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A Positive Start

Saturday morning, its 6am and the sun is streaming through the crack in the curtains.  With a hot cup of black coffee in hand, I sit down at my computer in my home-office (aka spare bedroom),  as is my usual routine. I’m fully intent on mapping out my explanations of why the Funding providers should consider funding our project aimed at Improving people’s Lives.  I’m  preparing for the scheduled meeting due to happen in a few days time.

I struggle to articulate my purpose, which  has led to a succession of unsuccessful funding applications, so the pressure is most definitely on. My inability to impress the funders has stifled our project since relocating to the Borders and since my failure doesn’t only impact me,  It’s important I get it right.

With a background in sales and marketing,  it seems ridiculous to me that I never struggle selling other peoples ideas, yet have issues selling my own. Of course, I recognise these to be lingering remnants of long-held limiting beliefs – ‘imposter syndrome’, the aftermath of the trauma, something I help others to recognise, confront and overcome on a daily basis. Unfortunately,  funding providers don’t know the stories behind projects such as ours, and are unaware of the distance some of us have travelled or the demons that have haunted our souls.

In preparation for the meeting, I write down the three requirements as headings: People -Strength – Connection –  and consider what to write under each…My mind is still preoccupied by the funding officers question; “Your project sounds like its all theory based to me!, what ‘Lived Experience’ do you have that qualifies you to run this project”?
I struggle to know how to answer that, so I respond with “Where do I begin?”

There’s a piece of me that is secretly delighted that the past is no longer obvious, I’ve worked incredibly hard over the years to free myself and lay the ghosts to rest – I know I should be pleased. But there’s a part of me that feels the sting of his assumption. The unfortunate truth is, I am more than qualified, and while I am no longer ashamed of it, its not a conversation I want to have over the phone.

He comes across as dismissive and I get the impression that he’s missing the point and has already written me off. Still, he agrees to have a meeting, the ball is in my court.

As is often the case, when I sit down to write, my mind is redirected. Like a pianist poised for a concert,  my fingers take to the keyboard with gusto and appear to have a will of their own.  They’ve decided  to deliver todays blog post instead, my preparation is put on hold. Avoidance? perhaps, but then we know how these things work, don’t we? The blog is In the beginning, or a positive start as it transpires to be…

The idea for A Positive Start began at least ten years before the CIC.  I had the bright idea of documenting my ongoing journey of self -discovery and turning it into a training programme for young people. It was my attempt at helping youngsters to circum-navigate the many pitfalls that had plagued my own life. A collection of the harshest of life lessons, that I was in the process of teaching my own children.

Even then, I was still battling the shame of unintentionally putting myself in situations that others labelled as reckless and ‘unhealthy’. Abusive, Violent,  Narcissistic relationships that had almost cost me my life and the aftermath that had held me back for years. If you’re familiar with my blog, you’re probably already aware that by this point in time,  failure was clinging to me like dogger to a blanket and the heavy chains of shame and worthlessness, like unwelcomed squatters, had taken up residence in my soul.

Skint and jobless following yet another disastrous outcome – a non-fault incident at work, (which I’ll leave for another blog), an incident that I shall refer to as ‘ the problems that arise from whistle-blowing’, when doing the ‘right thing’ puts you on the smelly end of the poo stick. With the tribunal hearing over,  and the vulnerable residents now protected from the bad guy, I found myself in the familiar position of feeling like the only option available to me was to quit my job and run.

Familiar territory indeed, revisited many times already.  Anxious and miserable, the feeling of dread made me nauseous, my right leg shaking uncontrollably, as I faced the cold stern face of the job centre trying unsuccessfully to convince the disinterested advisor that I wasn’t the useless, feckless idiot that appeared to be rambling in front of her. Proving your not a moron  is a  difficult task when you happen to be consumed by a compulsion to run away from chaos when all roads lead back to the job Centre – and here I was again, for the umpteenth time, begging bowl in hand – jobless, worthless, potentially homeless – emotionally drained and running on empty.

Back at home, home being a cold, damp rented mid-terrace with an ever-hungry electricity meter, I dropped to my knees, sobbing like a baby- ‘What would I tell the innocent kids?’.  I was so sick of being here, so sick of letting them down – of moving, struggling  – robbing Peter to pay Paul!.  ‘Square one’ had my name printed across it, like a really naff version of Hollywood Boulevards Walk of Fame – for me, this was the familiar walk of shame!

I was exhausted just by the thought of the disapproval that I knew was yet to come. The tutting, rolling of eyes and knowing sideways glances from those who knew me best. ‘Here we go again, the eternal no hoper,  never managing to settle! Expressions that had long screamed  Loser loudly in my head. I hated being me –  I could no longer bare it.

By this point in time, I had been running away and starting again for more than 20 years. My default setting was always to pack up and run. Different faces, different places same old cycle of abusive relationships, same old failed outcomes.

My ‘woe is me’ mentality was now in full swing, I felt sorry for myself as I sat, staring into the abyss – my head banging from trying to work it all out, but still drawing a blank. I was hollow, empty,  I had nothing left to give.

I reached for the pad of sticky notes and felt pen that had been left on the dining room table. I wrote the words ‘WHATS WRONG WITH ME’ in capital letters and stuck the sticky note on the wall in front of me.

It turned out to be an incredibly easy question to answer;




WORTHLESS, HOPELESS, VOICELESS, UGLY, LIAR, GUILT, ASHAMED, UNWANTED, UNTRUSTED, UNTRUSTWORTHY, BORING, ASHAMED, BROKEN …….. the words came thick and fast, 129 sticky notes of emotionally loaded words reflecting the view I held of myself and not a positive word amongst them.

As a I stood back and examined my wall of words – I was shocked. Despite feeling this way for most of my life, the words came as a complete revelation. Oddly enough my body felt lighter!

I had been carrying this reflection of myself around with me like shit in a handbag. How on earth had I come to be here and more importantly – how was I going to change it?

Tomorrow part two –

2. Let the learning begin…….