The moment I knew my life had to change

There are key moments in everyones life’s that defines us and I would say i’ve had a few.

Like at the tender age of 8 I decided I was going to have a different life from my family or when I moved to America on an athletic scholarship at 17. Joining the Police Force and then leaving to become a full-time athlete. Going back to University to do my masters degree in my 30’s. But the biggest of all was when I was laying in bed at 33 with my head under the covers crying my eyes out because I no long knew who I was.

Let me paint a picture of my life around this time, I will describe it from the words others used, and then give you the real story from my side.

I had recently retired from being a professional athlete, I had completed a degree in PE teaching and a Master Degree in Performance Psychology. I had just been offered my dream job (so I thought) working with other professional athletes as a psychologist/Life coach. My family and friends described me as a successful athlete which I had been lucky to be able to do. The people around me viewed my life as blessed, lucky, successful, everything just ‘always seemed to work out for Mary’. She was a successful athlete, attractive, intelligent, had a good job, a great man, a dog and a lovely house in the country. To them my life was mapped out, get married, have kids and live happily ever after, simple right?

Now I was either a bloody good actress or people were seeing what they wanted to see, because that was so far from what was really going on.

Whilst some of this was factually true, I did have a great man, a dog and a lovely house in the country. However, inside I was dying and I could no longer run from that haunting, tugging, depressing state that had been chasing me for so long.

THAT DAY – I had got up like any other morning and walked our dog, Max, he was the love of my life and gave me cause to get outside every day. We would walk in the woods and he would chase after everything, including people on occasion, which wasn’t as much fun. After our walk I would usually workout, have a shower and get ready for work. I only worked part-time at this point, and could pick and choose my hours, so I had alot of flexibility and time.

I had noticed over the recent months that I was making excuses not to leave the house and would opt for a SKYPE (as it was back then) or a phone callS. The thought of leaving the house felt so unsafe and when I did go out, I would always feel on edge and only settle once I had got back home. Now back then I used Max as the excuse, as I was worried about leaving him. I now know different, but we will get to that soon.

So back to that morning when it all started to change…. Max and I had our usual walk and I was about to workout, and remember distinctly this overwhelmed feeling of dread just move over me. I was literally like a black cloud had moved in and dulled all my thoughts and senses. I couldn’t even describe the emotion, I didn’t know whether to cry, scream, run or hide. The feeling was soul destroying, nothing made sense anymore, what was the point in doing anything. I questioned everything about myself, my relationship, my life and I didn’t like any of the answers I was getting.

So as I didn’t like being awake at that moment I thought I would go for a nap and ‘wake up on the right side of the bed’, wake up I did, but get out of bed, I couldn’t. I lay in bed with the covers wrapped over my head sobbing my eyes out. I didn’t know what I was crying about I just couldn’t stop the tears and I couldn’t move this foreboding feeling that had overtaken me. So i cried and cried and cried till I was all cried out…. After hours of crying I got myself out of bed and attempted to dress and make myself look presentable for my partner coming home from work. He could not know about this, this was not in our plan, we had a perfect life and I had to pretend and keep it that way…….. or did I?

So what happened then….well I did my usual; to everyone else I pretended that everything was ok, this was my secret to keep. I kept my household chores going, I was the loyal, happy, supportive partner. What is it they say, keep up pretences.

On the inside however, I was dying, little by little, day by day, lie by lie, I was shutting down, checking out of life. The more I closed down on the inside the more my pretence built to keep up my charade and it was starting to take its toll on other areas in my life. I didn’t have the motivation to workout so my weight crept up, my body shape changed. This really messed with my confidence and self esteem (I was the professional athlete, my life had been defined by how fit my body was). I became like a recluse, making excuses not to visit anyone or go and do anything. Going to the grocery store was monumental victory in the end. I was so desperately unhappy, I had lost my drive and was struggling to get through each day. The worst part was I thought I couldn’t tell anyone; who would believe me, ‘they all thought I had a great life’. I had already had the fun life of travelling and running, it was time to grow up and live an adult life – whatever the f*ck that was meant to mean.

I questioned …was this what they talked about when they say ‘your life is over now’ well for me in those darkest moments It certainly felt that way. I was living to keep everyone else happy and fit in all their boxes. I had lost my way, my direction, my identity……I had lost my purpose in life, I didn’t know why I was her and that scared the shit out of me. If I am not all these things people think I am then who am I? I had no idea.

Now the next part it something I have never shared with anyone, as I was ashamed of my thoughts, but now I understand them and it’s ok. I suffered my first full blown panic attack and honestly thought I was going to die; this is the part that scared me… part of me was glad and hoped that it was the end. Now whilst this was going on there was another part of me, the little fighter that screamed at me, she was not having this anymore, she was my will, my power and this wasn’t the end for me, just the end of this chapter of my life.

This was the moment I knew my life had to change and it didn’t matter how many people I upset, if I didn’t change then nothing would ….. so I got help and I attended my first ever NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) course and it literally changed my life.

After that course I walked out of my life, left my partner and big house in the country and the security of that ‘perfect life’. I did however keep the dog. I knew this was my only option, I was living a life to accommodate others, I wasn’t being the real me. That wasn’t only unfair to myself but it was also unfair on others, especially my partner, he deserved to be with someone who wanted the life he did and I didn’t want his life, I wanted mine.

As you can imagine there was some fall out from this, some of my family thought I was having a midlife crisis, my partners family, rightly so were incredibly annoyed. I suffered financial loss, had nowhere to stay and no real ideal of where I was headed…….BUT I was FREE and I was ME for the first time in a long long long time. No more pretending or hiding or fitting in. I could finally start to reconnect with myself again and find my passion….. and I did and it is the work that I do every single day to help others, find and be themselves. To life free, love hard and die happy.

For anyone out there feeling stuck, lost or scared then know you don’t have to stay there (in the place you are at) reach for that inner voice, your will and turn it up so that you start to see there is another way. It’s ok to reach out and get some support it you need to, it was the first time in a long time that I had put myself first and it was the stary of something wonderful for me, finding me and finding my purpose. If I can so can you.

Always know I am only a call away.

Mary x

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