Everyone has a story, there’s a famous quote that we all have a book in us, in our lifetime each one of us will have gone through a book worthy experience, a story worth telling. It might be the thing that defines us, that shapes us, it might be a side story to the main event, it might be entertaining, it might be sad, it might help someone else who is going through something similar.
Our Ladies Who…Connect speaker in March was Juliet Powell from Choice Therapy. Juliet is a counsellor and an adoptive mum to two children who have had a troubled start to their lives. Becoming an adoptive parent is a bit of a package deal, and comes with support workers, social workers, and a raft of opinions about what you can and can’t do, what you should or shouldn’t do. With all the can’ts, won’ts and don’ts Juliet felt strangled. Silenced. So she started writing. And one day there might be a book there. But Juliet realises that her story isn’t just about her. It’s about her children, and some of that story isn’t hers to tell.
And so we don’t talk about it.
We talk about the yesses and no’s of life. And despite what you can or can’t do, what you will or won’t do, often the yeses or the no’s lie in someone else’s hands. The head teacher who tells you your child can’t go to their school. The therapist who tells you not to talk about that.
But what happens when you don’t talk about something? It festers. It builds up. It becomes a thing, this big thing that nobody talks about. It then creates this bubble of secrecy, and whatever it is you’re not supposed to be talking about becomes a bad thing, even if it wasn’t to start off with. Not talking about it, not being able to talk about it creates a stigma around the subject, and taints your thoughts every time you think about it. If you can’t talk about it you probably shouldn’t even be thinking about it. It grows heavy and it wears you down. And suddenly you stop talking about other things too. You retreat away from people.
How many times have you done that in your life? When you are going through a bad time, all you want to do is hunker down and get through it, isolate yourself from the rest of the world, let their smiles pass you by and let that big black hole suck you and your darkest thoughts into its depths.
How do you get out?
That’s the part of Juliet’s story that I find interesting. How she coped and created a support package around her. Taking that first step out of the comforting darkness and into a Ladies Who social event, even if that meant sat in a corner hugging a G&T and not speaking to anyone.
When you hear this you can’t quite believe that this confident, funny woman that you’ve seen at loads of social and networking events was a social recluse not so long ago. Being part of a supportive community is the antidote to isolating yourself at a time when you most need help and support.
You turn up with your baggage and your demons on your shoulder, you sit next to someone who’s demons are a different beast. And you smile. You never know what problems other people are going through at first glance but you can smile at each other. You can find a topic you have in common even if it’s about the slice of cake on the table. And you can forget about that life outside and enjoy the company, the distraction, the diversion from your demons for a short while.
Juliet’s support package spread wider with yoga retreats and craft workshops, rediscovering the pleasure of arts and crafts activities, making some ‘me’ time to do those things she used to enjoy. (This will be different for everyone. For me it’s poetry, the York Spoken Word reigniting my passion for writing.)
Then after you’ve raised head above the parapet of that comfy hole you’ve dug yourself, you are going to need a helping hand to haul you over the top. Here is where you need to give yourself permission to ask for help. And even more difficult can be actually accepting that help when it is offered. I learnt recently that being strong doesn’t mean doing it all on your own, being strong is knowing when to get help.
Asking for help doesn’t make you inadequate, asking for help doesn’t mean you are not good enough.
After everything that Juliet and her family have been through, and as they start to get the help and support they need rather than the can’ts and no’s they don’t need Juliet is well placed to help other parents feeling a similar sense of isolation that may arise from other situations.
As children transition from primary to secondary schools, they start to get more independent, become more advanced with digital technologies you don’t quite understand and bring home homework instructions that are gobbledygook. As a parent you can start to feel isolated and the school run no longer involves mingling with other parents at the school gates, when their friends come over to play you don’t always even know who their parents are, there’s no chatting over coffee or swapping notes. Until now. Juliet’s Parent Social provides that space for parents to chat over coffee and a cake about a variety of topics like social media, exams and relationships. For more information on the next Parent Social check Choice Therapy’s Facebook page.
Ladies Who…Connect in April
Join Ladies Who…Connect on Thursday 21st April at the Hotel Du Vin in York to hear Shelagh Garside’s story. Long awaited by Ladies Who… members as the founder of this social community and director of Curtain Up, Shelagh will be sharing her secrets, how she keeps her business fresh after 11 years and her journey through adversity, pure stubborn minded ambition and the will to never give up – prepare to be inspired!
Buy your tickets here £7.50 in advance or pay £10 on the door.
Another inspiring story from Ladies Who...Connect. This month we were talking about life lessons with Lisa Walker from White Apple Thinking, which follows on nicely from October’s post “Every event ... Read more