Just the Way I Am

The latest Moments That Made Me post comes from Helen Bourne. I met Helen after she read my book and attended one of my talks. Helen likes to write and is working on her own book. She also enjoys writing poetry.

Her own story, which she shares here, includes divorce, dating, depression… sounds familiar! I hope you enjoy reading it.  

Lessons in love and loss

There are many moments in my life that have shaped me. My brother dying when I was four, my dad leaving six months later to be with his pregnant girlfriend. Being ‘abandoned’ as a child in the early years by your dad leaves you paranoid, feeling unworthy, not good enough and a with a poor opinion of men. I was a shy little girl, well-behaved, quiet, but independent and determined. I had significant women in my life, my mum, my auntie and my sister. My uncle was my significant man, not my dad.

I loved my family dearly, still do love those I have left. I married young, not quite twenty-one and had three children. Having my first child was a special moment, making me a mother, not just a daughter, a sister, a wife. My three children have all made me into the woman I am. I’ve made mistakes, being a mum is not easy. I especially loved the early pre-school years and made sure my children had the love and attention from both myself and my husband. He was and still is an excellent dad.

Losing Mum

I changed my career when I had my third child, from civil service to childminder, so I could be with my children. My devoted mum died of lung cancer when I was thirty-one and my three children, who adored her, lost their beloved nana, aged only three, two and one. There were health issues, other deaths, mental health issues within my close family, bullying at work, self-harm in someone close, to contend with. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sad or sorry for myself. Most people, when you know their story, have had difficulties throughout their lives. We all have our own demons to face. And my difficulties have made me stronger, wiser and more empathetic to others. I guess I have had many defining moments in my life.

A change in career

One of my main defining moments was retraining at thirty-four to be a teacher. I did it while my children were young, with the support of my husband. I loved teaching, though it takes its toll and adds pressure to your life. It is very rewarding. After several years I specialised in Dyslexia and became a Specialist teacher. I have had many, many special moments in my teaching career and have hopefully given some children defining moments in their lives too. I hope some will look back fondly when they think of me. I do when I think of them. Children have enriched my life so much.

A fork in the road – divorce

After thirty years in my relationship, twenty-seven of them married, I reached a point where it couldn’t continue for our peace of mind and happiness. We had shared so much but were incompatible, very different people and I knew I had to end it. That was a very difficult time. My mum dying and ending my marriage were two of the most devastating times in my life.

Dating – the good, the bad and the psychopath

Online dating definitely defined me as a woman. Meeting many different men, dating and getting to know men of very different types and personalities helped me realise the kind of man I’d like to spend the rest of my life with, if I am lucky enough to meet him. One of the most defining times that almost broke me, but instead made me stronger, was meeting the man that I thought was the love of my life. He was a sociopath or psychopath with a narcissistic personality disorder. He was extremely damaging to my mental health, making me question my morals, my standards and my sanity. It was one of the hardest, but most necessary, lessons of my life, leading to five stages of grief – denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance before I could finally move on.

Time out – healing and writing

Being the positive, glass half full kind of woman I am, I chose to heal myself, take time for me, to recover and come out of the other side wiser and stronger and in doing so I have made many new connections with like-minded people. Anti-depressants and counselling followed. I am in the process of writing a book inspired by the devastation caused by the psychopath and have also written many poems to help me cope with the emotions as I experienced them. But being involved with a psychopath has led me to take time for me, get to know others who have experienced similar difficulties and to be able to move forward with the skills to recognise the traits of a sociopath or psychopath very quickly and not be taken in again.

So, defining moments – there are many: death, abandonment, marriage, children, teaching, mental health, cancer, divorce, health issues, depression, online dating, falling for a psychopath, meeting inspirational people and writing are all moments that have made me the woman that I am.

Content to be me

I don’t consider myself to be unique. I know many people suffer trauma and difficulties in their lives. I consider myself very lucky to have amazing family and friends in my life and I know whatever life throws at me, nothing will break my spirit. I am happy and positive, have family and friends that I love. I’m far from perfect, but I am content to be me, in the words of Mark Darcy about Bridget Jones (who I sometimes feel like!) I like myself ‘just the way I am!’

I can be ridiculous, stupid, rude, hilarious (apparently), kind, empathetic, friendly, caring and a little crazy and dramatic at times, but I am who I am and I’m changing for no-one!

Poem #1 – Love, Laughter, Truth

Life, Love, Laughter
A happy life is what I’m after
Filled with love and lots of laughter
Life is amazing but can be so hard
In love I always keep up my guard
My emotions, my heart and my mind
Were hurt by a guy of the cruellest kind
I gave my heart and soul to him
I never should have let him in
But now it’s over, my mind is healing
I laugh a lot and I am feeling
Positive about future love
Perhaps with divine intervention from above
To find a man who is right for me
And right for him I’ll also be
My heart was broken but it wasn’t real
That’s just life, it’s no longer a big deal
I’m here, I’m alive, my life is fab
It’s better than the life I had
I have pure love from my friends
With family my love never ends
Even strangers show me care
Empathy and kindness, they’re unaware
Of how enriched this makes my time
I hope I add to their life, as they do mine
So, a happy life I have now
A special love will come somehow
On my journey which I am enjoying
Even though some people may find me annoying
My openness and honesty I must share
It’s who I am I do not care
Accept me now, this is who I am
If you can’t I don’t give a damn
Love, laughter, truth is all I’m about
Life is great, love will come, no doubt.

Poem #2 – Moments That Made Me

There are many moments that have made me
Life’s ups and downs can be sad or happy
My brother died when I was four
Six months later my dad walked out of the door
I was quiet, shy, a good little girl
Confused by events that occurred in my world
As I grew, I married young
With no idea of who I’d become
I had three kids, they were my life
While I was mother, daughter and wife
I changed career looking after children
I hope I helped to shape and build them
My mum died of cancer, that really hurt
That time of my life was one of the worst
Mental health problems in my family followed
My burdens were heavy, I felt so hollow
My own health issues made life hard to bear
But I carried on, others unaware
I’ve always been a giver and carer
I talk a lot, I’m an over-sharer
I retrained to be a primary teacher
Filling my empty heart with kids and creatures
Both feature heavily in my life
Even though they can cause me strife
I love working with children, they are great
Stress of the job meant I stayed up late
Deaths, bullying, others self-harming
At times my life has been quite alarming
But I’ve always supported others in need
Forgetting desires to nourish and feed
Myself sometimes and put myself first
I always dealt with others’ hurt
Until I had an epiphany
That I could live my life more happily
It was a very difficult time
To hurt the husband and children of mine
But I knew it was time to separate
Before we all began to hate
The atmosphere, it was time to divorce
It wasn’t easy at all, of course
On-line dating was, at first, quite fun
A new life I had just begun
I found again the girl I am
I had no idea, I had no plan
I dated several types of men
And began to feel like myself once again
Until I met a cruel psychopath
I fell for him, he made me laugh
But he was evil, he led me on
But it was all just one big con
I’m wiser and I’m stronger now
And I never, ever will allow
My boundaries to be blurred
I’ll always make my voice heard
Depression followed, a restless mind
But friends and family have been so kind
Now my mind is starting to heal
I’m moving house and starting to feel
Life has lots of good things in store
Even more so than before
I’m writing a book and poetry
I’m helping others, that’s my destiny!

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