Letting go of the life I had planned

Written by: Dawn Gibson-Winder Recoverer

In this week's blog, I write about what I've learned on my recovery journey with the Chrysalis Effect program. I look back to who I was before I became unwell with a fatigue-related condition, I share with you my internal conflict and the challenges of letting go of the past. The CE program has taught me to understand and unravel my values, I now know why they are vital to our wellness journey. I am mindful of making sure I honour my values in my daily life, it isn't always easy, but I am already less conflicted and confident in who I am and what I stand for.

I approach the glass door and instantly spot the man I’m meeting this morning. He’s sitting in the middle of the half-empty Italian brassiere chain waiting for me with a warm smile.

“How’s business?” he asks as he stood up from the leather banquette seat extending his hand.

My stomach flips, as I pull out my wooden chair. This is my business accountant, one of the final people connected to my past life. I hired him many years ago to help with my company which provided career coaching and training workshops.

I had built the business from scratch when I was in my late twenties after training as a life coach, using my recruitment background. I was fearless, with a lot of ambition and an immense passion for helping people to find confidence within their careers. As I became established, I began to speak at seminars and events, I started writing for a few trade publications and online magazines. I was living my dream!

“I have big news,” I tell him sitting down heavily. He looks expectantly at me. “I’ve decided it’s time to close the business,” I say, as I exhale deeply, realising the tension I’d been holding onto for so long. Even behind his thick rimless glasses, I can see the disappointment in his eyes.

“But what about all your plans, all your new business ideas…” He splutters as he puts down his frothy cappuccino.

“Can I get you anything to drink Madam?” The waitress asks, interrupting his direct line of questioning.

I am immediately relieved for some breathing space, so I take my time to think of a beverage. I’ve been feeling a bit anxious about this meeting for a few months. Today is going to be a new beginning for me, but I guess endings can be filled with bittersweet conflict.

Eleven years ago, to the outside world, I was an ambitious woman building her business empire. So when out of the blue, I informed my clients and associates I needed to take a break from running my business due to ill health, they were very shocked. This was after I got a flu virus that I could not shake off. I was seriously unwell for months, and mostly bed and sofa bound, entirely dependant on my husband to care for me.

Finally, after having many tests to find out what was wrong, the doctor informed me that from a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’ I most likely had Chronic Fatigue. Knowing this was in some ways a relief, it something that had a name. But on the other hand, I was told there was no cure or treatments, and all I needed to do was to ‘rest’.

I made it my full-time job to get well. I managed through sheer determination to recover significantly from my main debilitating symptoms, this was done with the help of a variety of private specialists, and alternative therapists.

By the end of 2009, I felt well enough to return to work, however, shortly after I started working, I began to feel unwell again. Only this time for another reason, I was pregnant with our first child! Becoming pregnant was an incredible gift after such a challenging year, but my plans to return back to work that year were not to be, as my symptoms of fatigue returned, so I took a very early maternity leave.

I had our first child in the summer of 2010. Flying on ‘Mummy adrenaline’, at first I managed to stay on top of my symptoms, and two years later, we had another baby. I was enjoying many aspects of being a mother; however, it started to become difficult to manage two young children in such a short space of time. Being on autopilot, I hadn’t foreseen the impact it would have on my body.

As each year went by, my entrepreneurial drive began to rise within me, I needed and wanted to achieve something I had started. I felt my time was running out, everything was moving on without me. But my body had other plans, each time I’d get an idea up and running I would relapse with symptoms that had me stopped dead in my tracks.

Even though my company was not running, my accountant and I would still meet up each year over coffee to discuss ‘Tax’ and my plans for the following year. It was agreed some years before I’d keep the company as part of a longterm business strategy. Each year I felt like a failure. I’d give an excuse for not getting ‘back to work’ for not being the person he knew me as before, the strong-willed businesswoman with stamina.

The waiter leaves, and we resume our conversation.

“Are you sure you want to close the company ?” He asks, raising his thick eyebrows.

“Yes, it’s time,” I say, with fading confidence. “I feel I need to do it, so I can move on…” I then continue. “I just don’t feel it’s right for me. I need a fresh start..” I begin to justify myself and my decision. It is taking all my inner strength to let go of this ‘baby’, but it has to go.

“What about your future?” he asks.

I want to explain, to tell him how much I’d changed from the person he once knew, and what I’d learned on this recovery journey. I want to share how I saw this as an opportunity to connect something bigger than ‘work’ or my business and to live my purpose. But all my words get stuck in the back of my throat, trying to explain a spiritual journey of being ‘broken open’ isn’t going to happen, it’s not the right time or place.

Yes, he’s right it is ‘my choice’, so why did I feel so conflicted about it? This is something I need to work on. We speed through the formalities, and he asks for the bill. Finally, we end the meeting, shake hands, air kiss our last goodbye.

As the glass door closes on my old life, I sense a feeling wave of loss, it then dawn’s on me the possibilities that can open up now I’ve finally let go.

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.”

Joseph Campbell

With huge thanks to Dawn for sharing her beautiful story with us.

The Chrysalis Effect


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