Born in the UK in 1947, I migrated with my parents and two older brothers to Adelaide, Australia in 1948. I’m an Aussie through and through, although I’ve been back to the UK many times and when I visited Rochdale, Lancashire, my birth place I felt a definite connection. It was quite an emotional journey, meeting relatives for the first time and being shown around a city where my parents grew up.
They were hard working people and did it tough in Australia, living in a tent on arrival and never owning their own home, it was always a struggle to make ends meet. My father’s alcoholism and horse racing addictions didn’t help and added to their problems.
My childhood memories are of my father yelling and cursing at my mother who, for the most part, never fought back, it was as though she just accepted it and chose to suffer emotional abuse. On the rare occasions when my father was sober he was silent and sullen, there was never a family discussion or normal communication, family life was stressful, ugly and dysfunctional.
I had no good role models as a child, I didn’t know what it was like to live in a calm, peaceful and loving environment. I left school at 15 hoping to earn enough money so I could leave home and live on my own. My first job was as shorthand typist, and secretarial work was to be my career for the next 40 years. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I was good at it and I was in my comfort zone. Nobody ever suggested that I might take a different path, so I stayed in that role.
At one of my jobs I met the man who was to be my husband and the father of my two daughters. He too came from a dysfunctional family. We both agreed any children we had would be loved and nurtured as we’d both experienced emotional neglect and we didn’t want that for our children. We had two daughters born 3 years apart and I took my parenting role seriously, loving, support and encouraging them as they grew into young women. Today they’re both happily married and successful in their chosen careers. They are my greatest achievement, I think they had a charmed upbringing. I can certainly look back and see where I could have improved on my parenting, but I know I did the best I could with the knowledge I had.
Fast forward to December 2008. I didn’t realise it was to be the last Christmas my husband and I would spend together as a married couple. February 2009 he dropped a bombshell, he told me he wanted to live on his own. I was left reeling when he packed his suitcase, walked out and shut the door behind him and never looked back. We’d been together for 43 years and I thought it would be forever. Finding out he’d moved in with a young woman 25 years his junior added to my distress.
The next few years were an emotional coaster ride for me, my world had been turned upside down, inside out, everything that had been comfortable and familiar in my life, had now gone. Living on my own for the first time ever, walking into an empty apartment, sleeping in a queen size bed on my own. It was all so strange and unfamiliar. A black depression hung over me, I felt abandoned, betrayed, and at times suicidal.
Something had to change. I went searching for help on the internet and came across some YouTube videos explaining how our emotions have an effect on us both emotionally and physically. I started a home study course all about our mind and learning how the only person who could help me, was myself. I realised I was totally responsible for any outcomes. Three years of study, now an advanced therapist in the techniques, with a totally different outlook and mindset, I have the skills and knowledge to help others who are suffering anxiety, stress, depression and I’m able to teach them how to let go of their emotional baggage just as I had been able to.
I look back on those dark years and find gifts in all that I endured. My journey has strengthened me, given me courage, determination, and a realisation and absolute belief that anything is possible. I believe each and everyone of us is worthy and deserves respect, recognition and love, especially self-love. Age is irrelevant, it’s all about a willingness to learn, to listen and more than anything, to persist.
My learning continues, I’ve recently joined SFM, an educational platform and self-development programme I found on the internet. It has the same values I believe in, a community that supports and encourages. At 70 years of age I’ve landed on my feet, whatever happens is entirely up to me, my destiny is in my hands.