Having talked last time about owning our own stories, I thought it was high time that I told mine. What have been the crucial experiences that have led me to where I am today, what has shaped my personal philosophy? Let me give you my potted history…

I am an only child of financially comfortable parents, so my childhood was steeped in privilege. I was a precocious, intelligent, joyful and imaginative child, and a passionate, ambitious, opinionated teenager. Running alongside all of that was a thread of anxiety and fear of abandonment that is a result of multi-generational family trauma and genetic predisposition. So like everybody else I had both wonderful times and troublesome experiences and am a product of both nature and nurture.

I started to lose myself when I began to have intimate relationships at age 16. By the time I graduated university, I was heartbroken, desperate for validation, sexually disconnected from myself and living with anxiety day to day although I had no idea that was the case.

Enter the man with whom I spent the next 15 years of my life and with whom I had my two beautiful boys, Edward and David. He was a very safe option, a good man, protective, intelligent, hard-working and caring. Everything that my anxious, lost, frightened self needed, and we built a life together.

I started to have counselling in my mid twenties and there began the long, long journey back to the joyful, passionate, imaginative and ambitious person I had always been underneath the anxiety. That journey has so far taken in the following stops and sights along the way:

Postnatal anxiety
Anti-anxiety medication
Analysis with a psychiatrist
NLP coaching

All of this has been possible due to my financial privilege because all of that treatment was paid for privately.

Alongside that journey was the public journey that other people could see:

A career as a secretary/receptionist, financial services administrator then marketing executive in professional services firms in Manchester
A career break for parenting purposes, during which time I did a lot of voluntary parent support and campaigning in the perinatal arena

I was slowly working my way back to myself by the time I fell pregnant with David, and then his arrival accelerated that process. David has a congenital heart defect which means that his first weeks were spent in intensive care and high dependency units at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and he had three open heart surgeries before he was 5. That experience was just as hard as you imagine, and at the same time it was like a dedicated workout for my self esteem. As difficult and triggering as so much of it was, it reminded me of my strength and pushed me out of a place of safety into a place of growth.

That theme then continued into the most important 14 months of my life, when I embarked on an affair with the man who taught me what an equal, passionate, fulfilling, romantic relationship should look like. This was not the protective safety I had looked for as a young woman. This was the intense, life-affirming, burning fire of two people truly meant to experience life together, and it brought me back to the person I was always supposed to be.

It burned bright, it burned fast, it was never meant to last very long, it ended far too soon and it hurt like nothing on this earth, but it changed both of our lives for the better and it left no scars, only strength and a renewed sense of self. It blew my life apart and it dropped me off a cliff but without it I would never have moved forward. I would never have flown.

Out of the ashes of my old life I have built my own business, my own life on my own terms, I am now telling my own story and I have a new relationship which perfectly complements my current trajectory for personal growth. I am where I am supposed to be, I am fierce, I am free and the only person keeping me safe is me.

For some of the characters in the story of my life I am the bad guy, the problem, the cause of distress or the persistent aggravation. For others I am the inspiration, the comfort, the vital support or the hilarious company. All that matters to me is that I can support other people to own their own stories and step into the light of a life worth living. Being liked or disliked, admired or mocked, wanted or dismissed is all a part of being around other human beings. What matters, in my experience, is being true to yourself and being fulfilled.

Helen Calvert
Coach and Director of Clear Day
July 2021

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