So actually it’s a blog two years in the making, as right about the May Bank Holiday 2014 I remember saying out loud “my life is pretty perfect right now.” I’d a business I was beginning to relax in and find a solid work/life balance, money in the bank and not living off the credit card finally, and a good social life. Oh, how the gods that be decided to change that!
What follows will be a whirlwind of the events and emotions of the last two years, certainly not a blow by blow account of it all.
Honestly I’ve thought a lot about this blog entry and there was a little part of me that wanted the year to go by just so I could publish this. A year ago today writing this blog would to me mean I’ve made it back to my feet. So that’s the importance in it for me. As my friend asked yesterday, “was (Saturday) the dream a year ago?” Yes, yes it was.
When CFI 3.0 opened (I guess it’s CFI 3.1 now) people said to me I must be delighted now that I’d made it. And that everything happens for a reason, and it’s all worked out okay. I wasn’t quite over the year that had happened, nor was I sure I’d made it, so I said “we’ll see” like the Zen Master, the little boy, and the horse.
It’s certainly true that you can only join the dots backwards. You can’t see what’s waiting around the corner. You can’t see what tragedy is making way for the greatest euphoria you’ve ever felt. I am grateful for the journey that’s led me here, as much as I wished I’d avoided it.
So what happened that it all went to shit?
Well, some shit came to light that shook my world to the core. It hit me hard and I spent most of the summer of 2014 unsure who to trust and feeling very shaky in my own confidence: as a coach, a business operator, as a person. Panic attacks on the way into work were becoming a daily occurrence and under the advice of my counsellor at the time I issued my resignation in September. From October onwards, the solicitors were involved in a lengthy “he said, they said” battle. Under the advice of my solicitor, I finally coached my last class in what’s now referred to as “the old place” in November. Thus began my “wilderness” period.
During this period I confided in someone else who turned out to be a predator posing as a house pet. She ended up manipulating me, stealing from me, and has left me physical scars too.
Please understand, I’m not playing the victim here, as I invited all this into my life and need to accept my role in all of it. I trusted the wrong people, and I made the wrong bets. If there’s a lesson here it’s that you can spend too long chasing a lost bet. Or as the Coen Brothers put it “all the time ya spend trying to get back what’s been took from ya, more is going out the door. After a while you just have to try to get a tourniquet on it”
They were some shitty months though. There’s an embarrassment when people ask you if there’s any movement. You’ve no answer. They ask you how come you left and you can’t really answer or give one that’s satisfactory. You search for a place and get close to signing a lease only to find it’s gone to someone else. You feel guilty training in someone else’s facility on their generosity. Your solicitor takes another day to get back to you, then their solicitor takes another day to get back. Then it’s the weekend and another week has gone by. Sunday nights were lonely, tough, times. Nothing to look forward to. Feeling hopeless.
I suppose it’s important to point out that as much at times I felt I was on my own, I never really was, and so many people helped me along the way it’s unreal. At the time it may have been difficult to count your blessings when you’re knee deep in escalating solicitor’s bills and declining cash reserves. An interesting note is I was about a week off from declaring bankruptcy and having to give up the fight when it all got sorted.
But many many people helped me out. I don’t feel I persevered so much as those around me carried me through that time. Some I’d like to think know how much it meant to me. Others I hope I’ve repaid or at least justified their investment in me. Some I haven’t thanked enough or honoured their kindness. But I am genuinely thankful for all of that.
If I tried to name everyone who I have to thank and all they did for me this blog would run over and I’m prone to prattling on as it is, but I need to talk about Patrick and Derek.
At a fairly low point, I confided in Derek how frustrated I was that I’d tried so hard and wondered what was the point with going on when the world was filled with horrible people waiting to take advantage of you. Derek simply looked me in the eyes and said “please don’t.” It was very powerful moment for me. I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m sorry I made Derek cry. The world needs more like Derek.
Patrick has probably had to endure more bull than anyone else over the last few years.
There’s a verse in Ben Howard’s “Keep Your Head Up!” that really sums up how Patrick’s friendship has soothed me.
I saw a friend of mine the other day,
and he told me that my eyes were gleamin’.
Oh I said I had been away, and he knew,
oh he knew the depths I was meanin’.
And it felt so good to see his face
oh the comfort invested in my soul.
Patrick drove me to my first meeting in Pieta House and waited while I saw the counsellor for the first time. I cannot imagine how tough that was to see your friend in pain and feel powerless to help them.
Patrick, I’m sorry I made you worry and thank you for being there.
So what got me through it?
There was one phrase I told myself repeatedly to get myself through shittier days. “This is not the end of the story.” If the movie ends now, it’s a tragedy. If I can keep going, it’s going to be a triumph. There was times I believed that. And times I just said it in the hope I’d believe that.
So my life is perfect now? The End. Ha! No, that’s not really how it works, is it. It’s like the story of the little boy and the horse as alluded to above. There’ll be peaks and valleys as life goes on, neither the sunshine nor the rain lasts forever. I guess if I’ve matured at all (and that’s debatable!) is that I know that now and can appreciate when things are good and batton down and hold tight when things aren’t so good. A little mantra I’ve been trying out lately is that “all change makes things better.” Instead of trying to cling on to what feels the best I can do but maybe isn’t the best for me, I’m more willing to accept that things change.
I work longer hours now. I have less money too. There’s no feeling of security, but looking back, there was no security, was there? I’m more okay with that. I’m less about chasing stability as I am about driving forward into the unknown. I’m far wealthier now though. Wealthier in the space I walk into everyday, it’s a nicer box (I had to include at least one Phrasing!), the vibe is energising and enriching, I’m wealthier in my relationships, I’m wealthier in my impact and influence and experiences. I’m wealthier in my soul, in who I am and who I want to be.
Have I any advice for anyone who’s going through hell right now? I won’t ever say something like you know it will get better. Because we don’t know. And it’s not really helpful advice either.
So instead I’m going to leave you with the words from my favourite song, that have lifted me up and carried me through more times than I can recount.
“If you can’t hold on, hold on…”