs to support myself that I never enjoyed. I was thinking the future was retirement and then what - wait to die? I wondered what is the purpose of life then?
I married at 21 to a man who I felt was my strength and would keep me safe. However, when I felt I started to become more confident within myself and more independent this changed the dynamics of the relationship. I had my daughter at 24 and she was my amazing shining light who I lived to do everything for, to be there for and help grow into an amazing person. However, when my marriage went downhill and I split from my husband, my daughter wanted to live with her father.
I was devastated.
It reinforced all the negative beliefs that I was not good enough, nobody loved me and I did not belong anywhere. My mind searched on ways to make that true. I stuffed the emotions down, acted like an ostrich with its head in the sand and I put on a mask to hide my true feelings.
Here was the start of my downward spiral. I was moving away from the small town where we lived with the intention my daughter was coming with me, however the day before we left, it all went to hell and she wanted to stay with her father.
I had to go, to stay there in that town, I knew deep down was not going to work for me.
I had met a wonderful man who became a really great friend. He later followed me to my new place and he has become my rock, my partner in life and my love.
It was not all smooth sailing though, I allowed him to look after me and be there for me. A huge mistake when looking back on it. I lost who I was again – not sure I ever really found the real me - and I felt dependent on him.
Over the following few years I put on lots of weight, was sad and angry all the time and super critical of everything. I judged people over and over projecting my self-loathing on to others.
To make matters worse I decided to self medicate my distress at all these negative emotions and chaos. I took to alcohol. I did not need to go to a doctor or talk to anyone when I found that alcohol took away the drama, took away the feelings and made me numb. I never drank much (I’m not a big drinker – I remember always being teased for not being able to hold my alcohol) but it was enough to numb the pain of living this dark life and it was every day.
To the outside world I looked happy, calm and was an extremely hard worker but on the inside I was screaming. I hid my pain from my partner, my family, my work mates and anyone that was in my realm.
So in my late 30’s I hit rock bottom, I had no close friends, I hated my work, I was so unhealthy and my days were like ground-hog day.
One day I hurt my back again and so I went to a new physiotherapist in my local area. He became the wakeup call that I needed.
He helped me get my physical pain in order, emphasised that my weight was not helping me, and this caused the ignition point I needed to get my life back on track.
I started researching lifestyle programs, I had been on diets before on and off and they never lasted but this time I knew that I had to find something as my first step to a healthier, happier life. The game changer was that I found a program that included exercise, healthy eating and addressing the mindset.
Once I went through the program a couple of times, I learnt how to treat my body well and my mind even better and I began to get clarity about the pointlessness of how I was living. I knew there was more to life out there.
Taking part in fun runs, challenges and climbing mountains started giving me meaning to my life. My life seemed lighter, more fun and exciting. My relationship grew stronger because I was actually happy and generous with my love. I was learning to love myself. I was becoming independent of others and took responsibility for my thoughts, my actions and my life.
I stopped drifting and that defining moment on top of a mountain gave me the clarity I was seeking. I can do this, I can help others do this, I can be the role model I always wanted to be for my daughter.
Once I made that decision to say yes to myself, then I started taking the action I needed to be on the pathway to having balance in my life, to be strong, to be resilient and to have the fun I had always dreamed of. Saying yes to me then working out how has become a key to how I live my life. I vowed to try new things and have the adventures that I loved as a child and teenager. I loved sports, so I found new ways to move my body, I excelled in challenges due to my determination, so I tested myself in obstacle courses and fun runs. I opened up to people to show them who I really was by going to social events and letting in new friends. I know now that being vulnerable and opening up is a sign of strength, not a sign of weakness.
Going on a voyage of self discovery where I have learnt what was stopping me from having a great life was a fundamental part of learning who I am, learning about how my mindset was holding me back, addressing those beliefs that were keeping me in ground hog day and learning to love myself. When I realised that my life was full of patterns from my childhood of people pleasing, being the good girl, doing everything for everyone else and forgetting to put myself first, my mind opened up to the possibilities of the future. The future where I could change everything in my life, one where I was in control of the choices.
I stopped using the excuses of: when I have more money or when I have more time. I ask myself great questions, so I understand why I might be fearful of moving my life forward. I realised the fears I had were not really fears. Visions of where I wanted my life to go started to form.
Now I am all about balance, the equilibrium we need in our life to keep us upright, steady, solid and resilient. I have the ability to stand strong when there is chaos around me. I no longer negatively judge or am critical of everyone else, I take 100% responsibility for my life. I know what is essential for my life to consist of – healthy living, exercising, challenges, adventures, fun and love (for myself and others).
My mantra is, just give it a go.
So, getting help is a must, immerse yourself in new things, get off your butt to make it happen and use nature as your place to ground yourself, find your peace and balance.