A recent client of mine wrote this lovely chronicle of her own personal journey which I am delighted to publish here. I hope it gives some idea of what therapy and personal development are all about…
GOING FOR GOLD
A personal Journey
The season of change and fresh starts is right here as I pen this piece. Spring has finally arrived bringing with it the opportunity to discover new things and that’s very much what I intend doing in 2018.
Discovering Life Management has brought about the beginning of exciting life changes for me.
Christmas is not my favourite time of year – even when I’m happy – but December 2017 had plunged me into new lows. Lucky to have reached mature years and with elderly parents still just about making it, losing both of them two years earlier had hit me hard.
By the New Year, I had also lost my best buddy, my Labrador to an unexpected stroke which had left me with an overwhelming sadness as all I could do was to watch helplessly as the vet carried out my final act of love from me to my Perro.
I had limped through the festivities and couldn’t wait for the season to be over as I looked forward to the twinkly lights fading to match my depressive mood. In my mind, it wasn’t fair that I was wallowing in darkness whilst everyone else seemed to be doing great at this jolly time with their perfect partners, families and friends in their perfect homes. Others were seemingly celebrating in perfect festive style plucked straight from a Christmas TV ad – and all neatly wrapped up with big shiny bows around their shiny front doors. I was out of the game and almost resigned to believing that it was always going to be like this for me from now on. My spirits were rock bottom and was in no mood for Auld Lang Syne my dear but was longing for a great big cup of kindness.
I was rigid with stress and tension as I constantly fought back the swell of tears which always seemed to be bubbling under the surface. I had suffered a lot and repressed certain things for way too long now and I was near to cracking under the strain of pent up emotions. But somehow I got a grip and realised I needed some professional help. I was looking for someone to talk to who would be neutral, understanding, empathetic and non-judgemental. I wanted and needed that someone to hear me out and listen to all that had gone askew in my life over the last few years.
By coincidence, a few days into January I met up with an old friend who told me he had been having a bit of a rough time of late and happened to mention “this guy in Fairlight” he’d been seeing who had been helping him through his troubles. I latched on to this, got his name, typed it in Google and that’s when I found “Jeff Turner, Life Management.” I made contact with Jeff through his website and that’s when my lifeline began. I had originally thought I was looking for bereavement counselling but what developed over the next few weeks went far deeper as the past came up and bit me on the ankles.
We all need help sometimes
I had lost a husband to alcoholism some 15 years earlier which widowed me at the age of 43. Shortly afterwards, I had fallen straight into the arms of the first person who had shown me just a tad of affection but sadly all this ended up doing was to send me headlong into an abusive relationship. Thankfully, we parted company before he actually killed me but it did leave my bank balance in bits. OK so the guy had messed with my finances and messed with my head but he couldn’t take away my soul could he? – well that’s what I thought at the time.
12 years later Jeff was about to lift the lid on a tinderbox of unresolved issues. Would any counsellor really feel like taking me on?
Jeff answered my call in the time frame his website had promised, and a week later there I was at Oak Lodge being greeted by the most beautiful Weimaraner dog – the one and only Blue whom I had met on screen earlier of course – and he was even more gorgeous in reality. Blue led the way into the house where the most amazing spacious area opened up before me. A room flooded with natural light, and a calming, tranquil atmosphere complete with scenic wintry garden backdrop.
As I entered, the ambience was such that I could not have been further from feeling like I was going to see a shrink. Add a sea view and I had found a little bit of heaven.
My journey into myself had begun. Years of feeling rejected and being surrounded by destructive so-called friends with negative attitude towards me had left me in tatters. My self-esteem was on the floor and I had lost all perspective of who I had become or how I could possibly add value going forward.
With utmost expertise, Jeff immediately got a handle on the mess which was me in the chair opposite. It was immediately apparent that he was carefully constructing a programme for me which was then brilliantly executed over the next few months. The foundations were being laid for how I was going to start underpinning my shaky framework.
Jeff was soon teaching me how to find myself again and renew my relationship with the stranger within me who had evolved over the last 57 years.
I needed to find the old me; the old City career girl who was confident, positive and strong. In my former life as PA to several top flight executives, I had been the personification of the phrase “behind every successful man there stands a woman”. Where had she disappeared to? Not only did I need to find the old me, but I needed to dig deep and unearth an emotion much more alien and uncomfortable – I needed to love myself and even cosy up to the wonderful me inside. That was going to be hard; I’d never felt any of that before, not even when I was flying high.
Through Jeff I learned that I needed to start putting myself at the top rung of the ladder. First and foremost though, I needed to reach out for my own breathing apparatus before even thinking about helping anyone else. I had done it all the other way, putting other people first for decades and just look where that had got me.
In Jeff you find a person who emanates a generosity of spirit and sincerity. Very quickly I realised he was not going to chastise me, look down on me or painfully wash out my injuries with salt water. Quite the opposite. My mental wounds were soon being gently cleansed and healed back to life with kindness, empathy and understanding. The winter sessions at Oak Lodge became a series of naturally relaxing experiences as week by week my muddled head got calmer and calmer with every session.
Along with his formal professional qualifications, Jeff has a “First Degree in Humanity” gained at the “University of Life” – a qualification no grant could ever fund. During our programme Jeff would often share words of wisdom with me which he had picked up along the way from his own peer group. By introducing snippets from his life into our conversations, I felt completely at ease with sharing snippets from mine. He often conjured up pictorial images of various suggestions he put to me making them clearer for me to understand and tailor-made; then he let me loose on them to photo shop however I liked. Jeff makes me feel that it’s all just for me and I’ve never felt that before. That’s what Jeff does; he puts you first and puts you in charge. He facilitates the process with such ease that suddenly you find you no longer have the monkey on your back.
All at sea
When I first met Jeff I explained that I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and dread as if I was lost at sea in my little boat struggling to stay afloat whilst bobbing about helplessly in a wild ocean. As the weeks went by and I started to unwind we talked about how I was going to get some sails to steady me. If I could get a handle on all this I might even arrive at my destination in a 6 berth yacht with washing facilities and champagne in the fridge! That sounded much more like it and even much more like the old me. What a relief; it was all going to be just fine now with Jeff on board.
Some weeks in, Jeff mentioned meditation which he thought I might find useful. I had no knowledge or experience of this but I was very open to the suggestion if he felt I could benefit from all it brings. Three weeks in, I joined the weekly meditation class where I met the group who made me feel extremely welcome and although I was in the company of seasoned meditators, never once did I feel like the new girl. Jeff would go on to teach me about getting into trance, the power of focusing the mind and the resulting relaxation and calmness of mindfulness. 5 sessions on, I have learned about posture, breathing, focus, the “Inner Sanctuary” and the power of using distance, distraction and detachment as useful techniques for dealing with certain situations and that’s just the start!
Letting go of the past
Jeff is also a master hypnotherapist and as he got to understand more about where my adult life had taken me, he explained a hypnotic exercise entitled “Sands of Time” which he thought would really hit the spot on how entangled I was feeling.
In early March, in an induced state of trance (hypnosis), this literally changed my life.
Since that day, I have let go of a load of old baggage I had been carrying for many years and through this exercise I also learned how to release all (I now realise) unnecessary guilt surrounding my husband’s death and the shackles were finally off from that wolf in sheep’s clothing scammer who had cunningly emptied my savings account back in 2006.
This exercise also shone a light on how I was now going to tread the path ahead now I was steady on my feet as I left the rocky road behind. I am delighted to share the experience and my new-found inner freedom; the luggage has now been completely washed out to sea and I am carrying nothing but my own self-worth. I still have a few back-packs to carry but the difference is that I’m now hands-free and the sacks are filling up with heaps of value and high regard for myself so they’re as light as feathers. I hope to get them full to bursting with pride as I travel on my way. I have found the whole meditation experience all of the things Jeff had outlined and I am looking forward to getting better and better as I practise more and more and advance from beginner to intermediate stage.
Making better choices
Another thing to be found in Jeff’s catalogue is his ability to explain succinctly about choices and options and there was never a time when I felt that I was being given a rigid set of instructions which I had to follow. Jeff gave me the tool box and it was up to me to make my selections. Jeff has not only shared my issues but has taught me how to own them and re-label them in the process. Jeff has expertly navigated me through my own maze by handing me the compass and is helping me to point it in the right direction. What we will do as we go along is make adjustments accordingly in response to magnetic variations.
I started my journey in January with a counsellor but several months in, I find I am hitching a ride with my life coach; that’s how much I feel I’ve moved on and all in a relatively short period of time. It’s only taken 3 months to sort out more than a decade! I look forward to every session and to sharing with Jeff how I am growing thanks to his guidance and support.
The finish line in sight
By the end of March I was getting back in control and my self-esteem had improved considerably. I had gone from “no good” to “nearly there” and I now have a clearer idea about where I am heading. I have a strong feeling that I am leaving the caterpillar behind. Worthlessness has morphed into Worthiness and there’s a new creature emerging. We are now working on where I go now with this new me and how I will sustain and manage inevitable future wobbles.
We are working on my story board which is forming the stepping stones for my future ambitious life plan. “If you can imagine it, you can live it” says Jeff; fabulous words for me to cling on to as we watch the butterfly emerging.
We have identified areas for my development (through something called the Wheel of Life exercise) and I am learning that me and only me is the one fully in control of my hopes and dreams. They can be anything I want them to be! Jeff has taught me that I am responsible for myself and it’s OK to make choices that suit me first and foremost (which can be done while still maintaining consideration for others).
This seems so much easier for me now that I have deleted the painful bits from the back story. I finally understand that I am free to edit my future in any way I want to.
Someone once told me that you can’t go back and start a new beginning but you can begin today and create a new ending. I can honestly say that what’s gone is gone for me now and I am feeling new as Jeff is carefully fixing my fragile broken wings and helping me to fly again.
The race is on now and I am up for the challenge as I head for my sixth decade with improved core strength and a spring in my step once more. I am going to again take part in this game called Life with a passion. Like the good old me and not be last year’s version, toppling before even leaving the starting blocks. I feel like the qualifying rounds are behind me and I am in the finals now and I can even see myself on the podium.
When I am awarded my medal for participating in the toughest event, hopefully, the inscription will read: “In pursuit of excellence she put up with the rain and found her Rainbow”.
I am the living proof that anything and everything is possible with the right support and encouragement.
Instead of feeling sad I am now feeling happy – happy and proud to be the person I know I am now after all that’s gone before. Clear on where I am going in the future. Look out world – my place is confirmed and it’s going to be a great summer…..!
Here’s a message to all other self-doubters or to anyone else about to crack – Help is out there!
All you need is a little bit of Jeff, a whole load of Life Management and a dog called Blue.
You too could go for gold!
D.E.T. April 2018