Seven years ago I was a single mum.
I was juggling full time teaching in a school for children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties with simultaneously looking after the Bear.
In those days she found life hard. Incredibly hard. She self harmed frequently and her meltdowns were a sight to behold. Her diet was very restricted, and our social circle had dwindled to virtually non-existent.
I felt like a failure.
I was permanently firefighting. Getting us out of one disaster only for the next to jump up on us. During the day I would run round after my class of eight, and in the evening and on the weekends I would run round after the Bear. When she slept, I marked or planned.
Our life outside of home consisted of visits to the cinema to watch Disney Films, and trips to the Lego Discovery centre in the Trafford Centre. We rarely went anywhere else.
I had constructed a life that worked for the Bear, a life that didn’t add to her stress levels – or to mine – any more than they needed to be added to.
Because the truth was I was at breaking point.
Not because of work, or because of the Bear, but because I had lost faith in me. I had lost all sight of who I was as a person and of what I was capable of doing.
And then out of the blue I had a conversation on Facebook with a friend I went to university with. Someone who made me realise who I had been, and who I still could be. Someone who reminded me that the girl who believed that anything and everything was possible was buried somewhere inside the woman.
He made me realise I had to stop letting my life control me, I had to resume control.
So I did three things:
- I stopped trying to find all of the answers myself. I had spent two years reading everything I could about toddlers and autism and I felt as though I was going around in circles. Nothing seemed to quite fit what I was needed. So I paid privately for consultations with two different people. It was the best money I have ever spent. They gave me a roadmap to follow, which gave me confidence in my decisions and saved me a lot of time.
- I started eating grown up food. I had got into a rut, of just eating whatever I was cooking for the Bear (which basically consisted of pasta spirals and one brand of cheese) or making a sandwich. Eating real food, made me feel like more of a person again.
- I bought new knickers. I hadn’t bought myself any new clothes since the Bear was born and was pretty much living in my Grandma’s hand me downs. Money was tight. Really tight. But I decided that although I couldn’t afford new outfits, that wasn’t an excuse for wearing knickers with holes in them. I deserved better.
These days life is very different.
I’m happily attached, have not just one but two wonderful children that I parent confidently and a job that I adore….. I even occasionally remind myself to buy new knickers!
I love that now I get to be that person who helps people believe in themselves. I love that through my autism section on the blog and my autism courses I get to give people the roadmap they need to get back on track.
I even get to cook and share a few grown up recipes to remind you all that you deserve the good things in life.
And I want every one of you to remember that you do.
Because I know how hard it is when you are lost and afraid and don’t know where to turn. I know so many of you feel isolated and lost right now. But you can do this. Every single one of you.
You can take control and believe in you again.
I am living proof of that.
And this week you are going to be too.
Because this week I want you to take control of one thing in your life. Whether it’s booking onto one of our autism courses to give you confidence in your decisions, opening the stack of letters waiting by the door, cooking a meal because it’s a food you love or replenishing your knickers drawer.
I want you to think about what you need, and I want you to believe you can do this.
I believe in you!