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That time when I realised that I was a tumbleweed

A friend of mine told me a little something recently about tumbleweeds. Apparently, even having been all dried up, shrivelled and blowing around the desert for an untold amount of time, when they land in the right conditions and are fed and watered the right way, they burst back to life.

Amazing right?

It then occurred to me that my own life very much mirrors that of a tumbleweed. I was lost for a very long time and most certainly not thriving, then I changed my conditions and low and behold, I burst back into life.

A lot of people who didn’t know the tumbleweed me might find it hard to reconcile that I was once living a very different life to the one I share with you all today. Just as we can all burst into life in the right conditions, we can go the other way also.

There is a very personal part of my story that I recently realised I haven’t really talked in much detail about: how I found myself in an abusive codependent relationship for 12 years.

I am only sitting here writing this because I was inspired by the love and determination of others, so I felt it was time for me to share some of that story in the hope that it might offer someone else the same. I share this as a message of hope.

What I hadn’t expected was the challenge I faced in writing it. The last draft I wrote  turned into some kind of white paper on domestic abuse where I academically removed myself from the story. Trouble is; I can’t remove myself from this story. I can’t make it academic. I just have to make it real. So here it is.

My name is Ruth Penfold and I was in a codependent abusive relationship for 12 years.

I met my ex husband when I was just 19. I was living in Bristol, having grown up there, and was struck by this guy that seemed so worldly (he’d just moved back from London). I was infatuated. He was five years older than me. When I look back, within the first week of meeting him, my alarm bells should have been ringing. There was so much about him that made me feel anxious, but those feelings could well have been ‘love’ for all I knew, so I dove in deeper.

He very quickly learnt my operating model and what was likely to worry me the most, and then used that data to begin to take control of my world. Who I saw, where I went, what I wore. This was where I gradually lost myself. After about six months of dating I moved to London to start university. It provided the perfect foundation for him to encourage me to let go of any of the friendships that I had created during my teenage years.

From the deep understanding he gleaned early on of my blueprint, he was also able to show me just enough care to boost me enough to stay. Like a child starved of affection, those well timed little gestures felt like the most magnificent thing of all. A ruffle of my hair and my heart felt full, even if just for that moment. Those tiny little sporadic scraps of love sustained me for 12 years.

Very quickly we established a relationship that existed entirely on his terms. He would constantly break promises and was controlling and jealous. At the time my 19 year old self put that down to infatuation or ‘love’. It’s nice to feel wanted right…? My life with him became an island, and any relationships I sustained at that time were purely superficial, even with my family. I kept the world at arm’s length.

People who met me during that time would have found me cheery enough, when the truth is, I was living in a constant state of hyper anxiety, never quite knowing what he was going to do next.

I wasn’t passive this whole time by the way. I actually called him out on his behaviour often. The sass you see today was still there somewhere. Each time I did, he managed to fire it back in my direction with such force that I would either just be afraid of what he might do, or I’d end up feeling like I’d done something wrong. The fear hit me on a multitude of levels actually; fear of his reaction in the moment, fear of what he might do later but also the fear that he might just leave and not come back. Crazy right?

When you are in this kind of relationship, on some level you know what’s happening, but you just become paralysed in it. You are terrified of what they might do when they are there, but you are even more terrified of them leaving you. You are on the island that you have co-created and you don’t know how to get off. You lose your grip on reality and allow yourself to be tossed around by your partner and their myriad of emotions, you fall down a rabbit hole of codependence and you can’t find your footing to scramble back out.

I read somewhere recently that it takes you seven times longer to leave an abusive relationship. That makes sense to me. People often ask me that question; ‘Why didn’t you just leave?’. The truth is, I was in so deep it didn’t even occur to me. Until near the very end, it didn’t even cross my mind.

My path to freedom

In 2007, nine months before I got married, I met my now best friend Emily. She jumped into my world and forced a friendship in a way that others hadn’t been able to. She saw a light within me that had all but been extinguished and found a way to penetrate my exterior and find a way in. She gently managed to inspire me to dare to consider a different kind of life by encouraging tiny loving steps and changes in the way I was living and importantly, the way I regarded myself. Even though she only got to see a fraction of the life I was actually living, it was enough for her to see even at a glance that I was in a very dangerous place indeed.

I am thankful for her friendship and her unapologetic determination each and every day.

Over the next three years I continued to be inspired by the people I came into contact with until finally I’d grown big enough within myself to be brave enough to even consider leaving. In that time I’d lost 3.5 stone in weight, and the view I’d held on myself had begun to shift. The voices within grew louder and stronger, but it took coaching to help me respond to them.

In November 2010, though still terrified by doing so and what the repercussions might be, I finally left.

I’ve spent the last decade rebuilding myself from the inside out and learning to make better choices, blessed by the love and support of my family and closest people. It has taken a lot of work to learn new thought patterns and behaviours. Though my work here is far from done, I have managed to build a whole new life for myself: one with love at the very heart of everything. My tumbleweed is flourishing and alive once more.

Some thoughts on codependency

In a codependent partnership, there is typically someone who adopts the taking role, and someone who adopts the giving role. The taker is often the abuser and the giver is often the abused. Both parties are operating from a place of deep personal pain, but the taker directs that pain towards others, often cruelly, whereas the giver holds that pain deep inside as an emptiness to be filled, no matter the cost.

All beings are born with the same default setting of love and goodness, things can just go a little wonky from there, when our childhood experiences form our ability to relate to the world around us. Both parties therefore learn their operating model from a place of fear, and it’s that fear that gives rise to the dysfunction between two people.

To completely avoid these kinds of scenarios, we need to get better at supporting our children to grow with a more complete sense of self. To grow without the feeling of emptiness that so many of us arrive in adulthood trying to fill, to operate from a place of security over fear.

As long as the more holistic cure eludes us, for those of us that are already at adulthood, it’s important that we become aware of the early warning signs of abuse so we can treat the symptoms in the interim and move away from the stranglehold of codependency.

So whether you are experiencing this first hand or whether you notice a shift in the behaviour of a friend, here are some of the things I would look out for:

Sign 1: Manipulation and fear

Just like in my case, the taker is super wily and will quickly learn the blueprint of how you operate and what matters most to you. They learn quickly what hurts you the most and how to use it to maximum effect. They find your monsters, learn what feeds them and use that knowledge as a means of control. You might notice changes in the way your friend behaves or what they start saying yes and no to.

Sign 2: Isolation and control

To really start to gain control of someone, they have to remove you from the world that they found you in. Whether they know it consciously or not, their desire is to truly possess you. That can start small at first, it did with me. It started with comments and judgements of the friends I had, with a campaign against them and their suitability as friends. Does this resonate for you? Are you aware of someone who dived into a relationship and you hardly saw them again?

Sign 3: Becoming a shadow of your former self

He would bark at any man who looked my way, even by accident. Gradually I learnt to make myself invisible. I put on weight, wore no make up and dressed in shades of beige and brown until I’d all but disappeared. I just found myself glibly choosing the path of a quiet life and stopped wearing things that might ‘gain attention’.  This is one of the most obvious signs; the physical manifestation of deep unhappiness.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or have someone close to you whom you are worried about, there are a myriad of wonderful support groups who can offer more practical support like Refuge, who have a 24 hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Place yourself in the wrong conditions and it’s very easy to find yourself in the middle of a relationship that doesn’t serve you. It can happen to anyone, but I also want to remind you that this doesn’t have to be your life forever. Change is always possible and however painful it might seem, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing compared to what you are living right now.

Instead use this as your catalyst to start creating a new set of conditions for yourself and see if you can find a way to allow your tumbleweed to flourish once more.

That time when I came to the end of a decade

The end of a decade is significant moment in time that makes a lot of us reflect over the past one. As I look back over the past 10 stretch, it’s funny for me to think sometimes that my life hasn’t always been this way. For those who stumble across me for the first time, you might make the same assumption also.

The truth is that in 2010 something magical happened: I ejected myself out of the life that I had created and built a whole new one, a new one with love at its core.

The journey hasn’t been an easy one, but my goodness it has been entirely worth it. Each and every year I feel like I get a little closer to my truer sense of self. Each and every year, whatever the headlines might have read in my life at the time (we all have dramatic headlines right!?), I have felt truly blessed and thankful to be right where I am, living and learning.

The question that I have kept asking myself along the way is: How do I keep bringing more and more love to each and every thing thing I do?

Indulge me for a moment whilst I track back through those years for a hot minute, and share with you the various stages of development. Like the evolution of Penfold. My path to wellness. My path to whole body livingness.

I’ve also punctuated each year with a song that captured my heart that year just for funsies… you can take the girl out of Shazam but you can’t take Shazam out of the girl after all.

2010: Swim Good, Frank Ocean. The year that I forced myself to accept the reality that I had been fighting against; that I had chosen to place myself in the middle of an abusive relationship for the past 12 years and I needed to leave. With the help of coaching I finally left in the November of that year, filed for divorce and left the home that I had built behind. In writing this post, I realised this is a whole post of it’s own, so my next blog post will go into a little more detail on domestic abuse.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse or have someone close to you whom you are worried about, please reach out to me. I am not an expert on this matter beyond my lived experience. There are a myriad of wonderful support groups who can offer more practical support like Refuge, who have a 24 hour helpline on 0808 2000 247.

2011: Heartbeat, Nneka. This was the year when I managed to crawl back into life. I landed into this year completely shell shocked, and set about trying to establish some semblance of normality. I was afraid both of my past and of my future so I spent a lot of that time drinking too much alcohol. Somewhere within that I also allowed space for the friendships that became like family to grow. The possibilities that lay in front of me felt overwhelming, so I tried to stay safe with a small core group of people. After six months of turbulence I settled into a new flat and started to find my feet, but the struggle was real.

2012: Get Free, Major Lazer. With growing confidence, I started to make decisions that served me. This started with stopping drinking alcohol and caffeine completely, and was the beginning of my commitment to food choices that truly support my body (which I’ve later iterated on). I’d suffered from stress and food induced IBS throughout my 20’s, and I had pretty much fixed it by this point. I was still searching in earnest for an identity. I thought I’d found it in the art world. I started to let people call me Ruthie; a move that I now see was borne of fear, I felt it made me smaller and easier for the world to stomach somehow. I started to meet people, lots of people, and allowed my instinctive curiosity to flourish.

2013: Change, Natty. I came to the realisation that I wasn’t going to find what I was looking for outside of myself, but I struggled to find my way in. With the help of coaching, I managed to make some choices that supported me better, but I still lived to support others rather than myself. I’d thrown myself into the art world fully, and was doing that work alongside a busy day job. I joined Shazam at the end of that year and found a new obsession. Shazam captivated my imagination and I gave everything I had to build out the right foundation for that business. Where I grew at this time was mainly in professional confidence and competence. I arrived awash with imposter syndrome, but I was able to produce great work there that meant I was able to let some of that go.

2014: Live Your Life, Yuna. First new love. I started dating and started to try to find a way to share my world with others. It was pretty gnarly. The protection and independence I’d created to leave the relationship of my 20’s made it super hard to let love in. Honestly, at this time I simply wasn’t able to. I’d just started to show myself signs of love (baby steps), and the idea of another person truly loving me was more than I could fathom. So I guess you could say that this year I could see/smell/taste the delights that life truly had to offer, but I was still falling short of experiencing them fully. The song truly punctuates that for me, I can remember walking along listening to it, joy rising inside me, but very much living vicariously through the joyful experiences of others.

2015: Florasia, Taylor McFerrin. This was the moment I started to heal from the troubles I had experienced in earlier life. I started to see Sara Williams and began to connect to myself though sessions with her. That work was the beginning of the path towards gentleness and a deeper audit of the smaller details about how I was living. I got a taste of meditation here, and learnt what it felt like to connect to myself fully. I started to exercise and feel the strength grow within my body. I rented my first flat solo that year, which was a big bold step at the time, for someone who had up until that time been in a tiny box room feeling like that was all I needed (and deserved actually). The song captivated my imagination, and sparked a greater curiosity for the love that might be available to me.

2016: Lite Weight, Anderson Paak. The path towards gentleness continued with a sharp segway into some fairly aggressive yoga. It took me a while on this path to find the ability to slow down and breathe and find more of a balanced practice. I learnt how to meditate alongside this with Sara at her then clinic, being part of that group I learnt so much about rest and recovery, and though a well established early riser by this point, became much more committed to rhythms and schedules for my body. This was where my meditation practice truly began, and I started to learn myself and my reactions to things from the inside. The song captured my heart with its effervescence of spirit but with the deeper message of ‘there’s no reason to be afraid’.

2017: Tawo, Jordan Rakei. I took the meditation work a little further by getting involved in the ‘Just Breathe Project’ with Michael James Wong. I also did a little more speaking therapy at this time, as I began to wonder whether the walls I had built around my heart were going to allow the right kind of love in. My goal at this time was to embrace vulnerability, and learn to live less in my alpha driving mode. My world felt joyful though, and I got better at making quick decisions on things that weren’t serving me. I was in the groove at Shazam and seeing the impact I was able to create. The song captivated me and my feeling of being blessed by my experiences.

2018: Morning After, dsvn. I continued to work to try and find the space to enjoy the path of walking alongside another person. I joined Onfido, and could see the aching need for some of the work I was doing personally from a business standpoint – meditation, connection, care. It was like the stars were aligning for me again professionally speaking and like all the learnings were coming together in a brilliant way. My side note is that I’d also thrown myself into my work here in a fairly unhealthy way, which my obsessive streak is a little prone to. I was able to draw upon the toolkit I had created and dial up on meditation and other work to support myself at this time.

2019: Told You So, Miguel. I started this year with the goal of ‘being’ over ‘doing’ and I failed miserably. I am one of life’s do-ers and that’s hard to change. This whole time, even when it was detrimental to me, I’ve ridiculously overachieved at the thing I’ve set my mind to. So I finish the year with renewed intent. To live, to love, to breathe. To go deeper. To find more space. To slow down. I’ll let you know how I get on with that. The song is fabulous, but also carries the message for me that we actually always know what’s right for us, I knew it at the start of the year, but still carried on diving into the waves of doing. There’s a great question we can ask ourselves most of the time when we embark on a new project: ‘What are we going to ‘learn’ six months from now that we already know today?’.

I continue my work on the spectrum of love, sorting through myself and my ways of working to configure myself in the optimum way to truly thrive. I also carry that quest into the businesses that we are supporting within the Launchpad, to help them build the right experience for themselves and their people.

My intention is to fill the next decade with even more LOVE. Love is, after all, the most precious thing that we have my friends; love for ourselves and love for each other (and boy does our world need more of that now).

Happy new decade beautiful people.

That time I embraced my inner child

We all feel fulfilment from having a sense of purpose in life, a sense of feeling useful, and like what we do in the world has value. As employers, it’s important for us to tell our story of what our purpose is, who we are and what we stand for, but to allow the openness for that story to evolve with the people that work within our businesses.

This was very much the theme of the Changeboard Future Talent conference at the end of March. Honestly, its one of the best conferences I attend each year.

Alain de Botton is an exceptional philosopher and I am lucky enough to have heard him speak twice now. He’s also hilariously funny. The humour will be lost in translation here I’m sure, but I felt like I should share some his brilliant musings with you good people.

Building on the theme of openness, how do we then create that in our own lives and that of our businesses?

The workplace is a place where a lot of our immaturities show up the most in terms of the way we react and interact with others. Ask someone to speak about what annoys them about their work, and you will almost invariably see them light up and launch into a tirade of some sort, perhaps along the lines of; this person said this, they did that on purpose and so on. Sound familiar?

The truth is; emotional intelligence is just as important as all the other knowledge systems, if not even more so, but we often aren’t taught about it as children. We progress through our school systems focused on learning other skills, and only generally learn this stuff by innate ability, by chance, or by having some kind of life altering epiphany and making a choice to put in the ‘work’ to learn it.

When we learn to see our fellow humans as their inner children expressing from a place of vulnerability, it becomes much easier to view interactions lovingly and prevent their escalation from your own childish reactions (essentially the reaction of your own inner child to theirs, then press repeat, and so it goes on).

An act of love therefore, is the willingness to look beneath the tricky exterior and love and forgive anyway, whatever the interaction. To look at the person through a forgiving lens as if they were your beloved three year old, who didn’t mean to cause the harm they had with whatever they had done.

What we need as leaders and organisations therefore is a blanket admission of our collective deficiencies more along the lines of:

  • We are all a little crazy.
  • We are all hurt.
  • We are all anxious.
  • We are all vulnerable.

From that platform of openness, we can learn to take pride in our emotional milestones, share more, forgive more and generally create better working environments and more space for growth. For all of us.

The trouble is, in our modern world, we have created the perfect platform for a ton of distraction. We spend so much time not in tune with ourselves, it becomes near impossible to create that honesty with others.

So what we need first is to create better relationships with ourselves. I have found a number of ways of creating that environment for growth for myself, the most significant have been:

  • Daily meditation and space for connection to myself, space for thought, space for reflection.
  • Turning off distractions when travelling around the world, just be you with your breath and the humans you live amongst. Take a break from your screen, your music, your newspaper.
  • Stopping anaesthetising against feeling ‘stuff’ with food and other mind altering substances.
  • Sharing my challenges with others, and creating the space for people to do that with me in return.
  • More recently, taking the time to read and be inspired by others.

Once we create the foundation of knowledge of self to build upon, we are better equipped to teach, learn and grow. Alain speaks of the importance of teaching, from all of us, to the world around us, and that essence of love is to teach someone something – and learning is just as beautiful.

If as leaders, rather than our people seeing us as strict or severe and feeling wary of us, we were able to say; ‘I’m not evil, I’m just worried’, we would create a much stronger bond with our people, and a platform for mutual support and forgiveness. We would also have far greater opportunity to learn from one another.

We are all emotional creatures and we must not try deny our fragility. Especially as leaders. We just need to work on our self knowledge first to be able to share ourselves with our organisations.

As for me; I continue work on my knowledge of self and my own child-like reactions every day (and I will always remain a work in progress). I take pride in bringing my real self to my team at work. That person is honest, vulnerable, silly and a little eclectic but also strong, passionate, brave and supportive. They get the lot, and that’s a whole lot of Penfold haha.

If you are reading this and considering where you might be able to bring a little more realness, a little more ‘you’ to your day to day interactions, then why not take the opportunity to try doing so. For you and for the people around you.

And if you ever get the chance to see/hear Alain speak in real life, I highly recommend you do that too.

That time when I unearthed a total badass 

I read an amazing book recently. Scratch that. I discovered an amazing human recently. Sure, I’d heard her name and her legend somewhat. But until I took the time to read her book; Lean In, I really had no idea of how exceptional this human is. She’s a total badass.

That person is Sheryl Sandberg.

What makes her so exceptional is the abundant realness. Realness is unbelievably important to me. The realness in saying; hey, this is me, I go out and I do the best I can, each and every day. I rise to life’s challenges. I am grateful. I am evolving. I am far from perfect. But I am real.

I am unashamed about my realness. In fact, it’s one of the things about me I am most proud of. I am lucky that I work for a company that absolutely celebrates and embraces that.

One of the biggest comments I seem to get over and over again when I write my blogs is someone thanking me for my honesty and candour – and I’m always slightly surprised by this each time.

We owe it to one another to keep it as real as possible. To share our stories, our triumphs over adversity, but also to be transparent about our journey and our struggles, acknowledging what it might have taken for us to get where we are.

Sandberg absolutely captures the essence of the internal dialogue I have had with myself as a woman and I know that will be the same for many others. I can’t speak for men on this subject, but I know that myself and the many different brilliant females I am proud to know, are hard on ourselves in just the way she describes.

She talks of the difference in the way that women describe their experiences vs. men. She talks about how a woman will usually only apply for a job if she is completely convinced she ALREADY has the skills they are looking for. Rather than throwing caution to the wind and applying anyway, which Sandberg suggests, is the male approach.

Women only feel truly comfortable when rising via merit, when someone says; hey you have earned this promotion, here you go, its yours. The reality though is that we need to get a whole bunch better at taking it. Leaping for the opportunities that scare us a little. I know that’s what I did with my role at Shazam.

I have recently called myself to account on is the way I present my ‘career story’ to the world, and the way I have allowed my own detrimental inner dialogue to steer that. I may have even written some of my blog posts from that very standpoint.

Someone asked me earlier this week how I had ‘managed to land a job like Shazam’ – with a very barbed emphasis on the how – having come from an external recruiting background. I laughed along with them, and explained how I’d been extremely lucky to meet the person that brought me into Shazam, and how grateful I am that I did. And it is true. I am both of those things.  But what I should have articulated was that I got my role on merit.

I need to get better at being clear about that with myself and the rest of the world that: 

  • I got here because I was able to cope with the pace, and the amount of change that a company like Shazam goes through.
  • I got here because my small company background, meant that I have been conditioned to operate positively and swiftly whatever the day might bring.
  • I got here because I am a problem solver, first and foremost; there’s nothing we can’t fix with a bit of thought.
  • I got here because I am tenacious, and took Shazam into my heart. I thrive here because I work my ass off to help create an effective recruiting function that provides the people that Shazam needs to fly.
  • I got here because I took every opportunity that entered my peripheral vision and grabbed it with both hands.
  • I got here because I live with the focus of continued development, of self and everything around me.
  • I got here because I make a choice every day to be happy, and to be the best version of me I can possibly be.

The role might have been presented to me, but I won it and made it permanent. I also made the connection with the brilliant human that reached out to me for the role in the first place. 

I didn’t just lean in, I dived in. I created (and continuously evolve) great processes. I developed (and continuously develop) new initiatives. I built a team that has assembled an exceptional collection of humans that deliver amazing work and help make Shazam the very best business it can be.

What is your ‘story’? How do you allow your internal dialogue to colour the way you present yourself to the world?

We all need to get better at being our own cheerleaders and we can work together to help us all improve on our internal dialogue. We need to hold each other to account when we can see and perceive negative attitudes towards self. I am blessed to have a rich and diverse group of friends that work to hold ourselves and each other to exactly that. Male and female. 

In the work context, we can also make sure that credit is taken where credit is due. If we can see that someone isn’t comfortable in claiming their own, we can lovingly point it out and help them along their way. We need to celebrate one another’s successes abundantly. We are all badasses.

And the next time someone asks me how I ‘managed’ to secure my role at Shazam, I hereby make a pact with myself to become better at being my own advocate, at celebrating my own badassery. I will simply reply; because I am a badass.

That time when I discovered that I am ‘enough’

I love the Facebook page Humans of New York. So often there are people and posts on there that inspire something within me. Today I read a post that did just that, it said: 

“I came to New York to forget about him. We did everything together. We cooked together and studied together and we even had our own song: ‘Toi and Moi’ by Guillaume Grand. He didn’t like birthdays, so I was the only one he told and I’d bake him a little cake. On Valentine’s Day, we spent the whole day walking around Paris together. It seemed like so many times he was about to kiss me but he’d always pull back. It made me wonder what was wrong with me. I’ve had scoliosis since I was a baby, and I’m fine with it now, except when it comes to guys. Because I always end up thinking that if maybe I was taller, they would like me. So if I had known he was gay from the very beginning, it would have hurt so much less, because I wouldn’t have spent so much time thinking about what was wrong with me.”

Your self esteem becomes eroded when you are with a person who doesn’t want to be with you. It doesn’t matter why they don’t want to be with you, or why you don’t fulfil them, the fact is you don’t. 

I know this because I have lived it. I was with a person for 12 years who was habitually unfaithful with other women. I wasn’t brave enough to face it fully until I was brave enough to leave him. I knew what was happening each and every time it happened, and often asked him about it, but was happy to swallow the set of cleverly orchestrated lies and emotional blackmail I was given, each and every time. I had no love for me, and filled that void with each false promise he gave. 

I am not the victim of this story. I chose to stay. But living in such a manner for such a pro-longed about of time, meant that I was left with no self esteem at all. Instead of being able to view it objectively and say: this person isn’t right for me, instead I, along with many, defaulted to: ‘what is wrong with me?’.

This question festered in my soul for the entire time I was with him. I could never understand why I wasn’t enough for him. Instead of leaving, I gave him more. I tried to be the best wife ever, provide the best home ever, cook the best food ever, in the hope that I would one day become ‘enough’.

You will never be enough for that person. You have to choose to leave and you have to realise that the world won’t end when you do, because actually, you will be able to create a world for yourself that is more wonderful than you ever imagined. Once you do, you will never allow yourself to live under those terms again.

What you need to do is become ‘enough’ for yourself. 

My journey towards becoming ‘enough’ for me started with the explosion of someone new into my world. Someone who showed me that life could be different, that you should/can live an amazing life, full of love for yourself and that in turn, you can be tremendously happy. That person became my best friend.

I met her 9 months before my wedding. Before that I hadn’t really let a friend be a friend to me for years, keeping everyone at arms length. She refused to be kept there. She saw all the possibilities buried deep within me, and encouraged me to look at my life as it was and to strive for better, in all senses. One of the first things she successfully encouraged me to do was to leave the role I was then working in. When I did and I joined a new company, I was exposed to working with men who loved their wives and treated them wonderfully, showing me something I’d forgotten existed. She continues to challenge, inspire and support my evolution to this day and I couldn’t love her more for it. 

I still married him. But I had started to listen to what she had to say and my journey towards love had begun.

Another important part of my evolution came in the form of weight loss. I met someone at my new job who was doing Weight Watchers. Inspired by her, I lost 2 and a half stone over 6 months, and have kept it off to this day. Suddenly the world started to view me differently, and so did I (I will write a separate post about this at some stage).

I had been ignoring my intuition for a long time – my head, my heart and my gut. Gradually though I became acutely aware that something was wrong for me in how I was living but I had lived for this person for so long, I still could not see it was him.

My then boss, seeing that I was at some kind of crossroads, introduced me to a wonderful woman called Zofia Sharman and she became my coach. At first I did not want to hear what she had to say. It was 3 months after my first meeting with her before I was brave enough to do a second. De-constructive coaching is a wonderful thing. It helps people who have chosen to live like me, to clear away all of the emotional debris, and re-connect with who they really are and what they really want. My first meeting with her was in July and by November, I had walked out of my life, and had taken the biggest step of all towards building and finding a new one. 

I am ‘enough’. I continue to be inspired by the wonderful people in my world each day and am grateful to every single one that does. I believe you meet the people you are meant to meet in this way, right at the time you are meant to meet them.

I am proud of my story, and am delighted to tell it to those who ask and are interested, in the hope of inspiring them to become ‘enough’ for themselves.

Let us all check in with who we are in our current relationships, whatever that relationship might be. By choosing to remain in damaging relationships, we are preventing each other from realising true happiness, from being ‘enough’. Don’t be afraid to be the one who chooses to let it go, because letting go was THE best thing I ever did.