My (very personal) story was shared on a podcast recently. I’m a bit of an introvert really, so sharing my story is not something I do. A colleague, Nova Woodrow is a psychotherapist and coach based in Bedfordshire and she has designed her own therapy coaching package called Positive Potential. Part of that package has a series of podcasts, each focussing on a different aspect. We did an interview called Unleash the Positive Potential of Love.
This shares my story of when I stepped up to a level I didn’t know existed. It’s connected to my journey of adopting my two daughters and how I came to be a hypnotherapist and coach.
You can listen to it here. This is the first 16 minutes (the full version is 55 minutes). This gives my story before we start discussion the positive potential of love. If you’d like the full version, let me know!
If you prefer to read, then this the gist of it.
About 15 years ago my husband and I were trying for a family. Things were not straightforward and I still had my sights set on that dream of a family. We went through IVF a few times, which was unsuccessful and eventually decided to adopt.
About 12 years ago we started the adoption process and it was a very long drawn out process (it’s much faster now). Eventually we had two girls come to live with us. They are sisters. They were aged 4 and 51/2 years old.
The adoption process itself it quite a challenge, it’s intrusive, they want to know everything fine detail about you. It’s quite an achievement to just get through that process. Looking back, I was driven by the dream of wanting a family. These days, it’s not a fairy-tale of collecting a little orphan child. They do also say to you ‘we don’t have babies’. We also need to remember that these children have been removed for very significant reasons and it means the circumstances have an effect on that child.
However, I still had a dream of this family, even when the children were placed. There is training about what we might have to deal with. I felt I could cope with that. I’ve been through a lot in life and I thought I could handle this. Nothing really prepared me for what I was about to have to handle with these two girls.
These two frightened girls came into a strange house, strange city, strange smells and had nothing around them that was familiar. The reality was a very steep learning curve (and is for any adoptive parent). Nothing really prepares you for having two small children who are totally reliant on you and also come with their own set of experiences from the way they have been treated and the way they view the world.
We were told they ‘just needed firm boundaries’. This statement really stuck in my head. I felt I could do that. I’ve worked in big businesses, running large offices, I thought I can do firm boundaries. Actually, firm boundaries and getting routines and structure in place was fine. What I didn’t fully grasp was the way that these children would behave and the way they would respond and also the issues that they came with. My eldest has so many special needs that when I have to fill in forms about her there’s not enough space in the boxes to list all her needs. My youngest, I couldn’t get her into school, she was so frightened of the world, of anything outside of our house.
This meant my adoption leave was extended from 6 months to a year, then to an additional unpaid year. They did begin to get a bit more settled, but life was really difficult. It is for any parent, but this was huge. There were meetings all the time, with schools, social workers other professionals who said it was about my parenting style rather than the children.
I wanted to understand what was going on with these children so I went to London for lots of courses and trainings, conferencing and events to find out about what happens with adopted children, with trauma, attachment and early life. I just made perfect sense. I could understand what was going on with these children and everything just clicked in my mind.
However the reality was that even when I went back to work part time after two years it was still difficult to manage. There were so many days it was difficult to get them to school, school would call and ask me to collect them as they were so distressed. Meetings were still ongoing. I had to leave work. I had to leave for the children, for the family, for me.
I had worked since I was 15 years old. What was I going to do? The children were going to go to school some of the time! So I re-trained; thinking carefully about where I could use this knowledge I had and how I could help other people. I retrained intensively as a hypnotherapist and coach. So I felt I could use the information I had about attachment, trauma, fear and early life experiences, but also the knowledge that I had about corporate world in being able to coach people with stress and anxiety in the workplace.
So I set up my own business. Sounds simple!
The Outcome of My Story
I did kind of leap in and book a consulting room for one day a week. At that point, I wasn’t earning anything and we had lost a full corporate salary. So anything I was going earn from this business was better than nothing. So I had nothing to lose! I was coming from a place of nothing so anything was going to be better than that.
That was 5 years ago. My business fits with the needs of the children. It’s not some big multi-million pound earner but I consider it be a success for me. It does depend what success looks for each individual!
My children are also a success. The youngest is at a secondary school and can travel on the bus and get through the school day, so I consider that a success too. My eldest has such special needs which are off-the-scale and her issues and trauma are huge. She now is in a specialist schooling provision and care and we see her periodically. So that’s a lot more to my story than the firm boundaries I thought I was going to get when I adopted them.
I am super grateful of all my therapeutic knowledge, for me, and for the kids, but importantly for me. I probably wouldn’t have managed to do as well as I have or keep this family together without my therapeutic knowledge and without my ability to know how to keep myself right and how to help the girls to be the best that they can be.
If the girls had not come into my life, I would never have seen myself as a therapist, coach or someone into psychology. I am so grateful to the girls for my story, because I do love my job (and them too, of course).
If you want the same tips and tools that have helped me in daily life, then sign up below. These are exactly what I use, at home, in office, even in the supermarket! You can have them too. xx