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Family Vision: My story, Vivienne. Domestic Abuse survivor, Powerful Lone Parent to 4 under 10.

I have been on the Family Vision journey with Nina twice, once in a group and once with her one to one. 

At the end of the second ten week program, when she asked me what my “takeaways” were from our time working together, I broke down.

I explained I could not possibly put it in words. My tears were ones of overwhelming joy. We hugged and said goodbye. I knew I needed to share my story so others too could benefit and now I have the chance.

To give some context, I came to the group program after leaving my abusive husband, when all my children were very young. The decline into an abusive relationship had been very quick, thank god the physical violence only lasted two years, but the scars ran deep.

I knew I was a shadow of myself after my marriage ended and looked for help.

To say that Family Vision was life changing would be an understatement. At a time of tremendous change and challenge I learned how to lead my family again, in the company of other women who were doing the same thing.

Unfortunately, as the group program ended, court proceedings with my children’s father gathered pace. A twenty-year battle with Bulimia returned full force and my anxiety became unbearable. I realised I was becoming consumed with managing the physical and mental pain I felt.

During my marriage I had hidden the dark and dangerous secret of the abuse I was experiencing by turning to the tools I knew the best. Drinking too much. Being sick. Blaming myself. After the relationship ended, that toolkit was all I knew – but I knew I had outgrown it, and I wanted more from life.  

I decided enough was enough and reached out to Nina.

I shared my goals and focus, even though they felt out of reach when we began. I wanted to feel like I was back on track as a mum. I wanted to come off my anxiety medication, without returning to being bulimic. I wanted the terror I felt about my ex to subside.

That first meeting was hard for me, as I shared fears, hopes and dreams I had barely spoken to anyone about for years.

We agreed to work through Family Vision together on a one to one basis, addressing each challenge and goal as we worked together. I knew there were no promises being made, but I felt hope returning even then.  

At the start of my journey of coaching, it was two years since the final physical attack by my ex-husband. I was 4 stone heavier. I had been sterilised. I was not eating food with my kids, I felt scared of the food they ate. The rules I followed around food were worsening. I did no exercise and did not nurture myself at all.

I had been in court more than 12 times - unsupported, self-representing due to the cost of legal fees. 

I felt exhausted, tired of taking my medication, tired of knowing that if I came off my meds I was likely to start being sick again, tired of feeling scared of my ex, tired of parenting, tired of feeling out of control. 

I was tired of life.

Despite all of this, I knew it was time to invest in myself financially and personally and I felt certain it would be an investment that would change my life.

I was determined.

My life, through working on my Family Vision, has changed beyond belief.

After 3 weeks of coaching I decided to stop taking my medication. I just stopped. Didn’t think about it and I am still off the medication now, 15 weeks down the line. I have some in my draw at home but would not even think of needing them. I was on it for 3yrs.

Coming off medication is not for everyone. I just realised that it had done its work for me. As I learnt new coping techniques, I realised I didn’t need it anymore. 

Nina changed my perception about my eating disorder.

Without knowing it, as I learnt new tools to express my feelings, and began to accept all of me, I no longer got to the level of anxiety where I needed to be sick. I now do not see a time in my life when I will do that again. I have also slowly started eating trigger foods and found I am able to cope, without difficulty. 

I made myself sick for more than 21 years. It sounds crazy when you write it down. I can’t believe it myself, but I know 100% I will not need that tool again. Ever. All that’s happened now is I have new practical activities to check in with myself.

But most importantly, I am no longer scared to be me.  

This new found freedom is amazing. I cannot express how pleased I feel to be able to sit with my children and eat mash potato. Sounds so simple but prior to my work with Nina this was just not an option.

I found a new level of peace within myself.

I am happier than I could have ever imagined possible, but I am also not scared of being sad anymore. 

I know my life as a single parent of 4 young children will bring me highs and lows, but I feel powerful. I no longer feel broken or less than other people.  I feel strong and amazed by what I have survived. 

I am not only the parent who stayed (twice over) but I recognise today that I have made a bloody amazing job of bringing up my beautiful children, after terrible trauma.

I have truly found the ability to love my life and myself, in turn enabling my kids to feel honest and free as well.

My journey has just begun, and it is now one of joy and truth.

Never again will I allow anyone to squash my spirit.

I have stepped into my power.

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