A few weeks back I photographed my sister and her fiance for their wedding invitations. We had so much fun using random peoples driveways, paddocks and getting mooed at by cows. I have to say, I’m pretty darn happy with how the photos turned out, but then again, look at the two of them…
Just one drink she tells herself, just one. But one turns into three and three turn into ten and before she knows it she wakes up with only fragments from the night before. Anxiety rolls over her and it becomes a habit to ask those she was with if she misbehaved or embarrassed herself. Disappointment is a reoccurring feeling that lingers up until Wednesday; long enough to get her down but short enough to forget about it by Friday when she starts all over again and pours that glass with extra vodka and drinks to get drunk and ultimately forget.
It’s hard to know that you’ve got a problem when everyone is doing it, but deep down something feels wrong.
She tells herself that everything happens for a reason and that the difficult times in her life will only make her stronger and are ultimately a blessing in disguise, but it hurts and she wants to forget, so she drinks. She drinks the pain away.
It’s like she lives with tunnel vision, focused on Mondays turning into Tuesdays into Wednesdays and eventually Fridays. It’s all she thinks about. And the idea of missing out ends in sheer panic attacks. She’s become dependent on it. When she drinks she doesn’t have a single worry in the world, but by ignoring the situation and pretending nothing is wrong she is only delaying the healing process, prolonging the pain.
The blackouts become worse, the memories turn into mere glimpses and regret is a feeling she is all too well accustomed to, it’s become her biggest enemy. Why did she make that remark about her friend? Why did she act that way? It’s not like her to do such things. Apologies are made, the blame is put on the alcohol and in the morning they laugh about their silly behavior.
“Can I call you? I need to talk to you.” She picks up her phone and the message pierces through her. Immediately millions of thoughts run through her head and one little sentence turns into a whirlwind of over exaggeration. What have I done wrong? What did I say? What did I do? Oh god, I’m the worst person on earth! I can’t do this anymore. I hate this! I am a horrible human being and deserve all the pain in the world. Just die already!
As she picks up the phone the voice on the other end says “I’m worried about you.” Tears start rolling down her cheeks. He’s right. She’s screwing up her life and it’s time to acknowledge she has a problem. It’s time to stop making excuses and seek help.
To say it out loud is scary, because she’s giving up her safety net, which is ironic as she loses all control when she drinks. What she is scared about, is having to step out of her “comfort zone”, her routine; the thing that keeps her going and stops her from thinking. Now that it’s out in the open, she can’t go back and the thought of not drinking on the weekend makes her feel uneasy.
Of course she knows how ridiculous she sounds. Who wouldn’t want to give up something that destroys you? Are a couple hours of ‘fun’ really worth several days of misery? Something has to happen.
She decides she needs to take some time off and be where there are no temptations to really get to the core of the problem and although it brings her shame, guilt and embarrassment, a part of her feels proud for acknowledging and being able to talk about it openly. She is scared about the moment she will be confronted with alcohol again, seeing her friends having a good time and especially the idea of failure. What if she gives in? She would feel so disappointed in herself.
Two weeks later she gets invited to a party. Although a little voice tells her it’s too soon, her fear of missing out is stronger and she’s willing to take the risk and hope that she succeeds. Something tells her she can do this. This will be the moment of truth. There’s still the urge to go out, but she wants to prove to herself that she doesn’t need the alcohol to have a good time.
The next morning, for the first time in months, she wakes up without a hangover. She can’t stop smiling and feels so incredibly proud. Last night was almost as if a switch got flipped in her head and she became a different person. She had the best night she had had in a very long time and not once did she have the urge to get drunk to forget. Acknowledging what she had been doing had made her accept the situation and she now realized she had moved on. Sometimes in life we need to make our way through the dark in order to reach the light at the end of the tunnel and this had been one of those eye opening moments where she knew things would be ok.
She continued to do well and felt like a completely different person. Eventually there was one incident where she slipped and lost control and although she felt guilty about disappointing herself and embarrassed for her behavior, there was also a very small part that knew it was necessary to remind her how far she had come and that she was so much happier without the alcohol.
We all have our weaknesses and ways of coping with hurt and stress. Some turn to food, others to alcohol or drugs, while another plays video games until the sun starts to rise and it’s time to put on that mask again and pretend nothing is wrong. No matter what your coping mechanism, it will only make you forget for a short period of time. In the end it’s all about acknowledging your struggles and going through it, not around it.
Temptations to forget the pain will arise all the time, but until you allow yourself to feel, really feel, these temptations are only shortcuts and ultimately detours back to where you were.
When you’re going through a tough time it’s natural to want to forget and take these shortcuts. Habits take time to break, but if there comes a time when you do give in, don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept that mistakes will happen, place them under your feet and use them as steppingstones, life didn’t come with an instruction manual. No matter how painful, remember that in the end, a collection of mistakes will turn into experience, leading you to success. Just because they happen doesn’t mean they define who you are as a person. Life’s best lessons are usually learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. So yes, you will fail sometimes, and that’s ok. The faster you accept this, the faster you can get on with being awesome.
If a fortune teller told me this would happen, I would have never believed her. In fact it still feels a little surreal. Am I really going to do this? It’s funny how I’m such an adventurous person, acting very free-spirited, while at the same time always wanting to have control over situations. These two character traits don’t seem to go together, yet they somehow do for me and I end up living a life full of excitement.
When people lie on their deathbeds they don’t tend to regret the millions they never made or the material stuff they never acquired. It’s the ‘what if’s’, the fears they were too scared to conquer and the opportunities they didn’t take.
For the past 5 years it seems like I’ve been eating, sleeping and breathing ‘The Pursuit of Happiness’. My whole life is centered around following my dreams, achieving goals and really just being happy with myself and the life I live.
Of course I have bad days and am far from perfect. Like I said in my last blog post, I sometimes have a lot of trouble letting things go and not taking it too personal, but when I compare it to how I was 10 years ago, I can see what an amazing journey I have had already and how much I have grown as a person.
You may remember me talking about my dream job. It was something along the lines of being a ‘workshop giving – public speaking – counsellor – social worker – teacher’. A few weeks ago I finally made the decision that in January of 2015 I would move to Wellington to become a Primary School Teacher. After spending several days in different schools, classes and with different age groups I figured it was the right thing to do, and so I enrolled at Victoria University.
Then life threw me a curve ball!
But let me start from the beginning.
A while back my mum posted a link on my Facebook page about a webinar on Life Coaching. I’d heard about the profession before, but I didn’t know too much about it, so I decided to give it a go and listen in….
A friendly voice welcomes everyone and starts telling us all about The Coaching Institute and what it is they teach. Halfway through I realize that this really vague dream job of mine actually exists! And it’s called ‘Life Coaching’.
Feeling a little stunned, gobsmacked and excited about this thought, I sit behind my laptop, thinking to myself “why have I not researched this profession earlier?!” I knew about it all along, but for some reason I was so focused on other jobs and ideas that I never clicked that this might be my thing.
After an hour or so of listening, Matt, the guy running the webinar, tells us about the opportunity to sign up with the Institute. With only 15 or so applications available and over 200 people listening in, I decide to take a chance and see what happens. It all sounds pretty cool and even though I’ve just enrolled at University in Wellington and am not thinking about studying this right now, it’s not like I have anything to lose and would love to know more about this course for future purposes.
The next week is a bit of a whirlwind inside my head. I’m one of the lucky few to sign up in time and the following evening I receive a phone call from Sam, who works at the Institute. We talk for over an hour. He tells me all about the school, the courses they offer, exactly what life coaching is and I tell him about my dream career and that I’ve just enrolled at Uni to study Primary School Teaching in January, but that Life Coaching is something I would definitely be interested in for the future. “So why do you want to be a Primary School Teacher?” He asks me. Damn that question again. I thought I had figured everything out. Don’t confuse me Sam!! I give him the same answer I had given the lecturer at Victoria University on the Open Day, but this time I also add that it seems like a stable job with guaranteed pay. As soon as I say it out loud I know it’s ridiculous.
Eventually we finish our conversation and I tell him I need some time to think things through and discuss everything with my family and friends. Of course I already know the answer, but I don’t want to say it out loud.
That night, as I lie in bed, wide awake I think to myself “Why don’t you just study Life Coaching instead?” But immediately my head tells me: “Because you’re about to move to Wellington to become a Primary School Teacher?! Plus, if you’re a teacher you’ll always be able to find a job and have a stable income. You’re crazy to even remotely consider it, giving up the opportunity to get your Master’s Degree!”
So I try to convince myself that it’s a ridiculous thought and to forget about it, but deep down I know that I’m not being completely honest with myself by going for the ‘easy’ and ‘safe’ option and that becoming a teacher would be more of a stepping stone to get into the education sector, gain experience in order to eventually have a career teaching children/teenagers about the importance of following your dreams, being you and accepting others for who they are. Deep down I know that it’s not the teaching English or Maths that I’m interested in. However, becoming a life coach would mean having to set up my own business and not having the security of a 9-5 job with guaranteed pay. And that sounds scary as hell!!
For about a week I go back and forth. One moment I tell myself that if I want to teach others to follow their passions and do what makes them happy, conquering their fears, it’s a little ironic if I don’t practice what I preach, but the next moment I start feeling anxious and tempted to go with what sounds the least scariest.
And that brings me to today.
It’s been a crazy 2 weeks inside my head, but after a lot of research and conversations I have made a decision and I know it’s the right one. All of a sudden everything seems to fall into place and it’s like I just found the final piece of this particular puzzle, the one I’ve been looking for for so long and I’m so excited to start the next 10,000 piece puzzle and see where life takes me.
So….not only have I decided to study Life Coaching instead of teaching, but since I don’t like doing things by halves, I figured why not move to where the coaching institute is located: Melbourne, Australia!!
At the start of 2015 I will be packing my bags once again and setting off on my next adventure. Even though it’s only been 2 weeks since I listened to that webinar I have already signed up with the Institute, done my research on Visa’s, income, accommodation and everything involved with crossing the ditch. In fact I thought why not chuck in another one of my goals in life and work as an au pair (nanny)? I have been on the phone with some amazing families who are very eager to have me work and stay with them and I’m really excited that everything starts to come together again. Twenty fifteen is going to be another year full of adventures for me and I can’t wait to see where it leads me!
My whole life I have strived to be the perfect daughter, sister, granddaughter, classmate, friend and person. I was the girl who stood up for anyone who got treated unfairly. I was the perfect child growing up. I would often hear people say “Oh Fleur, she’s such a sweet girl, so polite and always there for everyone else.” I was hard working, I had good grades, teachers loved me and so did my classmates. I didn’t talk back, I listened to my parents, didn’t smoke, drank alcohol, or did drugs.
Over the years I created a habit of maintaining this “perfection” and although it was nice to be liked and receive compliments, I subconsciously started to build a barrier between the person I was perceived as and the person I deep down wished I could be. I wouldn’t say that it was all an act or that I was being fake, not at all, what I was doing, was pleasing others, acting the way I wanted people to see me, so it’s really quite scary to say out loud that I’m not as strong as I seem sometimes, in fact I might be pretty insecure.
Writing that word, insecure, almost feels like poison. It makes me cringe and I’m tempted to delete it all, because I don’t want anyone to see me as “weak”. It’s been my way of surviving for the past 25 years, but I’ve started to realize more and more that I can’t expect to be liked by everyone, because it’s affecting my happiness. There will always be people out there who disagree or judge me and it’s important that I learn how to deal with that, to stop being afraid that if I don’t clear things up that people might think less of me, to stop wondering if I deserve the words coming from their mouths and to stop trying to “fix” myself.
A good example is when I received a bunch of flowers a couple of weeks ago. At first I was flattered, but when I found out I had never met the guy, I became a little creeped out. How did he know where I lived? I had a big rant on facebook and soon after, realized I sounded like a right b*tch! I knew very well that it had had nothing to do with the flowers or the guy, but something I’d been dealing with, but I felt so very guilty that I had acted the way I had that it stuck with me for days. I couldn’t get over it and all I could think was: “what will people think of me?!” Chances are, after seeing my post, people went on with their lives and no one thought anything about it anymore, but in my head I imagined groups of people, huddled together to discuss what a horrible person I was. Even though I know how ridiculous that sounds, it kept me up several nights in a row and got me extremely down for a week.
And so it’s not just what other people say, in fact what seems to affect me even more are my own words. I’m always so extremely hard on myself. Guilt and disappointment seem to be my biggest enemies. And the crazy thing is I know so very well how powerful words are, so why do I keep practicing them?
A few weeks back I watched a webinar called “Happiness for Worrywarts”. After an hour and a half of listening to a lady called Toni Powell, I felt so great and light, as if that heavy blanket was lifted off me. To be reminded of what’s important is all you need sometimes. I’ve been wanting to do a recap about it ever since and I feel that right now is the perfect time, because it seems I need a bit of a reminder again.
Words alter our reality and our perception of reality. When we start our sentences with “I wish…” or “I’m afraid…” or continually say things such as “I’m tired” or “I can’t”, our brain reacts towards those words and tries to fix it. It makes sense that if I constantly say how disappointed I am with myself; my brain will automatically think there’s something wrong and produce a whole lot of negative emotions.
Listening to the words you use is such a powerful exercise, it can change your entire way of thinking. When people ask you “How are you?” instead of saying “Not too bad” say “I’m doing great”. It has a much more positive sound. Try and listen to yourself when talking about situations, things, people and even yourself, because words are much more powerful than we often realize.
It’s time to get out of victim hood, to get freedom from the monkeys in your head telling you you’re not good enough and to remember that not all thoughts are you or yours.
Toni talked about a whole lot more stuff and if you’re interested in listening to her talk, you can do so here.
I ended up watching it twice and got even more out of it the second time round. In fact I had a bit of an epiphany and I haven’t talked to many people about it yet, but for the last couple of years I have had a dream that I’ve been working on. Up until now it was all a bit vague and I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but all of a sudden it all became clear to me and I could finally visualize it. I’ve been wanting to write a book on following your dreams and doing what you want to do in life, to find what you’re passionate about and to get from where you are to where you want to be. I’m so excited about it and although I have no idea how long it will take me to complete it, I’m having so much fun writing, reading and researching about it. I can’t wait to share bits and pieces with you all and hope it will end up as I imagine it right now, if not better