I caught up with my client Joanna to ask her just how having Family Vision Coaching when she became a single mother really helped. This is our interview, and her story in full:
Tell me about life when we met, what was happening for you then?
“In 2017, I had left my marriage, and moved out of the former marital home with my kids. We were all struggling emotionally to be honest, with anxiety issues and confidence issues.
The relationship I left with their father was emotionally abusive. So I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself when we left, I was just surviving you know? Muddling through, focusing on dealing with the next thing, and then the next thing, right in front of me. You could say I was in a firefighting headspace."
What was important to you at the start of your single parenting journey?
"At that point in my life, I was trying to find out who I was now that I was out of my toxic relationship. I had been deeply affected by the state of my marriage and by what I had to do to survive emotionally prior to leaving.
As well as losing confidence in myself I doubted my ability to make good decisions. I was absolutely terrified of spending money on something just for me. Investing in myself felt like it was a very frightening thing to do. I was afraid of making a mistake. Of wasting my money, of it not making a difference.
I was also scared of what I might find out, if I spent that much time and attention on myself.
There was a lot of emotional mess that I hadn’t dealt with, feelings had already caught me out occasionally, coming out when I least expected it. The kids saw me cry and get cross at times and I didn’t like feeling out of control.
So while I wanted to deal with what I was facing, I was also quite scared of the process.
Making the decision to commit to coaching was the first thing I did that began to clear out the negativity that had been holding me back."
What was having Coaching like?
"Working with you was calming, reassuring and soothing. You offered me a gentle place to move into and it felt like teamwork right from the beginning.
My strongest recollection was a feeling of safety.
Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work, it was, very hard work. I was reluctant to let anyone else have any kind of control in my life at that point. But I needed accountability. I had clawed back my life from my husband controlling me and I wanted my life to be mine.
So I needed the space I was being coached in to feel like I was in charge. To think about myself and what I needed, what I wanted. To be pushed by the right person, in the right way."
Did you get that push you were looking for from Family Vision?
The ‘Family Vision’ pathway was such a safe space, but yes - I was challenged and held by the coaching. I had the space to make it my own, to figure out what was important to me, to discover what my values were and apply them to my own life, in my own way.
I deeply appreciated that we looked at my whole life, not just the moment I was struggling with as my marriage ended. Looking at my whole history from different angles was an amazing experience.
I connected with who I was before my marriage went wrong, with parts of myself I had completely shut down and disconnected from in the aftermath of my separation."
What did you find most difficult?
"Honestly, I was so scared of everything. At times I did want to give control to you as my Coach. I told myself I’ll just do what I am told… But ultimately of course it was always me doing the work, and the results when I did it, were amazing.
Once I got past that fear and uncertainty I felt I could do anything, say anything, feel anything. You know, be anything, and it was ok.
I could get upset and cry and go ‘Oh Shit’ and you were just there, gently nudging me onwards to help me find the way forward once I’d let out that block."
What has changed now, a year on from completing our work together?
Absolutely everything in my life and my kids’ lives has changed. My kids are now both at secondary school. I’d been as open as I could with them without saying anything negative about their Dad. But they aren’t stupid – they knew we hadn’t been happy for the past few years, they’d seen and heard the arguments, the shouting and the tears.
Looking back today I have more clarity about what it must have been like for them. It was hard for all of us, but I recognise the kids had their own worries and anxieties and emotions going on.
Not everyone understood or supported my decision to leave.
A year later and I can see how dramatically different I am now as a person and as a Mum. I have my confidence and my faith back. I can clearly see a way forward and a vision for the future.
Today, wherever I am, if I feel like I have lost my way, I find my way again by checking in with our family values. My kids and I have learned so much about how to lean in to our relationships with each other, to talk, share and grow together. We still do many of the practices you taught us.
I love how much closer we have become as a result."
What has changed that you didn't expect to, through the Coaching?
"Those same family values have given me a framework to use with my kids, when they behave in ways I don’t want them to.
I use our values to check their behaviour, to challenge them to reflect on how their actions fit with our family and how we want to be together.
They are learning to discern good from bad, right from wrong.
I don’t need to worry about them with their peers – I know they are smart, they are thoughtful and they have been shown how to make good choices.
I check in with myself too. Ask myself, am I being kind? To myself and to others? If I’m not, I change what I’m doing and get in line with my values. This approach to life has changed our experience as a family more than you can possibly imagine."
What will you take into family life going forward from your Coaching?
"Family Vision Coaching made me a better Mummy, calmer, more able to handle the day to day stuff without losing my rag.
You helped me see how to involve my children every step of the way so that while I was working on myself, it became a real journey together.
I involved them in what we were doing and talked to them about it, I explained that you were helping me get used to being a parent on my own. It’s obviously a big change and I explained that this process was going to help me with that.
Today I am so glad we shared those feelings and experiences with each other. I showed them that it’s ok to ask for help. I have worked with my counselor, my solicitor and my financial advisor when I divorced to get on the right track.
I worked with you too, and I’m so glad."
Where are you today?
"Today I am proud of myself for having the courage to leave my marriage. Some of my friendships and family relationships have changed as a result, and some people have totally cut me out. But I don’t regret it.
I can’t regret it, because we are all in a better place, and it was the right thing. My children have a better relationship with their Dad today and they have a Mother who is totally on it.
I am grateful I left and took that leap of faith. I know now my intuition is bloody good and I’ve learned to trust it. So yeah, I thank my past self for trusting my gut. And for committing money, time and effort to taking care of myself once I had.
I’ve worked through all the baggage, the crap, the layers from outside. I’m just me now - and it’s fabulous.
I like myself a lot more, I have more patience and tolerance and kindness for myself. I am more comfortable in my body, and I have less judgment. I still have my moments, but overall, I am happier, more centred, grounded and balanced.
It’s my life, and today, I am living it for me.
I have let go of worrying about what people think of me. I trust myself to know what is right for me and for my kids today. I know I can make good decisions, run my life and parent my children. When things go wrong I remember I'm still human, I dust myself off, and move on."
What is your biggest takeaway from the whole experience?
"Putting myself and my kids first.
I don’t feel judged any more. I accept that people are entitled to disagree with me. But in my life, and my home, and with my kids, I make my decisions.
I feel confident that I am in control of my life. I have a sense of independence and freedom that has taken away the fear of being alone, in charge.
As for the question, am I up to the job of parenting alone?
"Now I think, fuck yeah. I am."
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