From Suicidal To Wholehearted Living

From a young age I was taught enforced beliefs and habits―patterns in my beliefs that said the world was only one certain way. If it wasn’t exactly that way, by those rules, it was wrong and people were wrong. At about 31 I started to realise my whole life was a result of the limitations of these rules that I thought I had to obey to be ok, loved and accepted by other people or by the only god I knew―which I can now label as fear―and at its best advocate for enforcement shame.

I was consumed by shame and fear, I never dared question if these beliefs were acceptable by or for me, I was far too scared that in hearing my doubt if a God existed, they would disown me and I would be on a track directly pointed to the hell that fear created and the biggest fear of all was to question the rules of the authority of fear itself (especially in the sect/cult I was raised in). It was a dark place in the jail of the mind I lived in.

Simple statements constantly reinforced to me like – ‘curiosity killed the cat’ – ‘that’s just the hand you are dealt’ – ‘that’s just the way it is’ – ‘such is life’ – ‘it’s just our cross to bear’ ALL kept me trapped in a mind that was endlessly drowning in my conviction that I could never be good enough, I should accept my lot in life and deal with it. If I couldn’t do that I was weak, a failure, not acceptable, unlovable and an outcast.

The only thing I knew that felt like escape was competitive sports (which for me was limited to school). Laughter, and that was not common to our family, or hurting myself. As I remember, everything pointed towards being right and striving to portray myself as a perfect human, unaware then that none of those exist.

Although I couldn’t language it this way back then, even as a young child I could see my father striving to be right, trying to assist others the best way he knew how, all the while hurting them, living out of the judgement from which he could never free himself of and refusing to question if there was another way. The way he knew for himself held more comfort than challenging the pain that made him the judge.

After being born in Australia into a family deeply committed to an unhealthy view of religion―a cult―where they were convinced they had all the answers and knew ‘the only’ way to God.

At 9 years old my dad decided that we had to make a move to England (my parents’ homeland) where he would become the head of our small church there, his dream I’m sure. There was a reasonable amount of power in being a leader that was appealing to all the men I had watched growing up. The problem that never seemed right to me was that the beliefs gripped people by fear and my question―How was a loving God or Father able to lead what was meant to be loving people by fear. Fearful people created more fearful people. Only a loving God and loving Father could create or inspire loving people. I have learned that where we cannot achieve love as humans, we settle for connection however that is felt. At its worst the connection of shameful people is enough for comfort to be felt although the result is of a growth of more shame and greater fear.

I lived forever striving for the acceptance of my dad and God because the rules for being loved by either of them were the same and in our house fear and manipulation through shame (a sort of Spiritual abuse) ensured I didn’t cross any lines, that I wouldn’t turn away from the teaching and back then meant I would have the best chance to see heaven. My challenge to this was while there was the belief that no one could ensure they were ever good enough to be accepted by this god of fear, apparently there was a ‘lively hope’ that is where my joy should have come from).

Needless to say―I struggled with this ‘truth’ I had come to know. Though we experienced physical beating in our family, it didn’t haunt me in the way the manipulation and discipline using guilt and fear did. This mind full of shame created my whipping post and it was relentless to me in my actions, hurt and pain. Even when I was totally alone I was beating myself up so why did I need him to continually load it on more. His fears that I might just do something ‘wrong’, make a mistake or hurt myself and in turn NEVER be forgiven.

At 12 I began to hurt myself, deliberately, punishing myself for my thoughts and feeling more ashamed towards the Self that was the real me. It was like I had layers and levels of this process and doubting the only thing I knew led me deeper into my pain, addictions and punishments.

I continued to follow them.

By 14 I was having suicidal thoughts regularly but suicide was an unforgivable sin and so there was no way out of the hell I had created my life to be.

It was like an endless vacuum of my energy, my effort and my life, trying to succeed at everything expected of me to be more perfect and not finding any success, understandably looking back, it was an impossible task. I lived life on the tips of my toes trying not to fall from the tightrope I’d been given to walk my life on and when I did avoiding the pain of all the broken glass of the childhood dreams I was treading on.

At 17 I decided I had to find an escape, run, or die.

With only my perception of what was expected for me to be accepted and loved, I had ruled myself into every worst fear we have as humans―to be loved, belong or good enough I must be ‘perfect’. Even though I thought I could make it appear that way with all the masks I wore so well inside I felt dirty as a builder’s doormat.

I thought my only way out was going to hell through suicide but the experience of the life I was living felt worse than the burning lake of fire I’d heard of growing up. I started to question if there was any reason at all to live. My thought cycle for a while became that if there was any possible God above and if he did know me as personally as I was told, he’d have to understand me wanting to die to escape this unceasing pain and anguish. I’d cry myself to sleep at night and hurt myself and could never get past the mental obsessive cycle of thoughts that made up the darkness and hell I found myself in. Darkness ruled my life.

This is my understanding now of depression and it was only thoughts and perceptions, and in fact ALL A LIE.

I had interpreted all my experiences to bring me around to this place I believed through fear I had no escape from. That is hell. I now like the saying “If you are walking through hell, keep going and don’t stop walking”―you do come out to the other side or there is a different point of view to live the challenge from.

In those middle teen years I tried to fill my life with music to escape the thoughts and though everything I listened to, was consistently and closely monitored, different and lighter melodies and patterns would bring a slight relief from darkness of the thoughts while listening but this freedom was short lived. With the music off, I would almost immediately return to the obsession I had grown from “I can never be good enough”.

I was done with this place that never felt like home. Working from around age twelve or thirteen I did a paper round, using my money like an entrepreneur to buy sweets in bulk and selling them at school for extra. I never believed I could or would succeed and so school was a waste of time because I didn’t try, only doing just enough to stay under the radar. I became a cleaner and hospital ward assistant at around 16 so I had learned I was resourceful and could make some money. At the completion of year 12 high school in England I got a supermarket job and made the decision that as soon as I could I’d RUN! I got together enough for a plane ticket, $1000 and I left.

The problem was after leaving home at 19, I could still never escape the implantation of the thoughts forever tirelessly playing in and on my mind, I was still drawn to the comfort of knowing the beliefs in the same cult, with the same type of people I grew up with. Scared people who used guilt, manipulation and shame to enforce a life where I could not leave without being forever condemned. I had initially thought this escape from our family house was my answer, I’d hoped to find someone accepting of me. I’d hoped I’d find some sort of connection and love.

Getting married at 20, striving to know love, I wanted to feel but I didn’t know how. I didn’t understand why my wife was not able to help me overcome what I didn’t know how to feel. As she also was raised the same way I was she could only know a similar thought process to me. I have learned how unacceptable it was of me to place this expectation on my beautiful 18 year old bride when I was the only who could change it.

When I was 22, in his first hour on earth our first son Jack died from complications, his body had a few issues he could have overcome but suddenly following birth he faced even more complications unforeseen by the doctors.

When this happened the darkness of my anger and depression became too much to bear. I believed it was my fault, that I was being punished (and so my wife Mel had to suffer) for my multitude of sins so light in scale and yet so heavy on my mind.

Our beautiful Jack was to be a dream for us both, a point of love and connection, yet it became a nightmare. As I bathed his tiny, barely 6 pound body dead in my hands, the disbelief and intensity of the pain was too much.

We travelled for a break to Queensland in an effort to escape the harsh reality of our loss and on the 23rd floor balcony of our hotel I had my first suicidal, committed moment.

‘If you just lift your feet it’ll all be over’ was the thought as I leant over the balcony feeling so tempted by the pavement below to be my peace maker. The thought carried a lightness of false freedom and over the next five days I’d struggle to avoid it. I no longer had fear of hell because living with the pain I was experiencing inside was a fate worse than that and in those moments, I felt like I could never gain a good life anyway. The only thing I held to was that I wanted to help and save my wife from this pain, another thing impossible for me to do and another thing I decided in time I was a failure at.

In denial of anything good being possible in life over the next four years I would strive and strive to prove myself worthy, a reason to go on, while yearly or more, returning to one balcony or another with the same beckoning call of peace through the death I longed for. Despite the miracle of a beautiful daughter, I felt fear of connection, what if she was taken from me? So I tried not to let her too close to my heart. There was no comfort for the emptiness inside.

It got worse over time, the darkness so intense and the light so dim I’d drive recklessly, offer my life to the risks with tear filled eyes and pedal to the metal occasionally heading directly for the giant gum trees in my car and finally pulling out with only a moment to spare. Cursing myself for being too weak to do it and berating myself for being so weak to consider it―there was no end.

There was a show in that time on TV that had the theme song from the chorus of ‘Who Are You?’ by The Who. It played on my mind because I didn’t know and I wanted to know who I am. If I didn’t know who I was maybe it wasn’t who I was supposed to be.

It would take several more years and a man I regarded highly to complete the determination that would cause me to do ANYTHING to see this through, to defy and challenge every thought. His words still so vivid in my mind even today, he said, “If you’re not bringing up your children EXACTLY the way you were raised, you’re doing it wrong!”

Another light bulb moment―I didn’t want my children to suffer like I was. I didn’t want them to live in fear of life itself!! I didn’t want to do life even for one more day this way. Little did I know that it would require a lot more breakdown before I could truly have my breakthrough!!

Finally at about 31 years old on a 32nd floor balcony with these thoughts for the last time, at the moment I was lifting my lightly held feet, I had an epiphany, I finally heard the quiet voice in my head that I had not noticed before and it said―‘I just want to live!’

Before I go on and you judge, please let me clarify to you, research shows that the average healthy human has 15 personalities, unhealthy humans can have up to 54 personalities.

I’m not crazy and wasn’t even in this moment. I was a very long way from the quiet voice that really tells me the truth of who I am. You have one of these too―it speaks goodness, calm, love and kindness and never the opposite.

This voice came from somewhere significantly different. Too loud to deny and with this sudden switch in my brain and two living children, I could finally see I had reason for some gratitude for my life, I really heard what it said. Almost like it was a bigger statement than the words themselves.

Following this I made a little creative material success and as I changed many things and challenged the lies of my ego (the fearful voice in our minds that only wants to keep us comfortable and safe) time and time again. I grew in confidence because I found the fears and thoughts untrue and it gave me enough reason to continually question how many of my thoughts were untrue.

I was seeing benefits but it hurt. Every step. A continuous realisation of how much I had missed out on. How much I’d hurt others and how much I’d hurt my Self (capitol S for True Self and not my ego, fearful self).

For the next five years I would throw challenge after challenge in my own way, enduring whatever hurt was required to find something that appeared to even remotely resemble peace (bearing in mind that until that point in my life the distraction of a needle to the eyeball was a welcomed distraction over what I endured through my thoughts alone).

I wanted constant freedom, not from responsibility, I wanted freedom from the constant thought. This is a huge challenge for someone carrying pain from whatever form of trauma, peace is nearly impossible because you’ve only ever known to hear your ego and it is loud!

I would find peace no matter what it took!!

I didn’t realise that in the moment I surrendered to my biggest fear of death, I was no longer sincerely afraid of anything much and suddenly there was something different at each moment, it was knowledge, the power of choice and decision.

My last balcony moment was enough to acknowledge that everything I believed growing up was a lie, that maybe, just maybe the world was good. That there just might be even a 1% possibility I had been hoodwinked, or even conned into losing many years of my life to the potential of a fear and nothing more than thoughts and perception.

The first enlightened moment on the balcony gave me opportunity to see many more. I sought the value of challenging everything I had ever known. I called BS on every belief, the way I looked at things and especially when I felt my energy dropping I removed myself from people and started to look inside.

Not only did I look inside I had begun to look ‘from’ inside.

I’d had these moments in my life I started to recognise more and more.

My awareness had been heightened through all the pain. I was recognising―Ben you’re not the pain, you see the pain, the hurt, the experiences and that’s exactly what you are, the see-er of it all and now in every experience in life when I choose it, I become the see-er of it.

Eckhart Tolle explains best for me in one of his books, how our deepest consciousness is the seat of our soul. From the place deepest in our mind we can find peace and are loved, it is an untouchable place where the true Self/Soul resides, I would even say this place is the closest to God we could ever be.

From here, the seat of the soul we can look out at the world and see the stories of our ego mind unfold. We can see we are not the stories, we are not bound by anything the ego mind throws up with noise or pain.

This perspective enabled me to constantly allow the challenges, and I began to embrace everything I would have run from before. I wanted to overcome the darkness where all the fear had held me and become new each day.

The biggest difference I believe now was that before, I was always running from something I didn’t want and now suddenly I had shifted to running towards anything I feared I couldn’t have, what I did want, not by striving for it only simply turning around, running forwards and not backwards, living present to moments instead of in past stories―I had escaped my hell!

I discovered that every fear is a lie because, yes when we get there, there may be peace in death but no love or joy. Through separation from my thoughts I began to find more and more peace in life which has turned into a more constant experience of joy and constant opportunity of love. My constant gradual opening to possibility has been a daily learning process which only continues when I become present to who I am being, experiencing the feelings of that fully and asking if it’s what I want to feel any longer.

As I reach the realisation in any moment that negativity holds me captive, I can move knowing positivity provides freedom and opportunity for newness of life, fear is a prison and love is an open space for really living. Lack is only a place I lived from and now gratitude gives peace and joy and abundance of everything I do want and this place is what life was always meant to be like. You can have it too.

My thoughts were my prison and now the calm is my freedom. I know that the see-er of my ego, my worries anxiety or fears that haven’t disappeared entirely they are now something to look at, to notice and question.

God is the divine power that gives us life, which means I wake up each day with Love and unending potential of power inside that ends in feelings of everything I want to be, do and have―that is where I live as long as I become present. I see darkness at times, but I know there is light, and I can move into and choose to stand in the light when I choose to move there in my mind.

Live in the knowledge that you are LOVED and know YOU matter because the impact of your legacy and the ripples you make on earth do live on to eternity. Breathe, focus on life itself, wait and the quiet voice will come. Move to and sit at the back of your mind, behind it and just look at your thoughts instead of being them or being in them notice they are in you. Be what you want to feel most. Your values (most important feeling needs) and how you achieve them are all that drive your actions. Study to show yourself approved of the see-er inside you, that is always saying ‘Be calm and be Love’.

Allow the flows of life to become your river, even when they become waterfalls because the waterfall has a still pond only a little down stream. Resistance holds on to what you don’t want to feel, allowing it to pass through however frightening returns control to you. It allows you to be the see-er of the moment, fully aware, to live wholeheartedly, and a single moment in time is all we can ever have.

Much Love,

Ben

Hi, my name is Ben.

I am a man with many roles―a husband, a father (of 4 great kids), a leader of people, a builder, a personal trainer, a life results coach, trainer and consultant, mostly someone who endeavours to be love while being in each of those roles.

My passion where ever I am, is fuelled by assisting humans to find healing from their pain and moving forward to what they really want by returning to who they were made to be. That is where I’ve seen fulfilment in every wholehearted human I have found.

Home is where the heart is

Today is the day. After 29 years this is the very last day I will ever be or be able to lay eyes on the property that I grew up on. The place that watched me grow, the place that kept all of my secrets. My parents & I moved in here on my eighth birthday. It’s 80 acres of country paradise in the Adelaide Hills. And today I sit here alone on the hardwood floors of the empty house that I grew up in reflecting on it all.

My first ever memory of coming here was when I was seven. I was with my mum and we’d come to look at the house. I think by this point my parents must have been pretty serious about buying it because the owner of the house was showing my mum around. I remember her name was Marion because that was my mums name too. We were looking in one of the bedrooms which had a big bed in it with a purple bedspread and I jumped on it (and got told off by my mum). That room later became my bedroom.

The next thing I knew it was my birthday and we were moving in. I remember unpacking a box of my mums “Mills and Boon” novels and placing them on a little shelf in the lounge room. When mum noticed she quickly told me they couldn’t go there. Haha! Little did I know they were the then equivelent of Fifty Shades of Grey. It was not the done thing to have these things displayed for all to see. Apparently.

The very next day my mum was booked to go in to hospital for a hysterectomy. The only thing I really understood about this was that it meant that I would never get a sibling. Something I wanted so badly then. Actually still to this day I feel a bit robbed in that area.

It was quite an overwhelming time for me. The house was huge in comparison to what we previously lived in. My parents room was at the opposite end of the house to mine. While mum was in hospital my dad slept in the room next to mine because I was too scared to sleep at that end of the house alone. Once my parents moved to the other end of the house mum got a baby monitor so I could call out if I needed her.

We’d moved in during the two week school holidays so when school went back I had to start at the local school. The teacher I was meant to get was on long service leave for that term so we had the grumpiest, scariest old lady for a relief teacher. I hated every minute of those first few months at school. But come home time and we’d driven in to our driveway I felt care free. I would go inside and grab a snack then go and see my horse and explore the paddocks.

We got cows and baled hay. This was something that was completely new to us! My dad had to go away to work a lot so mum and I had to get all the hay bales put in the big hay shed. I was too small to lift the hay bales so I got the job of driving the car around the paddock while mum put the bales in the trailer. I was eight!! It was seriously one of the most fun times of my life!

One of the first things dad did when we moved in was to pave a roundabout in front of the house. I can still remember the summer nights during day light saving when dad would be paving and I would scoot around on the ride on lawn mower with its cute little trailer and load up pavers for dad and deliver them to him.

When I was 16 I left school and started going to business college in the city. It was a long drive so I moved in to a little flat attached to my Opa’s house. There was a bus stop right outside that took me to the city each day. I would drive back home every Friday night and go back to my little flat on a Sunday night. After college I got a job so I continued to live in the flat during the week and went back home on the weekends. If I was ever sick or had the day off I always went home. I remember taking a sick day from work once because I was really unwell but I still drove myself up there just to be in the comfort of home.

Two years later I was married! We actually had our wedding reception in the garden at home. We had a huge marquee that held over 400 hundred guests. For the first year we lived in my cute little flat. Sadly though my Opa was suffering from dementia and became quite a difficult landlord. He would not remember me paying rent so he would get upset because he thought I hadn’t paid it. Bless him, he had no control over it but it got to the point where we had to move out. We were young and broke so up to my parents we went! A few years after my parents bought the place my dad did a demolition job at the kindy I used to go to, so he had the kindy building put on a truck and delivered to his house!! They ended up attaching it to their house. There was a big carport that divided the two dwellings. So in to my old kindy we moved. It had two bedrooms, a kitchen, dine, bathroom and massive living area. Much bigger than our little flat. It was only meant to be temporary. But temporary turned in to seven years!!!

Less than two years after we moved in to the ‘kindy’ I gave birth to our first son, Jack. He sadly died shortly after he was born. There are no words to describe what it is like to go through that or to live with the aftermath. One thing I know though, is that property held such an enormous space for me to grieve. There were nights I couldn’t sleep and I would go outside in the middle of the night and look up at the stars. Searching for some comfort or answers. There were days when I would walk so far in to the middle of nowhere and scream and cry. Because I needed to, and home held that physical and emotional space for me to do so.

On what would have been my first Mothers Day I woke up to my husband and my parents building a special garden for me. We called it Jacks garden. It was a beautiful inclosed paved area with a water fountain with an angel on top. Some of my aunties bought some roses for the garden. It was absolutely beautiful. I spent so much time in there. We all did. Thankfully I was able to take the fountain out and take it with us.

We went on to have our next two children while living there. Isla and Cashius. When Isla was a baby we purchased a block of land in another town in the hills about 15 minutes away and when Cash was one we had built our first house and moved in to it.

Three years later we sold that house and bought another to renovate, so while we were renovating we moved back to ‘the kindy’. This time with another child, Stella. We stayed there for a year. A few months after moving back home we got the surprise of our lives when we found out I was pregnant with Chad!! That was about eight years ago now.

We were just in to our own home again before Chad came along. It wasn’t long after I had Chad that I noticed my mum wasn’t quite herself. She would have 59 when I first started to suspect she was having memory problems. It was very mild and no-one else would have picked up on it. Within 2 years mum was at the point where she could no longer run the office of my dads business, cook or even remember to clean the house. At this point I started going up twice a week to take care of all that she couldn’t. We had to take her to the Dr and eventually a specialist where it was confirmed that she had early onset Alzheimers. I was devastated.

My parents also owned another home a few hours away by the beach which they had always planned to retire to. So I knew eventually there would come a time that the family home would go. After mums diagnosis is when dad and I decided it was time to put the house on the market. Dad had a lot on his plate running a full time business and now mum, so the property on top of that was just too much.

So just over 2 and a half years ago we got the house ready to go on the market. Even sitting in here now thinking about it, I don’t know how I functioned or got done what I did. I was a full time mum to four in the mornings and evenings, but during the day I was a daughter on a mission. I still remember the day I spent washing over 40 windows front and back and getting the house photo ready. It was the longest day. I think I got home at about 8pm and Ben was out with the kids. That night was the first and last time I ever consumed an entire bottle of wine to myself. I don’t recommend it. I just wanted all the thoughts and feelings to go away. Believe me I had a completely different set of thoughts and feelings that I wanted to go away the next morning!! haha!

The next 2 and a half years were spent keeping the house ‘inspection ready’. I cooked, cleaned, washed, ran the office and sorted and packed up my parents house. I feel like during that time I’ve re-lived every memory of my entire life. It’s been insanely hard and therapeutic at the same time. One of the hardest parts for me was having a MASSIVE garage sale and selling off a lot of my mums stuff. The property they lived on had lots of storage and my mum had done lots of collecting. The house they have at the beach is already full so 95% of it had to go. I was riddled with guilt. Even though my dad told me to get rid of it all and my mum seriously wouldn’t have a clue that it was hers to begin with anyway. I found that incredibly difficult to do.

After two years of waiting on paper work, my mum was finally assessed the day before her 65th birthday and approved for care under the NDIS scheme. This meant mum could have a carer with her while my dad was at work. Once this was approved I suggested to my dad that maybe it was time to move off the property full time and move to the beach house while he gets mums care set up. This way they wouldn’t have to switch carers once the property sold. So at Christmas time my parents moved to the beach house full time. In March of this year we hired a new realestate agent. Within 2 months the property was finally under contract, funnily enough to a man named Tony. That’s my dads name too!

Every time I’ve come here over the past few months something else is gone. The lounge, the dining table. Something big, and it takes my breath away. The hardest thing for me to see empty was my mums bedroom. Although the bedroom suite has been taken to their new house there was something comforting to me to walk in to my mums bedroom and see it all still there. It was still the same as it was when I was young and would sit on mums bed and chat with her in the mornings before school. Or when my dad was working away she would let me sleep with her and we would stay up late watching ‘Murder She Wrote’ or ‘To The Manner Born’. It’s amazing how four walls can hold so many memories.

So today is the day. The day I’ve come here completely alone. And as always this place is here to hold the space for me to remember, smile and cry. I’ve come to say goodbye. As I walk through and take a moment in every room to stop and remember, and as crazy as it sounds to talk to each room. To thank it for all that’s it done for me, my family and friends and for what it’s yet to do for the family that will soon call it home. I grew here, I became a wife here, I became a mother here, and I grieved here.

Home is where the heart is, and this place will always have a piece of my heart.

Healing & Thriving – Overcoming rejection & finding yourself in the process

The hardest walk is walking alone, but it’s also the walk that makes you the strongest.

We only know what we know. Read that again. As a two year old you probably knew how to say ‘mum’, ‘dad’, and the word ‘no’. You may have also been able to do a wobbly walk and attempt to feed yourself with a spoon. But that’s all you knew because you were two. You knew what you knew. That was all the life experience you had. So before you read any further you need to forgive yourself right now for all things you still carry from the past that you wish you did differently. You did what you did because you knew what you knew, which was different to what you know now. Give yourself a big old high five for surviving the best you knew how and move on. Your future self needs you to do this.

We are all born with DNA. It’s just something that is there. It determines the colour of our hair and eyes and shape of our nose. I also believe we are born with our very own GPS system. I’m not a scientist or a doctor but it sits somewhere between our heart and our stomach and your soul is responsible for driving it. When you’re off course your heart and or your stomach will tell you. Your heart will feel heavy, your stomach will feel squeamish and you will feel completely out of line with yourself.

I used to feel like this all the time. In fact it was for most of my life. The only times I could really remember feeling ‘myself’ was as a small child. I guess that was a time in my life where I wasn’t so impacted by outside influences. I was comfortable with who I was because I was, well just me. As I got older I started to compromise myself to fit in. We all do it to a degree. Whether it be family, work or social situations we all want to be accepted, and most of all we all want to survive. Put those two needs together and you have a recipe for all sorts of dangerous compromise. Some people can get so caught up in the web of compromise that they are never truly themselves. They are never truly free. We were all born on to this earth to really live!! You get ONE shot at the life you were given. Give it everything you have.

Somewhere in my teens I grew in to a massive people pleaser. I will go as far as tooting my own horn when it comes to being able to read people and adjusting myself to exactly who they need me to be. I was incredibly good at it. I had a very big fear of not being liked, getting in trouble and breaking any rules. Even if the rules made absolutely no sense whatsoever I was not going to break them!! Just incase something terrible happened.

It didn’t take much to manipulate me. I was quite an easy target. Sadly this left me quite vulnerable to being used, abused and spat out. Even sadder, the people closest to me were the ones to take advantage. Everyone has an agenda. Even me. Mine was to be liked and accepted, even if it meant tossing my values in to the wind. I didn’t do this consciously, in fact if I’m honest I didn’t even really know what my values were. All I knew is that I was actually sacrificing my happiness and going against my gut instincts to serve others hoping for friendship in return.

Lesson #1; Get out of your comfort zone – like you have no choice, this is happening, nothing good is going to happen inside of your little box. Believe me!

I actually used to get so cranky when anyone would talk about stepping out of your comfort zone. “New age hippies” I would think to myself while rolling my eyes. I was quite content hiding in my safe bubble of pretend living.

It’s down right terrifying at first. What ever you can think of that sounds so awful you feel like you could be sick, do it immediately! A few examples of those things for me were, eating out alone and posting unfiltered photos of myself on social media. I still remember the time I posted a picture of myself in bathers. I was literally shaking, posted it and had to throw my phone under my bed, get in my car and drive away to stop myself from deleting it. Why you may ask? Because the idea of being ‘judged’ or even ‘seen’ terrified me. And do you know what happened? Nothing bad! Just amazing feed back from other woman who also felt as terrified as me about doing that kind of thing and thanking me for being brave and encouraging them to be brave too. The other thing that happened was is because I’d done this one thing and didn’t die I then had the courage to wear my bathers to the beach that summer and swim in the ocean with my children. My eldest is 14 and my youngest is 7 and that was the first time I’d ever done that with them. Because for 14 years I sat on the beach covered up in my “safe zone” hot, sweaty and uncomfortable and missing out. But it was ‘safe’ there.

The other thing I did that made me incredibly uncomfortable was to say no. No to anything I didn’t really want to do. I’d never done that before. It’s so darn liberating!

Lesson # 2; Rejection is like vomiting. It’s an uncomfortable purging of something that does not belong, followed by immense relief.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was so overcome by the pain of feeling rejected that I laid on my kitchen floor sobbing. It’s incredibly painful! After following my gut instincts and standing up for what I believed in I found myself virtually alone. Suddenly the people I interacted with daily didn’t want anything to do with me. I was no longer useful to their agenda, therefore no longer needed. This is why it’s so important to find YOUR tribe not A tribe.

Lesson #3; Healing takes time. There is no quick fix. Nor do you want there to be because this is where we gain the wisdom.

The deeper the wound, the greater the come back.

You have to feel all of it. It’s like antibiotics. If you don’t finish the full dose the virus will come back.

You will have amazing days and you will have awful days. Both are necessary. Don’t fight the process. You are exactly where you need to be. Be kind to yourself along the way. Find the people that have your back. If you can’t, have your own. After all you need to be your biggest advocate.

Lesson #4; Spend time alone.

I read an amazing book that talks about listening to the still small voice inside. The problem was is that I was never still enough to even hear myself breathe let alone anything else.

Take yourself on dates. Literally. I’m not kidding. Take yourself out of the house, sit alone at table with a good book, a notebook and a pen, or even just your thoughts. It’s incredibly confronting at first if you’re not used to it. If that’s you maybe start with a book. At least then you can look like you’re doing something if you feel self conscious. I did this for over a year. It was actually like dating myself. I had always been so busy “doing” whatever it was I felt was expected that I actually had NO idea who I was. No idea what I actually liked. Like no idea!

Lesson #5; Love the crap out of yourself!

This was by far the hardest one for me. To me the concept sounded so vain, and to make matters worse I had this mad belief that I had to be Instagram model worthy to even toy with the idea of liking myself let alone loving myself. The fact that I thought those things makes me SO sad not only because I deserve so much better, but because I have children. Daughters who are learning from me how to treat themselves and sons who are learning what to expect for their wife one day.

This process for me was very uncomfortable. It took a whole lot of self acceptance as I am, right here right now. The thing that really helped with this was knowing that those closest to me, my husband, children, parents, really close friends, the people who truly mattered to me loved me unconditionally. They didn’t care if I was having a bad hair day or hadn’t won a nobel prize. To them I was a very important part of their world. Just as I loved them all unconditionally. No expectations, no conditions. Come as you are.

Lesson #6; Trust

I’m not going to lie, I’ve found trusting others and especially myself difficult. I’d been burned, badly. The one person who saw it coming though didn’t step in fast enough. That was me. I had to gain trust in myself again before I could even consider trusting others.

Take baby steps. By this point I was in full re-set mode. I’d started again, but there were days the idea of going back to what was familiar was so tempting. Stay strong, you’ve come so far, you are so close.

Lesson #7; Forgive

This takes us back to we only know what we know. Just as we need to forgive ourselves we also need to forgive those around us. Whether the hurt they may have caused was intentional or not, they too only knew what they knew.

Eye can see clearly now – My Lasik eye surgery experience

Firstly I would just like to say that this was my personal experience with lasik surgery. It was a very positive one. Everybody’s experience is different. This is my story and why I would personally do it all again in a heart beat.

When I was 16 I was driving my car through the back streets of the city at night. I stopped at the traffic lights and when the light went green I proceeded to drive straight ahead up over the curb and into the grasslands infront of me, much to my passengers horror. My eye site was so bad that I didn’t even realise that there was no road ahead of me! I had my eyes tested and yeah you guessed it, I needed glasses.

At 18 I got married and didn’t want to wear glasses on my wedding day. I was too scared to try contact lenses so at my wedding all the guests were a blur. Not long after that I built up the courage to try lenses and once I got used to them I found them to be a great option.

When I was in my early twenties I was introduced to lenses that I was able to wear day and night for a month at a time. They were an absolute game changer!! Waking up in the middle of the night to children and not having to rustle around for my glasses was such a luxury. I wore them for years! It was like I had no sight issues at all. So much so that while we were holidaying on the Gold Coast one time I had completely forgotten to pack my glasses or spare lenses, as I was so used to only having to take them out and swap them over once a month. I don’t think I even put my glasses on at all during that time. I remember playing with the kids in the wave pool at White Water World when my eyes randomly started feeling really gritty and irritated. Long story short, it got much worse very quickly and I ended up having to take the lenses out for some relief. Only I had nothing to help me see! Remembering I could barely make out my hand if I stretched it out in front of me. I went to see the first optometrist I could get in to and they told me that my eyes had rejected the lenses. I had overused them and my eyes weren’t having it anymore. I was given some temporary lenses to get me through the last few days of the trip but when I got home I had to go back to wearing glasses full time. After a few years I was able to wear lenses on the odd occasion but I found them so irritating that I’d have to take them out within a few hours.

I was in my mid twenties by this point and it was the first time I’d discussed Lasik surgery with anyone. My optometrist told me I was a great candidate, and that I was also at a good age to have it done. That being because in our forties is generally when our sight starts to deteriorate and I would be looking at getting some sort of reading glasses by then. So having it done in my mid twenties pretty much meant I’d be looking at 10-15 years glasses free. At the time I was really scared at the thought of the surgery and the cost seemed so expensive. After all I could still see with glasses so I dismissed the idea.

Fast forward to nearly two years ago when I was 35 and went in for my annual eye check, I asked the optometrist about lasik just out of curiosity. The optometrist had had it done herself and only had good things to say. She wrote me a referral to go to Adelaide Eye & Laser Centre, where I went in for some standard pre testing to see if I would be eligible. They did all the normal types of checks that you would have at your annual check up with your optometrist. It was completely painless and they were super friendly and answered all one hundred questions I had.

It basically came down to two options. (Now I am in no way a medical professional of any sort so I will be explaining this to you in a very non medical way). One of the two options were plain old lasik. This is where a flap is made with a laser to gain access to your cornea so that another laser can correct the shape of your eye thus making it so you can see clearly. Once this is done the the flap is manually popped back over the cornea by the surgeon and you’re good to go. The second option was one called PRK. I’m not sure what it stands for but basically this one was where ‘the flap’ (yeah it’s super gross to say) is removed manually by the surgeon and then has to grow back after surgery. From what I’ve been told and researched this method took longer to recover from. 4-5 days versus 3-4 hours as it was with lasik. After my research I decided that I would only go ahead with the procedure if I could have the lasik done.

That afternoon I received a phone call to say that the surgeon had looked over my initial test results and confirmed that I was a perfect candidate for lasik, so we went ahead and booked the procedure in for a few weeks later!! EEK!!

A week or so before the procedure I was booked in to meet with the surgeon who I would see on the day. This was wonderful as it gave me a chance to ask any extra questions I had thought of. It was also nice to meet the person who I was essentially trusting with my eyes! His name was Dr Peter Ingham and he was so nice & professional. He explained the entire procedure to me step by step and didn’t treat me in anyway like it was the ten millionth time he’s had to explain it. You can tell he loves his job. This really put my mind at ease.

THE DAY!!! – I was booked in for late afternoon. I organised for my children to be picked up from school and my husband accompanied me to the laser centre. That is a must! You cannot under any circumstances drive yourself home from this procedure. I’ll be honest I was extremely nervous and ended up giving myself a migraine because I was so tense. This made me more anxious as I was expecting to have a fair bit of discomfort after the procedure and I was worried about managing a migraine on top of that.

The first thing I needed to do was is take a tablet called Lyrica one hour before I was booked in for admission. From what I understand this was to calm the nerves a bit. Upon arrival when checking in you need to pay the amount in full. The cost was $6000. $3000 per eye. You are also told to bring along a pair of non prescription sunglasses as you will need to wear them home as your eyes will be sensitive to the light afterwards.

While in the waiting room a nurse came over to check on me and I explained that I was feeling a bit unwell because I had a migraine. I was able to take some nurofen while I was waiting and thankfully it took the edge off. Shortly after I was taken through to the next waiting room. This room led to the actual room where other people were getting the procedure done. The best part about being in this waiting room was that you got to see the look on peoples faces as they came out of having the procedure done. The look of shock and awe on their faces as they looked around the room in disbelief THAT THEY COULD ACTUALLY SEE was mind blowing. This gave me a lot more confidence to go through those doors. One lady came out and told me she found the procedure relaxing!!

So while in this waiting room you are taken into a tiny side room by a lovely nurse who goes through all of your after care information with you. You are given eye shields to wear at night & a variety of different eye drops to use. It’s all clearly marked what to use when on the information sheet. This is also the time when you are asked if you’d like a temazepam. Um yes please!!! The nurse also pops a few numbing drops in your eyes so they go numb, obviously. You don’t know that they are numb, I didn’t try touching my eyeball or anything but I could still blink and they felt normal.

Then you get taken in to ‘The Room’. There’s a bed in the middle of the room that you lay down on. There was two nurses and the surgeon. They all made me feel welcome and as comfortable as I could be with what was about to happen. The first thing I remember them asking me to do was look at the clock on the wall. Which was nothing but a circle shaped blur to me. I could not even see the numbers.

Once you are laying down the surgeon sits on a stool at the top of the bed and pretty much takes control of your head. Not in a rough way but in a comforting way. He talks you through every little thing as it’s happening. A nurse stood at each of his shoulders and it seemed that there only reason for being there was to administer numbing drops to keep my eyes numb. A pretty darn important job I thought!!

Your eye is propped open with a device which you absolutely cannot feel. I was concerned I would freak out if I could’t blink but you honestly don’t know that you’re not. If you get the urge to blink you think you have but you actually haven’t if that makes sense. Anyway my point is don’t worry about needing to blink. You won’t.

They do one eye at a time. Firstly the ‘flap maker’ laser makes it was over to you. You don’t feel any of this. All you have to do is lay there and wait. The surgeon is telling you exactly what is happening. He even counts for you. I think this machine took about 10 seconds to be done. Everything went a dark grey colour for that 10 seconds which I was expecting because I’d been told that’s what would happen. Once the flap was made that laser moves away and another one comes over. This was the one that was going to correct the shape of my cornea. This one lasted no more than 30 seconds. I can’t remember exactly as it was a few years ago but I could see little red or green dots which was the laser beams. Again I felt nothing. Once this part was done the surgeon popped the flap back over, counted to ten so it could settle then removed the device that was holding my eye open. Then we moved on to the next eye. In total I would have only been in the theatre room for 10-15 minutes, and the lady who went in before me was right, it was actually relaxing. Not sure if that had something to do with being a mum and being able to lay down in the middle of the day without someone needing you for something. Or it could have been the temazepam?! Either way I actually enjoyed the experience. Now get this! When I sat up the first thing they asked me to do was is look at the clock. I nearly cried!! There was a haze to the outside of the clock but I could SEE THE NUMBERS!!!

Then it’s time to sit in the waiting room for about half an hour. You are taken care of by the nurses. By taken care of I mean you get to sit in a recliner chair and given a cup of tea and chocolate. All while looking around at every sign and picture on the wall in complete disbelief that you can now see it all. I also took it upon myself to make friends with all the other patients sitting in there waiting for their turn. Assuring them that it was easy peasy and also comparing what they could see versus what I could see, and how ten minutes ago I couldn’t see anything like them either. After about 20 minutes my husband was bought through to sit with me and I introduced him to all of my new friends and showed him all that I could now see.

Before leaving the surgeon does a quick check of your eyes. He also told me that the numbing drops would soon wear off and I would start to feel a little uncomfortable. I didn’t care. I gave him the biggest hug, not sure if I was meant to but hey, he helped me to see and I was feeling super grateful. In total from walking in the door to walking back out again took around 2 hours. I was sent home with my take home pack and some pain killers and sleeping tablets to take when I got home. The best thing to do is sleep for the first 4 to 6 hours. I wore my non prescription sunglasses home. It did feel more comfortable to keep my eyes shut while we drove home but I kept opening them because I was so blown away by being able to read the street signs. My husband said I kept freaking him out because everything would be quiet while I had my eyes shut then I would open my eyes and yell out the name of a random street sign I could see.

My husband dropped me at home and I took the tablets straight away, popped the shields on and climbed in to bed. He then went to pick up the children and kept them out until bed time so that I could stay asleep. Bless him.

I woke up at about 11pm and got out of bed for maybe 20 minutes. I had no pain. Only a slight gritty feeling in a few spots in each eye. It really wasn’t that bad. I went back to bed and in the morning the gritty feeling was gone.

Now get this, I was able to drive my kids to school the next morning and then drive myself to my follow up appointment. WITHOUT GLASSES. Driving to school I was in complete shock at how blue the sky was and how green the leaves on the trees were. I had no idea how many shades of green there actually was. My glasses and lenses had never allowed me to see colour like this.

My follow up appointment the next morning went really well. The surgeon said it was text book perfect. He actually didn’t believe me when I told him I had no discomfort whatsoever. I am so super grateful for this. You have to be careful not to rub your eyes (hence wearing shields to bed) as apparently you can move the flap if you rub too hard. This can be fixed though it’s just obviously not ideal. I made sure to wear sunglasses every time I stepped outside to help reduce the chances of any dust blowing in to my eyes and making me need to rub them. I think the shields only need to be worn for the first five nights but I wore them for just over a week.

When I went back for my six week check up I had my vision tested and my eye sight was better than 20/20! Even a few months ago which was well over a year since my procedure I still have perfect vision. I am so grateful for the experience I had. I know that lasik surgery is quite costly but now that I have the gift of perfect sight I realised that $6000 was a bargain. If you are considering this procedure, check with your health fund as some do cover some of the costs.

Mental Health Days – for kids.

My teenager hasn’t been herself. I had put it down to, well being a teenager really. I remember being that age where your hormones are all over the place and you have that very strong sense that you know as much, if not more than your parents. Cause they’re so old and the world has changed so much since they were young that they are outdated, therefore their opinion is completely invalid. Ok, I do sincerely hope that my daughter doesn’t have these thoughts about me, but I know that I had them about my parents at her age.

It’s easy to dismiss what our kids are actually thinking and feeling deep down. Quite often they’ll come home from school (all talking at once) and you catch glimpses of what homework they have to complete, how they went on that test and “who said what” and “who did what” at school. Sometimes I find myself nodding, smiling, trying to log and acknowledge what each of them have said to me. Meanwhile my brain is saying “Mel take note of when I have to rsvp for that party, remember you’re rostered on as fruit mum for soccer, remind Stella to take her flute for her lesson, get Chad the green apples, tell Isla her singing lesson has been switched around, damn it! I was meant to get Cash new insoles for his soccer boots today!” This is all on the short drive home from school.

Because we do bare such a big load for our kids (don’t get me wrong we’re mums, we’re meant to do this), sometimes we can be a bit blazé when they seem to be having a hard time. Most times with younger children their “big” problems can be solved with a little chat and a big cuddle. “There there, it’ll be alright, I’m sure it will be better tomorrow.” I mean how hard can a kids life be right?! I practically run it for you. Anyway back to my daughter. My husband went away last week for five days. It was hectic. To all the single mums out there I take my hat off to you superwomen!! Four kids needing to be in four different places over the weekend, and my daughters behaviour wasn’t like anything I’d ever seen before. Don’t get me wrong she has her moments but anyone who knows her knows that she is generally a very gentle, polite, caring soul. She was lashing out at the smallest things. The thing that rattled me the most was that there was a few things she said to me in some of her outbursts that gave me flashbacks to being her age and doing the exact same thing. It was as if I suddenly remembered what it was like having all of those pent up feelings and frustrations and remembering how hard and confusing of a time it is being a teenager. And that was before social media was a thing!!

We sat down after the other kids had gone to bed and she let it all out. She was in a state of complete overwhelm. Teachers, assignments, friends, not friends, name calling, grades, not feeling heard, not feeling good enough. It broke my heart because to her it is all so big and real. We talked it all out (for a few hours), we were both completely exhausted by the time we were done but I needed it as much as she did. I needed the reminder. What’s small to us is huge to them. What we have learnt with age and experience to ignore or not give a second thought to, they can’t think about anything else. When we were finished talking she asked if she could have the next day off of school. She said “Mum I really feel like I just need a day.” I totally understood, I’ve had those days. We all have them. The next morning I took the other three children to school, rang the office and said “My daughter will be absent today, she’s having a mental health day.” The schools response was “say no more, we absolutely understand we’ll mark her as away”. When we got home we went for a big walk in the rain to a cafe for breakfast and she spent the rest of the day doing assignments and watching a bit of tv. No we can’t actually stop time but I truly feel that taking ‘a day’ every now and then is the closest thing to hitting the pause button on life. Our little people need it, just as much, if not more than we do.

Ready or not – here I come!!

I started this blog back in January 2016. Something had shifted inside of me. I was done with hiding, self pity, shame & over all feeling unworthy. Unworthy for those around me and in general….the world. I was 33, had been married for 15 years, had 5 children (one in heaven) and had made the great escape from the cult I was raised in. I thought this surely made me a grown up, yet the child inside of me was constantly terrified of being wrong or being judged.

I have no doubt that stems back to my upbringing in a place where we were taught to strive even though it could never be enough. We had to “hope & pray” that despite all of our reading, praying & attending that God would let us in those pearly gates in the end. I carefully followed the rules set out by the organisation desperate to please & be accepted. Yet I never felt that I was good enough. But I’ve spent years overcoming that.

Anyway back to my original story. So I started this blog after a massive life overhaul in the hopes of talking things out & maybe even resonating with some. I wrote one blog & when it came to renewing my subscription decided to close it down. Cause you know, I wasn’t enough. So I spent the last few years waiting to become “enough”. In other words waiting for internal & external circumstances to change. Like there was some sort of checklist that I couldn’t quite master. You know like obviously I had to have a hot bod, drive an amazing car, have a fabulous house and only wear the latest fashion. I also had to have some sort of degree in something so I could share my wealth of knowledge with the world. Yet I’m forever teaching my kids to be themselves and come at the world as they are! Practice what you preach mum!! So here I am! With my body that looks like it’s carried & birthed 5 babies and indulged in a little too much pizza, my banged up mini van cause you know, kids and “driving by feel”. My half renovated house that is too small for the 6 of us & my Target store clothes cause quite frankly it’s affordable and while my “not thigh gap” continues to rub together & make holes in my pants, I refuse to spend over $35 on a pair of jeans!!

As far as the degree goes well I’m half way through completing one titled “Life” so there’s that. I have a few things to share that some could relate to. You see life is not black and white. It’s all the colours you can see and even some you can’t. Just as the trees change colour according to the season, so do our lives. It’s all beautiful in its own way, just never same as the season before or the one to come.