My story is about ownership, acknowledgement of failures, taking responsibility and surrendering weapons of defence.
It’s about forgiveness, of myself and others, and the release this brings.
It’s about ‘getting out of my own way’ and realising that if I am a victim it’s because I choose to be, and it serves me in some way.
These are painful lessons to learn but the reward of release is worth the pain of showing up and facing things. My story could be anyone’s story.
Those who know me know that around 4 years ago I was very overweight.
Despite mountain bike riding more than 150km every week, I could not seem to lose it.
This was very frustrating and, looking back, it most certainly affected my mental health, not that I recognised it then.
I was good at lying to myself and telling myself that everything was ok.
I defended the punishing riding I was doing as necessary, despite not getting the results I wanted.
I actually wasn’t ok but I didn’t tell anyone. I frequently had thoughts that the world would be a better place without me in it. I was in that dark place with monotonous regularity, but I never voiced it to anyone.
It put pressure on my marriage and there were times when I felt I failed my friends, and sometimes my children, by not being able to engage in more activities with them.
I often experienced mood swings but I was very good at ignoring all the language my body was using to tell me I wasn’t well.
My epiphany came about 10 days after I changed my way of eating. I decided to try eating healthy wholefoods to see if I could kick start an obviously sluggish metabolism.
I admit I was cranky and sceptical about it. Despite my pessimism I stuck to it and the first thing I noticed after a week was my mood had lifted and my eyes were brighter. I felt like I was being nicer to myself and others around me.
The other thing I noticed was that the cankles I’d suffered with for a decade had shrunk back to being calves and ankles again. I was gobsmacked! I just sat there on the lounge staring at my ankles. In 10 days, how did that happen?
It was then that I took an inward, audible breath which became a half sob (I can still remember it clearly). The healing on a physical level was now also healing my mind. I realised I hadn’t done a very good job at looking after myself for probably 15 years.
I’d had three beautiful baby girls in under 18 months and had been putting everyone else ahead of myself for so long. Show me a mother who hasn’t done that!
But I decided then to let go of the constant sacrifice and martyrdom and begin to look after myself. I finally realised I was worth it!
I took ownership of my decisions and my behaviour. I started to really look into food and its impact on physical and mental health.
I had always loved good food, but now I had to concede that what I thought was good food may not be as good as I thought.
I began to update my brain about food and listened more closely to my body.
I also looked at other areas of my life and I started asking myself what I could take ownership of in any situation that I wasn’t happy about, instead of blaming others around me for my problems.
Step by step, I let go of blame and looked inwards for solutions.
My husband asked me what I was doing because I had changed so much.
Later, during a routine medical, my doctor asked me what I had done to achieve such change because I hadn’t been in for two years and I was 30kg lighter.
I told him “I got out of my own way”.
If we’re hanging on to past trauma, we must take a look at it, revisit it, own it. Forgive others and ourselves and then release it.
Until we do, it will continue to impact on our daily behaviour which touches those around us.
If we’re suffering, we won’t stop it by pointing the finger of blame at someone or something.
Focus on what is in our control and work on that.
We don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are.
If we carry buried pain, we will find a world with pain in it.
But if we carry peace and lightness where pain once resided, we will see peace and light even in challenging situations.
This is where we find our resilience to lean into and withstand life’s biggest hurdles.
Louise Mann lives in Margaret River. She is Vice President of the Margaret River Hockey Club and a member of Mindful Margaret River. Louise mentors women who are keen to make healthy lifestyle changes, mind and body.
MINDFUL Margaret River is an alliance of professionals, agencies and community members working to promote health & wellbeing. Mindful Margaret River is funded by Lotterywest and supported by the Shire of Augusta Margaret River. You can find out more at mindfulmargarteriver.org.au and follow us on Facebook.
First published in the Augusta Margaret River Mail October 25 2022