Making the most of life

Age really doesn’t matter; you can always make positive change in your life.

Mary is 73 years old, and suddenly found herself fleeing her home to live in a women’s refuge. She was at a loss as to how she could help herself climb out of the situation.

‘I had suffered emotional and mental abuse since I was 10; first from my mum who had never liked me. The name she called me was ‘Stupid’. She ruined the relationship between me and my eldest brother on purpose. We were once so close, and he died having not spoken to me for 47 years because mum destroyed that relationship.

And then my husbands treated me badly too. I remember sitting in the refuge knowing I couldn’t go back to my last husband — I had left twice before — and now knew he would never change. I finally left because, whilst I was cooking dinner and chopping vegetables, he suddenly said to me, “Get out of the effing way, you’re always in my effing way. I dare you to stick that knife in me. Why don’t you? You know you want to.

He was pushing himself so hard into me, so I threw down the knife, took the dog and ran. He wanted me to do it, so he could tell everyone how awful I am.’

The first step is often the hardest

Many people find the thought of reaching out for help to be really hard. But once they take that first step, things start to move forward for the better, often very quickly.

‘The refuge provide leaflets of where you can get help. I remember looking at Emma’s leaflet, wondering what Emma could do to help a 73-year-old woman? I put it away. A little while later I unexpectantly found it again — I saw this as an omen.

So I rang her. But I had an attitude! I was quite aggressive, asking how she could help me, a 73-year-old woman, living in a refuge.

Emma explained herself and what she does, and then she asked about me; my jobs, my hobbies and interests. I told her about my failed marriages and relationships and about a blanket I had stopped crocheting, as it was for me and not someone else. She told me that after the call, to pick the blanket back up again, and try to crochet it. And even though I wasn’t in the mood, I did.’

Creating self-awareness and changing the negative way we view ourselves

Each session will be different, but drawing attention to ourselves, how we do things and noticing the positive aspects in ourselves, is really important in helping strengthen our sense of self.

‘In my next session, Emma asked what about myself I want to work on — I didn’t understand the question – I thought, well – this is me. I’m not good at relationships or anything.  Instead, I told her that at the weekend I had stayed in the refuge and sewed. I made the six little girls who were also in the refuge with their mums, a dress each. I explained that I had owned a wedding shop for about six years and used to make all the dresses and accessories. Whilst it didn’t mean much to me, Emma was astounded.

Next week, she again asked me what I wanted to work on. I still didn’t know what that meant. I said I’m a yoga teacher, yet I always walk with my head down, afraid to talk to people or be noticed. So, my next project was to say hello to everyone I saw when dog walking. I didn’t want to do it: I had been knocked back so badly that talking to people was hard. Emma said I didn’t have to, but she would like me to. I did it and noticed that people were actually starting to talk to me. Again, Emma praised me for this.’

Starting to notice the difference

It honestly doesn’t take too many sessions for people to start noticing the positive changes in their behaviour and thoughts. Coaching can identify past behaviours and negative mindsets and change them to become positive actions.

‘After three or four sessions, I realised I had to put the effort in to myself if I want my life to change. Emma was making me look at myself in a positive way. I was learning to love myself, as who I really am.

I realised through Emma I’m not a nasty person, a liar or a vindictive person — all the horrible things my husbands had said about me, to try and control me.

Everyone in the refuge started to notice that I was different. I then realised that, yes, I am now different. I mustn’t repeat past behaviours, because I was changing and I won’t better myself, if I don’t help myself.’

Learning new ways to live

‘Emma helped teach me how to I can set boundaries – I don’t have to do what other people tell me to do. Emma made me realise there is so much left of me – and it’s all my choice. I can do anything I want. I know more about myself now, than I ever have. I can explain how I feel and I’m not afraid. I know there is always a solution — all you have to do, is think about it —if one solution doesn’t work, look for another.’

Moving forward

‘Setting boundaries was hard but once you do, you feel so pleased with yourself. I’m so confident and happy now. I’ve moved into my own bungalow which I love! I volunteer at an animal sanctuary, teach yoga, look after dogs, and sit with an elderly woman to give her carer time off.

I’m now in control of my own destiny. Once you get to know yourself you have an inbuilt power.  If hadn’t met Emma, I wouldn’t be the person I am now.  I cannot emphasise that enough – if it wasn’t for her and that leaflet! ‘

More from Mary …

‘She put me back together again. Emma is amazing at her job – an amazing lady: So kind, sensitive, thoughtful, understanding but also pushes you to see if you will take what she is saying to you. And she does it in such a lovely way. 

No matter what age you are, you don’t have to put up with your life being awful.’

Sometimes it’s hard to realise how you’ve managed to reach a situation which you feel you can’t get out of, or how to change negative repeating patterns.

Coaching helps gently draw out personal realisations so you can look at what makes you happy, allowing you to become truly comfortable in your own skin, living by your boundaries and positive influences.