Trigger warning: parental and sibling death
I’ve hesitated over sharing this online, as my story like everyone’s, is personal. The reason I decided to share was because it is at the core of what I do. It is my ‘Why’. So here’s my story.
When I was 16 my mum died of cancer. 11 weeks later, just 7 days after her 15th birthday, my little sister died of cancer also. It goes without saying that this was an extremely difficult time in my life, and nothing was ever going to be the same again.
My sister and I were really close. We were two years apart and both had the same unruly curly hair. Our mum used to dress us in the same clothes sometimes, and we shared a room right up until she could no longer use the stairs, and had to sleep in a bed my dad begged the hospital to provide for her so she could die at home.
She was funny, sharp, beautiful and obsessed with horses. I liked them too-but not as much as her. When her consultant told us her cancer was back and it was terminal my parents bought her a pony-even though they couldn’t really afford it. We spent our weekends riding. About 9 months later she died. We sold the pony after that. I didn’t really want to ride without her. I’ve only ridden once or twice since then.
My mum also died of secondary cancer. She died knowing that the youngest of her 5 children would join her soon. She was our world and we adored her. She too was funny, sharp, beautiful and creative. And she loved us so much. She loved her friends. She loved my dad and said ‘yes’ when he popped the question only two weeks after their first date.
We grew up in an emotionally privileged home and I am grateful for that everyday.
When we were told that their cancer was terminal I still didn’t quite believe ‘it’ would happen. I still believed that by some miracle they would survive. When they didn’t I was in shock for a long time. I didn’t receive any counselling because I didn’t think I needed it. Coaching was something I had never heard of. I went back to school, took my A Levels and went to University. Looking back I know I was telling myself I was fine. But I wasn’t. Deep down I was keeping myself small, not letting myself believe that magical things could happen to me. I had hoped before and look how that had turned out.
Through working with my coach, the amazing Ray Dodd, and digging very deep and journalling almost every day, I now know that this seminal moment in my life has affected almost every decision I have made since. I went into a job that I knew was safe and that I would be good at, but I knew I wanted to do more. But how could I? I cant dream big. Right? The big magic doesn’t happen for me.
After a lot of work that is still ongoing, I am allowing myself to believe it can happen. I have been too scared to play big but not anymore. You see, I have realised that I HAVE been brave in my life. I was brave to allow myself to fall in love with my husband and have unwavering faith in our marriage. I have been brave enough to be a mother (3 times!). I have been brave enough to leave a job I was very good at because it just wasn’t what I know I needed to do. It wasn’t the thing that fired me up.
So there you have it. That’s my why in all it’s messy, complicated glory.
I cannot allow teenagers, whatever their story, to keep themselves small. I cannot allow them to believe the cultural noise that they are not enough, that adulthood is scary. I cannot allow them to believe that success is measured only by exam results. I cannot allow them to put all their trust into these limiting beliefs.
So that is why I do what I do.