It's been 11 days since my hypnosis for confidence, self-esteem and self-worth and I can honestly say I feel great. I hosted a Zoom video call last Thursday night for my group, something I would never have done before in a social context, and I loved every minute of it. I have found confidence in everything from work through to my personal life and my anxiety remains under control as a result. I am still in awe at how I am feeling and acting but also still sceptical and have a small doubt that it could end.
I have always been fascinated by psychology, I started an A level in it whilst at college many years ago but sadly didn't complete due to circumstances at the time. Having my therapy and hypnosis has awakened a thirst for knowledge in me that I haven't had for a long while. I have signed up for a short psychology course starting from this week. Whilst I have no wish to pursue this as a career I am fascinated with how our brains work and how as humans we process thoughts and feelings. I have spent a lot of time looking at things that have happened in the past couple of years in my life. Events and people and what triggers my emotions and how I handle them. I now have a much clearer understanding of myself. I am relishing the fact that I continue to learn and grow each day.
My therapist had very kindly offered to run some sessions for my group. The first session last Thursday was an introductory to the psychology of relationships and dating. She got us to play a game that was great fun and showed us our personality types, ideal partners personality and preferred sex life. This generated a huge amount of laughs but was very interesting, thought-provoking and strangely true for all. The feedback from the session was fantastic, and we are running 5 more all completely free over the next few weeks. This week is all about confidence. I cannot wait.
Work has become a joy again. I am thriving and pushing harder than ever to gain the promotion I want. Personally life is fun right now. Yes we are still in lockdown. No I cannot socialise in person, but I can still enjoy things. Something I seemed to have forgotten to do in many months. I have not stopped smiling for the last 11 days. I actually wake up looking forward to what each day has to offer.
My group has been a huge factor in the fun I am having. Being in contact with so many new people from all different walks of life is providing me new hope and possibilities. Friday night we had a virtual 80's party. It started at 7pm and went on til the early hours with over 200 people taking part. Some were on video chats others just using text or comments, some posted pictures of themselves dancing. It was such a good laugh and a much-needed release in the current times whilst following the rules. There were definitely a few sore heads the following morning!
My bucket list is growing and one of my things 'to do' is looking like a real possibility next year. I have wanted to go to The Isle of Man TT since I was about 17. One of my group members lives there and has offered myself and a couple of others to stay so all we need to do is organise our travel when it does eventually happen. I am looking forward to ticking things off my list. I know life is incredibly short, and I want to live and make the most of it, not get 20 or 30 years older and be full of regret for time wasted.
After yesterday's announcement people have a new-found excitement. My social media has blown up overnight with people posting holiday bookings, table reservations at restaurants for 21st June and discussions about garden parties from the end of March. It is great to see the world excited again, but I am just a little reluctant to start making concrete plans and rushing things. I am an optimist but also a realist and a sense of we've been here before is lurking in my mind. Personally I would hate to make plans for it again to be cancelled, this would be a huge slap in the face, so I shall continue one day at a time. Enjoying what I can in the moment and under the circumstances we are in but also remaining hopeful as there is a light at the end of a long tunnel.
A new week has just started. I had my hypnotherapy on Friday. Rapid Transformational Therapy (RTT). It's a hybrid therapy that includes hypnosis, hypnotherapy, Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). I must admit I was sceptical about it. I've seen hypnosis on shows and always thought it was staged. I joked with the therapist Dawn that I was worried about randomly acting like a chicken afterwards and was assured that would not happen. So what did happen?
I was hypnotised, put into a suggestible state of consciousness. I was awake and aware the whole time. I felt so relaxed and calm. We explored four memories. It was quite bizarre. Two of the four that came out I had never ever thought about. I didn't even realise they were in my head. When I was asked to recount each scene It was as if I was watching a recording on a TV of me but in that moment. I could see every detail as clear as crystal. The feelings those memories evoked were incredibly powerful and emotional.
I always put my lack of confidence, self-esteem and self-worth down to the abusive relationship I had many years ago. What I uncovered is the seeds were sown many more years before that when I was 7.
I was an incredibly tall child. Taller than most adults and was ridiculed for it by children and teachers. The seed was sown, I looked different, was a freak, and ugly, but it was my belief and internal dialogue that it was true that made the seed grow. The relationship I had only consolidated in my head I was that person and was not worthy or good enough.
The final memory was of my husband's funeral. This confused me. I couldn't understand what my confidence had to do with that. Dawn asked me loads of open questions and the answer I gave explained all. The day of his funeral was the day I said goodbye to a man I loved, who loved me unconditionally. A man who loved me no matter how I looked or what I did. Since he passed away I have subconsciously believed I would never be worthy of being loved again. His passing triggered the old feelings and that nobody would see me as he did.
After identifying the root cause Dawn got me to say things out loud. Almost to dispel the feelings of being ugly, different and unlovable. To put them in a time and place that no longer has any relevance or power in my life. I was bought out of my hypnotic state. I was aware I had cried throughout, but I was smiling. I felt an inner peace that I cannot find the right words to describe. We talked further about it and I can honestly say I was amazed at how I felt.
That night I was buzzing. I had a video call with some people I have gotten to know recently but have never met. This is something I would not have done before. Always worrying about how awful I would look on the screen. I was not worried this time. I took the call and I felt fantastic. I ended up having a great evening, and although we are in lockdown it was a fantastic girls night with a lot of laughter.
On Saturday I was asked again by a number of my group members about a party or get together after lockdown. This was something said as a bit of a joke a couple of weeks back by one group member and within a matter of hours escalated quite quickly. I have over 450 members now, and it really has created a little community of people who help one another out. Dawn, my therapist has offered to run some sessions on the group starting from this week for the next 6 weeks, including the psychology of relationships amongst other things. This has been really well-received by the other members and many have confirmed their attendance for the first one. As the group members live all over the place I've started to look at possible venues around the country and see where people are happy and able to travel to. I have never organised anything like this before and to be honest prior to Friday didn't seriously entertain the idea. Now it can be a reality.
Sunday was Valentine's Day. I received 2 E-cards. One was from a guy in the group who lives in Canada, the other was from a guy I dated 3 years ago. Although he is in a relationship he has sent one every year since we met, except last year (he only sends it as a friend). The cards made me laugh, and I'll admit boosted my ego a little. I chatted to the guy I had dated and told him about my hypnotherapy. He has been really supportive over the past few months checking in with me as he knows I've been having a tough time.
When I met him, dating was a complete unknown to me. I had been in a relationship for 22 years. I had just lost a huge amount of weight and hated my body even more than I had before. He is incredibly good-looking and super confident. I always felt a little intimidated. We dated for 6 months and whilst we got on amazingly ì always knew it would be nothing more than friends. I do remember him saying to me at the time that sexy is an attitude not a dress size. It always stuck in my head, but I never took it onboard. After he listened to me telling him about hypnotherapy he said it to me again. He paid me several other compliments. Before I would have just laughed it off unable to accept he meant it. This time I didn't. After we chatted I went upstairs and coloured my hair. I put a dress, heels and makeup on. The first time in so long. Why did I bother when there is no one to see it? I did it because it made me feel good. I went shopping totally overdressed and made up, but I didn't care. I felt great.
I can see how my attitude has changed already in certain aspects of my life. I am no longer worried about someone saying hurtful or cruel things to me about the way I look as that actually says more about them and where they are in their heads than it does me. My new-found confidence will only enhance me and my life. Will I ever be a person who craves or demands attention in a crowd? No, that is not at all in my nature. I want to be the person who can look at myself inside and out and know and be happy with who I am. Since Friday I can do that.
I hope to be able to look back at these ramblings in a year's time and be proud of myself. I do not want to look back, read this and feel that nothing has changed or be annoyed with myself for not acting on what I have said or done. I am confident that it will not be the case. The skeptic in me did wonder if how I felt was just an in the moment feeling and would it last. What difference would it make to my life? Well I am three days in. I have a recording I listen to every day and will for 21 days. I feel empowered for the first time.
After shopping on Sunday I actually stood and truly looked at myself in a mirror. I stood completely naked. For someone who has avoided mirrors for so long this was unusual. And for the first time I liked what I saw. I didn't criticize how I looked. I just appreciated myself. I have curves, I have scars, I have stretch marks, but they are there for a reason and are a part of the story of my life. I sat listening to music that night. Learning to Fly by Pink Floyd came on. So apt! To me the lyrics are about overcoming personal fear and breaking free from it. I cannot explain how this has worked and I would honestly recommend it to anyone. I feel like I have been given the opportunity to be me. To be happy and comfortable in myself. I am learning to fly.
I have put the link on to Dawn's website in case anyone else feels they could benefit from it.
I have thought and thought and overthought about sending this post. Something that happened with my post the other day, gave me a bit of a kick to do so, along with other things that have recently happened. Sometimes you just need to bite the bullet and do something that fills you with fear. I had spoken with Luke earlier in the summer about writing my ramblings but didn't have the courage at that time. I have been posting for a few months now anonymously, why? I have felt safe. Safe to be able to talk about my deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings without concern of any disapproval or backlash or causing hurt to anyone. It has been incredibly cathartic and helpful to be able to write things I have not been able to find a voice to say. I am fully aware that it is better to get feelings out, not let them fester. It is for me sometimes easier said than done. I have always found it easier to convey my feelings on paper but allow my emotions to get in the way of clearly expressing my true self vocally.
I know the reasons why, and again it is fear. An absolute fear of people’s reactions, a fear that friends or family will read it and criticise, or be hurt by something I have said, fear that my weaknesses will be seen for someone to hurt me and a fear it may open up awkward or difficult conversations.
So, what has changed, why now have I decided to let people see who writes these ramblings? Quite a lot has changed for me, in the past couple of weeks both professionally and personally, and it is time to be brave and build on the positives. I am also ready to move on with the next chapter of my life, a story not yet written.
Professionally I started a brand-new job in a completely new sector to what I have been used to, at the end of September last year. Quite possibly the worst time to change jobs but something I needed to do. At the time I was able to bounce my fears off someone else. Whilst I could not see past the emotional impact my previous job was having on me, they were able to offer a rational and outside perspective which helped me make my decision. The first few months in my new role were incredibly challenging. I was learning new skills, building a client base from scratch in a climate where many people have not been working. I was also going through an incredibly tough time personally.
In the past two weeks my hard work, resilience and perseverance in my career has really paid off. Deals have been rolling in and this has boosted me no end. I also had a goal for major progression when I started my new job, and this is getting closer to achieve. I was also approached last week by a business contact who has offered me a second job outside my main one. It is something I can do around my current role, fills my time and has opened several other avenues up for me, including the possibility of starting my own business - something I have thought about for a while but never really got beyond the daydreaming stage. Now I am seriously researching this possibility and whilst I am just at the ideas and fact-finding stage it has given me a buzz.
Personally, I have been up and down like a yoyo for a while. I started writing my other blog and created my group as an escape from how I was feeling. It has been, like this blog, surprisingly cathartic and a lot of fun. It is also gaining momentum and has opened other avenues for me to pursue. I have engaged with so many people in the past 2 months, from every walk of life and from all over the globe. I have made acquaintances with some truly wonderful people and know that great friendships are on the horizon. They have also taught me a lot about myself and helped me to realise I will no longer tolerate certain treatment from others, people I have known a long time and considered trusted friends, when in fact their selfishness has had a negative impact in my life. It is quite funny how outside perspective is sometimes all you need to see clearly. And the opinions and feedback from others about me over these past few weeks has benefited me greatly.
I have been dealing with some internal demons, whilst I can quieten them, I cannot silence them and every now and then they rear their ugly heads. One of my biggest demons is my confidence. Confidence in how I look and whether I am worthy or good enough. Externally people see a confident strong woman. That is a mask I have worn for many years and comes from my career. I have always been a top performer in whatever job I have done, progression was always offered not sought. I could look confident although not necessarily feeling it, as I knew my stuff and knew I delivered fantastic results. I guess changing my career paired with my confidence personally, being rock bottom, was a bit of a catalyst to the issues I have encountered since November.
I know I cannot continue to feel the way I do and have sought help through therapy. I had some unofficial counselling back in the summer, but I was reluctant to spill all so to speak, so really was not getting to the root cause. I had a therapy session on Monday and have a 3-hour session booked for Friday, where I am going to be hypnotised. It is to help me address my confidence, self-esteem and self-worth issues. I have been warned it is going to be incredibly emotional but if it works, I am willing to try.
So, who am I.? My name is Samantha, I am a 46-year-old woman. Mother to 2 grown up children. A Business Development Executive for a Telecoms company. Like most people I have been through tough times. I overthink, I self-critique far too much, I am passionate. I love openly and honestly. I have many flaws; I trust too easily but at other times not enough. I put other people’s feelings and needs before my own. I am a pleaser and a fixer and whilst I can be the shoulder to everyone and giver of great advice or so I am told, I will struggle in silence with my own problems. I can be incredibly stubborn. I only ever mean the best and whatever I do is without malice and with the best of intentions, but know I can go about it the wrong way. I also know I can be a total contradiction of myself. I love to laugh and all I want from life is to be happy. But this is me, this is who I am. I do not want to be a different person; I just want to feel better about who I am and what I have to offer to others. I'm a simple person and just want happiness. Is that too much to hope for?
Here's a little story. I hope it raises a smile on this cold Sunday morning.
Most of my dates have been a standard coffee, drink, meal or bowling. I've only gone beyond a first date with a few of those. The ones that remain a first date only were for a multitude of reasons. One of the main reasons for me is laughter. If I don't laugh on a date it's not going to progress.
I love to laugh and humour is an incredibly important trait I look for in a guy. So back in my early naive days of dating, I had got a message from a guy one morning who seemed genuine and was quite witty. His picture was only a face pic. We messaged for a couple of days when he asked if I'd like to go out for a drink.
Now experience has taught me that I need more than 3 days of messaging before I should agree to meet but back then it was all very new. I agreed to a drink, and we arranged to meet at a pub local to me, he lived about 8 miles away. I always let a friend know when and where I am going and have a pre-arranged help sign. On this particular date the pub was less than 5 minutes walk from my house, so I felt very comfortable.
Whilst walking to the pub he messaged to say he had arrived and what would I like to drink. I told him I was on my way and that a white wine would be lovely. Now I was quite impressed at his timeliness and the offer of getting the first drink. Very charming! And yes I'm easily pleased.
I arrived at the pub, and it was quite busy, there were a few people who I knew in there. They said hello as I was scanning the pub for my date and asked who I was with as anyone who knows me knows I wouldn't have gone to a pub on my own back then. I said I had a date. I was a little nervous about meeting this guy with prying eyes from friends, but I wasn't going to run. I continued to scan the pub and messaged to say I was here but couldn't see him. Out from a little snug area popped a guy and a big smile and a very loud "I'm here". Everyone in the pub heard and turned to look at my date.
My heart sunk!
Have you ever seen Harry Enfield's Kevin and Perry?
Well I was greeted by Kevin. A full-grown man dressed like a teenager 🙈.
He was into body building and had a very low cut t-shirt showing off his chest. A denim jacket, pink skinny Jean's, converse trainers and a baseball cap. Not a great look for a 48-year-old.
I tried incredibly hard to not show my disappointment and to stifle the laugh that was trying so hard to come out, and said to myself it's only one drink. I walked over to "Kevin" and spied a bottle of wine on the table. OK so it's only 2 drinks then. I can do this. I would not have been rude enough back then at this point to leave when someone has made an effort to travel to me and buy drinks. I then spotted an empty pint glass. He gave me a kiss on the cheek and said he was just going to get himself a pint. The bottle of wine it would appear was for me. He came back to the table and poured me a very large glass of wine. A couple of the people I knew had moved close to where we were sitting, and I could see the amused looks on their faces as they spotted my date.
I had chosen the seat opposite his pint glass, but on his return he sat next to me which effectively trapped me between him and the wooden partition. No escape. He pretty much swallowed his pint before he had even finished one sentence and said he was getting another. I was a little concerned about him drinking and driving, but it was OK he hadn't driven. He had come the 8 miles on his scooter. Surely a scooter or a moped comes under the same rules of drinking and driving? No he was fine as he meant an actual foot propelled scooter. Like the ones my kids had aged 10, and he pointed to it under the table.
I found myself taking large sips of my wine but had forgotten it had been several hours since I'd eaten and the wine was going to my head. With each sip he topped up my glass, and I was finding it harder and harder to contain my laughter. Not because anything he said was funny, no, because I was out with a man child and could see my friends enjoying my pain.
The bottle was nearly empty he asked if I'd like another drink. I replied I would get them as I didn't want to come across as not paying my way, even though I knew we would never see each other again, I do not want to be a story of the date who took and gave nothing back. It also meant I could buy him a pint and myself a non-alcoholic throw it down my neck and get out quick drink. I excused myself to the ladies and said I'd get the drinks on my return.
I passed my friends on the way who called me over and literally were killing themselves laughing at my dates choice of attire. I told them of his scooter folded neatly under the table and could still hear the raucous laughter whilst I was in the loo. I came out to find "Kevin" had gone to the bar and ordered our drinks. Yay a second bottle of wine for me 🙄.
Needless to say in my politeness of not wanting to be rude. I got rat arsed. Every time I looked up I could see my friends using my predicament as a source of their evenings entertainment. I could have cried but instead my laughter was unlocked. I have no clue what he was saying I could not stop laughing. Tears were actually rolling down my face. The more I drank, the more I laughed. I came to the end of the second bottle and explained I needed to go. I made up a lame excuse that the babysitter for my children could only do 2 hours. My children at that point were 19 and 13.
We got outside the pub. "Kevin" unfolded his scooter. I again burst into a fit of uncontrollable laughter. I soon sobered up when he offered to take me home. No no no it's fine., you have further to go. I knew the direction he would have to go to get home, pretty much passing my front door, also I told him I needed to go in the opposite direction. I ended up walking for about 30 minutes still laughing out loud. Probably looking like a drunk nutter.
After a couple of hours and a few strong coffees I received a message from "Kevin" saying he had a great time and loved a woman who laughed so much at his jokes. I didn't reply and needless to say never saw "Kevin" or his scooter again.
I did learn something from this. Never ever go on a date where your friends are.
Do you believe in fate? Do you believe in serendipitous events/encounters? That everything happens for a reason. I believe fate was the reason I met my husband. I'd been in a horrendous relationship and left my home town with my ex to go to work at Butlins. Whilst my ex was sacked for hospitalising me, I stayed. My husband came to Butlins a few months later. He was on his way home from work and walked past a job centre in London where he lived. It had a board outside advertising work on the South Coast, with accommodation provided. He told me he didn't know why he went inside as he had a really good job as a Carpenter and Joiner, but he was feeling very disillusioned with London and within 2 days he packed his belongings and moved to the sunny South Coast. We consequently met and he never moved back.
Had I not have been with the person I was with, however bad it was, I would never have met my husband. I would never have had my children. I've always struggled to find a reason as to how fate resulted in my husband being taken from us too soon. The disease that killed him (Mesothelioma) was a result of work he did with asbestos some 15 years before we met. It laid dormant until 2016. A couple of days before he passed away he said to me that he bet I regretted him turning up at Butlins as I was about to be made a widow at 41. I didn't and don't ever regret meeting him.
Since I was a child I have kept things that hold memories for me. Little trinkets and notes that I've bought or been given over the years that have sentimental value. I even have my school-leavers books signed by everyone from that year. To outsiders, it would be junk, to me incredibly precious. I have a box with cards, obituary notice, order of service and candle from my husband's funeral. The one and only letter he wrote me, our first valentines and Christmas cards. Other personal effects. Last year I took down most of the photos as it felt right to do so and they are safely in the box. I haven't been into the box other than adding the photos. That was until the day after I wrote my last post.
I was feeling very low. I sat at the PC when a large bang behind me made me jump out of my skin. I looked to see the box had fallen from where it always sits. I have no idea what caused it, but it landed with the lid open. I could see the pictures on the top were not damaged. I went to close the lid and put the box away but for some reason I had a sudden urge to go through it. Under the photos was a memory stick. I knew this held over 50 or so photos of my husband. I haven't looked at it since it was played at his funeral 4 years ago, afraid of how I would feel. I decided to play it.
I sat laughing as each image filled my TV screen. Smiling at the memories. I didn't cry once watching. I then carried on looking through the box and came across a disc. It was a recording of the coroner's court that I had to attend and give evidence at 2 months after he died. It was a blur at the time as I was still in shock. As he had passed away due to an industrial disease this was necessary but incredibly painful. I had to fight to stop an autopsy being performed as he had been through so much already. That may seem bizarre to some, but he had endured so many biopsies and procedures before he died I didn't want his body being cut any more. I won my fight and the coroner agreed biopsy results would be sufficient along with my evidence.
I have never listened to the recording and other than my dad, the coroner, the recorder and a journalist that was allowed to be present I actually have no memory of what was said. I decided to play that too. It was so difficult to listen to. I didn't sound like me. The pain in my voice came across so loudly. I did cry listening to it, but I am glad I did.
I put everything back in the box, but it got me thinking. Looking at the photos and memories were happy. The recording was hard to listen to but after doing so I felt calm and peaceful. I started to remember other conversations I'd had with my husband in the days before his death. Some were very amusing, others very deep. The last conversation we had he told me to go and live my life. Be happy. Find another love and that he had always loved me. He was unable to speak again after this due to sedation. At the time I really did not want to hear that, but I thought long and hard about that conversation.
I took a call a couple of hours later from a lady I have got to know over the past few months. She said she had a weird feeling and felt she needed to call me and was I OK. I told her what had happened with the box and what I had done. She said "that is serendipity". Serendipity is an unplanned fortunate discovery. We talked at length about it and how I believed fate bought my husband into my life, but I could not justify it taking him away. She went on to say that she believes people are brought to us for a reason. That every person we meet teaches us something whether that be a good, fun, sad, learning, loving or bad experience. She went on that my husband was a gift to me and that after 7 years of abuse I needed him and that he had done what he needed to by showing me how to love and be loved. Now whether you believe in that or not I felt for the first time since his death totally at peace with that. I do believe my husband was bought into my life by fate. I was lucky enough to have loved and been loved by him for 22 years.
My low mood I'd been having that day lifted after my call with her. I started to think of other people who have been in my life in the past 4 years and left an impact on it in some way. Every person I thought of I have learned from. Whether it be through inspiring me, educating me, introducing me to new experiences or opening my eyes to things I wanted to try but never had the courage too. Every person I thought of no matter if they are still in my life now or not I am grateful for what I have learnt and believe it was meant to be.
I slept really well that night. I woke the following morning feeling refreshed and determined. Determined to do what my husband had said. To live my life and be happy.
I have created a kind of bucket list. I've always had so many things in my head I want to do or experience but actually putting them into black and white, gives me something to aim for. I listed my career goals. I've always wanted to learn to play the drums. Places I want to travel to. New things I want to experience and much much more. I've already looked into drum lessons for when lockdown is over. Later that day my son told me of his plans to go travelling after college. A possibility of living abroad. He has a list too it would seem.
This announcement from him got me thinking again. I've toyed with the idea of selling up on and off for a couple of years now but always decided against it as it's my children's home. They have grown now. My daughter left home 18 months ago and is happy and settled with her partner. My son will carry out his plans as he is a focused and determined young man. So that leaves me no excuses. I have spoken to an estate agent and will be having a valuation carried out when allowed. There is nothing or no one currently in my life that warrants me needing to be in my house or even in the UK once my son goes in just over a year.
The days that followed I have been so busy with work, my group (that now has over 400 members and counting) and looking at my list and planning that I haven't had time to feel low or miserable. I'm sleeping well and have a new energy. Who knows what's ahead. I certainly don't but one thing I do know is I just want to be happy, have fun and live my life because life is short, life is precious and to be enjoyed. I want to make the most of mine not look back in twenty years full of regret.